I want to ride my bicycle, and you might try it, too

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.

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Thu, 01/09/2014 - 10:47am
Biking is great. It's just that there are so many people driving cars that 1) do not / can not see the bicycles because they're not looking for them, 2) are too busy texting or talking on the phone that their brain does not comprehend the fact of a bike near the side of the road, or 3) should not even be driving because their brain has deteriorated with age and they do not have the response they one had. In Florida, there are way to many bicycle deaths for the amount of riders. Forget bike lanes, I will only ride on trails. For those that say they can effectively multitask, make them try one of the simulators that simulate phone usage and traffic. No matter how good you think you are, the simulator will make you look like a bumbling idiot. Your brain can only effectively do a limited amount of tasks, and the more tasks required, the less effective your brain is at each individual task. If you want to mix bicycles and vehicles on the same roadway, then we need a method to get those who are brain overloaded off the road. Everyone should be tested for cognizance and response time. Bicyclist should be penalized when they break the rules of the road, the same as drivers of vehicles now are. The no talking on cell phones / texting law should be strictly enforced.
Sat, 05/10/2014 - 1:29am
I have been riding my entire life I am 60. I always rode sometime on the road and sometime on the sidewalks. I am very comfortable riding with cars. For sure it is not for every body. In Michigan you can ride away from the main roads and take sidestreets, sidewalks and parking lots and get almost anywhere. If you are riding from Royal Oak/Ferndale area to Detroit, you can ride the side streets, parking lots and sidewalks. It is best not to be in too much of hurry when commuting. My point is you can find what is comfortable for you in Suburban Detroit and Detroit. Anyone that wants to ride a bike can find what is comfortable and safe, you dont have to ride like a bike messenger in San Francisco
Nick Hritz
Mon, 02/24/2014 - 7:39am
As a lifelong cyclist living in Washington, DC (originally from Flint) - I can tell you with complete certainty that any city with a bike-share program instantly becomes a better city. All major metropolitan areas worldwide either have, or soon will have bike sharing programs of some sort and it absolutely is going to happen eventually in Detroit if that town wants to come back to life. Infrastructure is key of course but so is the attitude of the citizenry living and driving in there. Once hearts and minds make the switch and see cyclists as fellow members of the community, instead of foreign agents bent on stealing valuable road space from the rolling behemoths our culture is so enamored of, all is well. It's a monumental success in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, etc. (and of course-DC)... So hopefully it'll happen in Detroit.