A Mom's Reply To Safe Routes To School Critics


Meet Nan Perez. Nan is Kindergarten mom at Eastern Elementary here in Traverse City. She wrote this lovely comment in response to many, many less than supportive comments regarding a Traverse Ticker story about a possible Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant to make our neighborhood elementary schools more walkable/bikeable.

I’m disheartened by these comments, especially knowing what an amazing benefit riding to school via a Norte! bike train has had for our kindergartner. Indeed, he has made great friends out of his fellow riders and talks about them (and their respective bikes) at home. It gives him a “3rd” and “4th” recess outside of the (2) 20-minute segments he receives at school, which is a huge bonus for his need for gross-motor activities. I’m so thankful for his safe route to school, and I sincerely believe that watching our 5 year old pedal away from his parents every morning is making our son a more self-sufficient, physically active, and confident child. I’d wish the same for any of his peers. And, for the record, we commute with our child into town and drop him off in order to have this experience. It’s that valuable to us.

Please, if your complaint is that it’s unsafe, then let the good activists and engineers do the work. Let pedestrians and bikers be so prevalent on our streetscapes that drivers EXPECT and PLAN to account for them as Ty noted in a recent Michigan Radio interview. Let’s reinstate the benefits of good organization and infrastructure to give our kids those “we walked to school in waist-deep snow both ways uphill” stories.

Keep awesome, Mrs. Perez, and thanks for supporting active, happy, ready to learn children in Traverse City.

Learn more about Norte!’s comprehensive Safe Routes To School programming HERE.

Very wet but awfully fun Adventurama! photos and results


We explored Traverse City on bicycles. We found treasure. We played in parks, found little libraries, discovered public art, read the plaques and made friends with strangers, too. We also got really, really wet. Despite buckets and buckets and buckets of rain, the inaugural Adventurama! was a blast. Thanks to everyone for playing along and helping us raise $3000+ for our Safe Routes To School programming.

Let’s do it again next year!

Super official 2016 results:

  1. Skid Marks: 375 points
  2. Secret Stash Dashers: 353
  3. Nerdy Pigs: 325
  4. Saggi Jam: 320
  5. Trojans: 295
  6. Los Fuertes: 288
  7. Eagle Eyes: 265
  8. Riptide Riders: 250
  9. Pedal Posse: 244
  10. Green Bino’s: 240
  11. School Daze: 235
  12. The Northern Scenesters: 235
  13. The Five Amigos: 225
  14. Wet Noodles: 225
  15. Shooba Looba Ding Dong: 205
  16. The Striped Whites: 195

NerdyPigs’ Fly by:


Photo gallery:

Hey, kids! Check out a bike. Ride it to school. For free.


Norte! is excited to partner with the Traverse Area District Library and McLain Cycle to host a pop up Kids Bike Library on Wednesday, August 17th from 9a – noon.

Kids grow up fast. They out grow their bikes fast too. As part of s our Traverse City-wide Safe Routes To School program, the Kids Bike Library aims to preschool and lower elementary aged students awesome by making sure their bike always fits no matter how fast they grow nor their family’s resources.


Thanks to generous support from McLain Cycle, Norte! will have 47 like new Specialized kids – balance, 12”, 16” and 20” – bikes to loan out. These sizes are ideal for preschoolers and lower elementary students.

“Partnering with Norte! has been a great experience. It has allowed us to promote community engagement of cycling in a new way. We are linked together with a shared value of getting kids and families on bikes”, Kris McLain, owner at McLain Cycle.

Young riders are welcome to borrow a bike for as long as it fits them. Once they outgrow the bike, they return to the Norte! in exchange for the next size up. For FREE!

Here’s How It Works:

  1. Show up at the Woodmere library anytime between 9a – noon.
  2. Sign up for a Norte! Kids Bike Library card. It’s both easy and free. Parent’s photo ID is required.
  3. See a bike you like? Give it a test ride and then take it home if it’s a keeper.
  4. Once the bike is too small, return it to Norte! and check out the next size up.

In return, we simply ask that the kids promise to:

  • take good care of the bike.
  • ride the bike as much as possible. Especially to school!
  • be a positive Norte! ambassador.

Word on the street is that TADL’s new Book Bike will be making an appearance too!

While this is a 100% free service, Norte! will be accepting donations – tax exempt, of course – to help fund our Safe Routes To School programs.


Learn more about our kids bike library HERE.

Learn more about how we’re empowering elementary students to be active, happy, and ready-to-learn HERE.

Learn more about McLain’s fabulous 100% trade-in program HERE.

Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org with questions

Bike Happy. Bike Mas. Bike TC.


Bike Night at Rare Bird to Support Safe Routes To School


Norte! is excited to partner with Rare Bird Brewpub to host “Bike Night at Rare Bird” on Tuesday, August 2nd starting at 4pm. This is a kickoff party to celebrate the launch of the Norte! “Do Good” tap.

