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Posted on Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 6:05 a.m.

Bicyclists raising funds to help repave section of Huron River Drive

By Heather Lockwood

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Huron River Drive is popular among bicyclists, who are now working to raise funds to replace a section of the roadway.

Melanie Maxwell |

Editor's note: Roy Townsend, Washtenaw County Road Commission highway engineer, said the fundraising effort has met it's goal of $30,000 to help repave a portion of Huron River Drive. 

Don Broadway compares bicycling on Huron River Drive to “driving through a minefield.”

“It’s too dangerous to ride. I personally will not ride certain sections,” said Broadway, chair of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society. “You fall off a bike when you’re going 15, 20 miles an hour, you’re breaking a collar bone ... or you could be killed.”

Roy Townsend, Washtenaw County Road Commission highway engineer, said two repaving projects are to begin on scenic Huron River Drive between Ann Arbor and Dexter in late August. 

The first project, repaving 2.5 miles of Huron River Drive between Zeeb and Tubbs roads, is expected to cost $400,000. The second project, repaving a 1.01-mile stretch between Wagner and Maple roads, is expected to cost $200,000, according to Townsend.

Townsend said both projects will be funded by a combination of federal, Washtenaw County Road Commission and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation funds. 

But to repave the 0.77-mile gap between Tubbs and Wagner roads will require an additional $90,000.

That’s where Broadway and others come in.

Broadway said the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, the Ann Arbor Velo Club and others in the community are working to raise $30,000 by the end of the month. The Road Commission has said it will “double match” funds raised by the community—meaning if the groups raise $30,000, the Road Commission will contribute $60,000 to reach the end goal of $90,000.

The Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society will also match its members' donations dollar-for-dollar until it reaches a total of $5,000 in donations.

Ted Green, CEO of Greenview Data Inc. and member of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, and his wife Debbie Green have helped lead the community fundraising effort, which began early this month and raised $12,000 within the first week.

"(Huron River Drive) is the most used bicycle road in Washtenaw County, by far," Green said. "It's an important feature of Washtenaw County. It's an important road in terms of making the county and the city of Ann Arbor a place people want to move to."

Suzy Engleberg rode about 15 miles on her bike Wednesday afternoon. The Ann Arbor woman, who has been cycling for about 15 years, said she used to ride Huron River Drive, but now prefers to stick to Whitmore Lake Road.

"To be honest with you, I have not ridden (Huron River Drive) in a long time," Engleberg said after finishing her daily bike ride. "It's not friendly to bikers at all. Ann Arborites have for years kept wondering, 'Why can't we get a better road?'"

Green said some potential donors "feel conflicted about paying for something they feel their taxes should cover."

"A lot of people don't understand that the only source of funds (for roads in the state) is the state gasoline tax, and Michigan has been unable and unwilling to raise that," he said. "The county does not get any money for road repair through the tax system, and that is the reason that Michigan has some of the worst roads in the country."

Green said because the stretch between Tubbs and Wagner roads is in such poor repair, federal funds can't be used to repave it.

"The irony is that...the section we are trying to (repair) has to be ground-up, leveled and repaired. It requires more than a simple repave. And because of the added effort, the federal funds were not available," he said. "The last time there was repaving in that section was about 10 years ago."

The section of Huron River Drive within the Ann Arbor city limits was repaved a couple of years ago.

Broadway said despite the potholes, Huron River Drive offers a scenic view and a great place to spot wildlife.

“It is probably one of the most premier cycling and jogging roads in this corner of the state,” he said. “It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous ride.”

The Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society is offering a free one-year membership to any non-member who makes a donation, Broadway said, adding a suggested minimum donation is $50.

Lucas Wall, vice president of the Ann Arbor Velo Club, said repaving the "very rough" Huron River Drive will benefit both cyclists and motorists.

"Cyclists are really interested in helping improve the roads," Wall said. "It keeps the roads safer."

Anyone interested in donating is asked to write a check to the Washtenaw County Road Commission and send it to the Ann Arbor Bicyle Touring Society, Attn: HRD Repaving, P.O. Box 1585, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. For more information, e-mail Ted Green at

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2536.



