Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green in a Small Package

Welcome to Traverse City Michigan. A small town located in the north west side of the lower peninsula of Michigan. With a population of about 14,000 you would think this would be the last places you would see green initiatives. However Traverse City has a population very interested in the outdoors and an economy dedicated to tourism, so they are very focused on this.

The above picture is of the Traverse City Light and Power company's wind turbine. Erected in 1996 it is one of the largest and oldest in Michigan. The Light & Power wind turbine is a Vestas model V-44, 600 kW generator built in Denmark. With a blade diameter of 144 feet on a 160-foot tower,and one of my favorite landmarks in this city. The turbine was erected with the help of a community supported initiative for a "green rate", a voluntary premium rate for residential and commercial customers willing to pay more for green energy.

I had not been back to the "Cherry Capital" in three years. Traverse City earned that nickname because of the major agricultural crop in the area, although I think grapes and wine production is catching up to the cherries. After my absence I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of bike infrastructure that had been added to the down town area in recent years. I also saw quite a change in the style of bikes around town, it used to be all mountain bikes ridden by grungy 20 somethings. Now you see folks of all ages riding bikes meant to be comfortable and designed to carry stuff, be it bagels from the one of the numerous coffee shops or a week of groceries.

Bike racks also abounded, something that had been completely absent just a couple years ago.

The city has had the lakefront path way for many years. They have now added bike lanes to the downtown area, unfortunately it doesn't appear a lot of thought went into laying them out safely.

Overall I give the city an "A" for effort, they at least are trying to make a positive change. If a city with a population of 14,000 in mid summer, (it drops a bit in the winter) can make these positive changes, why do larger cities struggle?

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