I’ve been riding my bike to work from Ferndale to Detroit for a while now. Three years ago, people thought this sounded crazy. But as bicycle ridership has increased across the country, fewer people give me weird looks when I walk into the office holding my helmet these days.
Part of the reason probably lies in Rock Ventures’ adoption of a free bike-sharing program for its team members. Now it’s not just the mega bike enthusiasts who are willing to ride 10 miles first thing in the morning who can enjoy a nice break on two wheels.
During three of our “warmer” seasons in Michigan (and those quotes are very deliberate, as we all know how warm spring and fall can actually be), you can see Rock Ventures team members all over the city of Detroit, enjoying destinations they may not have gone to if it meant getting their car out of the lot, driving somewhere, finding parking, getting the car back to the lot and walking back into the office.
The convenience of being able to hop on a bike and ride a couple blocks, or even a couple miles (if you haven’t been on a bike in a while, you’d be surprised how easy it is to cover a mile or two) means that people are visiting stores and restaurants in Midtown, Eastern Market and other neighborhoods surrounding the downtown Detroit area.
The bike-sharing program has been good for the entire area, and it’s been great for the Rock Ventures team members pedaling all around the city. The health benefits are one thing, but there’s just something about riding with a group of your coworkers.
You bond. You look out for each other. You get to talk and laugh and experience the city together. It’s a great team-building experience.
I’ve found it to be pretty safe as well. Even the more inexperienced riders quickly learn the rules of the road, and a bike-sharing program tends to encourage more group riding, the result being bikes are more easily seen by cars.
Rock Ventures and Zagster also provided instructional videos that speak to the importance of using the proper hand signals and other safety tips, so our team members felt empowered when they took to the streets.
In 2014, Warren, Detroit, Ferndale and the Grosse Pointes are all planning significant bicycle-friendly projects. These cities are recognizing the need for bikes, and the importance of residents being able to safely travel on a bike. Bike lanes, share-the-road signs, and bike-exclusive paths like Detroit’s Dequindre Cut are just a few ways these communities are making cycling a focus this year.
And in the end, bike-share programs will benefit people of all ages – not just the youngest or most ambitious living in these areas. Because who doesn’t want to get where they need to go in the most fun, safe and healthy way possible? I know I do, and judging by the popularity of the Rock Ventures bike sharing program, and the other initiatives happening in the area, it looks like I’m not the only one.
Amber Hunt is director of content at Rock Ventures; a Tour de Troit board member; improviser at Go Comedy in Ferndale, and a fun-loving lady.