Cleaner air, healthier commuters



Christian Janssens (left), owner of Latitude 45 Bicycles and Fitness, poses with Dawn Peck, winner of the grand prize in this year’s Smart Commute Emmet celebration on October 4. Also pictured is Mike Houlmont, second place prize winner.

Smart Commute Emmet 2017 wrapped up Wednesday, October 4 with a celebration/awards event at the Top of Michigan Trails Council offices on M 119. Those in attendance enjoyed sharing stories of their experiences with alternative transportation over the summer.

In years past, the Smart Commute focus only lasted one week, and those that participated kept track of their walking, biking and carpooling for four days, with a celebration on Friday. This year, the Smart Commute Emmet committee decided to extend the program over the summer, in order to encourage participants to develop healthier habits over time. In addition, a new website was developed where people could log in and record their trips using alternative transportation: walking, biking or carpooling to school or work. This system would alert users when they reached a level of participation that earned them a reward—gift cards from Latitude 45, Grain Train, Crooked Tree Breadworks and Yoga Roots. They also earned additional entries into a prize drawing, which was held at the celebration on October 4.

Many smart commuters praised the new format in notes and emails to the Trails Council. One woman who rode her bike to work said, “I just wanted to say thank you for extending Smart Commute to last through the summer.  I have enjoyed the challenge.  I biked more this summer than I probably would have because I just have to reach that 500 mile marker.  Not quite there yet, but I’m getting close.”

Smart Commute made a difference in our Northern Michigan atmosphere, and in the health of those that participated. The 170 smart commuters traveled 17,273 miles in 3,400 trips. They saved 751 gallons of gas, and reduced carbon emissions by 15,020 pounds.

Congratulations to the top three commuters: Joe Graham (1,127  miles), Priscilla Meyer (938 miles) and Tamara Weidlich (852 miles). The winners of the prize drawing were: Dylan Taylor, $100 gift card from McLean & Eakin; Mike Houlmont, $250 gift card from Bearcub Outfitters; Dawn Peck, $500 gift card from Latitude 45 Bicycles and Fitness.

The Trails Council wishes to thank all of the sponsors for this year’s Smart Commute program. In addition to businesses that donated prizes and rewards, the program was enhanced by June breakfast sponsors Grain Train, Roast & Toast, Grand Traverse Pie Company, Stained Cup and Crooked Tree Breadworks. Generous financial support also came from Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan, Health Department of Northwest Michigan and Walmart.

The Smart Commute 2017 committee consisted of: Christian Janssens and Joe Graham, Latitude 45; Kate Cwiekel, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council; Mindy Taylor, Grain Train; Lynne DeMoor, Health Department of NW Michigan; Jeff Winegard and Sue Bouwense, Top of Michigan Trails Council; and Robert Heinbokel, web designer.