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July 30, 2014

Green Cruise marks 10 years promoting alternative transit

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Caitlin Forrest, 4, of Ferndale, rides her bike, which she decorated with flowers, during the Green Cruise last year in downtown Ferndale.

FERNDALE — The Woodward Dream Cruise will be celebrating 20 years of showing off cars from Detroit to Pontiac Aug. 16, but first another cruise promoting alternative modes of transportation has a big anniversary to recognize.

On Aug. 9, the 10th annual Green Cruise will take place in downtown Ferndale, bringing together people who like alternate forms of transportation, in particular walking and bicycling.

“We have the celebration of the old motorized vehicles the week afterwards, but this is the celebration of nonmotorized vehicles,” said Green Cruise Co-Chair Tom Dusky, of Huntington Woods. “I think it is an important event to let people know that bicycle riding is an alternate form of transit, and it is good for you and the environment.”

Royal Oak resident Shirley Bavonese conceptualized the Green Cruise just over 10 years ago when she became frustrated with the noise and pollution of the Dream Cruise. Bavonese and her children and friends started riding their bikes up and down the street, and the next year, the Green Cruise began with backing from the Sierra Club.

This year, like in the past, patrons will have several options on how they celebrate during the Green Cruise. Starting at 8 a.m., a group of riders will ride 42 miles around Detroit.

At 9 a.m., another group will ride 22 miles toward Birmingham before a 3-mile walk takes place in Ferndale at 10 a.m. The events will conclude with a human-powered vehicle parade at noon and a 4-mile family ride at 1 p.m.

Each year, the Sierra Club honors an individual as the “Green Cruiser of the Year” and gives out a Green Cruise bicycle tire. Dan Masterson was the recipient this year, as he has bicycled to work every day the past four years, riding 12 miles, even in the winter.

“The award is given to a person who exemplifies being a Green Cruiser year-round and rides a bicycle instead of a car most of the time,” Dusky said. “Dan rides over 4,000 miles a year and commutes year-round, and is one of the most charitable people I have met, as far as helping out on bike rides and doing anything he can to make Detroit a better place for cycling.”

Dave Cottrill, of Ferndale, also serves as co-chair for the event and said that because of the close proximity of everything along the Woodward corridor, bicycling and walking are more of a plausible mode of transportation.

“This event is a message that we can get around in places like Ferndale, Royal Oak and Huntington Woods by bicycling and walking,” he said. “We want to show people methods and routes they can take to get things done or to ride from Ferndale to Birmingham, or from Ferndale to Detroit. Then we encourage people to find those routes and use them later in the year.”

In the time since the Green Cruise started, Dusky said bicycling has really taken off in the metro Detroit area and several bicycle events are held each year. Bicycling is an attractive alternative, he added, especially to younger adults.

“Bicycling has really gotten a lot bigger, and more people are commuting in the last 10 years since we started,” he said. “I think a lot of young people realize automobiles are not only expensive to buy, but also keeping up, and so a lot of young people in their 20s are on bicycles. They would rather own a bicycle and use public transit to get around to commute or run errands.”

By riding a bicycle or walking, Dusky said it not only helps the environment, but it helps keep you healthy.

“One of the things that is really important is to help reduce your carbon footprint and putting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which helps global warming and keeping the air clean,” he said. “You don’t need to be a bicycle commuter, but you could ride to go shopping or short rides for errands. I live in Huntington Woods and do all my grocery shopping and errands in Royal Oak and Ferndale and Berkley, but instead of driving a car, I ride my bike probably 10 miles a day.”

For more information on the Green Cruise, or to register for one of the rides, visit michigan.sierraclub.org/semg/Green_Cruise.html.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.