Traverse City Bikes To School Day

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One small ride for your school, one giant ride for your City.

Traverse City Bikes To School Day is back.  TCB2SD is a community-wide, multi-school celebration of National Bike To School Day. It’s going to happen on Wednesday, May 4th and it could quite possibly be the most awesome day of kids on bikes in TC history. We say that every year but we really mean it this time 😉

Remember last year? Check out this infographic from 2015’s TCB2SD:

tc-bikes-to-school-day-week-infographic 2015

In addition to inspiring and empowering more elementary students to actively transport themselves to class via bicycle than ever before, we will also crown The Most Bike-tastic Traverse City School with a little friendly competition. Eastern won last year? Can the Stars defend their title?

Plus we’ll have all sorts of crazy FUN! Prizes and high fives, too, of course.

Here’s How It Works:

1. Commit to ride your bike to school on Wednesday, May 4th and then sign up HERE. Once you commit, you’re promising to bike on the big day. Pinky swear.

2. Tell your friends, teacher, principal and lunch lady about Traverse City Bikes To School Day and have them commit, too. Yay, lunch ladies on bikes!

3. Don’t forget, you have to sign up HERE to help your school win The Most Bike-tastic Traverse City School award. This is a big deal and we’re taking it very, very seriously. We’re going to use some math, actually.

# of pedaling students and staff ÷
# of total students and staff at school
x 100 =
Your School’s Bike-tastic-ness number.

Highest Bike-tastic-ness number wins bragging rights for the entire year and probably a sweet trophy to show off, too.

4. On Wednesday, May 4th, hop on your bike and pedal to school with some friends or join one of our many Bike Trains and pedal with A LOT of friends.

So simple. So awesome.

Do you live too far from school to bike? Maybe you don’t have a safe route to school? No worries, you can still participate.

** If you take the bus to school, ride your bike to the bus stop. That totally counts. We’ll have a limited number of our pop-up neighborhood bike racks set up at popular bus stops. If you can talk some buddies into biking-to-bus with you, let us know HERE and we’ll pedal one over.

** Does your mom or dad normally drive you to school? Ask them nicely to leave a little earlier on TC Bikes To School Day and drop you off a mile or so from school. Then ask them to join you so that both of you can pedal to school together. That’ll be fun. Not sure where you should park to have a safe route to school? Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org and we’ll help give you some ideas.

** We’re also encouraging outlying schools to participate. Talk to your teacher or principal about hosting a bike “at school” event. Maybe a recess ride with your classmates? Maybe some skills practice at lunch time?

Just don’t forget to commit. Your school needs YOU!

commit-button

Are you an awesome mom, dad, neighbor who’s already biking to school with your child/fave neighborhood kid? Maybe none of our bike trains are convenient? Start your own train. Invite a friend, classmate, neighborhood kid to join you and BAM! you have yourself a bike train. Please register your new bike train HERE because more bike trains = more better.

We currently have 18 Bike Trains registered connecting 12 different Traverse City (and Suttons Bay!) neighborhoods to 9 different Traverse City elementary and middle schools:

The Eastern Star Express
The Eastern High-lander
The Eastern Special
The Eastern Star Line
The Eastern Flyer
The Central Grade Zephyr
The Central Grade Coastal Classic
The Central Grade Limited
The TCAPS Montessori Trolley
The TCAPS Montessori Meteor
The TCAPS Montessori Bay Express
The TCAPS Montessori Morning Star
The Traverse Heights Golden Arrow
The Trinity Lutheran S-Bahn
The West Middle Empire Builder
The Westwoods Rebel
The Willow Hill Comet
Suttons Bay/Leelanau Montessori Water Wheel Express

Want to volunteer with Norte! and help make TC Bike To School Day a success. We have lots of fun (not boring!) jobs. You can be a Bike Train conductor or help the kids cross at busy intersections or hand out snacks/stickers/high fives at school. Sign-up HERE. Gracias.

