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Living in the Motor City with no car

Comments

  • How often, if at all, do you find yourself having to skip out on things because you can't get there?

    There is really no excuse for all the driving I do. My commute to work is unavoidable, but I should be biking more. And by "more" I mean I should really go get my bike out of the basement of my OLD apartment building, where it has been for two years. Especially since my friends in that building have all moved out.

    The bus is trickier--I have no idea how to even ride a bus. Ridiculous, I know.

    Feel free to make fun of me until I learn to leave the car at home...
  • Cheers to you, Norm. When I worked in the Ren Cen, I caught the bus 80% of the time. The bus route was only problematic due to my erratic work schedule. Sometimes the bus will have stopped running and I was at work.

    Unfortunately out where I am in life, public transit is not a stable reality. Time is of the essence as of late, I cannot risk a late bus or worse, not being able to turn around quickly.

    Hopefully, the reported interest in enhanced mass transit will happen sooner now that there's an "agreement" on the books.
  • I was on the bus, out your way just this weekend. Took the Grand River DDOT to the Grand River SMART bus out to Novi. Went right through your hood.
  • Norm, funny story how i got to your blog. I read Business Insider on a daily basis and somebody had reposted your blog as a fav. and it just stuck with me. For some strange reason placed the blog as my Google TV home page. So when I turn on the TV your the first thing I see. This goes for my wife to (I am secretly brain washing her on Detroit Living) No need to thank me for the padded viewing stats every time i watch TV. Any ways love the blog. We moved back to Walled Lake after living in New York for a few years, I have a day job but also use my time working near the house at City Life Youth Center on MLK and Rosa Parks. On the bike thing. If you do a mass ride/tour hit me up would love to introduce and bike around town.
  • Enjoyed reading that. I like the idea of ditching my car, but I'm still not convinced it's practical for me. Between trips home to Pennsylvania and trips to the hardware store, I don't think I'm ready to do it yet.
  • I am from downriver area, and now I live in Japan. I bike a lot here, I don't usually drive to work at all and I am very comfortable on my bike. I was thinking about moving back and I want to still ride my bike, because I love the feeling, but riding in the suburbs scares the hell out of me. I rode last time I went home and when I had to cross a main road people sped up to try to hit me it seemed.
    It is good to hear that the buses have bike racks, I was thinking about that. With all the highways and busier roads that are there I think it would be easier in some cases to take a bus with my bike in the rack.
    Good article, I would like to hear more about the daily and what you do to keep your bike from being stolen. Is that an issue there as I would assume?
  • Cheers! I also moved here last may and have refused to own a car. It's saved me so much money it's ridiculous. I am also lucky enough, however, to live in Woodbridge (ie. a short bike ride from everything I need in midtown), a 15 minute bike ride from my place of work.

    One thing you don't address is riding in winter, which is a major issue with some debate regarding how to do so most safely and comfortably. It might be nice to see a follow up post about this.

    When I told people I wasn't going to buy a car for winter they often reacted with shock. I decided that I was not going to make car payments if it killed me (which it almost did when I was hit by a car while biking in October and, in what must have been a 100,000 to one chance, walked away with no debilitating or immediate injuries). Native detroiters told me not owning a car in the winter would be "impossible." Howevere, I found it fine as long as I layered up correctly (including having multiple layers of gloves and socks), had a second bike with studded snow tires (a $120 investment but a lot cheaper than owning a car), and had friends available to help me out when/if I got in a pickle and my bike broke down (though I am sure I could have called a taxi the one time this happened and thrown my bike in the trunk).

    Detroit is an incredible city for a cyclist--it's very flat and rideable and easy to navigate. Drivers aren't very used to you being on the road but you just gotta be safe and make sure you're as visible as possible at all times (I found one of the most helpful things in addition to the usual suite of lights is Tire Sparks, motion-activated lights that go on your tire's air valve cap and look incredibly distinctive when your wheels are spinning).

