The seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Ride will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15.

The seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Ride will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15.

Photo provided by Tour de Troit


Commemorative bike ride to trace Martin Luther King Jr. march in Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published January 8, 2018

DETROIT — Bike enthusiasts from across the metro Detroit area are braving the cold and coming out for the seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Ride.

The ride follows the path of King’s 1963 Walk to Freedom through Detroit during his campaign for civil rights. It is being organized by Tour de Troit, an organization that promotes and encourages bicycle rides and bicycle safety as well as encouraging nonmotorized infrastructure in the community.

“The Martin Luther King Jr. Ride is a wonderful way to honor Dr. King by visiting many of the significant points where he delivered his remarks on the freedom march and his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in Detroit — several weeks before he famously made it in Washington, D.C.,” said Colleen Robar, a representative for Tour de Troit.

The ride is free, although those wishing to take part are asked to register ahead of time at tour-de-troit.org.

The riders will travel a 10-mile route through many of the sites along the path of King’s march or locations named in his honor.

“It’s a wonderful way on your bike to spend an hour and a half thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. and passing some of the places he visited and saw on his freedom march,” remarked Robar. “People will ride by Martin Luther King High School, and the (school’s) band will greet us outside. We ride down Martin Luther King Boulevard. We ride past Cobo Hall, where he made the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. It takes about 90 minutes.”

Robar said it is a fantastic event for people who want to celebrate King or just enjoy riding; however, she warned people to be prepared for the weather.

“We start and end at the McGregor Memorial Center in the middle of the Wayne State University campus at 10 a.m., and will have hot chocolate available. Helmets are mandatory, but it’s a free ride, and it’s a great way to get out and be active in winter. People should dress in layers, though,” said Robar. “We had a wonderfully warm day last year, by which I mean the 30s, and we had several hundred riders. We have had years where it has snowed, however, so riders should be prepared for anything.”

Past riders have expressed their enthusiasm for the ride. Many believe that instead of just taking the day off, people can go out and take part in a proactive activity that celebrates King and his contributions.

“I’ve been associated with Tour de Troit for several years,” said Mike Darga, of Northville, who has participated in five of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Rides. “This was something to commemorate the holiday. We cover parts of the route covered by Martin Luther King Jr. through Detroit, so it’s a celebration of his legacy while getting people together to do something positive to do something on this holiday. It’s especially great to have a chance to go out and do something in midwinter.”

Tour de Troit has several events scattered throughout the year that allow people to take in Detroit from unique perspectives.

“Tour de Troit sponsors six major events a year, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Ride. We do Bike the Bridge in October, a Paczki Run on Feb. 10, Tour d’Eastside in May, Rouge-A-Thlon April 21, and the Tour de Troit in September. We raise money for the Greenway development in Detroit, which raises awareness of biking as a mode of transportation, and these efforts allow for safe, functional bike lanes in the city. Last year, we raised $30,000. We encourage people to come down and join in.”

Darga explained how seeing Detroit from the back of a bike is completely different from driving through the city. He also said it’s inspiring to trace the same path walked by King.

“Even though it’s January and it’s cold, you can stay warm. It’s only 10 miles; you see a lot of great people, and you see some great landmarks in the city,” he said. “Riding through the city by bike is always different than by car. I love going out and bringing people together while celebrating King.”