I winter bike

Ben Boyce spends most of his time at work riding around town with kids on bikes as the program director for Norte. At least, it works out that way in the spring, summer and fall. In the winter, there is far too much computer time involved, so biking to work is Ben’s chance to get away from the screen, stretch his legs a little, and appreciate being outdoors. “Even if it is just for a few miles from a park and ride spot, getting myself around town or to work under my own power is a big mood-boost for me”, says Ben.

A couple of go-to’s for Ben’s winter biking:

  • Sunglasses or goggles to keep the snow flakes out, and protect against the polar vortex
  • Mittens!
  • Go slow on the turns.

World Class Walk/Bike Infrastructure on Traverse City’s Revisioned 8th Street? Yes, please

After last night’s Traverse City Commission Study Session, I’ve been thinking and researching a lot on best practice cycle-track design, which I truly believe is what we should be shooting for with this project – bike infrastructure that is world class.

This document that was shared yesterday referenced Vassar Street in Cambridge, MA as an example of a cycle track that co-exists with driveways. I reached out to a few friends in the Boston area to get their thoughts on Vassar. The feedback was luke-warm: wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible. Per these frequent users, the main issue with the Vassar cycle track is with the proximity of the cycle track and the sidewalk, a concern that Mayor Carruthers raised in the meeting last night. In fact, Cambridge has since changed the way they design cycle tracks since Vassar St. to better separate bicyclists and pedestrians.

My MA friends gave an example of Western Ave. in Cambridge, MA as an example of a cycle track done even better. The main difference here is the green space/tree space is placed between the sidewalk and cycle-track. This reduces potential conflicts between bikes/peds and also places bicyclists in a more visible position to drivers on the roadway or entering/exiting driveways.

Here at Norte, what we are expecting in the final design is what the Envision Eighth process called for – dedicated, welcoming space for all road users. Ultimately a healthy and vibrant place that is walkable, bikeable, and safe for all users.

A few things we love about the current design:

A few things we’d still like to see:

  • A safe, welcoming space for people who bike that is physically separated from motor vehicles with minimal conflict points – closing as many driveways as possible is critical.
  • A buffer between spaces for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Less “green space” (meeting last night I heard anywhere from 10′ to 11.5′) and more space for bikes/people walking & rolling (NACTO guidelines state: “Sidewalks have a desired minimum through zone of 6 feet and an absolute minimum of 5 feet.”) A few extra feet of width to the sidewalk would be great!
  • Consideration for how bicyclists will make left turns off of Eighth Street
  • Guarantees that utility boxes, lighting poles, signs, etc are not located in the right of way for bicyclists or pedestrians

While Norte is committed to helping build a stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly Eighth Street, we are only one piece of the puzzle.

We need YOUR voice.

We need YOU to advocate for safe, convenient and accessible opportunities on Eighth Street.

We need YOU to take action.

If you care about the health, happiness, and safety of all Traverse City residents, here are some ways you can help:

1) Email City leadership and share WHY a walkable, bikeable, safe Eighth Street is important to you.

2) Write a letter to the editor to help educate your neighbors about why a healthy Eighth Street is so vitally important to the immediate and future health of our City.

3) Sign our change.org petition HERE

Chris Hinze is a husband, dad, physical therapist, Cleveland Browns fan, Norte board member and chair of the Traverse City Pro Walk/Pro Bike committee. He lives in the Old Town neighborhood with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisHinzePT



The 6th Annual Traverse City Winter Bike To Work + School Day is 2 Weeks Away

Celebrate riding bikes all year long and help Traverse City become the Winter Biking Champion Of The World as we compete against northern cities in Canada, Europe, and the US.

Our sixth annual Traverse City Winter Bike To Work Day and School Day is in 2 weeks on Friday, February 8th and it’s sure to be awesome. Promise.

How It Works:

Step 1: Commit here: winterbiketoworkday.org

Step 2: Tell your buddies! WBTW+SD is best with friends. #BikeTVC

Step 3: Be awesome on February 8th and ride your bike to work or school. Don’t forget to stop by any one of these shops for a free cup of coffee:

Step 4: Celebrate! Join us for happy hour at The Filling Station Microbrewery from 5-8pm.