$1 from each pint sold during the entire month of August will go directly to support Norte!’s community-wide Safe Routes To School programs which are dedicated to empowering elementary and middle school students across  Traverse City students to actively transport themselves to school.

Big thanks to our friends at Rare Bird for supporting Norte!’s mission of building a stronger, better connected and more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring its young people through bicycles.

Look for mucho bike parking outside Rare Bird’s beautifully restored 1931 red brick building  at 229 Lake Avenue in downtown Traverse City and we’ll see you tomorrow night.

The “Winner” of the Kids vs Adults Smackdown is…


….. the KIDS!

142 to 106.

Don’t hang your heads too low, adults. You put up a good fight and you should be proud of the 47 bike-tastic workplaces in Traverse City who participated.
Thanks for playing along – this was great motivation for the kids. They really got into it so Thank you!
Please keep being awesome by riding to work (Smart Commute Week is coming up!) and inspiring your community to do the same. Because more people on bikes = more better, of course.
safe routes to school
Know any walk/bike to school champions? We’re now accepting nominations for Traverse City’s Safe Routes To School Awards. Nominate HERE.
Still need a team for Smart Commute Week? Join Equipo Norte!, our bike-centric all-star team HERE.
Feeling generous this Saturday morning? We’re in this crowdfund charity thing and could use some help 😉 We’re actually super close to completing the week #1 challenge (chance to score $4,000!!). Show some love for active, happy, ready-to-learn kids HERE.

Traverse City’s Most Bike-tastic School is…

greenspire (1)


On a less than awesome weather day with rain rain rain, the students, staff and teachers at Greenspire pedaled to school for Bike To School Day in a big way. The Greenspire School is the 2016 Most Bike-tastic Traverse City School. This is a big, big deal.

The award goes to the school with the highest Bike-tastic-ness # on Traverse City Bikes To School Day.

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

Greenspire scored an unbelievable 37.3 and together they pedaled 88.1 miles.

Congratulations, Greenspire!

Honorable mentions to:

– Eastern with 74 bikers
– TCAPS Montessori with a MASSIVE bike field trip from Glenn Loomis to the Bijou
– Central Grade with 27 bikers
– Traverse Heights with 13 bikers

Special high fives to:

– Mr. Iceman Steve Brown, Michigan Fitness Foundation/MI Safe Routes To School Director, Mrs. Meg Thomas Ackerman, and probably TCAPS’ most bike-tastic Principal, Mrs. Ruskowski, for riding with the Eastern Star Express train.
– Mr. Josh Kennard for riding with both the Willow Hill Comet and the Eastern Star Express trains (these schools are on opposite sides of town, folks!)
– Mr. and Mrs. Mantei for filling in on short notice with the Eastern Special train.
– Mr. Bill Clark for organizing TCAPS Montessori’s super awesome bike field trip (check out the amazing video bellow)


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDHEzRoyHXc]

One Small Ride For Your School. One Giant Ride For Your City.

El Grupo Norte

photo credit: Beth Price

Traverse City Bikes To School Day is back.  TCB2SD is a community-wide, multi-school celebration of National Bike To School Day next Wednesday, May 4th.

Here’s How It Works:

1. Commit to ride your bike to school on next Wednesday 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. Next Wednesday, 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.

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


Traverse City needs your help


Traverse City Winter Bike To Work + School Day is just 2 weeks away and TC is currently in 13th place. Not bad for a small town in northern Michigan but we can do better.

Current standings HERE.


Is a top 10 possible? Maybe. But we need YOU.


Please help us make it happen by not only committing to ride on February 12th but also encouraging your friends, neighbors and co-workers to commit on behalf of this amazing place we call home.


Even with a population of just 15,000, there’s no reason why we can’t go top 10. How nice would it be to beat Winnipeg, Bergen and Toronto? Very nice. Very nice, indeed.


Commit here:
And don’t forget the bike trains and hot chocolate at school, free coffee at Oryana, Cuppa Joe, BLK MRKT, Brew, Higher Grounds and EC Coffee Bar and a swingin’ after party at The Little Fleet.

Muchas gracias y viva Traverse City!

freecoffee (1)



A Norte! Story: Katie Bikes Happy To School With Friends

Summer_2015 (322)

Meet Katie. Katie is a 3rd grader at TCAPS Montesorri @ Glenn Loomis. She is part of the all girl Montessori Trolley bike train. Katie also joined us for bike2sail, bike2camp, Tour de TART “training” rides, Traverse City Walks To School Day, Winter Bike To School Day and the Cherry Fest parade. Wow. Awesome, right?!

