A Traverse City Mom Reflects on Walk To School Day


Walking to school with my kids as part of Norte’s Traverse City Walks to School Day this week brought back a lot of memories of my walks to Annehurst Elementary school as a kid growing up in Westerville, Ohio, a town and suburb located northeast of Columbus.

I remember the smell of each season, the character of certain houses, the shape and shade of trees, running to neighborhood cats and dogs, and, of course, goofing off and having fun with my friends. These seem like small details, but thinking back, these half-mile walks to and from school helped reinforce my kid-sense of place. The routine of walking past these familiar things was part of knowing when I was home.

There were four or five of us aged 10 and under and we were unsupervised. Our parents trusted us to get to school together before the bell rang. We did, even if we had to run to get there on time. Looking back, I loved the independence. I don’t think any one of us even thought there was a choice to not walk, even though our families all had cars. Walking was just how we got to school.

Walking to school works for our kids now because of where we live, how our Old Town neighborhood is designed, and where our kids go to school. Those ingredients aren’t there for many families in our community.

Sidewalks matter. Housing located close to schools and day care and in close proximity to other services matters. Where we choose to build our schools matters.The advent of school choice has also changed where and how kids get to school. Neighborhood schools are not exclusively serving local neighborhood kids anymore. On our street, kids from five households attend five different elementary schools – Glenn Loomis, Central, Pathfinder, Trinity Lutheran, and Woodland. Three of those are a “walkable” distance and the other two require a car trip every morning and afternoon. Our daughters attend Glenn Loomis, and parents from across the Traverse City area bring their kids to school there everyday, not just from the neighborhood, hence the ubiquitous car lines.

A lot of the barriers to walking to school are complex and involve the way we regulate or incentivize or guide housing development or density, the way we prioritize decisions about municipal budgets related to capital investments in infrastructure like sidewalks and pathways, and the way we collaborate across governmental (city, township, road commission, state agency) boundaries.

Some of the barriers relate to our behaviors and choices. As a culture, it seems like we’ve gotten out of the habit of walking. I notice when I walk I pay attention to things just like I did when I was a kid. I hear leaves crunching underfoot, I see the fairy house someone created in a hollow at the base of a tree, I smell autumn-spiced air, I say hello to my neighbors. I don’t experience these things when I drive.

I’m grateful to Norte for organizing events that are helping to normalize walking to school, for focusing on the joy of being outside and active, and for working with partners to advocate for connections and infrastructure investments.

Megan Olds is President & Principal at Parallel Solutions LLC Her professional background and passions include community growth and development, land and water conservation and stewardship, food and farming systems, housing, transportation, and access to nature and outdoor recreation.

Get involved! Join our grassroots, neighborhood-based advocacy team:

  • We are under attack by the robots. Thank you for helping by being a human.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

A Stronger Traverse City, One Neighborhood School at a Time


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.

In partnership with The City of Traverse City, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS), Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools (GTACS), Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD), and Trinity Lutheran School, we’re currently dreaming big with a large of a 10 school Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant – $200,000 available/per school = $2 million available total – to address walk/bike barriers around our neighborhood schools.

Last spring, we completed walk/bike audits at 3 schools:

  • Eastern
  • Traverse Heights
  • Immaculate Conception

This fall, we’re tackling the other 7:

  • Holy Angels
  • Central Grade
  • New Campus
  • Oak Park
  • TCAPS Montessori @ Glenn Loomis
  • Trinity Lutheran
  • Willow Hill

 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

We believe outcomes of this Safe Routes to School grant will result in a better place for all city residents of all ages and all abilities. A city where residents are healthier, happier and more connected.

Help us build a stronger Traverse City by getting involved as Sa Routes To School Champion:

  • 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?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



Traverse City after school bike safety program expanding

Traverse City Safe Routes To School: Pro Walk/Pro Bike Parents Unite

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 Norte! is committed to empowering and encouraging kids to actively get themselves to school in Traverse City full time, like-minded moms and dads are critical. By getting involved at their school and advocating for active, happy, ready-to-learn kids, parents can empower young people to be guardians of their health, develop lifelong habits to move more and sit less and be leaders in their community.


The Traverse City SRTS Team is a grassroots initiative dedicated to empowering parents to get involved at their school and in their neighborhood.