    Detroit cyclists represent!
  • edited April 2012
    I am from downriver area, and now I live in Japan. I bike a lot here, I don't usually drive to work at all and I am very comfortable on my bike. I was thinking about moving back and I want to still ride my bike, because I love the feeling, but riding in the suburbs scares the hell out of me. I rode last time I went home and when I had to cross a main road people sped up to try to hit me it seemed.
    It is good to hear that the buses have bike racks, I was thinking about that. With all the highways and busier roads that are there I think it would be easier in some cases to take a bus with my bike in the rack.
    Good article, I would like to hear more about the daily and what you do to keep your bike from being stolen. Is that an issue there as I would assume?
    Biking in the city usually isn't an issue, although I did get run off the road by a DDOT bus the other day, but I'm working with the city to correct that issue. It was just one bad driver who doesn't understand the rules. In the suburbs, you can still ride your bike on the sidewalk and no one is going to give you a ticket. Some communities, like Ferndale, have bike lanes and are more bike friendly, but no one has ever tried to run me off the road out in the burbs. Just some confused people honking and screaming at me. I have to admit though, most of the problems I had were when I was driving past the Chrysler and GM plants on 9 mile between Van Dyke and Mound. A lot of people over there probably feel like they're watching their job roll by on two wheels, and it's going to take a while for some to adjust.
  • Cheers! I also moved here last may and have refused to own a car. It's saved me so much money it's ridiculous. I am also lucky enough, however, to live in Woodbridge (ie. a short bike ride from everything I need in midtown), a 15 minute bike ride from my place of work.

    One thing you don't address is riding in winter, which is a major issue with some debate regarding how to do so most safely and comfortably. It might be nice to see a follow up post about this.

    When I told people I wasn't going to buy a car for winter they often reacted with shock. I decided that I was not going to make car payments if it killed me (which it almost did when I was hit by a car while biking in October and, in what must have been a 100,000 to one chance, walked away with no debilitating or immediate injuries). Native detroiters told me not owning a car in the winter would be "impossible." Howevere, I found it fine as long as I layered up correctly (including having multiple layers of gloves and socks), had a second bike with studded snow tires (a $120 investment but a lot cheaper than owning a car), and had friends available to help me out when/if I got in a pickle and my bike broke down (though I am sure I could have called a taxi the one time this happened and thrown my bike in the trunk).

    Detroit is an incredible city for a cyclist--it's very flat and rideable and easy to navigate. Drivers aren't very used to you being on the road but you just gotta be safe and make sure you're as visible as possible at all times (I found one of the most helpful things in addition to the usual suite of lights is Tire Sparks, motion-activated lights that go on your tire's air valve cap and look incredibly distinctive when your wheels are spinning).

    Detroit cyclists represent!
    I addressed riding in the winter, and how to dress properly in the cold. We just didn't have much snow this year. The heaviest snowfall that we got was during my trip to England, and when I came back it was already gone. I was fortunate not to have to bike in the snow, but I feel that I will be more prepared for it next year. This coming winter, I will be prepared for more treacherous weather. The funny thing is that I use a lot of my skiing gear when I bike in the winter. I use my skiing helmet because it keeps my head much warmer, and if it gets real cold I'll probably wear my snowboarding gloves and some snow pants. I'm working on using more base layers with a weatherproof shell instead of heavy winter clothing. I used to be a customer sales rep at Moosejaw, and they are a great resource for bikers, believe it or not.
  • edited April 2012
    As for security, I use a Kryptonite lock and chain. When I can, I wrap the chain through my rear wheel, front wheel and frame, plus I have a small chain that links my seat to the frame, because I am worried about someone stealing that too. I have not had a problem yet, and everything tucks away very nicely on my bike. For storage, the chain wraps around the front of the fork, comes back down the sides of the frame, and then locks to the frame underneath the seat. Here is a photo of my security setup:

    image

    All of these items can be purchased at The Hub. In fact, they installed the chain on my seat for me.
  • I love hearing about successful biking/living stories in Detroit! It is especially gratifying to hear from people who live a low-cost lifestyle in the city of Detroit by choice. I am from Detroit (Brightmoore Area) and I am moving to the New Center area very soon. I moved out of the city about ten years ago and have been in the suburbs ever since. I was once a brave teen walking the bus every day, twice a day, but I am afraid I have lost my nerve.

    So here is the question, is it safe for a young woman in her late twenties to bike from New Center to Wayne State? Please acknowledge that what is safe for a man and what is safe for a woman are two different things.

    Looking forward to your response.
    Happy biking!
  • You will be fine, Midtown and the Wayne State Campus area are the safest parts of Detroit, and New Center is also a safe area, as long as you stay East of the Lodge.

    Just to let everyone know, I'm still riding my bike to work every day. I still have no car. I am thinking about getting a boat though.
  • Is midtown Detroit walkable? I have no intentions of buying a car.
  • Yes, but be prepared for the cold in the winter. Midtown has a few buses as well, the woodward bus, Dexter and Crosstown. Uber is nice here too.
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