Now get out and practice! The best way to become a better winter biker is to ride your winter bike more, of course.

Just remember to dress warm, take it a bit slower, make those turns wide, and smile!

Like Sabrina, our uber-talented and always pedaling WBTW+SD graphic designer, told us, “ Two winters ago was the first one I bike-commuted through. The roads were plowed well most of the time, making it extremely easy to ride. There have been so many bike-friendly improvements to the streets and a drastic increase in community awareness here that I think it’s going to keep getting easier to bike to work year-round.”

Don’t forget to commit!





Once you’ve committed, help us spread the word by sharing one of our digital pins:

Stay up to date by joining our WBTW+SD Facebook event.

Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org with questions.

HAWKs, 8th Street and an Academy: January’s Grand Traverse Pro Walk/Pro Bike Update

Happy new year!

Here are 3 things happening on the active transportation front:

1. Tonight!

City Commissioners will hear a proposal from MDOT to install High-intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) signals at crosswalks on Grandview Parkway – specifically at Elmwood and Hall streets. These crossings (plus Oak Street), serve as key connections between our TC neighborhoods and the bayfront. We think HAWK beacons are a good option to improve the comfort and safety for people crossing Grandview at all non-signalized crosswalks while MDOT works toward a safer street design with planned reconstruction in the coming years.

2. Eighth Street

We’re continuing to push for a more walkable, bikeable, and all-around safer Eighth Street. Read more here about how you can help weigh in: elgruponorte.org/8th

3. Advocate Academy

We’re excited to bring back the advocate academy in 2019 for all Grand Traverse County residents. Applications are accepted through 2/1/19: elgruponorte.org/academy

Stay up to date on all things active transportation in the Grand Traverse region by joining our grassroots Pro Walk/Pro Bike group:



Pro Walk/Pro Bike Advocate Academy Now Open To All Grand Traverse Residents

After a successful first year, we’re excited to expand the Advocate Academy county-wide in 2019.

The Grand Traverse Advocate Academy is a community-driven program that empowers ordinary people to be effective leaders for policies and infrastructure that encourage walking, biking, transit use, and other forms active transportation.

The end result is an ever-growing coalition of citizen advocates engaged in community decisions in support of building stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly communities by empowering the young and young at heart.

Highlights of the five-week curriculum include:

  • Developing and telling your own story
  • Understanding how policy, budgets, and planning impact community
  • Honing observation skills to identify and document how spaces are used and opportunities for change
  • Choosing an issue and setting obtainable goals
  • Learning the ins-and-outs of effective communication with decision-makers, the media, and the community
  • Refining leadership skills and working as a team

The Grand Traverse Advocate Academy is an engaging, hands-on, classroom setting facilitated by experienced advocates. Sessions require active participation by participants as we explore the topics of effective community advocacy. A combination of reading, individual and team projects as well as guest speakers to connect “classroom” learning to real, current efforts occurring throughout our community.

The Grand Traverse Advocate Academy curriculum is designed to help develop both hard and soft advocate skills:

Hard skills include:
  • The science behind the public benefits of walking, biking, transit, and other public transportation
  • Ability to evaluate the built environment and current conditions related to public policy
  • Knowledge in specific policies and campaign areas, such as Complete Streets, access to transit and “Vision Zero”

Soft skills include:

  • Communications, relationships, and building trust
  • Fostering a local advocacy movement with diverse stakeholders
  • Engaging effectively with decision-makers


  • 6pm Thursday evenings
  • The Academy features five, 90-minute, mostly weekly sessions, starting February 21. 



  • You bet. Thank you, League of Michigan Bicyclists and Groundwork Center.

2019 Advocate Academy Timeline:

  • Application process opens: January 14th. Closes February 1st
  • Notification of acceptance: February 8th
  • Five sessions: late February – April

Criteria to apply:

  • Must be a Grand Traverse County resident
  • Commitment to attend all five sessions is recommended (We need your input!)
  • By the end of the academy, be prepared to help lead an effort for positive change in your neighborhood or community

Why Travel Lane Width Matters for Traverse City’s Revisioned 8th Street


While flipping through Jeff Speck’s fantastic new book “Walkable City Rules“, and although the entire book is valuable, rules #48 and #49 are especially well timed for Traverse City’s new 8th Street design.