Norte! SRTS team members are willing to help:

  • Advocate for happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids at their school
  • Act as a liaison at their school and in their neighborhood.
  • Champion walk/bike to school events and programs
  • Recruit future work team members
  • Meet as a City-wide group 2-3x/year
A short but sweet informational parent meeting at the Clubhouse is this Monday the 21st at 7P. The meeting will go over how moms/dads can best support/be an advocate for happy, healthy, ready to learn kids getting themselves to THEIR school. Invite your friends.
Can’t make the meeting? Add your name to the Champions list:
  • 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?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Safe Routes To School Traverse City Seeking Awesome Moms + Dads

While we are committed to encouraging and educating kids to actively get themselves to school in Traverse City full time, we are very much in need of passionate parents. Like minded parents advocating for active, ready-to-learn kids at their school is critical to our work and a happy, healthy, strong Traverse City.

Our Safe Routes To School Team is a grassroots initiative dedicated to empowering parents to get involved in active transportaion at their school.

Norte! SRTS team members:

  • Advocate for happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids at their school
  • Act as a liaison at their school and in their neighborhood
  • Champion walk/bike to school events and programs
  • Recruit future team members
  • Meet as a City-wide group 1-2x/year

Get involved:

  • 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?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.




Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org



The Bike Mas Project Summer Camp: A Grand Finale


by Ben Boyce, Norte! Program Director

Great week of bike adventure, Bike Más!  This was a week of great pedaling, great signaling, great attitudes, and lots of fun.

Today’s 9.9 mile ride took as ALL OVER town.  I was especially proud of our street crossing at Cass St., Union St., and Division.  Way to go, Norte!

That new sculpture in Lay park was cool.  Inspired, I took an artsy photo:



Riding through downtown is fun, but finding secret cuts through downtown is even better!  Hannah Park has a lovely ribbon of dirt that spits us out on the west side of town, and sets us up nicely to take advantage of the 7th St. crossing at Division.

Our large group of 15 bicyclist took up the whole lane as we waited for our green light, but we only occupied as much roadway as 2 large cars.   That’s pretty cool.



We explored some paths through the old state hospital that lead to Higher Grounds Trading Company.  Higher Grounds has been supporting Norte! youth programming for a long time.  Inside, Josh took some time out of his busy day making delicious coffee to explain to the group how their coffee roasting process works.  Very interesting stuff, and it smelled so good in there!

We extended out snack-stop behind Greenspire School to include a nature break along the trails up there.  We found that hippie tree that everyone’s talking about!  The land behind the state hospital is full of trails and places to explore.  I hope everyone gets a chance to venture out that way.


We took another fun secret cut through some fields to get back into town, and stopped in at another Bike Más sponsor, Oryana Co-op.  Stephanie lead the kids around the store showing them what makes Oryana different from other stores (including organic jelly beans).

We followed the TART Trail through the mist  and over the lake back to our part of town.  Despite the cool, misty weather, there was unanimous support for ice cream at Bardon’s.  Who would have thought?!

These kids did really well this week.  I am super proud of their riding abilities and positive attitudes while we cranked out the miles through burning sun and chilling rain–they’re a bunch of troopers!

I had a great week riding bikes with them, and I look forward to watching them progress as community-minded cyclists.  Bike happy, Bike Más!

Learn more about The Bike Mas Project summer camp HERE.



Traverse City Ice Cream Ride powered by Moomers


Slay singletrack with friends + Moomers = A+

Traverse City’s Ice Cream Ride is this Sunday, July 17th. Meet at the VASA singletrack trail head off Supply Road at 9:45. Rolling at 10.


All awesome kids and their families are welcome no matter their mountain bike experience or skill.


The Vasa Singletrack is great for all abilities. Not too hilly or technical but still challenging:

3 miles – Kinglet Loop for beginner riders
9 miles – Ride to Marker #7. Vasa pathway to #13 for intermediate riders
11 miles – Ride to Marker #8. Shortcut to #12 for intermediate + riders
13 miles – Full enchilada for advanced riders


1. A mountain bike that functions. It doesn’t need to be fancy but it should roll, shift and stop.
2. A helmet.
3. A water bottle.


The Moomers ice cream for after, of course. Huge thanks to the Plummer family and the rest of team Moomers for supporting happy, strong kids in Traverse City!


You betcha.


Ride Science to support Traverse City Bike Library


Kids grow up fast. They out grow their bikes fast, too.

As part of our Traverse City-wide Safe Routes To School initiative, the Kids Bike Library aims to keep pedaling preschool and elementary aged students awesome by making sure their bike always fits no matter their family’s resources.

