Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 17, 2013

BATA plan: Load more bikes on buses

TRAVERSE CITY — Cyclists who pedal the Leelanau Trail between Traverse City and Suttons Bay now have more back-and-forth options.

The Bay Area Transportation Authority unveiled its Bike-n-Ride program to load more bikes on buses starting July 1. A few rows of seats on one bus were removed to hold 11 bikes and child trailers. Buses previously accommodated two or three bikes at a time.

“We’ve been doing bikes for a long time but we could never get over that, ‘How do you find a holder with more than three capacity?’ So this is a way for us to be able to do that and it’s a good use of our resources,” said Carrie Thompson, BATA’s business development director. “It’s a good way to invite people that normally wouldn’t get on the bus ... locals as well as tourists.”

The expanded bike service bus will run every-other-hour on weekdays from 5:30 a.m. until 9:20 p.m. Pickups on Saturday and Sunday will be 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. from Traverse City; and 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. from Suttons Bay. The fare is $3.

Use of the Leelanau Trail boomed after Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails opened the fully paved trail last summer. TART Marketing and Outreach Director Arianne Whittaker said staff have heard from some people who weren’t able to fit their bike on a full bus.

Bike-n-Ride makes the 30-mile round trip manageable both for “people that want to go out for a recreational ride and also the people that want to ride one way to get into Traverse for work and run some errands and take the bus back,” Whittaker said.

Suttons Bay Village Manager Wally Delamater recently overheard a couple talk about their excitement to ride from Traverse City to the village and take the bus back. He thinks the option will be valued by both serious cyclists and relaxed riders.

“We have a lot of avid cyclists around here, and we also have people who want to be able to do it a little more leisurely,” he said.

Bike-n-Ride runs through Sept. 1. For more information, visit bata.net.

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