The cities of Detroit and Windsor, Canada are next-door neighbors separated only by the Detroit River. But cyclists interested in pedaling from one country to the next have soon learned that this international crossing isn't too neighborly to two-wheeled commuters. Bicycles are typically not allowed to ride over the Ambassador Bridge, and bikes must be disassembled before they can be brought onto the bus that travels the underwater tunnel connecting these two cities.
Things are now looking up for cyclists interested in traveling across the border, as plans continue to develop for the new bridge connecting Detroit to Canada, the New International Trade Crossing (NITC).
Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways Coordinator at Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, told MLive the Michigan Department of Transportation has approved a plan with a bike and pedestrian path on the new bridge. It has the backing of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who recently sent a letter to Sen. Carl Levin indicating the agency "wholly supports the plan" and "looks forward to fully engaging in NITC planning and design planning and design activities to include the development of pedestrian and bicycle access."
Getting that agency on board was necessary to even get the bike route added to the bridge.
Scott told The Huffington Post he's excited about how this will help cyclists who want an easier way to cross over the Detroit River.
"I think its going to be a tremendous opportunity, because we have had so much investment in bike infrastructure in Detroit and the same in Canada," he said. "It's a shame we're separated by this body of water that you can't get across without a car."
Work on the NITC is not expected to begin for roughly two or three years and isn't expected to be operational until at least 2016. For cyclists who just can't wait that long, there's always the annual Bike the Bridge event, a special occasion that allows bike traffic over the Ambassador Bridge for just one day a year. Cyclists who take part in retracing the path of the Underground Railroad through Detroit and over to Ontario have had to rely on the Lake Erie ferry or extend their journey north of the Windsor crossing.
There's also the possibility of allowing bicycles to travel on a proposed ferry between the two cities, a move supported last year by Canadian Member of Parliament Brian Masse. Detroit's Port Authority has indicated it would like to develop a ferry running between Windsor and Detroit as early as this spring.
The new bridge between Michigan and Canada has been making headlines for more than its bike-friendliness, including a spoof of the political battle waged against it on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." Despite opposition, the Canada-funded bridge will be built. But will it be called? Will the NITC bridge acronym stick? We came up with a few better ideas -- vote for your favorite below.
Want a taste of a two-wheeled utopia? Put your pedal power to the test in one of these top 10 bike-friendly cities.