We asked Katie to share her experience with us. Here’s her story:

Biking To School With Friends
by: Katie Clark

I like riding bicycles to school with friends because they are fun to talk with while you pedal fast.  Going fast seems very smooth and soft, like going down an ice hill and the ice is so smooth and gentle.   I really like riding by myself too, it is fun.  Then you can imagine that you are with friends on an adventure going all around the world on a bike.  It is just really fun, fun, fun. 

Katie’s Bike-tastic Photo Gallery

Norte! has played a part in mucho Bike Happy moments in Traverse City this year. From pedaling to school to exploring our woods and trails, Norte! has empowered our local youth, like Katie, to be resilient, independent, and self confident both on and off their bikes.

If you liked Katie’s story and want to support more of the same, please consider donating to our end-of-year Bike Happy, Traverse City  campaign. With your continued support, we’re committed to building a more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring its youth through bicycles.

Gracias. And let’s ride bikes together soon.

The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment: An Infographic



The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment, our Safe Routes To School project, is off to an amazing start. Here’s some awfully impressive numbers from this fall:

Bike To School Fridays- A Fall Recap

Bike To School Fridays: The Week 11 Numbers


With winter on our heels – it finally snowed here in Traverse City this weekend – we celebrated the 11th Bike To School Friday of the fall the best way we know how. By taking the awesome way to school, of course. We had an amazing start to the school year, let’s keep ‘er rolling come spring!

Special shout-outs to:

  • All of the bike-tastic students across TC who helped us blow by our goal of 1100 B2SFri bikes for the fall. That’s an average of 100+ bikes per Friday, folks! We think that’s pretty awesome.
  • Our 15 dedicated bike train conductors for making it happen. We are nothing without you. Thank you!
  • Siblings, Mason and Ellie of Eastern Elementary, who have biked 52 of 53 days of school. The only day they didn’t was Halloween — because their costumes weren’t bike friendly.
  • Mr. Clark, the never tiring and always up early, bike train conductor of the Montessori Trolley, for serving up breakfast to his 13 riders. #WillRideForFrenchToast
  • The Eastern Star Express bike train who together pedaled 21 miles to and and from school today. And, an amazing 246 miles as a whole this fall. Way to go, Stars!

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays- Week 11



Bike To School Fridays: The Cold, Wet and Windy Week 10 Numbers


Despite some nasty weather, Bike To School Friday (B2SFri) rolled on with some gritty and inspiring performances. Some intelligent clothing choices, too. Love these tough/smart Traverse City kids.

Special shout outs to:

  • Beatrice and Charlie of the Eastern Star Line Express for rocking their train with style despite wind, rain and cold. This 3rd and 1st grade, sister/brother duo pedaled 1.3 miles each way, folks. An easy choice for “The Most Awesome Bike Train Of The Week” award. Way to go, Star Line.
  • Ted of Central Grade Limited fame for continuing to keep his school awesome. He’s biked to school all but 3 days this year (not just on B2SFri!). One of those was for TC Walks To School Day which we’re pretty sure still counts. Attaboy, Ted! Norte! is proud of you. #BikeToSchoolEveryday

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays- Week 9 (2)

Bike To School Fridays (On A Wednesday): The Week 9 Numbers


No school on Friday last week – Iceman holiday here in Traverse City – so we rode bikes to school on Wednesday. And it was awesome.

Special shout outs to:

  • Mother Earth for a glorious, incredibly warm fall day. We set a record with a high of 76F?! That’s 24C, folks. Amazing.
  • Central Grade for one their biggest showings of the fall….22 bikes! Way to go, Super Stars!
  • Principal Biz of Eastern Elementary for riding with the High-lander bike train…her 3rd different Eastern train of the fall. With 5 Eastern trains in all, she only has to ride the Special and Star Line Express to be perfect. Awesome, right!?
  • Mr. Clark and Grandma Ann of the Montessori Trolley bike train for serving up donuts to mucho riders: 17 students + 7 adults/volunteers/siblings = 24 awesome people! #WillRideForDonuts
  • Westwoods Elementary, one of our fave outlying schools, for an impressive 13 bikes!

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays: The Week 8 Numbers + Costume Contest Photo Gallery

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Bike To School Friday +  Halloween costumes = Awesome!

Thanks to everyone who dressed up and rode on one of the darkest mornings of the fall.

Special shout outs to:

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays- Week 8

Week 1 numbers HERE

Week 2 numbers HERE

Week 3 numbers HERE

Week 4 numbers HERE

Week 5 numbers HERE

Week 6 numbers HERE

Week 7 numbers HERE

More info on Bike To School Fridays HERE

Read more about The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment HERE

Learn more about our City-wide network of bike trains HERE

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org

Bike To School Fridays: The Week 7 Numbers

photo 2 (6)

A brisk, beautiful morning to Bike To School Friday and kids across Traverse City came through big time as we counted over 100 bikes in our neighborhood school racks. How awesome is that?!

