Christmas Tree By Bike

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With inspiration from the awesome people at Modacity in Vancouver, Norte! is excited to again offer bike-powered delivery of your Christmas tree to Traverse City’s recycling drop-off site. Because recycling your tree by bicycle might just be the most awesome thing ever:

  •  it’s easy. Just make a $25 donation.
  • it’s convenient. One less trip for you.
  • it’s less wasteful. Turning your tree into mulch rocks!
  • it supports Norte!. Yay for a stronger, better connected and more bicycle friendly Traverse City.

Here’s How it Works:

1. Donate $25 via credit card HERE or via paypal HERE. Make sure to comment “tree” so that we know this is for a pick up.

2. We will contact you via email to schedule your pick up.

3. A Norte! volunteer will pedal your Christmas tree to Hull Park using our 8ft, heavy duty bike trailer.

4. Give yourself a pat on the back for supporting kids on bikes in Traverse City and recycling your tree into mulch and erosion control for City parks and Brown Bridge Quiet Area.

Pick-ups available in Oak Park, Boardman, Traverse Heights, Central, Slabtown and Old Town neighborhoods only.

Pick-ups start 12/27/15 and end 1/6/16 .

Your donation will allow us to awesome’ize our new Clubhouse at the Civic Center including:

  • new bike tools, parts and supplies for El Barrio Bike Fix, our learn-to-wrench program.
  • more bikes for our Bike Library, our free program that aims to get bikes to kids so they can ride to school.
  • scholarships for The Bike Mas Project, our adventure-based bike safety program.

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org

More info on Traverse City’s tree recycling program HERE.

More info on our new Clubhouse HERE.

Learn more about Modacity and their amazing internationally crowd-sourced #TreeByBike photo gallery HERE.

Bike Happy. Bike Mas. Bike Your Christmas Tree TC.

Traverse City's Pedal Powered Community Bike Shop

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Traverse City’s first pedal powered community bike shop is for real. It’s big. It’s orange. It’s about to awesome things in TC. Big thanks to Rotary Club of Traverse City, Oryana, Carter’s Compost, Marathon Automotive, Image360 and Charles Schwab for making it happen and supporting El Barrio (The Neighborhood) Bike Fix, our learn-to-wrench program.

A bike-powered “maker space” of sorts, EBBF allows Traverse City elementary students to get their hands dirty, turn wrenches and learn basic bike repair and maintenance skills from our professional bike mechanics.

From changing a flat to adjusting brakes to dialing in shifting, EBBF aims to empower youth to take care of their own bicycles to promote self-assurance, confidence, creativity and lifelong bike independence.

EBBF had a great start last fall at Glenn Loomis and then again last winter at Eastern so we’re excited put our new community bike shop to work to teach more elementary students the basics of bike mechanics.

Bike-Powered! Recycle Your Christmas Tree The Awesome Way

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photo credit: Modacity

With inspiration from the awesome people at Modacity in Vancouver, Norte! is excited to offer bike-powered delivery of your Christmas tree to Traverse City’s recycling drop-off site. Because recycling your tree by bicycle might just be the most awesome thing ever:

  • it’s easy. Just fill out the form below.
  • it’s convenient. One less trip for you.
  • it’s less wasteful. Turning your tree into mulch rocks!
  • it supports Norte!. Yay for kids on bikes in Traverse City.

Here’s How it Works:

  1. Commit to making a donation – big or small – and help us inspire Traverse City youth through bicycles. With your support, Norte! will:
    • invest in bike tools, parts and supplies for El Barrio Bike Fix, our upcoming after school learn-to-wrench program at Eastern Elementary
    • host The Bike Mas Project, our experienced-based after school empowerment program at Eastern and Traverse Heights Elementary this spring
    • purchase more balance bikes for the Estrellas del Norte!, our learn-to-ride program this summer
    • grow our Kids Bike Library to make sure that every awesome kid can ride an awesome bike no matter their family’s financial resources
  2. Sign up HERE to schedule your pick-up.
  3. A Norte! volunteer will pedal your Christmas tree to Hull Park using 8ft, heavy duty bike trailers loaned to us by our friends at Carter’s Compost.
  4. Give yourself a pat on the back for supporting kids on bikes in Traverse City and recycling your tree into mulch and erosion control for City parks and Brown Bridge Quiet Area.
  • Pick-ups available in Oak Park, Boardman, Traverse Heights, Central and Old Town neighborhoods only.
  • Pick-ups from 12/28/15 until 1/17/16 .
  • Donations can be made online HERE, via check to “Norte!” left with your tree or sent to to PO Box, 781, TC, MI, 49685.

