Leave the car behind


by Cynthia Price


For one week, June 11-15, some Muskegonites will leave the car in the driveway and find an alternative way to get around.

Formerly called Bike to Work Week, which took place from 2009-2016, last year the event changed focus to include other modes of transportation, such as the bus, and expand the destination points from just workplaces to stores, libraries, restaurants, and wherever people go.

People sign up as teams and earn one point for each trip made by cycling, walking, running, riding the MATS (Muskegon Area Transit System) bus, or carpooling. A round trip, to the place and back, counts as two points. The team points are reported to the website, www.muskegonsmartcommute.

com, and result in prizes at one of two wrap-up events: on June 19 at Unruly Brewing on Western Avenue in Muskegon and June 21 at Fetch Brewing, 100 Colby St., Whitehall (both at 7:30 p.m.). Team members report the points to their captains, and team captains must finish their reports by June 18.

But the final prizes are not all the fun in store for smart commuters. There was a kickoff party on June 9 at the Muskegon Farmers’ Market which featured educational sessions such as “How to exercise for flexibility and strength” by Shoreline Natural Wellness, and “How to improve our air quality by Smart Commuting,” with the event sponsor West Michigan Clean Air Coalition, hosted by  the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, the same entity spearheading the Veterans Memorial Park discussed in this issue. City Hub Cyclery offered tips and training on bike maintenance, and the police department told people how to register their bikes and be safe while riding, while the MATS people gave tips on how to ride a bus.

2018 sponsors include the above-mentioned West Michigan Clean Air Coalition, the City of Muskegon and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, which was the sole sponsor for the first Muskegon Smart Commute Week in 2017.

Last year there were 98 individuals, 6 teams and 22 businesses registered.

Tom Lindrup helps coordinate Smart Commute Week.

According to the cleverly named El Cybil (AKA Lindrup), there are many other perks throughout the week. The Coffee Factory will offer $1 off coffee drinks from 7-9 a.m.; Drip, Drop, Drink will offer the same from 8 a.m.-noon; the above-mentioned Fetch Brewery is giving $1 off all Crowlers (32-oz. aluminum cans filled with any beer on tap, which being not made of glass are bike-friendly) from 5-7 p.m.; Pekadill’s, also in Whitehall, is giving participants half off on a Daily Special and Soup combo when one is bought at full price; and  (333 W. Western, Muskegon) will sell them juice drinks and smoothies for $1 off.

On Monday, the weekly Roll On Muskegon event offered snacks and beverages as well as tips on how to stretch properly for cycling. On Tuesday, June 12, both Unruly Brewing and Pigeon Hill Brewery offered $1 off beers from 5-7 p.m.; and Fetch Brewery will do the same on Thursday.

The same community group that coordinates Smart Commute Week also coordinates  the Ride of Silence, covered in the May 23 issue of the Examiner. Like that event, there are other Smart Commutes around the state — one in Traverse City, one in Holland, and one in Grand Rapids. Lindrup says, “All three of these organizations help guide us with our celebration.”

The groups emphasize the environmental and cost benefits of commuting some other way than by car. Biking, walking or running also have health benefits, and commutes of all sorts tend to make people more social and less isolated.

“El Cycib” notes on the group’s Facebook page that the weather is expected to be good most of the week.