One of the most spectacular alternate scenarios (non-imagined) is actually taking place in an area called the Dequindre Cut; a long stretch of abandoned railroad tracks. Not used since the mid 1980’s, it has been taken over by tall weeds, graffiti, birds, pheasants, and the occasional human inhabitant with a tent or self-made shelter. Going down into the Dequindre Cut used to be quite thrilling, like being on a subterranean safari, or entering The Zone in Tarkovsky’s Stalker, when the regular world is left behind and suddenly everything turns a magnificent green.
Dequindre Cut, Detroit – 2007
In less than a year however the Dequindre Cut has been transformed into a two-way bike path, complete with on and off ramps, like those used to enter a freeway. Also included are security poles with which you can call the police, and a yet to be completed grassy area with benches.
Dequindre Cut, Detroit – 2008
Although common elsewhere, a bike path in the Motor City seemed an extremely unlikely scenario when I first visited Detroit in 2001. But inspired by the success stories of ‘Rails to Trails’ programs in many other American cities, Detroit is now also turning some of its disused industrial infrastructure into places for leisure and bicycles.