The bicycle is the world’s most popular form of transportation. There is somewhere close to 1.5 billion bicycles in use across the globe.

Over the past few years the bicycle’s popularity has been growing swiftly here in Detroit. The number of people biking around the city seems to grow with the passing of each season.

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Photo: Illustration by Josh Budiongan/Jefferson East, Inc

Many cities across the world have also created stretches of road where cyclists are separate from traffic allowing safe passage along roadways.

Detroit is about to introduce its first dedicated bike lanes on the city’s east side. Although the city has roughly 170 miles of painted bike lanes, this will be Detroit’s first step towards physically protecting cyclists.

Construction starts later on in the summer and they will be built on East Jefferson Avenue close to Alter Road and the border with Grosse Pointe Park. There are plans to carry the project along Jefferson to East Grand Boulevard, which is right next to Belle Isle, and the on towards other sections of the city.

More from John Gallagher and The Detroit Free Press

The idea has been around for awhile but took on new urgency last year after Ron Brundidge, director of the Detroit Department of Public Works, and other civic leaders visited Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen is world renown for its biking infrastructure, and Brundidge found himself converted to the idea of separating bikers from motor vehicle traffic as essential to Detroit’s future.

Mind you, this came after several years of Detroit painting bicycle lanes on city streets — 170 miles of them since 2006. But existing bicycle lanes are not separated from vehicle traffic, and the dangers of biking on a busy street are obvious.

“That was my eye-opening moment,” Brundidge said last week of his Copenhagen visit. “As great as I think a job we had done prior to that, as proud as we are with all the bike lanes we’ve installed, I came back from Copenhagen thinking that in all of our future projects that we want to incorporate a network of protected bikes lanes.”

Another important aspect is getting more people on bikes, enjoying the outdoors, burning calories and being part of a healthier city.

Feature Image: bostoncyclistsunion.org

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