Ready-to-learn kids and Missy

Ready-to-learn kids and Missy

Watching Lowell High School win their eighth straight state team wrestling championship two weeks ago reminded me of my favorite Red Arrow, Missy.

Missy is smart, driven, and direct. She is strong-willed and determined. Above all, Missy is a leader.

I was fortunate to witness that leadership in action while working with Missy, then the city of Traverse City’s planning assistant, on an ambitious $2 million Safe Routes To School project to improve access, increase connections, and safety around our 10 in-town schools. A transformative project that began five years ago in 2016 and featured many walking audits, parent and student surveys, and action planning meetings along the way.

A game-changing project that will come to fruition this summer with 3.5 miles of new sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, and improved crosswalks for our neighborhood schools. A community-wide project that collaborated with all four school districts as well as many partners including Northwestern Michigan College, Michigan Department of Transformation, Grand Traverse County, Garfield Township, and TART.

A first-of-its-kind-for-Michigan project because it also includes an innovative 3-year “systems change” component funded by Rotary Charities that supports upstream solutions focused on mind-sets, policy, advocacy, and education. A project that, in my opinion, would not have happened without Missy.

She was the driving force of a dream team that came together in 2016. This talented crew included Jessica Carpenter, Tim Lodge, Alex Yockey, Russ Soyring, Meg Thomas-Ackerman, Debbie Hershey, and Laura Otwell. Together they kept the focus and navigated with calm and professionalism in support of kids walking and biking to school.

A former Willow Hill Elementary mom — Go, Falcons! — Missy is a champion for ready-to-learn kids.

  • Kids who can safely, independently, and confidently get themselves to school.
  • Kids who arrive to class with their brains turned on because they were able to get the wiggles out first.
  • Kids like her boys, David and Jack, who love to get out and explore.

Missy received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University in 2018 and now lives in Hilton Head, South Carolina where she works as their senior planner but her legacy here in Traverse City is undeniable.

In addition to the Safe Routes To School project, Missy was also instrumental in the Slabtown beach and bayside extension trail, 9 miles of new sidewalk in Traverse Heights, the pedestrian crossing lights on the parkway, and the re-envisioned Eighth Street.

These successes didn’t come easy. Despite many challenges, Missy didn’t quit. She kept pushing and working hard to see these projects through. Projects that would change the odds in favor of health, happiness, and social connections. Projects that made her community better for everyone.

“Never Yield” is the motto of the Lowell wrestling team and I think Coach Boudro and his Red Arrow squad would be proud of their alumnus for living that creed.

On behalf of countless ready-to-learn kids today and for generations to come, thank you, Missy.


*A version of this article was originally published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle on April 8, 2021.
Photo credit, Tessa Lighty from 10 schools in TC seeking money for safer routes in 2018. 

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Safe and Responsible

Have 3 Minutes for More Happy, Healthy, Ready to Learn Kids in Northern Michigan?

Kids learning to move, and moving to learn is our goal.  And including physical activity as part of ordinary life – like going to school! – and inspiring their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors, community to do the same is, in our opinion, a powerful means to sustainable well-living and healthfulness. Norte administers Safe Routes To School programs across the region in order to keep more kids moving.

As part of that program, we administer the following survey once a year during November. Your participation means the world to us because it helps us bring resources to our community to create and promote Safe Routes To School. Your input also informs decision-makers when they are considering new infrastructure investments, design, and related policies.

If you have children at multiple schools, we would appreciate it if you could complete a survey for each school.  If you have children that attend the same school and travel to and from school similarly, one survey is fine.

Remember –Even if you drive to school every day, your input is needed and important. Also, walking or biking at least 10 minutes to your bus stop counts; so does driving, parking and then walking or biking the last 10 minutes to school from park & stroll locations.

Thank you for your support and continued participation. The survey will only take a few minutes.


Norte Safe Routes to School programs can be found in schools in Traverse City, Northport, Elk Rapids, Kalkaska, and Suttons Bay. Our programs, projects, and events are dedicated to empowering students of all ages to be active-for-life. Email us with any questions



A Big Deal for Happy, Healthy, Ready-to-Learn Kids

In 2016, leaders in the community came together to start planning something big. Around the table were representatives from the City of Traverse City, Traverse City Area Public Schools, Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools, Traverse Bay Area Intermediate Schools, Trinity Lutheran, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Norte.

It was an audacious project to transform ten schools with a Safe Routes to School grant. The goal: safer ways for our children to walk and bike to school. 

After four years of countless meetings, plus surveys, walking audits, community planning sessions, and inevitable speed bumps, we are nearing the finish line. Recently, the City of Traverse City awarded a $2.4 million contract to our friends at Elmer’s Crane & Dozer to construct or improve 3.5 miles of sidewalk and trail.

A huge thank you to everyone at the State of Michigan working on Safe Routes to School. They’ve delivered with professionalism and with confidence. The ten school project is funding 90% by the Safe Routes to School program, with the City’s local match of $97,500 – and countless hours planning – funding the remainder. 🙏🏼

An extra huge thank you to everyone across Grand Traverse who worked their bums off to make this happen. This is a 2020 bright spot and a big deal for happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids. I’m stoked.

