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Posted on Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 7:46 a.m.

Bicyclists tour Treetown for inaugural Ann Arbor ride

By Erica Hobbs


Mayor John Hieftje and Grace Singleton of Ann Arbor try to find the circumference of an ancient oak tree in Wurster Park during the first-ever Bike Ride and Tree Tour of Ann Arbor neighborhoods on Saturday.

Angela J. Cesere |

It’s official. A massive oak tree in Ann Arbor’s Wurster Park is now Mayor John Hieftje’s new favorite tree.

“It was just such an impressive tree,” he said. “It’s one of the trees that I remember from my youth.”

Hieftje made the decision Saturday after leading more than 30 bicycle riders on the Ann Arbor Tree Conservancy’s first-ever Tree Tour Bike Ride. The two-hour trip took cyclists nearly 10 miles throughout area parks, Kerrytown and the University of Michigan campus to learn about the city’s trees.

“(We wanted) to build awareness about the great trees we have in Ann Arbor and also encourage bicycle riding in town,” Michael Conlin said, who helped organize the tour.

Arborist Cam Knight led the group with the mayor, pointing out some his favorite trees and teaching participants how to identify them.

Starting at Allmendinger Park, Knight led participants through Wurster Park, Eberwhite Woods, downtown, the U-M campus and Burns Park before ending at the Washtenaw Dairy.


Cam Knight (left) and Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje ride up William Street during the first-ever Bike Ride and Tree Tour of Ann Arbor neighborhoods on Saturday.

Angela J. Cesere |

Among varieties of Oak, Elm and Maple trees, Knight pointed out a Persimmon tree on Fourth Street and a pecan tree at a private residence near Kerrytown. Knight said each of the two trees was the only one of its kind he knew of in the city.

The riders, a mixture of tree enthusiasts, cyclists and those just looking to spend an enjoyable afternoon outside, said they had a good time and learned a lot.

“It was a lot of fun,” Vickie Smith said. “There are sections we just don’t go to, even though we’ve lived here forever.”

Judy Schmidt of the Ann Arbor Bike Touring Society helped plan the bike route but said she had no idea some of these places existed.

“Seeing some of those trees, to me, it’s like a real treasure knowing it’s there,” she said. “It’s like having little treasures all over town.”

Hieftje said the ride emphasized two aspects of the city that have been important to Ann Arbor throughout its history.

“It’s nice to have a focus on trees and biking at the same time,” he said. “It’s two things we focus on in Ann Arbor, historically and most recently.”

Members of the Tree Conservancy said they were pleased with the turnout and plan on making the tour an annual event.

“We call ourselves Tree Town,” member Gary Woodworth said, “and I think we’re moving back to deserving that title.”


Phillip Farber

Fri, Oct 16, 2009 : 8:25 a.m.

EyeHeartA2, addressing your points:. "Same old arguments, because nothing changes. Bikers constantly outside of the bike lanes we all pay for and nothing gets done about it.". I take exception that nothing changes. I fully grant that there are cyclists that ride through red lights. This is a problem of ignorance of the law. It's just the same as driver who blow through crosswalks with pedestrians in them. Ignorance of the law. Education and enforcement is needed. It is not legal to ride through red in Michigan (though it is is Idaho with due care), and I am NOT supporting it. However, I have observed an increasing number of riders stopping at red.. With regard to being outside the bike lane, there is nothing in the law that says that a cyclist is absolutely restricted to the bike lane. An example is when turning left.. "When is the last time you saw a car slow down, have the driver look around and proceed through a red light? Maybe 12:00 at night on an empty road. Not downtown during rush hour, like is a regular occurance with our bike riding friends.". Three days ago, William @ Thompson, around 6 p.m.. If your point is that we need more enforcement and education, I agree. If you're attempting to argue that cyclists do not belong on the road or that proper infrastructure should not be provided for commuting cyclists, I couldn't disagree more strongly. Ann Arbor is fully committed to a path that includes cycling in the mix. As a commuting cyclist, I consider myself fortunate to live and work here because of that commitment.


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 8:58 p.m.

The ride was a joy. The trees were magnificent, and all those who are voicing negative comments about the mayor, bikes, etc. ought to saddle up and do this ride next year. A real treat to visit these giants in our neighborhoods and commentary by arborist Cam Knight was enlightening. Thanks to the AA Tree Conservancy group for setting this up. I plan on paying my respects to that Burr Oak on Lincoln when I pass that way on my bicycle commute.

Concerned Citizen

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 7:13 p.m.

...yes,..."here's to the Indian Trails", :-)!!!

Old Salt

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 1:57 p.m.

In the late 1930's before there was a Wurster Park or homes close by several of us young kids built a club house in that beautiful tree..


Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 6:16 a.m.

Good story! That Wurster Park tree is amazing. There is an equally amazing giant on Crest, south of Liberty. Idea for calendar, web photo series, etc: Amazing trees of Ann Arbor.. It's a great thing to be humbled by the magnificence of an elder tree.