Schools are encouraged to celebrate with us by hosting a small event the morning of the big day. Anything goes, really. Healthy snacks or stickers or High Fives or a dance party or a scavenger hunt with inflatable penguins. Whatev.

Questions can be sent to hello@elgruponorte.org

Bike Happy. Bike Más. Bike To School in TC.

Traverse City Bike Month Is Coming

bike month

Traverse City Bike Month is a #BikeTVC celebration of people on bicycles.

In collaboration with many other bicycle-friendly organizations and businesses, Norte! will be celebrating National Bike Month in a big, big way this year.

We will ride bikes. A lot. We will also build awareness for the growing presence of people on bicycles here in TC and have tons of FUN doing it. Mucho FUN, actually!

The TC Bike Month Calendar

May Day Ride + Kick off party @ The Filling Station (5/1)

#BikeTVC Strava Doodle Art Contest starts (5/2)

Bike Night @ the Bijou (5/3)

TC Bikes To School Day (5/4)

Estrellas @ March For Babies (5/7)

Bike The Downtown Farmers Market (5/7)

Mud, Sweat & Beers Race @ Mt. Holiday (5/7)

Mom’s Day MTB Shred @ Vasa Singletrack (5/8)

Lids On Kids @ F&M Park (5/14)

Shop Your Local Bike Shop Day (5/14)

Community Bike Fix @ Recycle-A-Bicycle (5/14)

TC Safe Routes To School Champion Awards nominations open (5/16)

Envision 8th Street: Bike to public input events (5/16, 5/18, 5/20)

Ride of Silence with Cherry Capital Cycling Club (5/18)

#BikeBLT: Bike to Boardman Lake Trail open house @ Hagerty Center (5/19)

Kids vs Adults: A National Bike To Work Day/Bike To School Friday Smack Down (5/20)

Bike Your Co-op: Pedal to Earth Day North @ Oryana (5/21)

A Muy Fabuloso “Bike To Bus To Asparagus Festival” Adventure (5/21)

#BikesBikesBikes at Groundwork Center’s Get Local Party @ The Little Fleet (5/21)

Spring Pumpkin Pedal @ Jolly Pumpkin (5/22)

Bike The NMC BBQ (5/22)

TC Rides: A slow, chit chatty community ride  (5/25)

Zeke Goodwin Memorial Ride and Scholarship fundraiser @ Eastern Elementary (5/27)

Bike Happy, TC: A Pop-up Ding, Wave and High Five Shindig (5/29)

Stay up to date and don’t miss out on any of the FUN! by subscribing to our events HERE.

Reclaiming My Time: A Story of Less Stuff and Más Bikes

family4

Photo Credit: Beth Price

With help from the talented Kandy Chapple and Lisa Maxbauer, our co-founder, Ty Schmidt, penned this story which was first published in the March/April edition of Grand Traverse Women magazine. See Ty tell his story at the Grand Traverse Woman Luncheon on April 13. Purchase your tickets HERE.

Reclaiming My Time

by Ty Schmidt

In a life full of questionable choices, 11 years ago I made a really good one. I decided to start “job sharing” with my wife, Johanna. We were then both physical therapists at a rehab clinic in Tucson, AZ, and our first son, Carter, was just born. I wanted to be there to help raise him, so Johanna began working the mornings and I worked the afternoons. In between, we chased Carter around.

Going part-time and earning part-time pay as well as part-time benefits wasn’t an easy decision. We were living a comfortable life as a two-paycheck family. Eating out. Driving two cars. Taking trips. Owning fancy electronic gizmos. We wondered, by working just 20 hours a week apiece, would we run out of money? Would we be eating beans and crackers every night? Would it affect our careers? Would we be happy?

Little did I know all the positive changes that choice would trigger. Today, living in Traverse City, we continue to job share, now chasing two boys (Jameson arrived in 2006) and we are indeed happy. By choosing to live more simply—no TV, no shiny gadgets—and buying less stuff, we haven’t run out of money. No beans and crackers every night, either. I even gave up my driver’s license to ensure I would ride my bike more. I love riding. It calms me and allows me to think. It’s my Prozac, my church, my happy place.