Here are two key passages:
  1. “Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street’s safety without impacting traffic operations…Narrow streets help promote slower driving speeds which, in turn reduce the severity of crashes.”
  2. “Ten feet should be default width for general purpose lanes at speeds of 45 mph or less.”


Narrow lanes can still move plenty of cars and there is no reason for anyone to be driving faster than 25 mph in our city.

Let’s design 8th Street for 25 mph so people drive 25 mph.

We’re dreaming of a truly great 8th Street that is welcoming for all people no matter how they’re getting around. While we are committed to making this happen, we are only one piece of the puzzle.

We need YOUR voice. We need YOU to advocate for safe, convenient and accessible opportunities on Eighth Street.

We need YOU to take action.

If you care about the health, happiness, and safety of all Traverse City residents, here are some ways you can help:

1) Write a letter to the editor to help educate your neighbors about why a healthy Eighth Street is so vitally important to the immediate and future health of our City.

2) Email City leadership and share WHY a walkable, bikeable, safe Eighth Street is important to you.

3) Sign our change.org petition HERE

Norte To Host Bike Mechanics Class For Kids This Winter Break

Kick the year off by fixing something with your smart brain and your strong hands!

Knowing how to maintain and fix your bicycle is the BEST! Understanding basic bicycle maintenance and repair is a lifelong skill that gives you the knowledge and confidence to keep your ride rolling.

The Solution, our hands-on, 2-day learn-to-wrench class for kids, teaches participants how to:

  1. Fix a flat
  2. Adjust brakes
  3. Adjust shifting
  4. Patch a tube
  5. Fix a broken chain
  6. Remove/install pedals
  7. Clean/lube a chain
  8. Basic maintenance tips


  • January 3 & 4, 2019 from 10 to noon


  • Norte Wheelhouse (the large orange building on the north side of the park)


  • The Solution is for all awesome middle and high school’ers. No bike repair skills necessary – this is bike fix 101.

Cost for 2 day program:

  • $25

Class size is limited to just 5 future mechanics, so reserve your spot today:

Scholarships available. Contact Ben at ben@elgruponorte.org

Participants are welcome to bring in their bike or use one of ours to learn on. Just let us know!

Need more details?  Email ben@elgruponorte.org, call 231-883-2404 or stop by the Clubhouse 9-5P weekdays.

Pro Walk/Pro Bike Traverse City: The 2018 Best Of List

2018 was an incredible year for a healthier, better connected, and more walk/bike (and transit – Go, BATA!) friendly Traverse City.

Big thanks to our partners at the City of TC, Grand Traverse County, BATA, DDA, TC Parking Services, DTCA, and TART Trails.

Here are 23 awesome things we can all be proud of:

  1. $4.5M sidewalk bond approved for 9.16 miles of new sidewalk primarily in the Traverse Heights neighborhood  (East Front and South Garfield will also benefit)
  2. $2M Safe Routes To School featuring 4.9 miles of walk/bike improvements around 10 TC schools was conditionally approved by MDOT
  3. 11,616 linear feet or 2.2 miles of sidewalk rated poor and very poor west of Boardman Ave was replaced
  4. City Commission approved a resolution supporting a Stop for Pedestrians State Law
  5. Permanent installation of the 7th St contraflow bike lane
  6. BATA launched the Bayline, a free transit service running East and West. The program was financially supported TC Parking Services, The DDA, the DTCA, Munson, National Cherry Festival, Traverse City Film Festival, and TC Tourism
  7. Grand Traverse County launches an employee bike share program
  8. Several driveways that crossed sidewalks were eliminated including include three on East Front Street (US31) and one on Eighth Street
  9. Oryana installed a bike fix-it station at the Boardman Lake Trailhead 
  10. Curb-Extension for traffic calming at Monroe and Bay Street
  11. Planters on W. Front added this fall for traffic calming and gateway features
  12. New shelter and bike fix-it station installed on East Front Street thanks to TC Parking Services
  13. Peninsula Drive narrowed thanks to a new bike lane
  14. The DDA invested $486,000 for Boardman Riverwalk Phase 1 Project for riverwalk boardwalk between Union Street and W. Front Street. A new riverwalk will be constructed, the old wood structure by Union Street bridge replaced and an ADA access will be installed at Lot E
  15. Norte opens the Wheelhouse, a new learning center at the Civic Center
  16. The City invested $161,000 for improvements at Clancy Park including bike racks, accessible playground equipment, pathways, shelter, benches, and other amenities
  17. New Lake Ave sidewalks and raised crosswalks at Lake and Cass (but still need improvement as they are impeded by utility poles and lighting)
  18. Lake Ave bike racks provided by TC Parking Services.
  19. Norte’s bike valet operations at the Farmer’s Market provided by TC Parking Services and Taste The Local Difference
  20. Boardman Lake Loop fundraising, design and engineering will be complete in 2018 with planned construction beginning in 2019
  21. Traverse City Parking Services launched Destination Downtown, a program where parking funds are utilized to purchase commuter bus passes for employees within the DDA District
  22. Traverse City Parking Services added to on-street bike rack inventory, adding a rack at State Street Marketplace and The Dish
  23. Enhancing the walking experience, the DTCA installed a public art piece of wings on the 300 block of E. Front Street and the DDA facilitated through a donation from John Socks hearts on the public restrooms on Park St., a tribute to the heart wall the was once on the 200 block of E. Front St.

