TRAVERSE CITY — Pam Darling enjoys the ease of loading her bike onto a bus in Traverse City and heading to Glen Arbor to wheel around there.
“It’s easy for me,” said Darling, development director at TART Trails. “I can ride my bike to the transfer station, put it on a bus and be able to check emails and talk on the phone while going out there.”
The Bay Area Transportation Authority will expand its service for cyclists who want to catch a bus between trails, or ride out on a trail but take a bus home.
BATA implemented its first "Bike-n-Ride" program last summer, when it carried 477 bicycles in July and August. This year the service will expand into Glen Arbor/Empire Village Loop to allow cyclists access to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.
"I think it opens it up for families, and for more recreational riders, the opportunity to ride the entire 9.5 miles of the trail," Darling said.
The program will also serve the Suttons Bay/Northport Loop, which gives people access to the Leelanau TART Trail.
"Folks could ride up to Suttons Bay (from Traverse City) 17 miles, have a sandwich with their family, and then we would be able to transport them back," said Doug Dowdy, BATA's transportation services manager.
Large buses are retrofitted to fit eight bikes inside and three on the outside to accommodate bikers.
Dowdy said the program allows bikers to experience more places in the area without having to worry about getting tired on the ride home.
He thinks there’s opportunity for the program to expand.
“In our inaugural season we just touched the surface of what we’d be able to do,” Dowdy said.
Darling said she's already received calls from cyclists who want to know when the service will start up again.
Service on the Traverse City-Suttons Bay/Northport Loop will begin June 16 and service to the Traverse City-Glen Arbor/Empire Loop will begin June 30 and run through the end of August. BATA charges $3 in cash or on a BATA FlashFare card for bike-n-ride participants.