With just 3 more Bike To School Fridays left this fall, we’re on track to break 1000 bikes total before Thanksgiving. Let’s keep ‘er rolling and don’t forget our Bike To School Friday Costume Contest this Friday. Info on that HERE.

Special shout outs to:

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays- Week 7

Week 1 numbers HERE

Week 2 numbers HERE

Week 3 numbers HERE

Week 4 numbers HERE

Week 5 numbers HERE

Week 6 numbers HERE

More info on Bike To School Fridays HERE

Read more about The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment HERE

Learn more about our City-wide network of bike trains HERE

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org

Bike To School Friday: A Costume Contest

Costume Party

Take the awesome way to class, help your school be bike-tastic and look great doing it.

Norte! will have many awards up for grabs in multiple costume categories for this spook-tacular Bike To School Friday before Halloween.

The categories:

The prizes:

Winners from each category will win a slice of yummy GT Pie and either a limited edition Norte! winter hat, a stylish Norte! tech Tshirt or an awfully orange water bottle.

How to enter:

Simply post your photo using #BikeTVC to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by 6pm Friday, October 30th but remember you have to ride your bike to school to be eligible.

Winners will be notified by noon on Halloween day.

Please no riding with masks, or loose items like capes to get caught in wheels or bulky clothing that make it hard to handle a bike like R2-D2s.  🙂  No mopeds either.

Bike To School Fridays are Traverse City’s weekly, community-wide, multi-school celebration of kids on bikes actively transporting themselves to school.

Biking to school in Traverse City is FUN! Biking to school dressed up for your classroom’s Halloween party will be MUCHO FUN!

Email question to hello@elgruponorte.org

Bike Happy. Bike Mas. Bike To School In TC.

Bike To School Fridays: The Week 6 Numbers


When the weather is less than awesome – think a wet, windy, 37F morning – we grab our rain coats, mitts, longies, and hats because Bike To School Friday‘ers are tough as nails here in Traverse City. While our numbers might have a bit smaller, we made it up with funny faces and MUCHO FUN! on our 2nd Principals On Bikes ride.

Special shout outs to:

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays- Week 6

Week 1 numbers HERE

Week 2 numbers HERE

Week 3 numbers HERE

Week 4 numbers HERE

Week 5 numbers HERE

More info on Bike To School Fridays HERE

Read more about The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment HERE

Learn more about our City-wide network of bike trains HERE

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org

Bike To School Friday: The Week 5 Numbers


What started out as a cold, wet, windy morning turned into a beautiful Northern Michigan fall day and Bike To School Friday rolled on for our 5th week of the school year.

Special shout outs to:

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays- Week 5


Week 1 numbers HERE

Week 2 numbers HERE

Week 3 numbers HERE

Week 4 numbers HERE

More info on Bike To School Fridays HERE

Read more about The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment HERE

Learn more about our City-wide network of bike trains HERE

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org

Bike To School Friday: The Week 4 Numbers


Time to bust out those mitts, kids! Maybe a hat too. Fall has arrived here in Traverse City and so has its brisk, beautiful mornings. No biggie, though. We dressed smart and had another great turn out for Bike To School Friday.

Special shout outs to:

Complete numbers:

Bike To School Fridays- Week 4

Week 1 numbers HERE

Week 2 numbers HERE

Week 3 numbers HERE

More info on Bike To School Fridays HERE

Read more about The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment HERE

Learn more about our City-wide network of bike trains HERE

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org

The Westwoods Rebel


The Westwoods Rebel is a Norte! powered bike train that connects the Long Lake neighborhood to Westwoods Elementary for Fridays Fantastico.

The Rebel departs from its Station at Principal Tiesworth’s house at 1122 Fisher Road at 8:25. With a nod to the lightweight, streamlined Diesel-electric trains of the 1930s, the Rebel enjoys a short but sweet ride and awfully straight ride to school.

About a 0.5 km ride.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1JAey4Pql6vlp4bQdq8rdeGLA50c&w=640&h=480]

The Rebel is a perfect “drive2bike” train for those students in the Long Lake area who don’t live within biking distance. Parents are welcome to avoid the car line by driving the students/bikes to the Station so that they can pedal the last bit to school

A Norte! volunteer will lead the Rebel to school. Parents are responsible for getting their child to the station on time as well as picking them up at school.

Our trains pride themselves on being punctual. We can’t be late for school therefore the Rebel will not wait for anyone.

Fridays Fantastico rules apply:

Helmets required
Safe riding mandatory
Smiles and High Fives encouraged

Please email Juli Tiesworth, the Rebel’s chief Conductor, at TieswortJu@tcaps.net if you’re planning on riding the train.

Learn more about The Great Traverse City Bike Train Experiment HERE.

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org.