Going to construction in 2021 is a giant leap forward and a promising investment in healthy, happy, and safe ways to get to school.

Let’s do more of this.

“Eks-cuse Me, Bike Train Coming!”

The Eastern Elementary Bike Train – aka the EE-Train – rolls out every day, rain or shine, in Traverse City’s Oak Heights neighborhood. Some days it’s a full crew. Other days, it’s a smaller group. But on school mornings, there’s always a happy, energetic group waiting at the intersection of Rose and Washington streets.

The ride from the meeting point to the school is a healthy mile. It includes a mix of streets, sidewalks, paved trails, and even some dirt tracks. Soon, a new paved trail will run alongside College Drive, thanks to the Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grant. But the EE-Train has plenty of options, and bursting through the dirt trail along Eastern Avenue is a favorite part of the day for these young riders.

“The bike train started because all our kids are at the perfect age,” said EE-Train Lead DJ and father to Caleb and Robbie, Keelan McNulty. “They’ve all started riding bikes. Between the Norte Mountain bike team, Norte Summer Camp, and riding around town with their parents, these kids just love riding bikes.” He tends to show up with music pumping from a bike mounted speaker.


“We’re all families that enjoy riding bikes, so it just made sense,” agreed Nathan Hartmann, father to Everett.

According to Keelan, the bike train reached a critical mass when enough families responded to a group text suggesting the idea. The EE-Train is typically a baker’s dozen with three to four adults divided amongst four households: the McNultys, Bullochs, Hartmanns, and Buchholzes. With numbers on their side, momentum grew steadily.

The whole group appreciates the 10-15 minute ride much more than the dreaded carline. Keelan’s two boys enjoy the ride because “it’s fun and wakes us up.” Everett enjoys the daily ride because he likes seeing his friends and hitting the trails before school. However, he isn’t so keen about riding on rainy days.

On the day Norte joined the ride, Everett’s enthusiasm rang out as the bike train passed walkers on the Civic Center trail. “Excuse me, bike train coming through!” he hollered at each passerby.


“As a parent, it is such a joy to drop off children who are happy, excited, full of energy, and ready to focus on a day of learning,” said Jill Hartmann.

Charlie and Teddy’s mother, Kelly Bulloch, echoed the sentiment. “The kids are wide awake and have their blood pumping by the time they get to school. They’re so alert and energetic,” she said.

“It’s a great way to have a small adventure to start and end the school day,” advised Nathan. “It’s a fun opportunity to spend active time with your kids and helps teach them bike safety and independence. It doesn’t have to be an every day commitment. Do what works for your family.”


EE-Train can serve as a model for other families. Start with a route that is doable and inviting for the whole family. Then, ask other families to join. Keep it fun, bring the right gear, and make it happen. Even families that live far away from their school can plan a park and ride – or stroll – route. All of the EE-Train parents shared this piece of advice: make it work for you and your family.

“We’re lucky to have sidewalks, paths, and trails to use to get to school,” said Nathan. “If we had to use only streets, we probably wouldn’t be riding every day with our six-year-old.”

Keelan agreed. “Norte has paved the way in our neighborhood for kids biking to school. We are the next generation of Elementary students and parents keeping the tradition alive.”

If your family goes to Eastern Elementary and wants to join the EE-Train, just shoot Keelan an email. They’ll be happy to bring you on board.

“I used to fight to get the kids into the car – we had to drive to our former school. Now the kids anxiously wait for me in the garage each morning,” adds Kelly. “They can’t wait to see their friends and start the ride. It’s such a positive way to start the day.”


Group photo at top of page: The EE-Train, from left to right: Keelan McNulty, Robbie McNulty, Caleb McNulty, Kelly Bulloch, Teddy Bulloch, Everett Hartman, Emily Bucholz, Charlie Bulloch, Nathan Hartmann, Reagan Bulloch, Brendan McNulty)

Safe Routes to School and Norte

Norte administers school-based, walk and bike-focused initiatives across the Grand Traverse region. Our programs, projects, and events empower students of all ages, and their adults, to be active for life. If you need a little help creating your own bike or walk train, let us know.

Norte in Schools



On The Move to Safe Routes in East Bay

Now that the school year has started, we wanted to check-in and see how you’re rolling in East Bay. How goes it East Bay?

There are great things happening in East Bay.


  • 3-Mile Trail Extension – We’re still in the early days for this trail effort, but a path forward is in the works. The promising news is that the list of organizations supporting the effort is long and growing. We’re happy to be working with East Bay Township, TART Trails, the schools, County Road Commission, Grand Traverse Conservancy, Michigan Department of Transportation, Safe Routes to Schools, and you on connecting this route.
  • Safe Routes to School –A full infrastructure Safe Routes to School grant is a few years off, but next year we are applying for Safe Route Mini-grants in 2020. These grants assist schools and communities in non-infrastructure programming that gets kids moving. If you’re interested in seeing what types of programs might be included, please visit Safe Routes to School to learn about the possibilities.

