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Controversial Gran Fondo Bike Race Could Come Before Birmingham Monday

City Manager Bob Bruner says he's a fan, though Royal Oak officials are arguing the Woodward Avenue race from Detroit to Pontiac could be unsafe.

What do you think of a professional bike race from Detroit to Pontiac along Woodward?

Birmingham may be asked to approve something exactly like that at the Monday evening city commission meeting, as plans for the proposed Gran Fondo bike race make its way up and down the 37 communities along Woodward Avenue. The race would take place on Sunday, June 30, 2013.

The race, which would also feature a massive community bike ride along Woodward, is organized by the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3). Italian for "big ride," the Gran Fondo would feature a 54-mile race route starting in downtown Detroit that would go to Pontiac and loop back.

Organizers hope more than 200 national- and international-caliber racers will participate in the race and thousands more in the community bike ride. The purpose behind the ride, organizers say, is to promote healthy living, showcase Woodward Avenue and raise funds for sustainable infrastructure and other WA3 iniaitives.

"Many of the world's 'firsts' happened on Woodward," an informational sheet about the Gran Fondo reads. "The event will showcase that cars and bikes can co-exist — especially in the Motor City!"

According to plans presented at the Royal Oak City Commission on Dec. 3, WA3 is encouraing Royal Oak, Detroit, Ferndale, Pontiac and Birmingham to serve as as entry points for cyclists to join the race.

Already, the race has received pushback from one Woodward community. Last Monday, the Royal Oak City Commission delayed voting on the race though city staff reccomended commissioners reject the special event permit.

"The staff and I are in complete agreement with our position," Royal Oak City Manager Don Johnson said. "We see this as a very high risk/low reward event. We think Royal Oak has little to gain from a successful event and much to lose should an accident occur, (while) the likelihood of an accident occuring is relatively high and the potential for any bicycle-motor vehicle accident to be deadly is very high."

Before that meeting, Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said the race has the "full support" of Wayne County, Detroit, Ferndale and Birmingham.

However, the race has yet to come before the Birmingham City Commission — though Birmingham City Manager Bob Bruner said it could appear on the city commission's agenda as early as Monday.

Bruner, besides being a vice chair for WA3, told Patch he is one of the supporters of the Gran Fondo. Also supporting the ride is Heather Carmona, executive director of WA3.

"This event is done throughout the country and can be done here. Issues can be addressed," Carmona said.

Already, the Gran Fondo has received approval from several Woodward communities and institutions. Pleasant Ridge approved the race but will be committing no public safety personnel to the event. Beaumont Hospital and St. Joe's Hospital are sponsoring the race, though approval is pending from other cities like Berkley and Bloomfield Hills.

Monday's meeting agenda for the Birmingham City Commission will be released Friday.

What do you think of a Gran Fondo bike race along Woodward Avenue?

Birmingham Mom December 12, 2012 at 07:49 PM
No No No! the week of the 4th? We already suffer through the dumb cruse in August. This would bring little to no business to the area.
Racer Boy December 13, 2012 at 02:54 AM
These type of events are run all around the United States on a wide variety of roadways without "deadly" consequences. To reject this out of hand is a very ignorant position to assume...I like the idea very much. We need more exposure to alternate means of transportation and we have to learn to share our existing roadways. My guess is Bham Mom is like the majority of parents who drive there kids two blocks to school rather then letting ride or walk.

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