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My Smart Commute SmorgasbordPrint

Thriving Communities | June 11, 2010 | By Jane Kowieski

Those who walked, biked, bussed, or carpooled to work earned free coffee and breakfast treats during Traverse City’s Smart Commute Week. Photo TART Trails

Traditionally, my 13-mile commute from Interlochen to TC means carpooling with my husband with my bike in tow.

But this year, because I’m working 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and my husband is working 3 to 11 p.m., our previous Smart Commute effort simply was not going to jibe. So, what a perfect opportunity for me to try all of the Smart Commute options that are available in the Traverse City area.

I’m glad I did it: Each day offered a new adventure-and a good lesson.

On Monday, I biked to work, and, boy, did I learn a lesson-maybe even a life and death one: Bike lanes are really, really important.

Approximately 10 miles of my 13-mile ride was on a road without a paved shoulder or bike path. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my ride to and fro, it would have been so much more enjoyable with a paved shoulder to share with other vehicles passing by.

I am happy to report that this summer there are plans to widen a large portion of this particular roadway to accommodate bike traffic. I can hardly wait!

On Tuesday I carpooled to work with four of my MLUI coworkers.

My lessons that day were several: Carpools are by far the best way to get good gas mileage, at least on a per-person basis. Carpooling also provided some good conversation and company.

And what a great feeling to ride in a car at full capacity, unlike most others on the road, with one or two passengers!

On day three, like the promotional brochure we designed for Try Transit Day says, I tried transit.

And the lesson was a really, really good one: How easy and fun it is to catch a bus.

I was picked up and delivered to my driveway, in a timely fashion, for a reasonable fee, and I really enjoyed the ride. Mike, the bus driver, greeted everyone he picked up by his or her first name (except me, since I was the only greenhorn). When I got off the bus, I told Mike my name and said I’d be seeing him again soon.

This one ride convinced me that I would make a habit of catching the bus at least once a week.

On day four, I tried biking again, and it offered the same lesson-we really need those bike lanes!

But in addition, on this final day of my Smart Commute Week, I reflected on all the great options that are available to those seeking alternative ways to commute. My eyes were opened to how easy and enjoyable it is to bike, carpool, or catch a bus to work.

Jane Kowieski, the Institute’s graphic design and art director, won a Smart Commute Week prize for trying out so many different ways of getting to work.