You can help the cause today by filling out the annual Safe Routes to School Survey. It only takes 4-8 minutes.


  • Snow Clearing – Winter has arrived! It is an opportune time to give thanks to all the regional partners keeping our sidewalks and trails clear of snow and ice. In East Bay, the County, East Bay, Acme, and Garfield Townships, the City of TC, TART, and others have implemented a plan to clear the east-west multi-use trail all winter.

If you have a moment, send your gratitude to County Facilities Manager, Joe Berry at You can also email Joe if you have any concerns or questions about the snow clearing program.

  • Hammond Road – The Grand Traverse Road Commission is in the preliminary stages of planning for construction along Hammond. They are considering roundabouts at 4-mile and possibly 3-Mile along the corridor. Modern, well-designed roundabouts could certainly help connect schools, businesses, and services safely and for all users.

If interested in being involved in this discussion, contact road commission manager, Brad Kluczynski at

  • Munson Avenue – Now I’m really dreaming! But bold dreams are how the seemingly impossible is achieved.  Wouldn’t it be nice to safely access both sides of Munson Ave. on foot and bike? Wouldn’t it be nice to drive Munson Ave. and not be white-knuckling it for fear of someone simply trying to cross the stroad? There’s nothing to report in this regard other than to ask, who wants to help?

Like you, we’re dreaming big for East Bay and to get there this coalition needs to persist, grow, and celebrate along the way. If you can recruit one neighbor or co-worker to join, we’d all appreciate it.

Send recruits to East Bay Strong!

Or, if your already here and want to be kept up to speed on great things East Bay, sign up here:

Grand Traverse Region Safe Routes To School: A Winter Update

Kids learning to move and be physically active as part of ordinary life – like going to school! – and then inspiring their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors, community to do the same is, in our opinion, a powerful means to sustainable well-living and healthfulness.

Independent, happy, confident, ready to learn youth are empowered to be guardians of their health, develop lifelong habits to move more and sit less and be leaders in their community.

Norte administers Safe Routes To School programs across the Traverse City area as well as in Northport and Elk Rapids. Our programs, projects, and events are dedicated to empowering students of all ages to be active for life.

Here’s a quick winter Safe Routes To School update:
  • Traverse City’s $2M in town school infrastructure grant has been conditionally approved. Hopefully finalized soon. 
  • Thanks to a Rotary Charities grant, we’re convening a systems planning process with the partners who were involved with this grant to investigate the big picture effect of policy on active transportation, physical activity, health, and safety. Stay tuned for information on a public presentation in April.
  • Winter Walk Wednesdays start January 9th! Be about it.
  • Long Lake township is on track for a June infrastructure grant application for Long Lake and Westwoods.
  • East Bay township is waiting on the Road Commission’s East-West Mobility study to figure out what’s next for 3 Mile/improvements around East Middle and Cherry Knoll, GTA and SEAS.
  • We also just received a state-wide award for safety from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission. Very exciting! This is for all of our partners, parents, and volunteers who support the infrastructure, programs, policy, culture, and systems that allow kids to be active as part of ordinary life – like walking/biking to school.
  • Estrellas, our learn to ride program for preschoolers using balance bikes, is HOT! We’ll be at Long Lake, Silver Lake, Mill Creek, and Willow Hill in January with many more schools planned throughout the winter and spring.
  • Registration for The Bike Mas Project, our after-school, adventure-based bike safety program, opens January 7th. More info HERE.
Learn more about our comprehensive Safe Routes To School initiative HERE.
Get involved with walk/bike efforts at your school HERE.

Have 3 Minutes for More Happy, Healthy, Ready to Learn Kids in Northern Michigan?

We believe that kids learning to move and be physically active as part of ordinary life – like going to school! – and then inspiring their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors, community to do the same is, in our opinion, a powerful means to sustainable well-living and healthfulness.

Independent, happy, confident, ready to learn youth are empowered to be guardians of their health, develop lifelong habits to move more and sit less and be leaders in their community.

Norte administers Safe Routes To School programs across the Traverse City area as well as in Northport and Elk Rapids. Our programs, projects, and events are dedicated to empowering students of all ages to be active for life.

Thank you for taking a few a minutes to report how your Pre-K to 8th-grade student gets to school.

This data will also help inform decision makers when considering new infrastructure design and improved policies. Gracias.

Even if you drive to school every day, we NEED to hear from you!

If you have children at multiple schools, we would appreciate it if you could complete a survey for each school.

If you have children that attend the same school and get to school similarly, one survey is fine.

Remember! Walking/biking at least 10 minutes to your bus stop counts; so does driving, parking and walking/biking the last 10 minutes to school from Park & Stroll locations.

Email questions to



Have 15 minutes? Help improve walk/bike infrastructure around your Northern Michigan school

Norte administers the Safe Routes To School initiative across the Traverse City-area as well as in Elk Rapids and Northport and we’re aiming to improve our data collection in support of more – lots more! – happy, healthy, ready to learn kids in Northern Michigan.

