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A Summer of Smart Commuting: The BATA ConnectionPrint

Thriving Communities | June 25, 2013 | By Zoë McAlear

Just outside of Traverse City you can find so many wonderful areas to explore. I don’t think that I need to remind anyone that this corner of Michigan is full of unique towns, open farmland, and beautiful wilderness areas.

Fortunately, BATA is working to provide even more access to all of these areas—without ever having to get in your car.

As part of their revised public transportation system, they’ve revamped their connections to places outside of Traverse City. Village Loops provide access to outlying areas, offering an option for commuters and maybe even convincing some people to leave their cars behind when they venture out.

And it’s so simple! If you can find your way to the Hall Street Transfer Station (bonus points for biking, walking, or taking a BATA bus) you have access to buses that can take you to Interlochen, Suttons Bay, Kingsley, Williamsburg, Glen Arbor, and all of the places in between.

I chose Glen Arbor as my destination for the weekend and decided to take my bike with me to explore a bit more. The buses leave Traverse City three times a day on the weekend (more during the week) and are spaced out to give you either four or eight hours to explore once you arrive.

I rode the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, accessible off of M-22 just south of Glen Arbor, all the way out to the Dune Climb where it ends for now. It’s only 4 miles long but there are ambitious plans to extend it to 27 miles before it’s complete. For now, it provides a safe connection between Glen Arbor and areas of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for people choosing alternative modes of transportation.  

The trail provides a beautiful ride through the area. I was able to enjoy time on the beach in the historic village of Glen Haven and visit the attractions that include a restored general store and blacksmith shop, as well as the Glen Haven Canning Co. that has been turned into the Cannery Boathouse Museum. It’s a spot with a perfect mix of history and access to the beautiful shoreline. From there, it was nice to escape into the woods for a little while and ride through quiet scenery before the trail ends at the Dune Climb. Although I didn’t make the hike this past weekend, it’s always fun to watch people struggle to climb up the dune and then celebrate with a race back down.

And after an exploration of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Glen Arbor awaits with good food, art galleries, fun shops, and ice cream. 

BATA is a wonderful, and necessary, resource for someone like me who doesn’t have access to a car, but it can also be an exciting and feel-good option for someone who is choosing not to use theirs and looking for alternatives. 

Zoë McAlear is an intern at the Michigan Land Use Institute. She can be reached at zoe@mlui.org