DETROIT - Detroit, the birthplace of Ford Motor Company and many other icons of art and business, is struggling with economic and infrastructure problems, including a bankruptcy filing. But a group of Ford Credit and Ford employees is helping keep the Michigan city’s rich culture and history alive with regular bicycle rides along its streets.
Lee Hoffman, an Information Technology supervisor for Ford Credit, began organizing the weekly rides last year. From the regular group of about 30 people, between six and 12 typically participate in each tour, usually biking about 40 miles after setting out from Ford Credit headquarters in Dearborn, just west of Detroit.
“There is a lot of history in Detroit, and I thought this would be a unique way to experience some of it,” Hoffman says. “It’s been great fun to see how people light up when Detroiters call out encouragement to us and when we visit important historical or architectural areas. It’s also very hopeful to see the green shoots of rebirth in areas that were previously run down.”
Among other places, the bikers have visited the Piquette Avenue plant, where the first Ford Model T’s were made more than a century ago; the former home of Henry Ford; architectural landmarks; the Heidelberg Project, an outdoor community art showplace; and planned developments.
Stephanie Moore, a Ford Credit North America Collections project manager originally from Nashville, Tennessee, participates in the rides.
“I completely enjoy the rides for many reasons,” she says. “I’m learning a lot about a great city. People in Detroit are friendly and supportive. I’ve made new friends in Ford Credit and Ford, and learned names of people in other departments, which comes in handy if I need to consult with another department and don’t have a contact name. We work together as bikers, and this translates to the way we work together in our jobs.”
“I wanted to share my love for the area,” Hoffman says. “I’ve found this a very rewarding way to do that.”