Sometime in the next 2 weeks – before winter comes!, we need your help counting how kids get to your school.


1. Because young people count

  • Counting traffic is a normal part of planning transportation, but right now, not everyone gets counted. We are changing that. If you want sidewalks, safer intersections or protected bike lanes on your street, for example, counting traffic is one of the best ways to get started.

2. Better Data = Better Solutions

  • Who is using our roads and how? We need to understand the problem to create solutions. Counting traffic – even once – sets a baseline. That baseline can be analyzed, tested and compared. Counting again later lets us test traffic solutions and prove whether they are working.

3. Because we can all help

  • Planners, road engineers, doctors, and politicians – we all need information to make good decisions. So do you. Counterpoint for everyone. Whether you’re a mom, grandpa, teacher, neighbor or anything in between, counting traffic helps and it will only make things better.

We’re going to use an app called CounterPoint to do our counts. It’s a transportation planning and measurement tool designed in 2013, to make traffic counting global, fun, easy and inclusive for all ages and disciplines.

CounterPoint runs on crowdsourcing and citizen science. Data validity is transparent, simple and comparable with automatic counters that starts (and often ends) conversations about how our transportation systems are (and should be) working.

Importantly, CounterPoint’s definition of “traffic” includes everyone. The app’s simple User Interface comes with intuitive buttons for strollers, children’s bikes, cargo bikes, wheelchairs, cars, and transit.

How it works at Northern Michigan schools:

1. Download the Counterpoint app
2. Create an account
3. Search for nearby count locations already created. If your school doesn’t exist, create a “counterpoint” at the location. It’s easy: go to the location you think would be best to count, click the “+” sign in the app, name the counterpoint (add the intersection or description to the title as schools can have multiple points), take a photo and save.
4. Arrive at your location at least 20 minutes before the bell rings in the morning or when the bell rings in the afternoon to do your count.
5. Start a 15 minute “regular” count.
6. Please make sure to count all adults and children walking, biking and rolling. Counting cars/trucks/buses etc. isn’t required but you’re welcome to if you want.
7. Submit your count.

Norte will download these counts on a monthly basis. Again, this is important data that will be used to improve walk/bike infrastructure, design, and policies around schools in Northern Michigan.

Want to stay up to up to date on walk/bike efforts at your school. Sign up here.

Thank you!

Questions? Get at us at

Podcast: This Clubhouse Life – The Official Podcast of Norte

Awesome news! We have a podcast.

This Clubhouse Life is the official podcast of Norte and our first episode features The Bike Mas Project, our adventure-based bike safety program.

Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

Traverse Heights Elementary: Northern Michigan’s 2018 Most Walk-tastic School

Led by their amazing principal, Mr. Schrock, and many, many dedicated teachers, Traverse Heights Elementary rocked Northern Michigan Walks To School Day.

With a strategy combining kids walking from home, parents driving to then walk with their child and school buses dropping off students several blocks away from school, nearly the entire Traverse Heights population took the awesome way to class on a beautiful Northern Michigan morning.


Congratulations, Traverse Heights, on being the 2018 Most Walk-tastic School in Northern Michigan!

Honorable mentions to:
  • 301 Elks from Cherryland Middle School in Elk Rapids who walked the track before class
  • Old Mission Peninsula School with 127 walking from Island View Road
  • Courtade Elementary with 208 students and teachers walking the track
  • Eastern Elementary with 171
  • Central Grade with 53
  • TCAPS Montessori with 47
  • Westwoods with 42
  • Willow Hill with 40
  • Silver Lake Elementary with 35
  • Holy Angels with 33
  • Lakeland Elementary with 31
  • Woodland School with 26
  • Long Lake Elementary with 17
  • Northport Public School with 16
  • Trinity Lutheran with 11
  • West Middle with 7
  • Immaculate Conception with 2
  • East Middle with 1
  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton with 1
  • Teddy Bear Preschool with 1
  • Munson Medical Center Preschool with 1
  • Oak Park Preschool with 1

Special thank yous to our Walk Day sponsors:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • TBA Credit Union
  • Oryana
  • Traverse City Track Club
  • Safe Routes To School Michigan

And our community partners:

  • Traverse City Police Department
  • Elk Rapids Police Department
  • Grand Traverse Sherrif Office
  • Michigan State Police

Thanks to 7&4’s Savannah Fish for getting up early, as well.

Lots of walk to school day photos HERE.

Very amateur live video from Oryana’s bus stop HERE.

Have more photos or videos? Please share!

Learn more and get involved with our area-wide Safe Routes To School initiative HERE.

And stay up to date on all things orange by subscribing to El Periodico, our once in awhile and very orange newsletter.

Northern Michigan Walks To School Day Nears

With generous support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, TBA Credit UnionTraverse City Track Club, Oryana Community Co-op, Norte is excited to once again host Northern Michigan Walks To School Day, a community-wide, multi-school celebration of National Walk To School Day next Wednesday, October 10th.

