Ferndale’s Green Cruise promotes bicycling, walking

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published August 6, 2015

 Participants walk or ride down East Nine Mile Road in Ferndale last year as part of the annual Green Cruise. The 11th annual event will take place Aug. 7.

Participants walk or ride down East Nine Mile Road in Ferndale last year as part of the annual Green Cruise. The 11th annual event will take place Aug. 7.

File photos by Erin Sanchez


FERNDALE — For more than two decades, auto enthusiasts have packed Woodward Avenue to celebrate the Woodward Dream Cruise in the middle of August. But for more than 10 years, another group has tried to bring awareness to other modes of transportation the week before.

The 11th annual Green Cruise will take place Aug. 8 in downtown Ferndale with people from all around who support alternative modes of transportation, such as bicycling and walking, gathering to celebrate.

“Part of the reason the Green Cruise was originally started and continues to be one week ahead of the Dream Cruise is, certainly, to be looked at as an anti-Dream Cruise,” Co-Chair Tom Dusky said. “This is an alternative to those people who celebrate vintage car travel the following week with providing several bike rides all around the area.”

The Green Cruise was organized for the first time by Royal Oak resident Shirley Bavonese when she became frustrated with the noise and pollution of the Dream Cruise. Along with her children and friends, Bavonese started riding her bike up and down the street, and the next year, the Green Cruise began with the backing of the Sierra Club.

The main attraction of the event is the three different bike rides that take place throughout the day. At 8 a.m., a 42-mile bike ride to Belle Isle in Detroit and back will take place, followed by a 22-mile ride to Birmingham at 9 a.m.

At 1 p.m., the family-oriented 4-mile ride will take place around Ferndale.

Another big attraction will take place between the two big rides and the family ride: the human-powered Green Parade at noon. Riders can dress in costume and deck out their nonmotorized vehicles as they ride for a half mile on the east side of Ferndale.

Co-Chair Dave Cottrill said that in past years the Green Parade was too long, but they have reworked the path to go down East Nine Mile Road between Bermuda and Paxton streets, and then around the block, to allow access to everyone.

“We are looking to get more people participating in the parade by going around the block a few times, and that allows kids and anybody to get on and off and encourages them to come out,” Cottrill said. “In 2013, the parade length was too long, and last year it was the right length, but not too many people knew about it. So we want people to dress up themselves and dress up their bicycle and come out.”

The Green Cruise will include a children’s area with crafts, sidewalk chalk drawings and face painting, but for the older cruisers, there will be several sponsors and vendors set up that can not only aid in alternative modes of transportation, but also in living in a way that is better for the environment.

Cottrill said there are many ways to get involved.

“This is a chance to get into a very active environmental festival where we choose our sponsors to be people who we think are really environmentally involved,” he said. “They show how you can get involved in any capacity, such as riding your bike to the local food market. It is very easy in the southern suburbs of Detroit, as there are bike routes all around this area and you don’t need to be in the car all the time.”

For Dusky, using alternative modes of transportation not only helps the environment, but also people.

“A lot of this has to do with your health and the health of the planet, really,” he said. “The world has really gotten overpopulated now, and the stresses pollution and mankind put on the planet is now beginning to be quite noticeable, with the effects of global warming and the weather patterns, that changing your mode of transportation is a fairly easy change to do, and it makes for a much healthier you.”

Each year, the chairpersons of the Green Cruise choose a Green Cruiser of the Year to celebrate someone actively involved with the bicycling community. This year, Dusky said, they will honor Jason Hall, who helped establish the Slow Roll bike ride every summer Monday in Detroit, as well as Detroit Bike City Inc.

Dusky said that because Hall has created an event that draws thousands each week to ride their bikes in Detroit, the Green Cruise organizers wanted to honor his contribution to their efforts.

“The Green Cruiser of the Year started out as a person who does their commuting on a bicycle or rides their bicycle the most instead of driving a car, but it has really expanded to take on people like Jason that are doing a lot for the community to promote cycling,” he said.

The registration for the 42- and 22-mile bike rides is $10 before the event and $15 at the event, and the family bike ride is free of charge. For more information or to register for a bike ride, visit www.sierraclub.org/michigan/southeast-michigan/green-cruise.