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Local Motion rolls out fact sheets on transportation habitsPrint

Thriving Communities | July 31, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer

Most of us 
depend heavily on cars, often because we 
live far away from
 our jobs, schools, and 
stores. Here in the Grand
 Traverse region, we drive
 almost twice as many miles
 as the national average.

Those long-distance commutes are having a big impact on our free time, health, and wallets. But there’s good news: Community leaders and businesses are applying new strategies to meet the growing demand for other transportation choices. Workers, too, are taking small steps to boost their commutes.

Local Motion: It's About Distance
Local Motion: It's About Distance

Local Motion, a new northwest Michigan program for improving transportation choices in the Grand Traverse region, is rolling out a series of fact sheets to outline our current transportation habits. This first sheet reveals the current reality: Most commuters in the Grand Traverse area drive very long distances to get to work.

Some facts:

►      Grand Traverse area motorists drive almost twice as many miles as the national average [14,000 national; 23,000 Grand Traverse area].

►      98% of us drive more than 18,000 miles, or the entire way around the Earth
at the 45th Parallel.

►      85% drive more than 21,000 miles, or about 85% of the way around Earth’s equator.

►      More than 12,000 workers commute to Grand Traverse County from outlying counties.

But despite our auto-oriented culture, this long-distance trend is reversing. More people choose bikes, buses, and trains over cars; people are willing to pay more for transportation choices over building new roads; and the Grand Traverse region is moving forward with new approaches to modern mobility.

So how can you boost your commute?

Our bus systems are improving 
their service by making routes more convenient for commuters. Can you drive, bike, or walk to your nearest bus stop and jump on a bus into town?

Companies are reducing risk and retaining talent by offering commuter benefits. Does
your company offer incentives for “smart commuting” or for living closer to work? If not, we may be able to help.

There’s a strong demand for homes, condos, and apartments near job centers. Can your community leaders facilitate more housing near jobs and transit?

Here’s a link to the fact sheet.

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at