A More Walkable Barlow Street


by Tyler Bevier

To start 2017 in a more environmental friendly routine, I started the new year by going “Car-Free”. My goal was to walk in the footsteps of those in our community who do not own a car or have access to a personal vehicle. This included taking the bus daily to work, and walking home from weekly errands to the grocery store and the laundromat.

After researching more into BATA’s daily ridership, I found that approximately 1,500 – 1,800 commuters take the bus daily. This equates to roughly the number of parking spaces of four Larry C. Hardy parking decks! This is not counting the vast numbers of residents who walk or bike to work and daily errands.

Moving into my first house in the Traverse Heights neighborhood from my previous apartment in Old Town, the change in the neighborhood walkability was quickly realized. My first few weeks in the neighborhood, I started to walk and take the bus to Family Fare, Deerings Market on Barlow, The Kitchen on Woodmere and Edson Farms on Garfield. The sidewalk network, or lack-thereof was surprising.

To be fair, the City has installed sidewalks the full length of Rose Street from Boon to East Front Street. Coupled with improved lighting from Traverse City Light & Power and Traverse Heights Elementary, this corridor is pleasant to walk day or night.

Yet, many of our north-south and east-west thoroughfares are lacking sidewalk infrastructure, especially to community assets along the Barlow Corridor.

The perimeter of the Salvation Army center is equipped with sidewalks, yet quickly disappears into a front-lawn of a residence not more than a few feet from the center’s property line.

The Barlow Corridor is home to not only the Salvation Army, but other points-of-interest such as Cherry Capital Foods, Image 360, Gordon’s Food Service, Secretary of State Office, US Post Office and the Sail Inn. Collectively, these businesses offer a wide array of uses to area residents and accompanied by increased lighting & sidewalk infrastructure this could be a future neighborhood commercial center for Traverse Heights.

Last year, 3,178 riders used the Barlow/Salvation Army bus stop, and with the lack of sidewalk in either direction, it is likely that many users had to walk in the street throughout the year. From 2015 to 2016, Route 2 (purple) which serves Midtown, Library, Hastings, Traverse Heights Neighborhood, Barlow & Cherryland Center, experienced a 5.4% increase in ridership to a yearly total of just over 72,000 rides for the year. As BATA’s busiest route, walkable corridors will not only enhance ridership but the overall transit & walking experience.

Tyler Bevier is at a transportation planner at BATA, Traverse Heights resident, Wayne State University grad and shovel champion.You can contact him at

Passionate about a more walkable, bikable, livable Traverse City? Get involved with our pro walk/pro bike advocacy grupo HERE.