Some people would say that Rochester is a bicycle friendly town, with miles of rail trails crisscrossing through the city. Others would say that Rochester is not a bicycle friendly town because it lacks bicycle lanes in favor of wide busy roads. Pedestrians are annoyed with cyclists on sidewalks and motorists are annoyed with cyclists on roads. Many businesses in the Rochester/Rochester Hills area do not have bike racks in front of their stores. Bike racks may go back on Main Street but you aren't supposed to ride your bike there. Where can they go without annoying anyone? Why don't businesses want to attract cyclists? Cyclists aren't just the guys with skin tight outfits, they are young and old normal people too! With summer here this seems like a good time to discuss bicycles.
Just announced last week on Mlive.com Detroit was just awarded 10 Million dollars to extend a rail trail from Eastern Market to Hamtramck. If you are not familiar, the Dequindre Cut bike and pedestrian trail extends from the Detroit River to Eastern Market below street level and will now extend up to Hamtramck. So obviously low tech alternative transportation is on the state's radar. So what are we doing to improve things in our own backyards?Over the last several years the trail groups have been pushing in all directions. Macomb Orchard built a bridge over M53 by Romeo and the trail goes all the way to Richmond. The Clinton River Trail has a bridge over I-75 and Telegraph now. If you had the energy you can ride from Richmond through Romeo, Washington, Rochester, Auburn Hills, Pontiac and out through Keego Harbor! So these trails can take you places, but what is along them?
Maybe it is time to put some businesses along the trail, even if they are just seasonal. I see bike rental, canoe rental, dining, shopping along the trail. We should do everything to encourage the use and functionality of the bike trails. Yes they are great for recreation but we should make them functional as well! More effort should be made as well to attract cyclists into town from the trail or perhaps we can start taking the town to them!
Imagine this: It is early autumn, the smell of donuts is in the air and people, young and old, are swarming around Yates Cider Mill like the bees around the trashcans. The parking lots are full and people are dangerously walking next to and across the road from Dequindre to 23 Mile Road while traffic bottlenecks at the traffic lights. You think to yourself "wouldn't it be great if we could bicycle to Yates as a family?" It would be especially nice because you wouldn't have to worry about parking and trying to make a left turn anywhere around that area. One idea I've had is to build a bridge across the Clinton River into Bloomer Park and connect the former Bay City Rail Road trail from Rochester to Yates. Rochester residents would have a direct route via bicycle or walking to Yates. A bridge may be too expensive and another entrance in Bloomer unwanted by the park. The next best thing would be a major improvement of the sidewalk from the Clinton River/Macomb Orchard Trail crossing on Dequinre to Yates as seen in the above photo. It would allow people from Rochester and Shelby to come down to this long time popular establishment and not have to worry about parking the car.
Over the next few weeks I am going to investigate on how many local businesses have bike racks and if they don't I'll find out why. I will also look to see what local businesses are doing to try and attract bicycle riders. Bike safe this summer!