The “library” is about to get a lot more awesome thanks to Mark Gerlando at Ride Science.

Mark will donate 25 percent of his bike fitting charge of Clubhouse members to Norte! to help us get more kids on bikes in Traverse City. He will also fit all Norte! racers for FREE! when they volunteer at a Norte! outreach event.

Learn more about Ride Science HERE.

Contact Mark to schedule a fit at mark@ridescience.com.



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

In return, we simply ask that the kids promise to:
  1. take good care of the bike
  2. ride the bike as much as possible
  3. be a positive Norte! ambassador

Here’s How It Works:

  • Complete this one time/one per family LIBRARY APPLICATION FORM
  • Check to see what’s available on the Library shelves HERE
  • See one you like? Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org to make sure we have it
  • Stop by the Norte! Clubhouse (Civic Center near the new playground) to give it a test ride/pick-up
  • Once the bike is too small, return it to the Library and check out the next size up

Easy-peasy. Awesome, right?!

While this is a 100% free service, we do accept donations – tax exempt, of course – to help fund our Safe Routes To School programs. Learn more about how we’re empowering elementary students to be active, happy, and ready-to-learn HERE.

Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org with questions


Giant-size hanks to our friends at McLain Cycle, we currently have 65 like new (not junky big box store bikes!)  kids bikes in the library.

Traverse City Bike Life: Clarissa Day


TC Bike Life is a story series featuring ordinary people doing ordinary things on their bicycles in Traverse City. Its goal is to create awareness for the growing presence of people on bicycles in our town, one story at a time.



by Clarissa Day

Almost every day (now that it’s warming up), I load the Transport with snacks, diapers, sunscreen, sand toys and my two year old so that we can head down “the hill” along Mt. Holiday toward the day’s adventure. Chatting about the sights along the way and soaking up the feel of the sun and wind is good for both of us. He’s learning about the world around him at a pace that allows him to fully experience the journey and I am getting the exercise I desperately need for both mental and physical health.

We would LOVE to start every day with a bike commute to Grand Traverse Academy to take my 4th and 6th graders to school, and occasionally we brave 3 mile to do so. As we pedal to town, we may stop at a playground or the library, or maybe we will swing by the grocery store for a few items… it doesn’t really matter. He’s happy to be out and about and so am I. It’s always fun to swing by the USCG base and visit daddy and the helicopters on our way home for a nap.

I am thankful for the trail networks and courteous drivers that make our adventures possible and safe. I am also thankful for “the hill” on the way home. It’s always there, right at the end of our trip waiting to be conquered. My legs are tired, my bike is heavy, my toddler is usually sleeping and yet it’s there between home and myself. But every single time….I make it. I don’t walk, I just creep along and I push up that hill! It’s a freedom and satisfaction that enables and equips me to tackle so many other things.

Being a stay-at- home mom involves several never-ending tasks. Dishes, laundry, cooking, diaper changes, cleaning… and on and on. Biking around town for errands turns a possibly mundane to do list into a healthy adventure and I love it!


Want to tell your Traverse City Bike Life story? Email us hello@elgruponorte.org.

Traverse City Safe Routes to School: Action Planning Meetings

srts action planning.png

Our Traverse City-wide Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant process is moving along nicely. Phase I features Eastern, Traverse Heights and Immaculate Conception.

After successful walk/bike audits around these three schools, we’re ready to have Action Planning Meetings. Parents, teachers, staff and neighbors (we’re looking at you, Slabtown, Central, Oak Park, Boardman, Indian Woods, Civic Center, Orchard Heights, Traverse Heights ‘hoods!) are all welcome.

Let’s roll up our sleeves, mark up the maps and make these neighborhoods the most walk, bike and roll friendly places imaginable.

As the expert in your neighborhood, please help guide city planners, engineers, police, TCAPS, GTACS and SRTS staff as to where improvements are needed and what are the priorities. We need YOU! Join us.

Action Planning Meetings:

Eastern Elementary: Monday, April 17, 6 PM at the Governmental Center, 400 Boardman Ave, 2nd Floor Committee Rm.

Traverse Heights Elementary: Wednesday, April 19, 6 PM in the school library.

Immaculate Conception: Monday, April 24, 6 PM in the Cafeteria.