700+ students from across Northern Michigan walked to school last year. Can we do better than that in 2018?

We will also be crowning The Most Walk-tastic Northern Michigan School! That’s a big, big deal. Glenn Loomis in Traverse City “won” last year. Help your school that the 2018 title by committing here:


Everyone is welcome – Pre K to 8th grade as well as teachers, staff, and principals too.

If you live too far from home, drive to one of our “Park & Stroll” locations.

A 5-10 minute walk to your bus stop totally counts too.

Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE bikes but sometimes we enjoy a nice walk to school too:

  • Walking to school is known to improve academic performance
  • Walking to school gives children good life experience
  • Walking to school gets children outdoors
  • Walking to school provides daily exercise for children

So set those alarms a little earlier on October 10th, eat a solid breakfast, invite a friend or 6, strap your backpack on and join us.

Participating Schools:

Don’t see your school? Sign it up HERE.

Live too far from school to walk or maybe your school isn’t yet safe to walk to? No worries. You can still play. Our Park & Stroll locations offer designated places to park and then walk 5-10 minutes to school with your child. Email us at for more info.

For those kids too young to walk on their own, Norte will be transforming our community-wide network of bike trains into “walking school buses” for the day to connect our neighborhoods to our neighborhood elementary schools:

2018 Walking School Bus Schedule!

Central Grade‘s “buses”:
  • Thirlby Stadium: 13th and Pine: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – TBD
  •  Oryana: 10th/Lake: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Laura Otwell
  • Open Space: Parkway and Union: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Carrie Smith

Cherryland Middle School:

  • Walk the track at school: 7:30-7:48. Bus driver – Ann DeVogel

Eastern Elementary:

  • Norte Wheelhouse: Meet at 8:25, walk at 8:30. Bus driver – Emily Buchholz
  • Clancy Park: Meet at 8:30. Walking at 8:35. Bus driver – Rebecca Sketch
Glenn Loomis’ “buses”:
  • 10th/Lake: Oryana: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:4o. Bus driver – Kaitlyn Burns
  • Division/14th: Tom’s: Meet at 7:40, walking at 7:55. Bus driver – Sarah Bourquin
Holy Angels “bus”:
  • 10th/Lake: Oryana: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Christi Nowak
Northport Public School “bus”:
  • Marina: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Corrine Wetherbee

Lakeland Elementary:

  • River Walk Grill: Meet at 8:20, walking at 8:25. Bus driver – Becky Travis
  • Elk Rapids Apartments: Meet at 7:50, walking at 7:55. Bus driver – Stephen McDdonald.
  • Corner of 2nd and Pine: Meet at 8:00, walking at 8:05. Bus driver – David West
  • Village Market Back Parking Lot: Meet at 8:30, walking at 8:35. Bus driver – Becky Travis
Traverse Heights’ “bus”:
  • Jupiter Park: Boyd at Rose Street: Meet at 8:05, walking at 8:10. Bus driver –  Stephanie and Josh Wilson.
Trinity Lutheran “bus”:
  • 10th/Lake: Oryana: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:4o. Bus driver – TBD
West Middle School:
  • Grand Traverse Commons barns: TBD
  • Meijer: TBD

Westwoods “bus”:

  • 1122 Fisher Road. Meet at 8:15, walking at 8:20. Bus driver – Juli Tiesworth
Willow Hill’s “bus”:
  •  Darrow Park: Meet at 8:15, walking at 8:20. Bus Driver – Principal Sides-Mackay

Don’t forget to commit!




Our friends at Oryana will be generously providing healthy snacks at their “bus stop” for TCAPS Montessori, Holy Angels, Trinity Lutheran and Central Grade students.

The Traverse City Police Department will also be walking to school with us. How awesome is that?

We are looking for extra volunteers to help keep the kids safe, count walkers at school and hand out highfives. Please sign up HERE.

Email questions to


Thank you, Sponsors!

Thank you, Community Partners!


Why Safe Routes to Schools Matter in Northern Michigan

Kids learning to move and being physically active as part of ordinary life — like walking or biking to school — and then inspiring their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors to do the same is a powerful means to achieve sustainable community health.

Independent, happy, confident, ready to learn young people are empowered to be guardians of their health, develop lifelong habits to move more, sit less and be leaders in their neighborhood.
What steps can we take to get kids off the couch, off their screen and outside? How can we reduce chronic disease, childhood obesity, insane car lines at schools, traffic congestion, air pollution, depression, and social isolation? Exercise, organized sports and recreation are great but I believe that embedding walking and biking into our daily routine is a significant part of the answer.

Where are the kids? The kids are at school. Let’s start there.

Let’s make it a priority to value kids actively getting themselves to school and provide them with safe routes so they can arrive to school and back home safely. Let’s encourage school policies and programs that support active transportation to school.

Let’s be that region where happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids of all abilities can safely walk and bike to school.