Did we forget something? Let us know!

Passionate about a more walkable, bikeable, liveable Traverse City? Get involved:





Have 45 seconds to help Norte measure its health impact?

Did your child participate in a Norte program this year? If so, please take 45 seconds to complete this short but sweet and very important survey.

The data allows us to make better-informed decisions to ensure that our programs are effective and impactful.



Learn more about Norte’s youth programs HERE.

Bikes For All: The Amigos Crush Giving Tuesday

It was a big day for the Amigos program yesterday. We met our $1,000 Giving Tuesday goal by 10am and then crushed our $2,000 stretch goal later at The Little Fleet dance party. Thanks to 36 awesome people, we raised $2,250 in all.

$2,000 of this will be matched dollar for dollar by Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics, 4Front Credit Union and the Down Syndrome Association of Northwest Michigan for a total of $4,250. Amazing.

This year’s Giving Tuesday awesomeness will allow Norte to continue to build a happier, healthier, stronger communities by empowering young people – and those who love them – to be active for life. The Amigos program which teaches confidence, independence, and bike/pedestrian safety skills to young people with special needs through empowerment, education, and adventure is going to rock in 2019.

Thank you for supporting Norte’s vision of inclusion and the idea that all young people – no matter their ability – should have the opportunity to experience the joy of independent mobility that comes with riding a bicycle.

And don’t forget! My Secret Stash is selling this beautiful hand oxidized art piece by A State of Copper with 100% of sales going to the Amigos.


Move More, Move Often – The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines

BIG NEWS! Just last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new and improved 2nd Edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This document, authored by some of the brightest researchers in the country, highlights just how much we should be moving as a society and why.

But first, what exactly is physical activity? Well, the World Health Organization defines Physical Activity as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure.” Hold up…does that mean something as simple as walking to school or riding your bike to the park counts as physical activity? You betcha!

Okay, so we all know being physically active is important, right? But why is it important? Well, according to the report, in kids as young as six physical activity is associated with improved cognition, decreased depression, and improved health of the heart and lungs. In adults, the benefits are even more pronounced. Decreased risk of cancer, dementia, heart disease, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety are just a few of the many benefits of being physically active.

Sound good? Yeah, we think so too. So just how much of this physical activity do we need to reap all of these amazing rewards? Well, the good news is that every little bit counts. As little as 10 minutes of activity can lead to immediate, short-term effects like lower blood pressure and reduced anxiety. But why stop at just ten minutes?

According to the report, kids age 3-5 should:

  • Be physically active throughout the day

Older kids (age 6-17) should:

  • Be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day (things like running, walking, riding bikes)
  • Do muscle strengthening activities at least 3 days a week – this would include playing on the playground, climbing trees, and lifting weights (we think climbing hills on the mountain bike counts, too!)

