By Robert Downes
Buffy Bimgarden is trading in her hose & high heels for cycle shorts and clip-in pedals on the commute to work this week, while Clyde Clipperhorn is ditching his 4x4 monster truck in order to mountain bike to his construction site.
Okay, Buffy and Clyde dont actually exist, but they represent the appeal of Smart Commute Week, which urges commuters of every stripe to bicycle, walk, carpool, or take public transportation to work this week, June 6-12.
Smart Commute Week has been growing every year since it got started 17 years ago and its wonderful, says Lee Maynard, the trail planning and programming director of TART Trails (Traverse Area Recreation Trail). Plus, last year, Petoskey and Harbor Springs started their own Smart Commute Week with the Top of Michigan Trails Council, so its become a regional event.
Smart Commute Week is a nationwide event, but Maynard notes that Northern Michigan celebrates it later in the season for comforts sake. Other communities celebrate it in May, but because its chilly up here, we hold it in June, she says.
In addition to encouraging individuals to bike to work or take alternative transportation, the week offers a Smart Commute Challenge for teams from various workplaces in TC as well as Petoskey/Harbor Springs.
Pam Darling, who serves as TARTs marketing and outreach director, says that when the Challenge got started in 2001, there were just 13 teams registered. Last year, that number grew to 64 teams, and this year could produce more than 80.
So whats so smart about biking to work?
For every mile commuted smartly, one pound of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere, Darling says. Plus, one might note that youre likely to look a lot better in your swimsuit this summer if you start pedaling more often
Although the evidence is anecdotal, there seems to be a trend in more people biking to work, Maynard says.
We as an organization have a consensus that more people are biking to work these days, especially with the rise in gasoline prices. Our office is located off an alley in town and in the winter, even with snow flying, we see more people riding past our window than ever before. Maybe its because of the gas prices, or just because theyre enjoying a lifestyle change.
So, how does Maynard, 26, roll?
Ive been bicycling my whole life, but Im a cruiser biker, not a Spandex cyclist, says the transplant from Athens, Georgia.
As in the past, there will be daily breakfasts for cyclists from 7-9 a.m. at venues around Traverse City. In Emmet County, breakfast sponsors include The Grain Train and Roast & Toast. The partial schedule:
Monday, June 6:
Pangeas Pizza (TC)
Higher Grounds Coffee (TC)
Tuesday, June 7:
Central Grade School Smart Commute with the Mayor. Walking school buses & bike trains.
Breakfast at Oryana Natural Foods
Wednesday, June 8:
BATA offers free Cherriot bus rides (TC)
Commuter Breakfasts 7-9am
Breakfast at Old Town Coffee (TC)
Breakfast at BATA Transit Center (TC)
Thursday, June 9:
Breakfast at Munson Medical Center (TC)
Breakfast at Munson Community Health Care Center
Friday, June 10:
Take a Bike Train to Breakfast in TC: 3 trains to choose from:
1. Toms 14th Street 2. Toms West Bay 3. TART Trail head at Cherry Bend Road
Breakfast at The River peddle and paddle rentals at Clinch Park
Bike Swap drop off at The Old Town Parking Garage 5pm-8pm
Saturday, June 11: Bicycle Block Party & Bicycle Swap
Breakfast sponsored by Fixed Gear and Another Cuppa Joe at building 50, 8-10am
Bicycle Swap at Old Town Parking Garage 10am-6pm
Bicycle Block Party 400 S. Union St. noon-6pm
Porterhouse Productions Presents the Dandy Horse Festival Music & Beer Tent featuring The Ragbirds, 6pm.
Sunday, June 12:
Bicycle Swap Sale 9am-noon (TC)