Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

26 July 2013

Mackinac Island, Somewhere In Time

What do these images have in common?

Well, in both photos, people are on bicycles.  But there doesn't seem to be much else in common, right?

It's fairly obvious that the second photo was taken more than a century after the first. But they were taken in the same place--or the same locale, anyway.

I'm talking about Mackinac Island, Michigan.  It's in Lake Huron, between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsula.  

Motorized vehicles have been banned on the island since 1898.  The only exceptions are emergency vehicles (owned by the city that shares the name with the island), motorized wheelchairs and golf carts, which cannot be operated outside of the golf course.  Also, snowmobiles are permitted in winter.

In the 2010 Census, the Island had 492 permanent residents.  However, during the peak tourist season (summer), there are as many as 15.000 people.  Even then, neither visitors nor residents report a sense of being overcrowded. 

The Island also boasts the only state highway in the US--M185--where motorized traffic is not allowed. The road circles the island, hugging the shoreline, and thus affords some fine views.

Mackinac has one of the strongest historical preservation movements in the US.  As a result, the entire island is designated as a National Historic Landmark.  Among the most iconic structures is the Grand Hotel, which featured prominently in two films:  This Time For Keeps and Somewhere In Time, which was shot entirely on the island.

 Bicycling is said to be the most popular way of getting around the island.  Also, people walk a lot, and quite a few roller-skate.  All of that human-powered notion is no doubt fueled by the island's most famous product:  its fudge.

It's interesting and perhaps ironic that in a state that's synonymous with the automotive industry, there's a place where no cars are allowed.  Even more interesting, the now-115-year-old ban began right around the time that the auto industry was beginning.


  1. We spent a fun day riding around the island a few years ago. Michigan as a whole turned out to be a great place for riding.It has a lot of nice rails-to-trails which we enjoy.

  2. Hi Justine,

    Just a note of thanks for visiting and leaving insightful comments on my WBAI blog. I am learning much from reading what you have to say here, on your own turf. Having grown into adulthood in Denmark, I am no stranger to biking, that having been my mode of transportation to school, and later to work, come rain, shine, or snow. Getting your wheel stuck in a streetcar track was hell.

    At 82, my bicycling days are over, although I had a great great aunt who died in her 90s without having retired her trusty Raleigh.

    I don't know if you have any interest in jazz or blues, but that is something I devoted almost all my life to. You might like Bessie Smith, about whom I wrote a book, and I think you will get something out of listening to my 1971 interviews with her niece, Ruby Walker. I posted long extracts on my other blog, stomp-off [at] blogspot.com.

    Please understand that I am not hawking here, I just think you might find something of interest there.

    Take care and thank you, again.

  3. Hello from a Michigander! I am glad to hear you enjoyed your bicycling adventure in Michigan, Mackinac Island is one of our gems, especially for bike riding. Nice blog here.

  4. Randy and Deb--Thank you for your insights and perspectives (and compliments!). I think Michigan shares a similarity with New York State: people tend to associate each state with its largest city, for better and worse.

    Chris--I am very much interested in jazz (and music generally), so I am happy to see your comments. Also, I would be fascinated to hear more about your coming of age in Denmark. Were you there during WWII?

    Also: Have you checked out my other blog?