1440 540 a

Parents who can not make it to these meetings are encouraged to weigh in via this Safe Routes To School survey:



Passionate about happy, healthy, ready to learn kids at your school? Get involved with our Traverse City-wide Safe Routes To School initiative!


Wear orange. Look rad. Support a happy, healthy, strong Traverse City.


Norte! is Traverse City’s pro bike advocacy organization dedicated to building a stronger, better connected and more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring the young and young at heart through bicycles.

By wearing our very, very orange spandex and being an Equipo Norte! ambassador you will help raise awareness for our mission and look rad doing it. 

Thanks to Champion-System, we are able to offer our jerseys to awesome people like you at cost. $55.

We also have bibs, arm warmers, vests, jackets and socks available to order. See below.

order button

Once we reach the 10 piece minimum, we will place the order. Expect a 6-8 week turn around time.

Email us at hello@elgruponorte.org with questions.

20150218171638.JER001_0002_15_US025068_V4_10_S006 (1)






Shoveling Our Sidewalks; Whose Job Is It Anyway?

Shoveling Our Sidewalks; Whose Job Is It Anyway?

Traverse City needs to clearly state the intentions of its snow removal ordinance for city streets, trails, and sidewalks. Once clarified, and communicated effectively throughout the city, it needs to commit to enforcement so that these vital public thoroughfares are accessible and safe for all its citizens.  This is especially critical for the city’s more than 73 miles of sidewalks. Today, the city is mired in a self-induced slushy mix of messages regarding who bears responsibility for clearing sidewalks. This confusion often leaves much of our sidewalk infrastructure impassable for days on end after a storm, even in the heart of downtown.

I’m a relatively mobile man, but when I walk around Traverse City during the winter months, I find myself imagining what it must be like for people with disabilities or other mobility issues. It doesn’t take long to find disheartening examples either. I have several friends downtown that are wheelchair-bound.  I know many others who are aged, walk with a cane or suffer from injuries. The few inches of snow and ice that might be a minor inconvenience to me are game-changers for them.

Last winter I had to push a person in a heavy motorized wheelchair through piles of snow in a crosswalk because they’d gotten stuck crossing the street. It was humiliating for this person, and horribly unsafe. On many more occasions, I’ve been appalled and embarrassed to see people in wheelchairs forced to ride in a traffic lane because the sidewalk was impassable. We can do better in Traverse City!


In the 80s, I lived in a community that by right knows something about managing winter snowfall. Minneapolis, Minnesota ranks as one of the coldest and snowiest cities I’ve lived in. Here, crippling cold and massive snowfall could shut the city down.  It was serious business and this seriousness applied to how they managed highways, streets, alleys, trails, and sidewalks.

Minneapolis had and still maintains a very strict and concise policy on snow removal. As a homeowner there, I learned the lesson quickly that I had 24 hours to shovel my sidewalk or risk a fine from the city. In fact, even the system for purveying fines there was elegant. If you got an infraction, there was no ticket delivered to your door; you simply got $25 or $50 tacked onto your water bill. Choose not to pay it and it would show up on your property tax bill.

The clarity and absoluteness of this doctrine helped a city of over a million people survive the brutish nature of Great Plains winters with its famed Minnesotan niceness ever intact.

When you look up “snow removal” on the City of Minneapolis website you see the following statement that clearly reflects the language and intent of the underlying ordinance it supports.

“Minneapolis Ordinance requires that property owners clear sidewalks after the end of a snowfall within

  •    24 hours for single-family homes and duplexes
  •    Four daytime hours for apartments, commercial buildings, and all other properties (daytime hours begin at 8 am)

When you shovel snow and clear ice

  •    Shovel the sidewalks on all sides of your property, the full width of the sidewalk down to the bare pavement.
  •    Remove all ice from sidewalks.”

The page goes on to describe what the consequences are for not following the ordinance.

“If the City of Minneapolis gets a complaint or discovers that a sidewalk is not properly cleared, Public Works will inspect the sidewalk and give the property owners a chance to clear it.

  •    If the sidewalk has not been cleared upon re-inspection, the property owner may be issued a citation with a fine, and crews will remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk. Property owners will be billed for this service, and unpaid bills will be added to property tax statements.”

As a homeowner and business owner in Minneapolis, there was never a question as to whose job it was to shovel the walk. To paraphrase the old cartoon character Pogo, “We have met the shovel, and the shovel is us!”