For the grown ups, we should:

  • Be physically active at least 150 minutes/per week (about 20 minutes per day) by performing moderate-intensity activity – things like walking, bicycling, swimming or even doing yardwork
  • Bonus (health) points if you can get that activity level up near 300 minutes/week (around 45 minutes per day)
  • Perform muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week – think lifting weights or doing body weight exercises like squats and push ups work great, too

At Norte, we believe in happy, healthy, strong kids and grown-ups here in Northern Michigan. We realize that we can’t be our best – our healthiest – without daily physical activity. That’s why we’re working hard to make sure more opportunities for physical activity are engineered into daily life. Not all of us have the time or the desire to work out at the gym or don the spandex for a day-long cycle tour. But we all have to get from Point A to Point B. Whether that’s from home to work, to school, or the store – these can all be opportunities to be physically active. But we need safe, well-connected infrastructure to make moving (not driving) an easy choice. We need land use decisions that allow people to live near the services that they need to access on a daily basis. And we need awesome people like you to live out our mission of a happy, healthy, strong Northern Michigan.

Chris Hinze is a dad, physical therapist, Cleveland Browns fan, Norte board member and chair of the Traverse City Pro Walk/Pro Bike committee. He lives in the Old Town neighborhood with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter @chinzept



Shedding Light on the Traverse City Light Parade

Interested in joining us for the 100 Families + The Traverse City Light Parade but not quite sure what to expect? Here’s everything you need to know.

Date of the event: Saturday, November 17
Time: Event starts at 7:00 pm but meet-up is at 6:45 pm
Where:  Staging is on the 200 block of South Franklin at 6:45 pm – look for our flags. We’re #23 which is near the end.
What to wear: Orange of course. Dress warmly and have your walking shoes/boots on. The more orange the better.
What to bring: Lights, lots of lights…flashlights, battery-powered Christmas lights, glow sticks, if it lights up, bring it and wear it or carry it.
Do I bring my bike? You can bring your bikes. However, per past experience, we have found that the parade can get a little slow at times and you end up walking with your bike. Bike or walk, doesn’t matter. Do what makes you happy!
Parade route: East Front to Franklin to Union (Just a few blocks!)
What are we doing in the parade? Well, we will be blasting the tunes and getting you pumped up to walk, skip, dance and dish up high-fives to everyone you see along the route. Line up will be as follows: 2 flag bearers up front, walkers behind them, next will be the orange trailer with music and then bikes will bring up the rear.  
Can I invite friends to be a part of our group? Yes! Just share this page with them and they can sign up below. Easy peasy.
We are so excited!!! Be sure to tell all your friends!

Last Call for Coast Coffee: Higher Grounds’ Delicious Blend That Benefits Norte


Last week to get you some delicious Coast coffee from our friends at Higher Grounds. Coast is a smooth medium roast with a milk chocolate, brown sugar, and white peach profile that benefits our adventure-based empowerment program, The Bike Más Project.

Use code NORTE10 to score 10% off your purchase of Coast coffee.

The Bike Más Project is all about teaching upper elementary students “bike smarts”, confidence and independence through pedal powered adventures. What started in 2014 at Traverse Heights Elementary as a Safe Routes To School funded program, The Bike Más Project expanded to 17 area schools this fall.

The Bike Más Project aims to empower more – lots more! – young people to healthy, happy, and active for life through bike safety, education, and adventure. Funds generated by Coast sales will help this dream happen.

Coast can be purchased online HERE.

What’s next for the 3 Mile trail? More waiting

Another school year starts in less than a month.

Unfortunately, it’ll be another school year – the 12th school year to be exact- of the 3 Mile trail going nowhere.

Despite lots of momentum last year with the East Bay Parks, Planning Commission and Board of Trustees each passing a resolution of support to move ahead with a Safe Routes To School grant application, four walking audits completed at Grand Traverse Academy, Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools’ SEAS, EMS and Cherry Knoll Elementary , a community-wide action planning meeting, the design study to assess trail costs and possible location (a study that TART Trails fundraised $10,000 and East Bay budgeted $40,00 for) will not happen in 2018.

Instead, we’ll wait. Wait for what? The results of the Grand Traverse County Road Commission’s East-West Corridor Transportation study, that’s what.