Why? Because the benefits of walking and biking to school are many and go beyond just exercise: better concentration in class, improved cognitive abilities, stronger sense of community, less traffic congestion, safer streets (communities with the higher walk/bike rates have lower crash rates for all travel modes), decreased incidence of childhood obesity, screen-free time to connect with families and classmates; and finally, less air pollution from cars.

When kids are empowered to walk and bike to school, we all win.

We know that walkable/bikeable towns designed around people and place increase physical activity for people of all ages and abilities.

We know that kids who learn to move young (real young!) — like in preschool — are more likely to move as adults.

We also know that adults who move more are healthier, happier, and better connected with their community.

After 4 years of administering Traverse City’s Safe Routes To School initiative with Norte, the data indicates that we’re improving but the walk/bike participation rate within the City is still less than 10%. We can do better. Much better.

With the start of another school, I encourage everyone to get involved at their neighborhood school or at their neighborhood association and take action to support happier, healthier, more ready to learn students across Northern Michigan. It matters.

These small neighborhood-level actions – think skipping the carline once in a while to walk with your child or leading a bike train or speaking up at meetings for more sidewalks – will lead to big, society-level changes that can transform the culture of health not just for our kids but for all of us.



Adventurama: The Very Official 2018 Results

Incredible turnout on a beautiful afternoon for the 3rd annual Adventurama. Thank you to the 35 squads for playing and supporting Norte’s Traverse City area-wide Safe Routes To School project.

Together, $2,500+ was raised for our education and encouragement programs dedicated to empowering students to be happy, healthy and ready to learn

Congrats to “Paint The Town Orange” on their overall win. Their 613 points were very, very impressive.

Big propers to “This is How We Roll” for best squad theme executive and to 4-year-old Neve for her Best Individual Costume – the cutest pedaling honeybee ever!

The Very Official 2018 Adventurama Results

1. Paint the town Orange!: 613 points
2. Homeschool Dropouts: 567 points
3. Pedal to the medal: 540 points
4. Born To Ride: 520 points
5. The Persisters: 510 points
5. This Is How WE Roll: 510 points
6. Tursmaniacs: 480 points
7. Secret Stasher Dashers: 478 points
8. Los Chupacabras: 467 points
9. Professional Pilots: 464 points
10. Team Yonts: 450 points
11. The Chobani Boiyz: 440 points
12. Jackalopes: 435 points
14. TC Cycling Ninjas: 433 points
15. Hyper Stripe Squad: 422 points
16. Rainbow Riders: 398 points
17. The Pedaling Primos: 397 points
18. Helix: 395 points
19. Fortnite Fighters: 370 points
20. The Wheelie Witches: 360 points
21. Mighty Metivas: 355 points
22. Powerful Pollinators: 326 points
23. Old People On Bikes: 325 points
24. Handlebar Houdeks: 323
25. Bling: 305 points
26.The Good, The Bad, & The Uncle: 302 points
27. TC Vixens: 293
28. Where is Waldo?: 286 points
29. Weirdo’s: 263 points
30. Team WAGE: 254 points
31. All-Stars: 130 points
32. Team Star: 88 points
33. Cuckadees: 15 points



Happy, Healthy, Ready to Learn: Priority Health to Help the Estrellas Shine

Norte is for happy, healthy, ready to learn kids in northern Michigan no matter their age. We are also huge fans of balance bikes and believe that there is no better way to teach children how to ride.

Estrellas, our learn-to-ride program for preschoolers using balance bikes, started in 2016 and thanks to a Priority Health partnership, will be shining brightly in 2018-19.

The Estrellas is both an in-school 4-week program for preschoolers at 18 area schools and a twice-weekly summertime meet-up community event at the Clubhouse.

Learn To Ride in School

In addition to our other Safe Routes To School programs, The Great Northern Michigan Bike Train ExperimentThe Bike Mas Project and Fridays Fantastico, the 4 week Estrellas’ Learn To Ride program is another wonderful opportunity to build a healthy, move more culture at school and encourage students to be active, happy, and ready-to-learn.

Summer Meet-ups

After a full summer of twice-weekly meet-ups, our shreds at the Clubhouse are wrapping up.

We’ll have two more on Monday nights (August 20th and 27th) from 6-7 pm. The 27th will be our summertime grand finale and Priority Health is bringing ice cream so don’t miss that one!

Priority Health will also help us bring our balance bike course to Friday Night Live on August 24th from 5:30 – 9pm. It’s going to be so rad to rip bikes on Front Street!



Walk/Bike-tastic Moms and Dads in Northern Michigan Needed

Norte believes that kids learning to move and be physically active as part of ordinary life – like going to school! – and then inspiring their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors, community to do the same is, in our opinion, a powerful means to sustainable well-living and healthfulness.

While we are committed to empowering and encouraging kids to actively get themselves to school full time, we still need your voice. We are only one piece of the puzzle. It is critical for like-minded parents to advocate for active, happy, ready-to-learn kids at their school. Our message is amplified when awesome moms and dads take ownership of their school’s active transportation plan and get involved.

