It was overcast and the temperature was cool at best, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from showing up at the grand opening celebration of the Dequindre Cut extension on Saturday. The below-street-level greenway was extended another half mile; it now connects the east riverfront all the way to Mack Ave., with entrances at a number of intersections and neighborhoods in between.
For some folks, Saturday offered a chance to dress up in their wildest spandex and ride with their bicycle clubs; for others it provided an opportunity to casually ride or sneaker-up with family members and meander about by foot. There were rollerbladers, runners, and skateboarders too.
Without a doubt, the new extension, which picks up where the greenway used to end at Gratiot Ave., is impressive: clean, smooth, and well-marked for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s packed with cool street art and murals and adorned with five brand new bridges over the cut. And, on Saturday, it was loaded with people curious to experience its treasures.
C.J. Millender of Harper Woods came down on his bike. “To take something forgotten about [an unused railroad line] and bring it back to life is great,” says Millender. He rides in Detroit a couple times a week, sometimes commuting by bike to work in the city, participating in a Slow Roll or cruising the Detroit RiverWalk.
Millender had stopped for a snack at Wilkins Street Plaza, an area that connects the Dequindre Cut to the Eastern Market neighborhood at Orleans St. As the hub of Saturday’s celebration, there were food vendors and information booths representing Tour de Troit, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and Detroit Greenways Coalition. A disc jockey blared dance tunes to add to the festivities as Detroit Riverfront Conservancy volunteers passed out shopping bags touting Link Detroit and stuffed with biking maps and literature.
Link Detroit is the project working to adjoin and enhance existing Greenways in various parts of Detroit and connect bicyclists and pedestrians to destinations like the Dequidre Cut, the Detroit RiverWalk, Eastern Market, Midtown and Hamtramck. The extension of the Dequindre Cut and the bridge improvements along the cut are among Link Detroit projects.
Howard and Sandee Penn of Southfield were visiting to celebrate the extension. “We were big into bikes in the 70s,” says Howard Penn, “and we’re just getting back into it now.” Penn and his wife prefer using Detroit greenways over roadways in poor condition. “The whole bike culture has changed so much,” says Penn, whose father once commuted from Royal Oak to Detroit on the same line that now accommodates cyclists and walkers.
For Blair Grinn of Ferndale, it was her first visit to the Dequindre Cut. “It’s beautiful. I like that it’s accessible for everyone. It’s free, it’s outdoors, there’s art, and it’s dog friendly,” says Grinn, her happy little dog, Francois, clearly in agreement.
As the bike culture continues to builds momentum in Michigan’s largest city, the Dequindre Cut extension is another stretch ready for use by those walking and rolling and clearly worthy of celebration.
Volunteers are always needed for Detroit Riverfront Conservancy special events and activities supporting the Dequindre Cut. Apply to volunteer online.
The Dequindre Cut is part of a larger vision for Detroit greenways, the Inner Circle Greenway, a 26-mile pathway that loops around Detroit and runs through the cities of Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn.