On Hines Drive, bikes and pedestrians take over the street once a week

This article is part of Inside Our Outdoors, a series about Southeast Michigan's connected parks, greenways, and trails and how they affect residents' quality of life. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

Open Streets is a type of event that temporarily closes down roadways to motor vehicle traffic so that cyclists and pedestrians can enjoy them in a safe, unimpeded way. Events like these have grown increasingly popular in recent years, showing upBicyclists pose near Nankin Mills Park in places like Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit in Southeast Michigan. 

But at Hines Drive in Wayne County, Open Streets isn't just some new trend that's catching on; it's actually part of a long tradition. The county has been holding its own version of Open Streets, an event called Saturday in the Park, for over three decades now.

Saturday in the Park takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from May to the end of September, rain or shine. The county closes six miles of Hines Drive from Ann Arbor Trail to Outer Drive. 

Kim Healy, recreation manager for Wayne County Parks, has seen all kinds of different non-motorized users take advantage of the event.

"I've seen parents bring kids with their tricycles. I've seen unicycles out there," she says. "It's just a great way for anyone interested in doing exercise to be able to bike ride, run, rollerblade right on the road with no vehicle traffic."

In addition to closing Hines Drive for the weekly event, the county is also sponsoring special pop-ups with informational booths, giveaways, and scavenger hunts at Nankin Mills Park every other Saturday during the season. This year's remaining pop-ups will be held on Aug. 7 and 24 and Sept. 4 and 18. They take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The event is open to non-motorized users of all ages. Visitors should bring their Saturday in the Park pop-up eventown safety equipment. Parking is available at Nankin Mills Park, located east of Ann Arbor Trail, and at Helms Haven Park, which is located on Hines Drive west of Outer Drive.

Like a lot of outdoor activities, attendance at the event has increased a bit over the last year and a half. That's not surprising to Healy, who notes that Saturday in the Park is a pretty safe activity for those who might be concerned about COVID-19.

"There is plenty of room to social distance, if that's something that people are concerned about," she says. "It's miles long and there are different entry points that people can get onto the road from, so overcrowding is not an issue."

In addition to Saturday at the Park, there are plenty of opportunities for bicyclists to enjoy the park. Hines Drive offers about 15 miles of paved bike lanes between Dearborn Heights and Northville, as well as unpaved trails and its own special bike park.
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Read more articles by David Sands.