While 3 Mile obviously goes north-south, it’s width, design, and right of way may be affected by this study that won’t be finished until 2019.

With four schools, a library, a BATA bus stop, a grocery store, and many other businesses, the 3 Mile/Hammond intersection deserves better.

Much better.

If you support a safer, healthier, happier and better connected East Bay Township that will not only benefit students but township residents, business owners and visitors alike, please contact:

  • Jim Cook, GTCRC Director, jcook@gtcrc.org
  • Beth Friend, East Bay Supervisor, bfriend@eastbaytwp.org
  • Julie Clark, TART Director, julie@traversetrails.org

and tell them that extending the 3 Mile trail to Hammond and beyond matters to you.

Stay up to date with all things #Extendthe3MileTrail here:





Remain Aware, Northern Michigan

We’ve all experienced that moment when we pull up to a light alongside another person driving their car and we do everything in our power to avoid eye contact. Summer is perfect for this as we normally have sunglasses on and people can’t really see where we’re looking. “Oh they’re just looking off into the distance,” we think but really they’re looking right at us while we look right at them.

Humans subconsciously love closed spaces, it’s why our beautiful downtown feels so nice when you’re walking through, those buildings being right on the street to make you feel comfortable and confident. The trees separate us from the street. We all walk like we’re ten feet tall. Vehicles tend to create this feeling as well. Those tight spaces with four wheels make us feel comfortable and confident. It’s probably why we avoid eye contact, we subconsciously refuse to believe that anyone outside our space is there next to us. It’s safer.

The problem with comfort in a vehicle is just that, we are comfortable in a vehicle. A 3,200+ pound moving sedan is not our bedroom with the door closed. It’s not walking downtown. It’s not coffee at your favorite coffee shop with a good friend. It’s a large moving vehicle.

The other day I was driving my boss’s truck (oh my gosh! Shea!) and I tried to note the feelings I had. I definitely felt extra safe in the air-conditioned, cushy seated, closed cab. And I started to let my guard down a bit and I definitely found myself speeding up ever so slightly. It’s funny how those silent cabs can allow your foot to push the gas pedal closer to the floor.

Everyone remembers their first car and if you were anything like me it was… a junker. I remember going over 35mph and the steering wheel would rattle a bit and the car as a whole would make all kinds of odd noises. The trunk refused to open and the tires barely held air. The air conditioning was just more heat on those hot summer days. But those frigid winter days? Oh, baby, you got even more cold air pumped into the cab. Needless to say, because of all these odd quirks I was never comfortable in that car and because I wasn’t comfortable I felt I was more alert than I am in cars today.

Biking for me is such a great way to engage with my surroundings. I come to a stop light and instead of ignoring that person next to me on their bike, I say hello or just a simple nod to acknowledge their existence. I wave or ring my bell (ding, ding) to people riding by on the TART trail. I feel so much more aware of traffic because I’m basically forced to be aware. I’m out there in it.

If my experience in the modern car is not unique to me, then other drivers are also getting rather comfortable in the cab. They are losing that awareness that there is a world outside. This is what forces me to pay more attention to what is happening around me, knowing that there is probably at least one driver who is a bit too comfortable.

Thinking this way about the experience of driving a vehicle versus biking has humanized the drivers. I feel as though they may not be maliciously crowding me while I ride downtown, they may just be victims of their immediate surroundings. This does not give them the right to crowd bicyclists but it does make me think twice about becoming overly angry. They are not simply chunks of metal welded together to create this giant vehicle, they are human.

Also, I think simply acknowledging that I become a bit too comfortable while driving a car has caused me to remain aware. To not give in to that air-conditioned, cushy seated, closed cab. To say to me, there is a world outside of these four walls and that world is full of people.

So, this is a call to action for anyone using our roads during these busy summer months, to remain aware that you are surrounded by people and that they are all probably very nice. Don’t become too comfortable and don’t become too angry. We are all victims of our brains and that’s a subject too complicated for a single blog post. We are all human.

Let’s ride fast, let’s ride hard, let’s ride but remain aware!