Ryan Munson

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 11:12 p.m.

I had a great time on the bike ride and will be back next year. More than ever, it was amazing to explore areas I have never been to before. I often do single track and road biking in the area. There are always new places to venture and unexplored territory in our wonderful city. I challenge any of the negative posters on here to join the ride next year and see if you find the same great experience I did.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 11:12 p.m.

I thought the ride was great, could have been a little warmer but it didn't rain. I had to leave early so I only went to the west side stops. As co-founder Sue Perry said, the conservancy was appreciative of the mayor for being there. His presence raised the profile of the event. The leaders also said they appreciate the good response they have had from the city to their conservancy. They are already working together. Huron Bob is right, they were hugging the tree.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 10:54 p.m.

Mr. Eckstein; Isn't the path you mention needed because there is no side walk along one whole side of Washtenaw? I am happy to see this being corrected. It will be wide enough for bikers too. This will be a real help to children and adults alike. I think the cost is covered by a grant. Good for the city for doing this. The world does not revolve around cars. Obviously, every tree can't be saved or nothing would ever be built. Sidewalks are important too. Bet there were trees growing where your house is now.

Concerned Citizen

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 10:20 p.m.

Does the "Conservency" actually advocate for trees such as the ones mentioned in the two most previous posts?

Peter Eckstein

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 9:51 p.m.

I hope the bike tour of Treetown included all the trees along Washtenaw between Glenwood and Tuomy that the city is planning to cut down to build a million dollar plus 10-foot wide bikepath linking two sidewalks only 5 feet wide. An excellent view of the trees can be had by biking along the north side of Washtenaw from the County recreation center to East Stadium, crossing with the pedestrian light, and proceeding toward downtown on the west side of Washtenaw. It will cost well over a million dollars to cut down the trees and shrubs and build the new path.

Concerned Citizen

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 8:20 p.m.

Has The Ann Arbor Tree Conservency taken notice of the destruction of the heritage trees next to the "Big Dig" that has already taken place?...Are more trees yet to go?


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 6:04 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Tree Conservancy thanks everyone that came out for our first tree tour bike ride. The weather was great and the group was most enjoyable! We especially thank Mayor John Hieftje for being with us, and Cam Knight for sharing his knowledge of many wonderful Ann Arbor trees. See you all next year!!


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 2:48 p.m.

Sooo....let's cut down some trees to make more shelters at the bus stops?? Oh wait....we could just use build it out of synthetics that will never degrade.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 2:22 p.m.

ok huronbob...tree-hugger...feel better now? lol annarbortownie...I think the money for the bike lanes was well spent...too bad more bikers don't use them much...I have been hit by and brushed by on the sidewalk by riders...and a lot of the riders on the road will squeeze past cars waiting at a red light and those parked on the street to get to the front of traffic only to blow through the red light...but in this town, if a car t-bones a biker running the red light the car driver will most likely be held to's all about those, who are much more environmentally superior to us, that feel they're entitled to do what they want..and as far as the bus stop situation, file a complaint with the AATA or better yet...a slip and fall lawsuit!...bus stop enclosures aren't nearly as pretty as trees or as upscale as the bike lanes...after all, aren't we a wannabe San Fran? All y'all have a great day...

Eric Miller

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 11:56 a.m.

My son and I enjoyed the tour very much. We appreciated Cam's extensive tree knowledge and learned a great deal. Thanks to the organizers and other riders for making a memorable experience. We look forward to next year's tour!

Phillip Farber

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 9:31 a.m.

There it is. The same tired old complaints. Bicyclists are scofflaws, money spent on bike lanes is wasted, why don't bicyclists get tickets, there are more "important" things the city should be doing, blah, blah, blah.. Bicyclist's do get tickets. Money spent painting bike lanes is a small fraction of the millions spent every year in this city to maintain the roads. It's about time someone threw a bone to the thousands of bicycle commuters in Ann Arbor. I guess there are folks out there that would like to see all of them driving to work. Good luck finding parking anywhere in central Ann Arbor if that ever came to pass.. It's not the city's responsibility to clear snow from bus stops. If anyone's, it is AATA. I'd like to have my cake and eat it too. I shovel the bus stop I use myself. Perhaps some more civic minded citizens will take up that job this winter.


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 8:05 a.m.

I love trees and I'd like to see them survive.... however lets look at what the city really needs!! You want people to use the bus AND YET I see bus users perched on top of a snow banks with no cover and no protection waiting for some bus that will hopefully show up...we spend tons of money on bike lanes and yet bikers rarely seem to follow the rules of he road. I know, there are motorist that don't either but I do see them getting tickets! I never see someone on a bile get pulled over! RUN THE CITY!!!


Sun, Oct 11, 2009 : 5:29 a.m.

has anyone used the word "tree hugger" yet???