Bike trips to take in the beauty northern Michigan has to offer is a fun family adventure, but it always seems the ride back home is the hardest. Now a popular program helping bicyclists enjoy the paved trails one-way and catch a bus ride back is expanding to include more communities.
Last summer, BATA introduced the seasonal bike transportation program, servicing the Traverse City-Suttons Bay Loop route (Route 10) and TART's Leelanau Trail. Bike-n-Ride is one of very few such programs in the U.S. and serviced 477 bicycles in its first two months of service, July and August of 2013.
Due to the success of the inaugural year, BATA has added a second Bike-n-Ride route, Traverse City-Glen Arbor/Empire Village Loop (Route 11). This allows for riders to bike the newly paved Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail between Glen Arbor and Empire and ride the bus to any other stop along the route.
"In addition to offering a fun leisure activity, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is intended to be a meaningful transportation alternative," states Tom Ulrich, Deputy Superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. "The new Bike-n-Ride route makes it even easier for visitors to leave their cars behind, reducing carbon emissions, easing parking congestion, and keeping the park picturesque and welcoming for future generations."
In addition, the schedule expands into June as well as servicing the city of Northport, as follows:
Traverse City-Suttons Bay/Northport Loop: June 16-August 31
Traverse City-Glen Arbor/Empire Loop: June 30-August 31
"We have always intended to gradually increase our service locations and dates, and it's been easy to do so because of the huge success of Bike-n-Ride's inaugural year," shares Doug Dowdy, BATA Transportation Services Manager. He and a select group of people representing BATA, TART Trails, Michigan Land Use Institute, and the Village of Suttons Bay were the driving force behind Bike-n-Ride's development. "The number of passengers served in 2013 was above expectations. And it shows that our population is ready for more smart transportation options."
The one-way bike trips are approximately 17 miles between Traverse City and Suttons Bay on the Leelanau Trail, and 11 miles between Glen Arbor and Empire on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The Bike-n-Ride buses allow for 11 bikes to be transported - at no cost. Riders will be charged a $3.00 per-person fare that can be paid on the bus in cash (debit/credit cards not accepted) or with a BATA FlashFare card.
For the Suttons Bay/Northport Loop route, BATA will provide every-other-hour Bike-n-Ride service on weekdays beginning at 5:00 a.m. and ending at the Hall Street Transfer Station at 7:50 p.m. For the Glen Arbor/Empire Loop route, weekday service will allow for three runs. The weekends offer three runs per Loop route. Complete schedules with map can be found at bata.net/bikenride or by calling BATA at 231.941.2324.
Bike-n-Ride is not an express service; the bus will make regular Loop stops. This is a first-come, first-served program, so arriving early for pick-up is advised.