Mon, Jul 19, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

To lokalisierung- the reason bikers ride it is because after zeeb road, there are very few houses, so you would expect LESS CAR TRAFFIC. Other roads from dexter to ann arbor are too heavily used and the speed limits are greater. The speed limit on huron river drive is posted 35 for most of it. If drivers would actually pay attention and abide by that it would be safer for everyone as well.I agree bikers should have to obey ALL the traffic laws as well, and it bugs me when they don't. I ride when I can and the bikers that ignore the traffic rules just make us all look bad. Oh, and to T- too many of us out riding childrens toys on roads designed for automobiles???? Really??? If it doesn't burn gas it's a childrens toy? The first paved roads were actually made for bikes, not cars, look it up. I don't even bike HRD that often anymore, but I'd be willing to donate. When I do need to go into Ann Arbor from Dexter, I almost never drive HRD because I do want to let the bikers and runners/walkers enjoy it as car free as possible, and how much can you really see of the beauty of that route out your car window traveling 45 miles per hour? We all talk about alternate transportation and saving gas...well??? Why not back off that road a bit for people trying to do that? I am so in favor of shutting it down to car traffic on saturdays for bikers/runners! I do agree some decent bike lanes on many of the roads around here would be great. More people, including myself, would bike into Ann Arbor for shopping and work if we had them.

Heather Lockwood

Sat, Jul 17, 2010 : 2:09 p.m.

I wanted to let everyone know that Roy Townsend, Washtenaw County Road Commission highway engineer, said in an email that the fundraising effort has met its goal of $30,000 to help repave the portion of Huron River Drive between Tubbs and Wagner roads.

Lew Kidder

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 3:24 p.m.

A couple of observations: First, for those (Scooter Dog) who think they know "the law" as it pertains to bicycles on public roads, here's what it actually says: Section 257.657 of the Michigan Vehicular Code: "Every person riding a bicycle... upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article... " Section 257.660(1). "A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction." Section 257.660(2). "A person riding a bicycle, motorcycle, or moped upon a roadway shall not ride more than 2 abreast... " Second, as to tax burdens, one should note: A. Scio Township has the second-lowest tax burden among the 20 townships in the county - and leaving aside the Jackson Road corridor (covered by its own DDA), its only expenditure on roads for the last several years has been some $13,000/year for two applications of brine on its 33 miles of gravel surfaces. B. Only three townships in the county have millage specific to roads (Saline, Bridgewater, and Manchester) C. The amount Michigan puts into roads is shamefully behind all of our neighboring states. Just as an example, Michigan's gas tax is 19 cents/gal, compared with 28 cents in Ohio, 32 cents in Wisconsin, and 35 cents in Pennsylvania.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

FYI From "The city also requires that all cyclists keep to the right of the road when driving in the roadway, which includes always driving in the direction of traffic flow."

Hot Sam

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

"""his is not about Government, monies wasted, etc""" It's not? We have a group of citizens trying to raise money to fix something that their tax dollars should already be fixing... Talk about ludicrous...


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

I will be donating to this as well. HRD is one of the nicest rides in Ann Arbor, and I use it often. Fixing the potholes will reduce the number of complaints against cyclists. The edges of the road are often in the worse condition, forcing cyclists further into the lane. T said: "There's already too many of you riding your childrens toys on busy streets designed for AUTOMOBILES." T, I can tell from this statement that you are ignorant of the law. Please look it up. A cyclist has every right to the road that an automobile does.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

....for the amount of taxes that we pay in Ann Arbor and Scio Township, the public should NOT have to raise funds for roads. Maybe the bike lane portion, but an entire section of road.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 11:49 p.m.

I agree with Ryan. Bicyclists need to share the road with cars. Too many cyclists are riding at the same time with heavy traffic and winding roads. I drive Huron River everyday and I'm always putting myself in danger trying to get around a cyclist that's in the middle of the lane. It's not the pot holes that are making the road dangerous. Bike lanes would be the answer.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 6:12 p.m.

To quote Rodney King, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?" I live along the stretch of HRD between Zeeb and Tubbs and believe this is the best doggone road for drivers, bikers and runners. Yes, the 35 mph is slow if you are driving. But I like it that way because the slower speed limit allows bikers, runners and cars to safely share the road. Bikers shouldn't be forced into riding on 50 mph roads which have no better shoulders like Dexter-Chelsea or Whitmore Lake Rd. People in cars just need to hang back a second to wait until they get past the blind curve or the oncoming cars before passing. I do - daily. Take that second to spot a groundhog or an eagle. I just think its too bad the monies can't get shifted a bit. The stretch of HRD from Zeeb to Greenook Blvd (Loch Alpine) doesn't need to be repaved nearly so badly as the section they are fundraising. Can grant monies be shifted???

b master b

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

What I do when I get stuck behind them in the middle of the road: stay behind them for a little bit and then just lay on the horn. Works every time


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

007 I don't think YOU read his post. "Don't use this road if you can use another route. It is not the best way to anywhere, except for a handful of people." "Just cause it seems the most direct and easy route doesn't make it the most efficient. Even if it is the fastest route, take the extra minute to use other roads (Miller, Dexter, Dexter-Pinckney) as much as possible." "Folks floating or fishing the river can surely commit to this small good deed for muscle-powered outdoor activity and spread the word." "And drive like it belongs to the bikers if you must be on it." His entire post is totally condecending and reeks of self rightiousness. If it's not the best way to get places when why are bicyclists on it? I assume casue it's a scenic route, same reason many of the driver are on it.

scooter dog

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 5 p.m.

What they need to do is raise the speed limit to 45,because everyone is doing that and alot more. The bikes persons think they own the road now,whats going to happen when they pay to pave it. If they stay in single file near the edge of the road like the law says,then there is no problem as far as I can see,but they don't and never will so then there will be problems. I quit driving HRD so they can do as they please

Jay Allen

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

This is not about Government, monies wasted, etc. Why make ludicrous posts stating such a thing when they are not relevant? Making 'relevant' posts would be a good thing don't 'cha think? I am also shocked as to the number of people that skim posts and do not READ them. I would get into "reading comprehension" however that could be deemed harsh. I strongly urge the majority of you bashing Rork Kuick to read his post. He is merely stating that "perhaps" HRD is not the most direct route. He did not say (or ask) that NO ONE drive on the road. How anyone could infer that is beyond me. And it is his opinion. All of us are sharing ours, so just because his is not in line with yours, he is wrong? This is an awesome grass roots campaign. I think the folks trying to do this are to be commended. If more people actually cared to this extent about most junk, the entire place would be better off.

Hot Sam

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

that's already "be" fixing this road :-)

Hot Sam

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 4:23 p.m.

How about demanding some accountability for the massive amounts of money we spend that should already fixing this road???

b master b

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 4:08 p.m.

How about you all find a road to ride that has bike lanes. I will continue to drive down HRD at 50mph in my SUV but thanks for paying to repair it so it is better on my sport suspension


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 1:30 p.m.

Wow rork! Thats idiotic. Maybe instead of repairing the road bikers should just donate for a bike path along the river so we could have an alternative to bikes and cars presenting a dangerous mix on the road. There is a very nice path from howell to hamburg in livingston. Couldnt we envision something like this in washtenaw?


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 12:48 p.m.

HRD is a great driving road & biking road. I personally love to drive it, relaxing or full throttle, it's great.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

MDavids comment is the most rational comment on this article. Both, cyclists and motorists alike need to be more responsible and patient on HRD. It's a great, scenic road terrific for both driving and cycling that should remain a shared thoroughfare. I believe a wider shoulder or bike lane would be an ideal solution, but if I recall correctly it either isn't feasible for HRD or was an idea shot down by environmentalists several years ago with concerns about the river and land a bike lane would require. A few years ago another laughable idea was proposed of closing the road to vehicles all together. Everyone should slow down, obey the laws including no texting while driving and riding single file and share the road. Enjoy the beauty of nature and share the road. Thanks an avid rider and driver.

Townie Kid

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 10 a.m.

I'm happy to donate... as a cyclist on HRD, it's very difficult in places to ride on the shoulder (or get over to the far right when a car is coming from behind) BECAUSE of the pothole situation. Fixing the road will actually help courteous cyclists make room for cars to pass!


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

Don't use the road? This reminds me of an open house the city had a few years ago prior to repaving its section of the road. They offered a survey that asked a question, "Do you feel safe walking on Huron River Drive?" I would've offered a follow up, "Then don't. IT'S A ROAD. You can't swing a cat in this town without hitting a park. Walk there". I can't ride a bicycle. I like driving Huron River Drive. I'm perfectly happy to share the road with cyclists. I do get a little torqued off when they're riding three abreast even as I try and pass them. I applaud the cyclists' effort and will also pony up.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

In my younger days, I rode my bike on HRD and was run off the road and landed in a wire fence. I won't go there now! What makes it dangerous for cyclists isn't just the potholes, but the lack of a bike lane or a shoulder. There are portions of the road that simply cannot be widened due to the proximity of the river on one side of the road and the sloping hills on the other side. As scenic as HRD is, it is not a good choice for cyclists, regardless of the condition of the road! There are a lot of near misses and it still surprises me that (thankfully) I've never seen a serious accident between a vehicle and a bicycle.

5c0++ H4d13y

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 9:21 a.m.