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org

More info on the City’s tree recycling program HERE.

More info on who Norte! is and what we do HERE.

Learn more about Modacity and their amazing internationally crowd-sourced #TreeByBike photo gallery HERE.

Bike Happy. Bike Mas. Bike Your Christmas Tree TC.

A TC Bike Plow Experiment

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Norte is putting the TC Bike Plow to the test this winter. An experiment of sorts to see what bike-powered snow clearing is capable of. We have committed to help keep the Boardman Lake Trail (BLT) Bridge and boardwalk clear by way of pedal power. So far, so good. Who knew that a simple push broom wedge could pulled behind a bike could work so well?

Hooked up to a Fat Bike, the plows turn into snow clearing beasts. Fat bikes are made for plowing. Our Dr. Auer-designed DIY plows perform well, too. Really well, actually. They make a great 2 foot path to walk/ride on.

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In addition to the BLT Bridge, we sometimes bike plow Central/Slab Town/Boardman neighborhood sidewalks, the BLT to 14th Street and Bayside TART for fun:

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We’re going to keep plowin’ away because how else are we going to get to the library and Oryana? If you want to put your Fat Bike to work and do some community good, we’re looking for more awesome people to help. Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org to get involved.

More info on our bike-powered/grassroots efforts to keep our neighborhood sidewalks and trails clear HERE.

How-To Instructional to build your own bike plow HERE.

Updated Traverse City bike plow photo album HERE.

Read about our Winter Biking To School efforts using the TC Bike Plow HERE.

Winter Biking to School + The TC Bike Plow

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Northwest Second Wave Media recently published a nice article, “Cyclists clearing the walks and trails of picturesque Traverse City“, on how our bike plow can clear snow off sidewalks, multi-use trails, and even neighborhood skating rinks.

As the article suggests, and NORTE! agrees, the real power of the bike plow lays in its ability to make biking to school a year round possibility for our Traverse City kids.

Of course, our city, Civic Center and NMC should get most of the credit. Their snow plow dudes do a killer job. So does the dedicated team of TART volunteers who clear the entire TART from Cherry Bend to Bunker Hill and shovel the Boardman Lake Bride Trail by hand. But, there are some days (especially this winter, 270cm and counting!) when the snow is just too much for our kids to ride through.

Enter the TC Bike Plow. Each of our Bike Train volunteers is equipped with a plow who then pulls it in front while the kids ride a smoothed out 60cm wide trail behind. It makes their ride significantly easier. It really does.

Our awesome NORTE! volunteer gets their workout in, the neighborhood sidewalks get plowed (our Bike Trains ride on the quiet sidewalks in the winter…the plows turn them into protected bike lanes of sorts for the kids) and the kids get to ride to school safely. It’s a win-win-win.

We have some kids (like Max!…read his story HERE) who haven’t missed a Bike To School Friday yet. The TC Bike Plow played a large role in this.

So three cheers for the TC Bike Plow. If we can bike through the winter of 2014, we can bike through any winter. Who knew such a simple yet elegant and effective design could do such good?

Email us at norteyouthcycling@gmail.com to learn how you can help.

We have open-sourced our bike plow design with a DIY instructional HERE.

Read more on our TC Bike Plow Experiment HERE.

Bike Happy. Bike Más. Bike TC.

The Traverse City Bike Plow: A DIY Instructional

Below is a How-To instructional written by Bob Otwell, NORTE! board member, former executive director at TART and master bike plow builder. We hope this will help others in TC and elsewhere bring the awesomeness of bike-powered snowplowing to their neighborhood.

Traverse City Bike-Powered Snow Plow Efforts
December 2013
by Bob Otwell

Following is a short description, photos, and parts list for two different types of bike plows that we have been using so far this year. All of the materials can found at the local hardware stores except the ball joint for the hitch, and the wheels. This is still an experimental program and these plows can be improved, be creative. More photos of our plows can be found HERE.

1. Hitch

We use two different types of hitches – use whatever you can to attach the plow linkage to the bike. One hitch we use is modeled after a simple hitch designed to pull bike trailers. It will fit most bikes, with quick-release or threaded axles. The hitch is placed on the left side of the rear wheel.

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We also recently started using a hitch from Kanner Karts. They’ve been working great so far this winter.