How do we make this lifestyle work? For starters, I get up embarrassingly early to get everyone out the door on time. We have a fleet of bike trailers of different sizes that I use for groceries, hauling and errands. Love Traverse City’s flatness! (Full disclosure: We do own a vehicle and I occasionally catch rides with Johanna in the minivan).

Not having a driver’s license in Northern Michigan is odd. Add in the whole vegetarian, environmentalist, liberal, bike-nerd thing and it gets even more odd. But I just do my thing. I don’t miss TV, which is weird as I used to watch a ton as a kid. We have a VOIP phone at home. I use our laptop and an old iPhone that was given to me, which we use to call/text over wifi. Thank goodness wifi is everywhere. And it’s free. Needless to say, my wife is understanding and my friends are patient.

Through all this, I’ve learned that job sharing makes me happier at home and a better physical therapist. I have the time to help out around the house—I’m not the best dishwasher or laundry folder or gardener, but I try. And I’m productive at work because I’m happy to be there. It’s the perfect balance.

My wife and I just knew we couldn’t have it both ways. It’s either work more to earn more to spend more, or consume less to work less to have more time. We chose the latter. While job sharing with a spouse doesn’t make you a lot of money, it does give you the gift of time. The luxury of time.

In 2002, I realized just how important time was when I lost my dad to cancer, melanoma. He was only 48. They thought they got it all but it came back a year later and he died six months after that on Christmas Day. It was an agonizingly slow and painful death, hard to watch. I was only 28 at the time. He was an elementary physical education teacher and a phenomenal athlete. I think about him every day. I’m sad he wasn’t able to meet my boys.

My dad’s death was a wake-up call. Life is short. Time is precious. I wanted to make my life matter. I wanted to make my dad proud by making a difference. I already felt like I was making a difference through my work. As a P.T., I help others hurt less to move more and I love doing it. It has been very fulfilling. My “job” rarely feels like “work.” Still, I wondered: Could there be more?

With the breathing room that this flexible lifestyle allowed, I was able to think about what I wanted to do with some of my downtime and how I could make a difference beyond my office. Naturally, I did a lot of thinking on my bike (in the winter I ride 20–40 miles a week and in the summer it’s more like 200–300 miles). One thing I realized while riding was that I wanted to be engaged more in my community, in this amazing town. So I got to know my neighbors. I volunteered with local groups. The boys and I spent our mornings exploring Traverse City’s wonderful places—the library, the children’s museum, the beaches, the parks. I began to make friends with several of Traverse City’s many awesome people.

It was with the support of these awesome people that Johanna and I launched Carter’s Compost, a bike-powered community composting operation. Five years later, Carter, and now Jamo too, along with five other neighborhood kids are still slinging buckets and raising awareness about the awesomeness of small scale composting.

Empowering my boys and other youth to be confident, active and independent while using their bikes to do good made me feel like I was making a difference in my neighborhood. Still, I wanted to do more.

When both boys started school, I began to notice things: there were fewer bikes and longer car lines; like-minded moms and dads who wanted to bike to school, but simply didn’t have the time; and unsafe riding by kids as they pedaled on sidewalks or didn’t know how to signal or negotiate a 4-way stop.

Because my wife and I had the time, we decided to try to make a difference. We started inviting neighborhood families to drop their kids off at our house so we could bike with them to school. I would lead the “bike train” in the morning and Johanna would pedal home with the group in the afternoon.

And that’s how Norte!, a bike-centric, youth-focused advocacy organization was born. Thanks to many wonderful people, Norte! has taken off. I’m now its first Executive Director. I get paid to ride bikes with kids. How awesome is that?!

Even better: Kids in the area are learning the confidence that comes with safe bike riding; the area has a little less traffic and car pollution; and the community has a greater sense of, well, “community.”

Because of that one career decision 11 years ago to prioritize my time, I’m now happy at home, fulfilled at work and engaged in my community. I think my dad would be proud.


gtw luncheon