Wear orange. Look rad. Support a happy, healthy, strong Traverse City.


Norte! is Traverse City’s pro bike advocacy organization dedicated to building a stronger, better connected and more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring the young and young at heart through bicycles.

By wearing our very, very orange spandex and being an Equipo Norte! ambassador you will help raise awareness for our mission and look rad doing it. 

Thanks to Champion-System, we are able to offer our jerseys to awesome people like you at cost. $55.

We also have bibs, arm warmers, vests, jackets and socks available to order. See below.

order button

Once we reach the 10 piece minimum, we will place the order. Expect a 6-8 week turn around time.

Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org with questions.

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Barlow Street Needs a Complete Approach

barlow 1.jpg
by Gary Howe
I encourage everyone to drive down Barlow Street, from Carver to South Airport, and count the number of people waking dangerously on the side of the street. Each time I find myself on this street, I start counting the cringe worthy moments when someone is put into a dangerous situation because of the lack of infrastructure and design to address the urban context. 

It is dangerous by design to have a high speed street without sidewalks, bike lanes, and nary a crosswalk within sight. This is on all of us. The recent death and countless injuries are on all of us for not addressing the needs of all along Barlow Street.

I urge all of us at the City, County Road Commission, and Township to find the political will to transform Barlow Street into a safe, comfortable, and inviting corridor. I’m afraid the rural solution of widen the roadway with wider shoulders is highly inadequate and will likely worsen the problem. Wider streets equal faster speeds, faster speeds equal a decrease in safety and even more unequal treatment for those on foot, wheelchair, or bike. 

The City and the Road Commission have passed Complete Street resolutions. We have done so because streets designed for everyone create a better, more equal, and more prosperous community. Let’s find the will do what is right on Barlow Street.

Gary Howe is at a Traverse City Commissioner (Mayor Pro-tem), placemaking advocate, photographer extraordinaire, writer at A Strong Traverse City and beagle lover. You can follow him on twitter @GLHJR.

Recent Barlow Street stories:

A More Walkable Barlow Street by Tyler Bevier

Barlow Street Needs All of Our Voices by Laura Otwell

Please email the County Road Commission, Township Planning and Supervisor, and City planning, manager and commission if you agree that Barlow Street needs to be made safer for all people with sidewalks, crosswalks and, better lighting and bike lanes.




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


Car-Free Traverse City: Maria Kinney


Car-Free Traverse City is a year long story series inspired by BATA’s Tyler Bevier that highlights ordinary people doing ordinary things without a car in TC.

February 2017: Part I

by Maria Kinney

I’ve always been in awe of them. From the comfort of my living room, I’ve often watched through the window as they cruise along my street, their fancy fat tires cutting through snow drifts like butter. “I could do that!” I think, until I wake up and look at the blowing snow outside my door and reach for my boyfriend’s car keys. Again.

Winter bikers! What do they have that I don’t—muscles, gear, willpower, more caffeine? Is it hard? Is it safe? And do I really need those fancy tires anyway?

I’m about to find out. Because here I am, 8:30 at night, wrapped in a balaclava, trying to get onto an old mountain bike (no fancy tires here) but my long winter coat is catching on the seat. It’s a real icy night and I just slid a bit, but caught myself before I wiped out completely. Phew! The gears are sticking (they say don’t ride a bike with gears but this is all I’ve got) and I’m having trouble getting traction to move forward. I signal to the nervous car behind me to go forward. The driver stops to ask if I’m okay. I’m reminded of why I love Traverse City.

Almost home. Minor difficulties. No sweat.

Also, it’s my birthday.

I’m typically a summer biker, haven’t owned a car in years. With biking, my everyday commute becomes an adventure. It presents to me a world I’d normally never see, moments I’d never have otherwise. Every minute I’d typically spend in a car I am nameless and faceless, removed from humanity, grumpily focused on traffic, circling for parking spots. With biking, I spend those moments in the fresh air, pumping my blood, riding across beautiful bridges or through tunnels of trees. I might stop to catch the sunset or say hello to a stranger.


Mostly, I feel good. It just makes me happy.

So far winter has been no different. Even with the challenge of the cold, I’m enjoying myself. Still, there are days when it is difficult to make it all work. Luckily, we have BATA.

BATA has a bike rack on the front of each bus (did you know that?). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have to get the kids from school. So I bike to Glenn Loomis from my job at Higher Grounds and we walk to the bus stop at Veteran’s and 15th. Sydney, 10, and Arden, 8, love it! With their Zoom cards ready, they say hello to the driver and find their seats as I pop my bike on the rack. They are getting good at knowing when our stop is approaching, and like to take turns pulling the cord.

We make new friends every day as we all ride BATA home to Webster Street. Often, a young man sporting colorful, light-up headphones sits near us (Sydney thinks he is the coolest). Last week, a retired army paratrooper showed Arden his medals and shared stories about skydiving (he has made over 50 jumps in his lifetime). On that same day, as we turned onto Railroad Ave. we passed their dad working at the Rock Stop. We waved at each other through the window.

I still have the rest of the month to go, but so far it’s turning out to be great. A challenge, but great. I’m still not sure I’ll spring for any fancy gear—my basic setup is good enough for me—but I just might be a winter biker after all.

Car Free February, here I come!

Maria is an Oak Park resident, chalk artist extraordinaire, coffee nerd, top notch smore maker, and community activist. You can follow her adventures here : instagram.com/mariatherese


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


Kids. Bikes. Traverse City. And the International Winter Cycling Conference.


photo credit: Beth Price Photography

We are STOKED to have been invited to present at the International Winter Cycling Conference in Montreal this week. Kind of a big deal!

Here’s our presentation abstract:

How can elementary school students stay Happy, healthy and ready-to-learn through the winter in snowy Traverse City, Michigan? With support from City officials who are dedicated to keeping streets and trails cleared, school district leadership and principals who pedal to class with their students, a generous community that donates bikes to a kids winter bike “library” and a grassroots bike plow champion who is passionate about making the commute to school safe for kids, Norte!, a youth-focused, bike-centric nonprofit advocacy organization, is shifting habits and behaviors about year round active transportation in this small Northern Michigan town. Encouraging more kids to bike to school has inspired people of all ages to keep moving even though the winter which boasts an average annual snowfall of 259 cm. Traverse City has earned back to back Top 20 finishes in International Winter Bike To Work Day. Not too bad for a town of just 15,000.

Like to do ordinary things – go to work, school, to the store or library – on your bicycle in Traverse City during the winter? Share a photo for our presentation.


And don’t forget to commit for Winter Bike To Work + School Day!




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 tylerbevier@gmail.com.

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