The NBC News video above portrays a side of Detroit that’s a far cry from the many recent stories of economic jeopardy and municipal water disasters. One part of the city's industrious spirit may have found a new way forward.
If Detroit’s past belonged to four-wheeled vehicles, it looks now like the future might have two. There’s a full-on grassroots bike boom going on now, with 200 miles of bicycling paths winding through an extended greenway belt. With a dwindling downtown population, planners seized on the bicycle-friendly opportunity presented by the newfound open space.
By some accounts, the Detroit bike explosion began about five years ago with the Slow Roll, started by Jason Hall and Michael MacKool. What began as a Monday night group ride of two or three people has since expanded to more than 5,000 riders. Riding together has become a major community builder in the city, and a love of bicycles has taken hold in the country’s former industrial home.
Of the more than 16,000,000 bikes purchased every year in the U.S., only about 50,000 are made in the States. Detroit Bikes plans to challenge those stats, taking advantage of the erstwhile Motor City’s manufacturing-friendly infrastructure, and hopefully creating a center for American bicycle production. Yesterday: cars. Tomorrow: bikes?