Shea O’Brien is a Traverse City native, Civic Center neighborhood resident, Traverse Heights Elementary alum, Clubhouse member, Marketing Specialist at Superior Physical Therapy, lifter of weights, Traverse City Advocate Academy participant, and proud book worm. Follow his adventures at @shea.m.obrien.

Sidewalks – July Update

Once again, the issue of sidewalk gap and infill will be before City Commissioners at their meeting Monday, July 16th. Commissioners have already voiced support to invest $4 million dollars to repair all of the City’s poor/very poor sidewalks and to add new sidewalks to key areas where they are non-existent – primarily in the Traverse Heights neighborhood. Initial work on this project has already begun, with sidewalk repair occurring in many neighborhoods this summer.

The next step in the process occurs Monday night. A “resolution of intent” must be adopted, which authorizes the City Clerk to alert Traverse City voters of the City’s intent to issue $4.9 million in capital improvement bonds to cover the costs associated with this large scale investment in sidewalks.

Passing this resolution is the next step in ensuring that the Traverse Heights and East Front neighborhoods will receive the new sidewalk infrastructure that they desperately need.

Proposed new sidewalks

How you can help:

  1. Send an email to City Commissioners requesting their support of this “resolution of intent”. Email the entire City Commission with this address: CityCommissioners@traversecitymi.gov
  2. Attend the meeting Monday night and show your support in person: Monday, July 16th 7:00pm, 2nd Floor of the Governmental Center, 400 Boardman Ave

Thank you!

Traverse City Advocacy Alert – Keep the Grandview Parkway Pedestrian Signs!


*UPDATE 6/15/18 5:30pm*

“Thank you for your note supporting the new crosswalk signing on Grandview Parkway.

Complaints about close calls involving pedestrians and bicyclists – generally situations with drivers in one lane stopping, but drivers in the second lane not seeing or yielding to pedestrians – prompted us to renew conversations with Traverse City officials about the effectiveness of the new signing. While these new crosswalk signs were installed last summer, there remains some confusion as to motorist and driver responsibility. Some of that, we suspect, is due to the local ordinance that requires drivers on city streets to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross, which many pedestrians experience just a few blocks away on Front Street.

State law does not prescribe the same behavior when it comes to crossing state highways, but the Uniform Traffic Code puts responsibility on both drivers (requiring them to stop for pedestrians who are already within the lane they are traveling in) and pedestrians (requiring them to identify a safe gap in traffic before stepping into the street). We have signs on the side of the road directed at pedestrians, reminding them of that responsibility. The in-street signs on Grandview Parkway are being used to draw attention to drivers that they should expect pedestrians to be crossing in the area. These crossings represent our cooperative effort with the city to make crossing safer.

That’s not to say there isn’t room to improve. We’re working with the city to look at other future improvements or modifications. At this time we plan to leave the signs in place through this season, in order to have two years of data to review on the crossings’ safety. That experience will give is a true safety comparison to the crosswalks prior to the new signing. We have to ensure that the perceived safety improvement matches with an actual safety improvement borne out by the data, and not just a perception. Safety was our goal in starting this pilot project, and will be our goal as we move forward and consider options and improvements.

Thank you for your note. Safe travels.

Last year, three in-street “Yield for Pedestrians Within Crosswalk” signs were installed on Grandview Parkway at Elmwood, Oak, and Hall Streets. While these signs certainly have not transformed Grandview into a pedestrian paradise, they have made crossing the high speed, 4-lane stroad a bit safer and more comfortable for people walking.

Unfortunately, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is already considering the removal of these signs. This would be a huge step in the wrong direction. Removing the in-street signs without a superior alternative would be a clear message from MDOT that the efficiency of moving automobiles at a high rate of speed is more important than the safety of people trying to move between our neighborhoods and our bayfront.

We need your help.

Please contact MDOT today and share your support for a safer and more pedestrian friendly Parkway. Use THIS FORM to share your feedback.

Looking for additional info on in-street pedestrian signage, here you go:

On Traverse City Budgets – and Values

When budget season rolls around, you’ll undoubtedly hear the phrase “a City’s budget reflects its values,” getting tossed around. YIMBYs and NIMBYs will use this phrase to frame their arguments for what should or should not be included in the City’s budget.

But if we’re going to reference our values, where do we begin? What are Traverse City’s values?