Now let’s look at Traverse City.  Ask any two people in town whom they think is responsible for clearing snow from city sidewalks, and you’ll likely hear two distinctly conflicting answers. One might say, “it’s the city’s job, we pay taxes for that service just like the streets.”  And the other might say, “It’s the property owner’s job, why don’t they just get out and do it?”

If you’re lucky enough to ask a city commissioner or municipal employee the same question, you might get this response, “According to the ordinance, it’s clearly the responsibility of the occupant or the property owner, we just don’t enforce it.”

To understand where all this confusion comes from, you need to look no further than the City’s website. Here’s the introductory page regarding snow removal.

“Crews directed by the City’s Street Superintendent are responsible for clearing winter’s snow from over 8 miles of State trunk line, 83 miles of City streets and over 73 miles of City sidewalk.  Careful consideration has been given to prioritizing the snow removal effort.”

In an honest attempt to tell the story of our hard-working municipal employees, they’ve obfuscated the intent of the law. Look at the actual ordinance (buried deep within Chapter 668.11) and the language clearly suggests the opposite intent.

“The removal of snow and ice from private property and the sidewalk abutting or crossing private property shall be the responsibility of the occupant of such private property. However, if there is no occupant or if the occupant cannot be determined due to multiple occupancies of the property, then the responsibility shall be the owners of such private property.“

I agree with this ordinance and as a property owner downtown have no problem with shoveling my walk or those of my neighbors. I consider it a simple act that is part of my responsibility to live in such a beautiful place.  And like the occasional parking ticket, I’d still regrettably put a check in the mail to cover the costs of my forgetfulness. Maybe next time, I’d be encouraged to remember.


What are we as mere citizens to do?

  1. We should demand the city clearly communicate its snow removal ordinance to the entire populace.
  2. We should firmly suggest to the City that it enforce the ordinance it has in place. (If they treat this ordinance like the parking system, snowfall could be a significant job-creator and money-maker!)
  3. We should celebrate the occupants and property owners that already do a good job of clearing the snow. (Let’s hand out the Golden Snow-Shovel award!)
  4. We should start knocking on the doors of responsible parties and convince them to get the job done for the sake of the community.
  5. We should continue our successful Traverse City Great Shovel Experiment, expanding it to include more volunteers who can adopt sidewalks and crossings around the city.
  6. We should ask city residents in advance of the winter if they need assistance shoveling… and then adopt those sidewalks.
  7. We should all put ourselves in the shoes of those with mobility issues as we walk our streets.
  8. We should take a greater sense of pride in what our city represents and demand that the quality of streets and sidewalks equate to all the “best of” accolades bestowed on the city every year.


Our sidewalks are part of what we know as “the commons.” These are the places in our community that by right of use belong to all of us; like the Open Space, our beaches, parks, rivers, and even our streets and alleys. It is our job as citizens to recognize the responsibility we have to make sure our commons are available for everyone to use, while being free, accessible and safe.


Bill Palladino is CEO at Taste The Local Difference, Midtown resident, dad to Sam and Tula, husband to Jen, super bread baker, walk/bike nerd and shovel champion. You can contact him at bill@localdifference.org.

Passionate about a more walkable, bikable, livable Traverse City? Get involved with our pro walk/pro bike advocacy grupo HERE.


Barlow Street Needs All of Our Voices


Should we just care about some people? Which people should we choose not to care about? Are some designated as disposable? What horrible questions to ask. This is in effect what we are doing when we are complacent and allow streets like Barlow to exist in our town. A street that is not designed to protect ALL people. A street that is dangerous by design.

Many people use Barlow, people live in adjacent neighborhoods, work along this corridor or access services. As you travel this section between Carver and South Airport you will usually encounter people on foot, bike or waiting at a BATA stop. People just trying to get to where they need to go. They are young and old. And they deserve better, they deserve best practices. We all do. Not a skinny muddy, or slushy cow path or gravel shoulder next to fast moving traffic. The message being sent here is we don’t care about you, use at your own risk.

Two unnecessary and tragic collisions recently occurred along Barlow Street. David Knoll died on this section, and another woman was injured, in two separate incidences. It’s not acceptable. It needs to be fixed. We need to demand it. What does a street look like that is safe for all? Picture your child safely walking home along this street. That is the street that should be built.

Woodmere Avenue was such a street, in the not too distant past, redesigned, given new life with sidewalks, bike lanes, a boulevard. A collaborative effort between multiple units of government. A complete street. A place to be proud of.