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2. Link to plow

We link the hitch to the plow with two links, the first is a length of ½” electrical conduit bent as shown to encompass the rear wheel. Use a 2” x 3/8” bolt and three nuts plus lock washer as shown. Tighten the 3 nuts as you compress the conduit. The bolt then goes into the ball joint, and uses another nut to secure the link to the ball joint. The second link we are using on the wedge plows is a length of 1” x ¼” steel, which is bolted to the conduit, and then to the plow, with ¼” U bolts, washers and nuts.

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Link to ball joint

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Bend the link to accommodate right turns and fatbikes.

The Auer Wedge

Dr. Tom Auer, TART Board member and community health advocate, came up with this simple plow design. It is effective, quiet, durable and inexpensive. It is based on two, 2-foot long push brooms. Simply cut the ends of the two brooms at a 30-degree angle so the two brooms fit together at a 60-degree angle, which is the leading edge of the plow. The two brushes are then bolted to a piece of plywood that is 24” on each of three sides, to form a triangle. Use two 2” by ¼” bolts to hold each broom to the plywood. We have used a piece of 2” X 2” wood or 1” by 1/8” steel for the tongue. If you use the steel, need to twist it 90 degrees to attach to 2nd link. We have also used a few variations of plastic for the sides. The primary purpose of the plastic is to make the plow taller so that snow does not travel over the wedge, but gets pushed to the side. About 4” extending above the plywood seems to work. The blue plastic on the first wedge we made was just a cut up 5-gallon pail.

Auer Wedge parts list:

2-foot long push brooms
2’ x 2’ x 2’ piece of ½ inch plywood
2” x ¼” bolt – four of these
2” x 2” wood or 1” x 1/8” tongue piece, about 18 inches long
Plastic for the sides walls, and screws to attach to broom

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Bottom of Auer Wedge

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Two existing wedges with different tongues and plastic sides

Wheeled Plow

Dave Peterson, an engineer with Fermi Lab in Illinois, developed a wheeled plow over the past decade. Dr. Auer took his design to a local wood shop and had one made last winter. This winter I slightly re-designed the plow to keep similar operational features, but make it simpler to build with common hand tools. The 1st plow made was 18” wide; our second plow is 24” wide.

Wheeled Plow parts list:

12″ x 48″ piece of shower board
3 wheels – 100 mm – Razor Scooter
10 feet of 2” x 4” wood
6 feet of 1” x 1/8” flat steel
1 piece of ½” plywood, about 18” square
Phillips head, 2 1/4” x 6 course thread dry wall screws, about 20 of them
1 ½” screws (T-25 head) – 15 of them, with 8 large washers
5/16” threaded rod – 16 – 18 inches long for rear axle
2 ½ ” x 5/16” bolt with washers and nuts for front axle
2 ½” x ¼” bolt with washers and nuts – two of these to hold front axle support
2” x ½” steel brackets- two of these to hold rear axle

The plow geometry is somewhat complicated, a 60-degree point to the plow in the direction of travel, and the two sides slope up at 45 degrees from the ground, then curve up to 90 degrees. I have two photos with some of these angles and dimensions shown. The plow is generally a 2’ x 2’ x 2’ triangle.

I started by cutting the two lower 2 x 4’s with a 45-degree side angle along the length, and then a 30-degree front edge where they combine like the brushes to form a 60-degree leading edge. I then attached the front piece, and the two cross pieces. About 9 inches of the front piece is cut to accept the front wheel. Then attach the rear axle and wheels. I put a piece of PVC between the wheels as a spacer, and bent a bracket around the rear axle, to be attached to the lower board (see photo). Use nuts and washers on the outside of the wheels to hold them in the proper place. Attach plywood cover piece with two 10 inch pieces of 2” x 4” attached on top. The front axle is supported by 4 pieces of flat steel as shown in photo. I set the wheels so the blades are about ¼” from the ground. The plastic and lower steel edge is the last thing added.

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Side view with plastic off

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Rear view

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Bottom view

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Finished plow

We encourage you to build a bike plow and start clearing your neighborhood sidewalks/trails the awesome way. We only ask that you use bike plow to “foster the growth of youth as cyclists” as Dave Peterson asked. And maybe consider a $5 donation to NORTE! for these instructions, too. You can donate via Paypal HERE.

Read more about our Traverse City Bike Plow efforts:

Clearing sidewalks and trails. Getting Fit. Building Community.

Winter Biking To School Behind The TC Bike Plow

A Bike Plow Experiment

Feel free to email us at norteyouthcycling@gmail.com with questions.