@Ryan you're the only one putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Here's some hints; don't cross the double yellow line on blind curves, don't pass on blind curves and hills, slow down and wait until visibility is optimal for passing. All the time on HRD while riding my motorcycle I have to deal with cars that cannot pass a cyclist without getting all four wheels on the other side of double yellow on a blind curve or hill. They paint those two yellow lines for a reason. So to all car drivers... stop crossing the double yellow. If you do don't worry about going to jail. Killing people on two wheels is legal in Michigan if you do it with a car no matter what.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

Thanks to everyone so far who has donated or voiced their positive support for this project. We're already two-thirds of the way to our fundraising goal. If anyone would like more information on the project or wants to keep track of how the fundraising is going, you can check out the Community Projects page on the Greenview Data website here:


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

In response to Ryan's first post: I'm a motorist and cyclist and I use HRD as both. As a cyclist (2000 miles/year) who has the right to use Michigan roads, I'm required to ride as far to the right as safely possible. That does not necessarily mean riding on the shoulder (even if paved). As a motorist, I slow down and move to pass a cyclist when it is safe to do so. I give them approximately 3 feet which does not usually require me to cross the center line if the cyclist is far to the right. If not, I just try to be patient. It usually doesn't take long for on-coming traffic to clear. That said, I am as much annoyed by ignorant and inconsiderate cyclists as you might be. As cyclists, we are part of the overall animosity problem when we don't obey the rules of the road. I really believe we need to start ticketing unlawful cycling as one facet of the solution.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

I totally agree with Rork, if you have to be on HRD in a half ton vehicle drive slowly or not at all. I have friends in Chelsea and Dexter and find that I can cut my time in half by taking the highway or Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. instead of HRD to visit them.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 8:09 a.m.

@Rork: Why would motorists drive on a public road "like it belongs to cyclists"? Do you drive on the Highway like it belongs to semi trucks? Do lakes belong to fisherman vs powerboaters? Do the rivers belong to rowers vs tubers?


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

Are you seriously suggesting cars should not drive down Huron River Drive because cyclists use it? What are you smoking?

Rork Kuick

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

I don't bike it but ask the obvious of motorists: Don't use this road if you can use another route. It is not the best way to anywhere, except for a handful of people. Just cause it seems the most direct and easy route doesn't make it the most efficient. Even if it is the fastest route, take the extra minute to use other roads (Miller, Dexter, Dexter-Pinckney) as much as possible. Folks floating or fishing the river can surely commit to this small good deed for muscle-powered outdoor activity and spread the word. And drive like it belongs to the bikers if you must be on it.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:41 a.m.

I am all for people getting outdoors and enjoying their sport. However I cannot understand why cyclists would choose a road with blind curves and no shoulder to ride on. Yes it is sceneic and everything, but it is it worth getting killed for? As a motorist I am also placed in a dangerous position on this road. When passing cyclists (who often fail to move to the shoulder) I have to go into oncoming traffic just to be able to continue on my way, after waiting for an available section of road to do so. If cyclists really want to do something good for the road, take up a fund for adding a bike lane to the shoulder and save the lives of yourselves as well as motorists.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

It's commendable for the AA bike clubs to step forward in the effort to repave a portion of this road that they enjoy traveling, so much. Perhaps the organizers of the Dexter/Ann Arbor Run could join in on this project. I'm sending my donation in.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Kudos! Count me in. It is awesome that such a grass roots effort such as this, along with the county, and federal dollars will make a considerable difference. As an avid cyclist, I agree with the article that parts of Huron River drive have become too unsafe for cyclists. A fellow cyclist managed to get two flats in one day traversing the mess of potholes and we both had given up on the our favorite run to Chelsea. I look for forward to riding HRD in the future and bravo to all involved. This is what community is truly about!


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 7:05 a.m.

That's great that the bicycling community is stepping up to the plate on this. I wonder is included in all the plans are bike lanes or at least a more substantial shoulder. Frankly, I always thought those who bicycled on that road at during rush hour showed questionable jusdgement. Giving cyclists a safer place upon which to ride will help them. I hope this makes it safer and more efficient for all.

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 6:32 a.m.

Every year before the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run I wonder how many runners will break an ankle running on Huron River Drive. The stretch just east of Mast is a mess, also. Maybe the runners could be asked to help?


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 6:20 a.m.

There is no road bead and heavy trucks destroy it. No weight limit that is what destroys the Michigan roads not cars or bikes. 250,000 lb trucks cement trucks, Gravel trains they trash the roads. Build light weight bridges and when they try to use the roads they fall through that's more effective then wt, signs.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 5:55 a.m.

Count me in. Although I don't belong to those clubs I do occasionally bike Huron and it can be very dangerous because the road is so horrible.


Thu, Jul 15, 2010 : 5:32 a.m.

As much as it pains me to do this because I know it will just be back in the same run-down condition 5 years from now, I'm in for $100. I'd be in for $500 if I thought Michigan knew how or really wanted to build a road that lasts.