Our SRTS Team is a grassroots initiative dedicated to empowering parents to get involved at their school and in their neighborhood to support independent, happy, confident, ready to learn youth are empowered to be guardians of their health, develop lifelong habits to move more and sit less and be leaders in their community.

Norte administers Safe Routes To School programs across the Traverse City area as well as in Northport and Elk Rapids.

Our programs, projects, and events are dedicated to empowering students of all ages to be active for life.


  • Fridays Fantástico: A weekly celebration of students walking, biking and rolling to school.
  • The Great Northern Michigan Bike Train Experiment: A community-wide network of adult-led bike train connecting schools in northern Michigan.
  • Winter Walk Wednesdays: A #StepItUp inspired celebration of people – big or small – walking to work, school or just for FUN! in Traverse City.
  • Park & Stroll: For those students who attend a school of choice or live too far away from their home school. Drive. Park. Walk 5 minutes to school. Easy.
  • Bike2Bus: Portable bike racks at neighborhood bus stops and mapping of safe routes to these racks to encourage “biking to bus”.
  • The Bike Mas Project: An adventure-based after-school empowerment program for upper elementary students.
  • El Barrio Bike Fix: A pop-up bike fix and learn-to-wrench program.
  • Estrellas: A learn-to-ride program for preschoolers using balance bikes.
  • Norte Bike Library: Ensuring that awesome kids have awesome bikes to pedal to school no matter their family’s resources.


 The benefits of walking and biking to school are many, of course:

  • better concentration in class
  • less traffic congestion near schools
  • improved cognitive abilities
  • stronger sense of community
  • more exercise
  • safer streets: communities with the higher walk/bike rates have lower crash rates for all travel modes
  • a distraction-free time to connect with families and classmates
  • less air pollutants from automobiles

Partner schools:

STRS infrastructure projects in progress:

Get involved!

  • Advocate for happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids at their school
  • Support stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly communities
  • Act as a liaison at their school and in their neighborhood
  • Champion walk/bike to school events and programs
  • Recruit future work team members
  • Ideas on what should be done to make your school more walkable/bikeable? Spots for Park & Stroll locations? Routes for bike trains or walking buses? What safety concerns do you see around your school? How can we better encourage and empower more kids to actively get themselves to your school?
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Healthy. Independent. Confident: The Bike Más Project to Expand to 22 Schools

The Bike Más Project, which started in 2014 at one school, Traverse Heights Elementary, is about to have a big, big year thanks to a Safe Routes To School grant and many generous sponsors.

The Bike Más Project will be expanding to 22 schools in the Grand Traverse area to teach confidence, independence, and bike safety skills to 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders through empowerment, education, and adventure. Mucho adventure!

The Bike Más Project kids will:

  • Learn how to bike safe and bike smart
  • Develop bike repair and maintenance skills
  • Become a bike handling ninja.
  • Build confidence. Get fit. And have FUN!

Fall 2018 schedule:

Each session meets immediately after school and is 90 minutes long. The program begins/ends at school (there are a few exceptions when we will meet at the Clubhouse).

We meet once a week for 4 weeks and sessions start the week of September 17.


  • Woodland
  • Old Mission Penisula
  • East Middle (meets at the Clubhouse at 4pm but no transportation provided from EMS)
  • Elk Rapids-Cherryland
  • Elk Rapids – Lakeland
  • Westwoods
  • Northport – 4th/5th graders


  • Central Grade
  • Long Lake
  • West Middle


  • Willow Hill
  • Traverse Heights
  • Glenn Loomis
  • Courtade
  • Northport – 6th/7th graders
  • Grand Traverse Academy (meets at the Clubhouse at 4:30pm but no transportation provided from GTA)


  • Pathfinder
  • Silver Lake
  • Eastern


  • Blair
  • Cherry Knoll
  • Trinity Lutheran

Helpful Information:

  • Bring a water bottle, helmet, bike and snack to all sessions.
  • 5 participant minimum and maximum per school.
  • Participants will meet the instructor in the school library no more than 10 minutes after dismissal.
  • In the event school is closed, no LEAP activities will be held per TCAPS policy. There is no guarantee of a make-up date in the case of inclement weather. Missed sessions will only be made up if schedules allow.
  • Bikes are available for participants to borrow from Norte’s Bike Library if needed.

Every Bike Mas Project participant will also receive:

  • a sweet Norte shirt
  • a free family membership to our Clubhouse



Sessions are limited to five (5) participants. If 5 participants do not register, the session will be canceled and a refund provided.

Huge thanks to our sponsors for supporting happy, healthy, strong kids and making The Bike Mas Project very affordable:

Know an Awesome Kid? Nominations Now Open for Northern Michigan’s Walk/Bike to School Hero Awards

Over the past year, kids across northern Michigan have been walking and biking to school in a big, big way.

It’s time we acknowledge and celebrate that!

Help us fill our third annual region-wide Safe Routes To School Heroes Awards with kids leading the active transportation way at their school.

Awards are open to all elementary and middle schools students in northern Michigan.