Our community did it before, let’s do it again. Make your voice heard. Let our leaders know that deaths and injuries on our streets are unacceptable and preventable. Demand streets that give everyone safe access no matter their mode of travel.

A shoulder and a line of white paint on a wider street that encourages faster vehicle speeds is not going to cut it . We need best practice traffic calming measures. We need proper sidewalks. We need protected bike lanes. We need well lit crosswalks. We need to do what is right. And we need to do it now. Let’s find the will to make it happen before more tragedies occur.

If you agree, please make your voice heard to those with the power to make the right decisions by emailing the County Road Commission, Township Planning and Supervisor, and City planning, manager and Commission:




Traverse City Safe Routes To School: A Fall Recap

Thanks to many, many awesome people including all sorts of bike train conductors, walking school bus drivers, awesome principals and teachers, bike safety instructors and supportive parents, we had a fantastic fall of active, happy, ready to learn kids getting themselves to school across TC.

A few highlights:

What’s coming up?

Email questions to hello@elgruponorte.org or get involved with SRTS in TC here: elgruponorte.org/join.

Support Safe Routes To School in Traverse City



We’re excited to partner with Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS),Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools (GTACS), Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD), Trinity Lutheran School, and The City of Traverse City on a Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant to address walk/bike barriers around our neighborhood schools.

Norte is in support of a resolution to be put before the Traverse City Commission this Monday, October 24th. It is a resolution to support a Safe Routes to School infrastructure grant 10 schools within the city limits:

  • Central Grade
  • Eastern
  • Holy Angels
  • Immaculate Conception
  • New Campus
  • Oak Park
  • TCAPS Montessori @ Glenn Loomis
  • Traverse Heights
  • Trinity Lutheran
  • Willow Hill

We believe outcomes of the Safe Routes to School program will result in a better place for all city residents. A city where residents are safer, healthier, happier and more connected.

The SRTS systematic approach starts with surveying parents, school staff, and students, assessing what is there by conducting walking and biking audits, evaluating needs, and developing an action plan. Funds are made available to improve and build facilities, as well as funding for important education and encouragement pieces so facilities are well used.

We believe the following are some of the positive outcomes and reasons for approving the resolution:

  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 and should be a high priority for our city and our schools in the city.
  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.

We encourage TC residents, and especially families with children who attend in-town schools, to make your voice heard. Please consider writing the City Commissioners at citycommissioners@traversecitymi.gov

Or better yet, attend the City Commission meeting, at the Governmental Center at 7 PM this Monday, October 24th.

Meeting agenda HERE.



Traverse City Safe Routes To School on Michigan Radio


In case you missed it, our co-founder, Ty Schmidt, recently talked with Stateside’s Cynthia Canty about the importance of active, happy, ready-to-learn kids getting themselves to school in Traverse City. Give it a listen:


The Traverse City City Commissioners will be considering a resolution next Monday the 17th about a large, 10 school Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant to make our neighborhood elementary schools more walkable/bikeable. Voice your support by emailing them HERE.

Learn more about the benefits of our comprehensive Traverse City-wife Safe Routes To School programming HERE.

Adopt an Icekid: An Iceman Scholarship Fundraiser

Help awesome Traverse City kids race the Iceman Cometh Challenge this November.

Mr. Iceman, Steve Brown, has been a super Norte! supporter since day one. He has regularly come out for our weekly mountain bike ride, Vasa Domingos, and has spent lots of coaching and mentoring time with the kids to help them have more FUN! on the bike.

2 years ago, with the help of Mr. Brown, we founded the Norte! Iceman Scholarship Fund (N!ISF). The N!ISF is committed to helping Traverse City kids who have earned it – think showing up consistently for our mountain bike rides, being a positive Norte! ambassador, championing bikes at their school, volunteering at our community outreach events, graduating from The Bike Más Project – take part in arguably the most awesome mountain bike race in the US.

Adopt an Icekid aims to raise funds to help 30 deserving young people race this November by covering half of their Iceman/SlushCup registration fee.

30 kids x $35 = $1050

Norte! needs your help.

Please donate $35 and we will pair you up with one of our young racers. Your adopted Icekid will continue to train hard by riding mas bikes in the woods, give it her/his best on race day and then write you a thank you note after the Iceman.

100% of donations raised will go to the N!ISF


Traverse City Smashes Walk To School Day Record


With the support of an entire community – elected officials, police officers, school district administrators, principals, teachers, parents, sponsors, community partners and many, many volunteers – Traverse City students obliterated the old Walk To School Day record (528 in 2015) with an incredible 847 today. Amazing!