The 7 “Core Principles” in the City of Traverse City Master Plan is probably the closest thing we have to a core document that outlines our collective values as a City.

These Core Principles are:

On Monday night, City Commissioners will have an opportunity to put our money where our values are.

Before the City Commission will be the budget for 2018/19. Hanging in the balance (again) is funding for sidewalk infill and repair throughout the City. Yes, the proposal that the City Commission has already publicly supported with a 5-2 vote on December 18, 2017 will need to be approved as part of the overall city budget.

Unfortunately, the proposal before commissioners has been reduced by a million dollars down to $3.5 million.

$3.5 million is a sizeable sum and it certainly is nothing to complain about. But it’s not what our City Commission approved. It’s not what a room full of supporters and dozens by email spoke in favor of back in December. A reduction in the sidewalk gap/infill proposal is in direct conflict with our core principles:

Core Principle 6: “Transportation choices are important to our vitality and environmental health.”

Core Principle 7: “Maintaining  health and vibrant City is important to the region.”

Traverse City Commissioners need to hear from you on this topic one more time.

Tell them that you support the full $4.5 million sidewalk gap/infill proposal approved in December.

Email all Traverse City Commissioners here: CityCommissioners@traversecitymi.gov

Join our grassroots pro walk/pro bike advocacy group HERE.

From Bike To Work Day to Bike To Everywhere (Every) Day?

On a beautiful northern Michigan spring morning, 120+ awesome big people from 51 area workplaces took on students from 18 elementary and middle schools for a Kids vs Adults National Bike To Work Day/Fridays Fantasticos Smackdown.

For the third straight year, the kids “won” with 210+ bikes counted in school racks. So great.

Congrats, kids.

Huge thank you to these workplaces for playing along:

Great Lakes Environmental Center
45 North Vineyard & Winery
The Arnold Family Co-Work Compound
CMB Construction
Adaptive Counseling and Case Management
Keen Technical Solution
Great Lakes Stainless
Cowell Cancer Center
The Towne Plaza
Judes barbershop
Conservation Resource Alliance
Plante Moran
Central Grade School
GT Pavillions
Grand Traverse Children’s Clinic
MyNorth Media
Superior Physical Therapy
Munson Medical Center
Crystal Lake Medical
TART Trials
Munson Community Health Center
JRW Photography Studio
McLain Cycle & Fitness
North Flight Aero Med hangar
CS Sewing (South Airport and La Franier)
The Greenspire School
Bayview Plaza
Great Lakes Stainless, Inc.
Chemical Bank
The Franklin
Habitat for Humanity-GTR
Acme Township
National Cherry Festival
Networks Northwest
Cherry Capital Foods
Cherryland Accounting & Tax Services
Northwest Michigan Works!
Superior Physical Therapy
RF System Lab
Thirlby Clinic
Cherry Capital Foods
Conservation Resource Alliance

Let’s keep ‘er rolling, OK? Not just to work but to the park and the market and the library and the theater and the store and your friend’s house.

Because getting around on your bicycle is often the most practical, convenient and enjoyable way to get to the places we need to go, of course. And everybody wins when more adults, kids, communities choose bicycles as an everyday way of getting around.

National Bike To Work Day rocked. Here’s to an even awesome’er year of Bike To Everywhere Day. Every day.


Let’s fix our sidewalks, Traverse City

The Traverse City City Commission will be considering a proposal this coming Monday, April 16th to approve roughly $1 million to repair all of the sidewalks in the City rated as poor/very poor (map below) during the 2018 and 2019 construction seasons.

This proposal did not receive the necessary 5 votes to pass when it was discussed on April 2nd and will be before commissioners again this Monday. Again, it needs 5 affirmative votes to pass.

Meeting agenda HERE.

Meeting packet HERE.

How you can help:

  • Email City Commissioners voicing your support. Make it personal. Explain why this matters to you, your family, your neighbors. Email all Commissioners with this one address: CityCommissioners@traversecitymi.gov
  • Attend the meeting Monday, April 16th at 7P at the Governmental Center (400 Boardman Ave.). Show up and voice your support. RSVP HERE.

Because sidewalks are more than just pavement, of course.


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