TRAVERSE CITY — No one knows the exact number of winter bicyclists taking to Traverse City’s snowy roads this year.
Estimates by cyclists, bike stores and TART Trails staff range from 100 to 200.
“It’s really picked up over the past few years,” said Arianne Whittaker, who works for TART. “It used to be a diehard thing, but more people seem to be embracing it now as valid way to commute.”
For attorney Ross Hammersley, 36, it’s all about exercise, reducing his carbon footprint whenever he can, and exploring whether he, wife Kate Madigan and their sons Emerson, 6, and 3-year-old Charlie can live without a second car.
On days he doesn’t need his car for work, Hammersley travels by bike with Emerson in an attached child cart from their house on Boughey Street, down Veterans Drive hill to 14th Street to the Traverse City Montessori School at Glenn Loomis Elementary. From there, Hammersley heads off to work at Olson, Bzdok & Howard along East Front.
Andy Cuchetti, 27, who lives on Pine Street near Thirlby Field, got into winter bicycling literally by accident. A friend borrowed his car and had an accident that wrecked it. Cuchetti, also a skateboarder, couldn’t afford a new car at the time and needed to find a dependable way to get to his job at North Peak restaurant.
“Living without a car and bicycling is definitely a lifestyle,” he said. “You have to rely on the bus or yourself.
“At first I tried the bus because I never had ridden a bike in the winter. Then I realized I couldn’t count on the bus. I’d miss it or it didn’t show up on schedule, and it doesn’t run 24 hours.”
For Cuchetti, riding a bike in the winter is the quickest — and warmest — way to get to work in cold weather and also to travel to the nearest grocery. Bicycling creates body heat.