Laura Otwell’s brief history of Smart Commute Week:
In the early years the week was called Bike to Work Week and was sponsored by the Cherry Capital Cycling Club’s Transportation Alternatives committee. The first one was held May 1995, and the entire week was cold and rainy, so hot oatmeal was a big hit at breakfast. A core group of dedicated commuters huddled under a small tent set up between Brick Wheel and McLain Cycle. After that year we decided to change the week to the first week in June to fit our northern Michigan climate.
The next few years we served breakfast at F&M Park. We saw participation grow and enjoyed students stopping as they walked to Oak Park. A few years later we reached out to restaurants to sponsor breakfasts and cover a wider area. In 2001 TART Trails headed up the event and the Commuter Cup Challenge was added.
The week has certainly grown over the years with many more participants. People have come and gone in taking a role in organizing this event, but it is important to recognize that Traverse City has embraced Smart Commuting and has the longest continuously celebrated event in the state. Smart Commuting is a tradition that folks here continue to improve upon to make our community the place we all want to live.