Congratulations to the Eastern Elementary Stars who rallied an incredible 69% – 69%!!! – of its student body (PreK-5th grade) to walk. With an awfully effective Get On The Walk campaign, they ran away with the Most Walk-tastic Award again. Great job, Eastern! Congrats

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who participated in this historic day. We’re going to work hard to keep the momentum going so that walking/biking to school EVERYday becomes the new normal in Traverse City. Happy, active, ready to learn kids must be a community priority.

Stay tuned for more news on a possible large Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant to address barriers to students actively getting themselves to neighborhood schools here in Traverse City.

The numbers:

Eastern: 216 walkers
Willow Hill: 169
Central Grade: 124
St. Francis: 122
TCAPS Montessoru @ Glenn Loomis: 112
Traverse Heights: 43
Westwoods: 32
East Middle School: 8
Immaculate Conception: 6
Greenspire: 5
Holy Angels: 5
West Middle School: 4
St Elizabeth Ann Seton: 1
Home School: 1

* All students who walked/biked from home or a Park & Stroll location counted as did students who walked at least 5 minutes/biked 10 minutes to their bus stop. Home schooled students who walked at least 5 minutes to start their day also counted.

A Very Smiley Walk To School Day

Photo Gallery:


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.

Traverse City Walks To School Day nears: Let's Walk, TC


Traverse City Walks To School Day, a community-wide, multi-school celebration of National Walk To School Day is next Wednesday, October 5th.

500+ students from across Traverse City walked to school last year. Can we double that in 2016? Yes, yes we can!

We will also be crowning The Most Walk-tastic Traverse City School! That’s a big, big deal. Eastern “won” last year. Can the Stars repeat? Help your school that the 2016 title by committing here:


[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1lpKxPExjoO-ktbffky49T7hCfQA&w=640&h=480]

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:

2016 Walking School Bus Schedule

Glenn Loomis’ “buses”:
  • In the alley between 5th and 6th Street behind Mrs. Walter’s and Mrs. Arnold’s house (612 6th Street): Meet at 7:30, walking at 7:40. Bus driver: Ashlea Walter.
  • 9th/Wadsworth: Redeemer Presbyterian Church: Meet at 7:40, walking at 7:50. Bus driver: Judy Arnold.
  • 10th/Lake: Oryana: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:45. Bus driver: Kaitlyn Burns
  • Division/14th: Tom’s: Meet at 7:40, walking at 7:50. Bus driver: Miranda Grant.
Traverse Heights’ “buses”:
  • Arbutus Court Park (map HERE) : Meet at 8:00, walking at 8:10. Bus driver: Stephanie and Josh Wilson.
  • Jupiter Park: Boyd at Rose Street: Meet at 8:00, walking at 8:10. Bus driver: Gary Howe
Eastern’s “buses”:
  • Civic Center: Front of Howe arena: Meet at 8:20, walking at 8:30. Bus driver: Ty Schmidt
  • Clancy Park: Meet at 8:25, walking at 8:35. Bus driver: Rebecca Sketch.
  • Corner of Highland/Cherry Lane: Mrs. Stahl’s house: at 8:25, walking at 8:35. Bus driver: Nikki Stahl
  • East Bay Park: Meet at 8:20, walking at 8:30. Bus driver: TBD
  • TC Water Treatment Plant: 2010 Eastern Ave (Map HERE): Meet at 8:25, walking at 8:35. Bus driver: Kara Madion.
Central Grade‘s “buses”:
  • Thirlby Stadium: 13th and Pine: Meet at 7:30, walking at 7:40. Bus driver: Jodi Jocks.
  •  Oryana: 10th/Lake: Meet at 7:30, walking at 7:40. Bus driver: TBD
  • Open Space: Parkway and Union: Meet at 7:30, walking at 7:40. Bus driver: Carrie Smith.

Westwoods “bus”:

  • Principal Tiesworth’s house – 1122 Fisher Road. Meet at 8:15, walking at 8:25. Bus driver: Principal Tiesworth.
Willow Hill’s “bus”:
  •  Darrow Park: Meet at 8:15, walking at 8:20. Principal Sides-Mackay.

Thank you, Sponsors!

BCN Color JPEG High Res

Thank you, Community Partners!


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 hello@elgruponorte.org.