06 July 2018

Riding Every Linear Mile

One of the great things about cycling in my hometown of New York is that it allows me to see a lot of street art close-up.  My commute to work takes me through an industrial area of the Bronx where murals of one kind and another cover the walls of industrial buildings.  It's become such a part of the landscape that nobody, it seems, refers to it as "graffiti", a term that implies impermanence and echoes disdain.

I have also seen street art, or the art of industrial spaces, while pedaling through streets and along canals and railways (some disused) in other cities on both sides of the Atlantic.  I'm sure other cyclists have had their minds and senses similarly enriched in cities I have yet to visit.

Detroit is one of those places and Thomas Leeper is one of those cyclists.  Except that he claims he's "not really a bicyclist."  Whatever he chooses to call himself, he's ridden 2200 miles of The Motor City's streets during the past sixteen months for his passion project, Every Linear Mile.  

He's been photographing graffiti, murals and other kinds of art, including found-object-art, he's seen along the way.  His goal, he says, is to "give kudos" to folks who are "helping to beautify the city" with their work.  "Ninety-nine percent of it was created with no financial incentive in mind," he explains, so their efforts don't cost anything to the financially-strapped city.

Since he began the project, he's had 11 flat tires, stepped on seven nails, has had nine verbal offers of drugs and been chased by eight dogs.  "I've learned how to ride fast when I need to," he says, and keeps pepper spray on him, but "has never really felt unsafe."  


  1. There's a rail-trail bike path in southern RI, that goes under a wide road in Wakefield. The concrete walls are a canvas for local street artists, and they've been actively working several times I've gone through. The art is cool, but the fumes, not so much. Particularly since this is near the top of a hill, so if I've been coming from the low end, I'm usually breathing pretty heavily by the time I get there. Not exactly the sort of enrichment of the mind and senses I can appreciate at the time.

  2. Ailish--It's great to see you here again! Too bad that underpass has to be on a hill you and other cyclists climb: Otherwise, the art could be an inspiration!