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Bikes, Busses, Carpools—Oh My!Print

Thriving Communities | June 23, 2010 | By Hannah Clark

MLUI staff celebrate a hard-won victory in the TC Smart Commuter Cup contest—and the fine new bicycle that came with it.

The 16th annual Traverse City Smart Commute Week is now over, and what a week it was!

Many who joined in on the fun left with a full belly from all those free breakfasts, a healthier bod from all that biking and walking, and a new outlook on the possibility of a car-light future. Here’s the recap:

  • All told, 1,320 smart commuters biked, walked, bussed, and ‘pooled their way to a free breakfast in Downtown TC.
  • 1,764 employees on 52 workplace teams competed in the Commuter Cup Challenge-more than double last year’s participation. Of the commute trips made by those employees over the week, 35% were “smart.”
  • TART Trails, which coordinated the event, estimates that over 60,000 miles were commuted “smartly” during the week, preventing over 50,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. What if we did this all year?
  • Transit got a boost during Smart Commute Week-BATA (Bay Area Transportation Authority) alone saw a 12 percent increase in ridership compared to the previous week. At the same time, however, ridership was 10 percent lower than last year’s Smart Commute Week, following the overall trend of dipping transit ridership this year-likely due to slightly decreased gas prices and fewer people working.
  • On Try Transit Day, all five directors of the Grand Vision’s six-county region’s public transportation agencies came to the BATA Transit Center to update the public on their work. Check out what they said in a video put together by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. And Vincente Ramos, citizen journalist for the Grand Vision, wrote a great article on the event here.
  • BATA announced at that early morning press conference that it would launch a new “Traverse Express” on June 21st-a fine way to kick off summer. The new route provides a quick and easy way for riders to get around Traverse City, as well as a bus to Cherry Capitol Airport. Also part of the package: new and improved Cherriot routes. See the new route and maps and watch a video of the announcement.
  • At the Smart Commute awards ceremony, a slew of lucky smart commuters won some pretty cool prizes. The grand prize was a deluxe Amsterdam Electra commuter bike from City Bike Shop…which MLUI won! It’s the coolest company bike in town.

The greatest success of Smart Commute Week, though, was found with individuals who had never tried riding the bus, or biking to work and who realized, “Hey, this could work for me.”

MLUI’s own Jane Kowieski biked to work Monday, carpooled Tuesday, tried transit for the first time on Wednesday, and biked again for the rest of the week. Now, she’s planning on continuing her commute mix.

And now, with Smart Commute Week over, let’s try for smart commute year!

Hannah Clark is spending her summer helping MLUI promote public transportation solutions within the six-county Grand Vision region. Reach her at hannah@mlui.org.