FerndaleAugust 8, 2012
Green Cruise embraces people-powered transportation
By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer
FERNDALE — Anyone looking to showcase the power of non-motorized transportation will have the perfect opportunity on Aug. 11, when the eighth annual Sierra Club Green Cruise returns to the city.
Held in the heart of downtown Ferndale each summer, the Green Cruise is a celebration of human-powered forms of transportation: everything from walking, running and biking to skateboarding, rollerblading and hiking. Most of the action takes place in the Green Alley, located in the Withington parking lot and along Planavon Street, near Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue.
According to Dave Cottrill, of Ferndale, one of four local organizers of the Green Cruise, “This event is really a culmination of the Sierra Club’s message about preserving the environment. It’s a celebration of trying to live a green lifestyle and reducing your carbon footprint. It’s always a lot of fun having it right here in downtown Ferndale.”
As is tradition, this year’s Green Cruise will begin with a series of bicycle rides. The first is a 40-mile ride at a fast pace through Detroit starting at 8 a.m., while a more moderately paced 22-mile suburban ride will get under way an hour later. There will also be a 5k walk at 10 a.m. and a 4-mile bike ride at 1 p.m. that will both move at a slower pace and stay within Ferndale’s city limits. All rides and walks will start and end at the Green Alley.
“The suburban route is pretty much the same as in years past, but we just made some little tweaks to make it a little safer and more scenic,” explained event organizer Tom Dusky, a Huntington Woods resident. “We also found a more aesthetically pleasing Detroit route that we’re going to try out this time around.”
For many, the highlight of the Green Cruise every year is the half-mile Green Parade along West Nine Mile, which begins at noon. Participants are invited to display their creativity by dressing up in costumes, decorating their bikes and flaunting homemade vehicles that utilize human power.
The Green Alley itself, meanwhile, will boast a plethora of family-friendly attractions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be food and beverages, free massages and bicycle checkups, and children’s activities that include a rock climbing tower, arts and crafts, face painting and sidewalk chalk. In addition, a number of green nonprofit organizations will be on hand to educate guests about what they can do to take better care of the planet.
Event organizers will also be honoring their selection for the 2012 Green Cruiser of the Year: Keith Kowalski, 37, of Ferndale. Kowalski is an avid cyclist who rides his bike nearly everywhere he goes all year round, including his 11-mile daily commute to and from work.
Dusky crunched the numbers and estimated that at his current pace, Kowalski puts 10,000 to 12,000 miles on his bike every year. “His level of commitment is really amazing,” Dusky said. “He’s getting entertainment, transportation and exercise all rolled into one, and he’s doing something good for the environment at the same time.”
Kowalski said that he has used his bicycle as his primary source of transportation for the past 15 years and has not owned a car since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. About two years ago, when he quit smoking, his bike riding increased to an even greater level.
Kowalski will gladly accept his award during the Green Cruise, which he praised for its “friendly and inclusive” atmosphere. “This is a huge honor,” he said, “especially considering that it’s coming from an organization as great as the Sierra Club. It’s amazing to be recognized for something as simple as riding your bike. It can be tough sometimes to ride everywhere, but to me it’s a lot less stressful than fighting through traffic (in a car) every day.”
For Cottrill, the friendly and inclusive environment that Kowalski described is a key element of the Green Cruise’s appeal. He stressed that it is meant to be a celebration where everyone is welcome and no one is an outsider.
“This is a very active event that is all about participation,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get all different types of people together and give them a lot of fun things to do that don’t involve consuming any oil.”
Dusky, who has helped organize the Green Cruise for the past five years, is amazed at how much the event has grown since its inception. The level of public awareness and recognition has increased dramatically each and every year.
“The biggest kick I get,” Dusky said, “is when people see me riding my bike, and they say, ‘Oh, you should go to the Green Cruise. Have you ever heard of it?’ We know that non-motorized transportation is only one part of the (environmental) solution, but with so many people living on the planet now, things have to change. We can’t continue living this way forever.”
For more information on the 2012 Green Cruise, visit www sierraclub.org/greencruise or call (248) 709-9301.
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