ANN ARBOR, (WLNS) – The novel coronavirus pandemic has given some people more free time the past few months. Some picked up a new hobby. Others have binged Netflix shows to ease the boredom.
But Kevin Bohannon of Ann Arbor rode his bicycle 818 miles, traversing every street in the city limits at least once.
“If you ride a 30-mile ride, where you’re going through neighborhoods, you’re stopping and starting more, you’re turning more, you’re going to the end of a cul de sac and coming back out,” Bohannon said. “It’s a very different style of bicycling.
Bohannon, a University of Michigan biologist, did this in 12 weeks, mapping out his travels and discovering parks and landmarks in Ann Arbor he’d never seen before. Getting out on his bike, Bohannon said, helped him battle cabin fever while while working from home.
While he said he’s no triathlete, Bohannon enjoys biking recreationally, taking long-distance rides and exploring different areas. He’s hesitant to say he’s the first to travel every city street, but it is likely the case with the current street map.
“As a scientist, we’re always taught to never say that you’re the first to do something because you’ll probably be proven wrong,” Bohannon said. “I probably, to the best of my knowledge, am the first person to do this.”
Bohannon got the idea to bike all over Ann Arbor from seeing a set of ravines next to houses by Wildwood Park while taking a walk. It gave him a desire to explore more.
“It was so unexpected to me and felt so out of place that I kind of wondered, what other things did Ann Arbor have going for it that I didn’t know about?” Bohannon said.
Bohannon made a plan. He would bike major streets first, then bike sections of neighborhoods that stemmed from those streets when he rode out. He would also use his GPS to help mitigate backtracking.
According to the city of Ann Arbor’s engineering department website, there are around 300 miles of streets in Ann Arbor, which is far less than what Bohannon rode. One reason is because every cul de sac and dead end street he rode on turned him around, doubling the length he had to ride.
Also, Bohannon said he rode an average of 45 minutes a day, which meant he had to backtrack on roads he already rode on to get to new streets and neighborhoods and to return to his home.
“I would look at the neighborhood before I bike down there and I would come up with a strategy in terms of how I thought I could most efficiently ride through the neighborhood,” Bohannon said. “That said, lot of times you’re crossing back over your path, your twist twisting back around, and you’re covering old ground.”
There were some challenges he did not expect, Bohannon said. Riding through neighborhoods and streets involved a lot of stopping and turning, which was a different style of bike riding than what he’s used to.
Another unexpected hurdle was traversing dirt roads on his road bike
“When you’ve got road tires on, a single piece of gravel can throw your balance one way or the other and it’s just uncomfortable riding,” Bohannon said.
But rewards came with his cycling persistence. While some streets did not offer much to look at, others offered hidden gems, including finding parks next to elementary schools in the Ann Arbor beltway, Bohannon said.
Along the way, he also got to see the Frank Lloyd Wright Palmer House and the University of Michigan’s Athletic complex, Ann Arbor landmarks he hadn’t seen in person before.
Beyond landmarks, Bohannon saw the scope of how people were adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. He saw more and more signage thanking healthcare workers the more he rode. He got to see families playing in their yards or working in their gardens together.
Bohannon completed his travels on June 26 and posted his route on various Reddit pages. Through this, he’s discovered there are communities dedicated to traversing every street in a municipality.
“I might (do it again) if I move to another similarly sized city,” Bohannon. “It might be something to do to learn about your environment, see what’s out there and get a feel for how people live.”
This article is adapted from MLive.