Norte bike program expanding in Traverse City

Norte of Traverse City is a non-profit group empowering the community through biking – they believe that a better community is one that gets off the

phone and onto the road.

The charity offers youth bike safety education, group riding sessions, bike donations, a community workshop and repair apprenticeships among other programs.

But the group has outgrown its current home in the Civic Center. They are taking off the training wheels and moving to a bigger space to expand services, but they need your help to do it.

Plans for a new building, which they’ve named the “Wheelhouse”, will cost $25,000. Funds will go towards new windows, rent, paint, tables, supplies, a mural, and a scholarship that helps people learn the craft of bike repair.

In less than a week, more than 60 people have donated to the Wheelhouse.

“We are in day four, and I believe we’ve raised $6,000 which is a fantastic start but we still have a ways to go, and I’m super excited,” said Ty Schmidt, Norte’s executive director.

Norte wants to keep those efforts rolling to fund additional projects and expand existing ones. That includes a bike donation program, called The Bike Library.

“The wheelhouse will allow us to do more, to do better, to reach more kids and expand our programming from the bike library, to bike repair, to a safe place for the kids to ride,” said Schmidt.

The future home of the Wheelhouse is quite the fixer-upper. Norte is moving into what’s left of the old historic Michigan fairgrounds, an 100-year-old building.

The Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation department will fund a new roof and other, major reconstruction efforts, like tearing down an exterior wall and fence.

Cosmetic improvements to the inside and outside will be funded by community donations.

“Norte is very small, but we’re dreaming big and financial contributions go a long way to make that happen,” said Schmidt. “I think it’s going to be a community space for everyone to enjoy”

Norte hopes to open the wheelhouse in August.

To donate to the project, visit Norte’s clubhouse in person at the Civic Center, or online at https://elgruponorte.org/wheelhouse/.