Super awesome prizes up for grabs including free bikes, very orange swag, summer bike camp entries, Norte Dineros, and Clubhouse memberships.

Deadline for nominations is June 12th.

Email us with questions at



Thank you to our Safe Routes To School partners for supporting happy, healthy, ready to learn kids across Traverse City!


National Bike To Work Day is tomorrow and the kids are taking over

As part of Traverse City Bike Month, we’re again organizing a very friendly Kids vs Adults competition – a smackdown if you will – for tomorrow’s National Bike To Work Day.

In case you haven’t noticed, kids in northwest Michigan have been pedaling to school in a big way recently and we want to keep the momentum going. Because what’s better than beating adults?!

We’re looking for a bunch of bike-tastic big people from various workplaces across the area to team up and take on the kids at several neighborhood elementary schools in the region including: Eastern, Northport, Traverse Heights, Central Grade, Elk Rapids Lakeland, Willow Hill, Holy Angels, Immaculate Conception, Trinity Lutheran and Glenn Loomis.

The schools are in. All we need is some big people to participate.

Here’s How It Works:

1. Complete this form and commit to ride tomorrow.

  • Don't see your workplace? Add it below and we'll get it on the list. Retired peeps and those who work from home can totally play too!



2. Encourage your co-workers to commit too. The past two years, the kids have won. You’re gonna need all the help you can get.

3. Tomorrow we will add up all the kids’ bikes in the racks at the area schools for Fridays Fantasticos as well as all of the adults who committed online for National Bike To Work Day. Biggest number wins bragging rights for the year.

Will the kids dominate yet again? Let’s give them some competition, adults!

Learn more about Traverse City Bike Month and our Safe Routes To School initiative.



Northern Michigan’s Most Bike-tastic School is …

A big, big day for happy, healthy, ready to learn kids this past Wednesday. So great! Nearly 800 kids at 22 area school participated. Our biggest Northern Michigan Bikes To Day yet. Amazing.

Soaring highest were the Falcons of Willow Hill Elementary in Traverse City. 232 students pedaled themselves to class which is good enough to “win” the 2018 Most Bike-tastic School Award.

Congrats, Willow Hill!

Honorable mentions to:

  • Northport Public School
  • TCAPS Montessori
  • Central Grade
  • Lakeland Elementary in Elk Rapids
  • Traverse Heights
  • Woodland
  • The bike to bus  to Bertha Vos kids from Eastern

Special high fives to:

  • Our 16 bike train conductors
  • The many principals who came out <— riding to school with your principal is a BIG deal
  • Our sponsors: Michigan Fitness Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield and TBA Credit Union
  • Oryana Co-op for hosted a bike train station and providing yummy breakfast
  • The Traverse City and Elk Rapids Police Departments for keeping the kids safe

Let’s keep the momentum going. Because it’s more than just one day, of course.

If you want to help get more kids biking (and walking!) to YOUR school, please join our grassroots Safe Routes To School team.

Safe Routes To School Goes to Long Lake Township


After a fantastic Walk To School Day this October at Westwoods elementary and successful Estrellas, our learn to ride program for preschoolers using balance bikes, sessions at both Westwoods and Long Lake elementary this past year, we’re excited to take the first few steps towards applying for a Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant that would address traffic congestion and walk/bike barriers in and around both of these schools.

We believe outcomes of this grant will result in a better place not only for Long Lake children but all township residents. A township that is healthier, happier and better connected.

The systematic Safe Routes To School approach starts with conducting walking and biking audits, evaluating needs, surveying parents, school staff and students, and developing an action plan. Funds are made available to improve and build bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, trails, lighting etc., as well as funding for important education and encouragement programs to ensure that this new infrastructure is well used.

We believe the following are some of the positive outcomes and reasons for supporting this grant:

  1. Creating a walking and bicycling culture sets habits for an active, healthy lifestyle beginning at an early age.
  2. The planning, development, and implementation of projects will reduce traffic congestion and fuel consumption, reduce air pollution in the vicinity of schools, and create safer streets as bike/walk rates increase.
  3. All of the many positive benefits that come from actively transporting yourself to school such as:
  • better concentration in class
  • improved cognitive abilities
  • stronger sense of community and understanding of the built environment
  • learning to safely navigate around our community
  • more exercise
  • sense of empowerment and independence
  1. We believe it is the right of all children to be able to walk and bike to school safely.
  2. A lack of physical activity plays a leading role in rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other health problems among children. Engaging in active transportation to and from school builds activity into daily routines.

Learn more about the Safe Routes To School grant process HERE.

We encourage Long Lake residents, business owners , and especially families with children who attend Westwoods and Long Lake schools, to make your voice heard.

Get involved and stay up to date by joining our Long Lake team:



And then write a letter of support addressed to the Long Lake Board of Trustees.

Sample letter HERE.

Westwoods parents/staff should email their letter to Nicola Philpott HERE.

Long Lake parents/staff should email theirs to Ben Boyce HERE.

Or better yet, attend the Long Lake Board of Trustees meeting at the township hall at 6 PM Tuesday, December 12th.