About the Program

Our Mission and History

Smart Commute Emmet is committed to promoting human powered and sustainable means of travel as a way to improve our health, communities, and planet.

Now in year 10, Smart Commute continues to do this valuable work. The annual Smart Commute Week and Commuter Cup have become a greatly anticipated and enjoyed event. Smart Commuters enjoy free breakfasts at local restaurants and special discounts at stores.

In 2017, Smart Commute took things a step further with the addition of a summer-long rewards program. Participants in the rewards program will track their trips and mileage to earn rewards from supporting partners.

Community Benefits

Smart Commuting provides many benefits to the community by encouraging more sustainable forms of travel. Biking, walking, running, or carpooling are ideal ways to reduce traffic and crowding. Smart Commuters help to create more inviting, safer, and more productive town centers. At the same time they are treading more lightly on the planet we all share.

The reduction in cars places less stress on transportation infrastructure. This has direct cost savings for the community in both roadway maintenance, and the need to sacrifice valuable space for parking. By reducing traffic and crowding we can improve movement and make travel faster for everyone. Using less space for cars opens up the potential for additional bicycle lanes or green spaces.

Visitors to the area (tourists) and seasonal residents make up a major part of our economy. If less of the people who work in our city centers were driving, the stress on parking would be decreased. This will make visiting our town centers more practical and welcoming. Maximizing space in towns for customers provides local businesses with more potential for growth. It also alleviates a common complaint or excuse that deters people for shopping in town.

A family enjoying the bike trail.
A rainbow on the wheelway.

Personal Benefits

Human powered commuting provides significant cost savings over car travel. Cars require expensive fuel, insurance, maintenance (oil, tires, brakes), repairs and their acquisition and depreciation costs. The most efficient form of human powered travel is cycling. A well-equipped commuter bike will cost less than $600 and maintenance and repair costs are a fraction of those required for cars.

Many people believe that they don’t have the time to commute by human powered means. While it may take you longer to travel this way, it is likely to a better use of time when you consider the time you spend working to afford a car. For most people the time they spend working to earn money to pay for their cars is greater than the extra time they would spend commuting by slower means of travel.

Human powered commuting is a more efficient and healthier use of time. Many people do not have the time to consistently workout. By walking or biking to work you are replacing stagnant car travel with enjoyable exercise. In a country where over a third of our population is obese, making exercise a part of our lifestyle is critical. This “double-dip” is very desirable to busy time-crunched parents.

Smart Commute Week starts June 3rd

Smart Commute Emmet encourages you to get fit, be green and save money during year 10 of Emmet County’s annual Smart Commute Week. Each year, the Top of Michigan Trails Council celebrates the opportunities to utilize pedal and foot power to get from “point a to point b” during Smart Commute Week.

Live too far from your destination? Use a Smart Lot.There are multiple Smart Lots available throughout Harbor Springs and Petoskey, and they’re designed to allow Smart Commuters a place to park their vehicle in a safe location. Use the Smart Lot to jumpstart your alternative commuting method of carpooling, walking, or biking the rest of the way to your destination. Many Smart Commuters choose a Smart Lot located on or near the connected trail systems that link Harbor Springs to Charlevoix, and most recently, Alanson to Petoskey.

Ready to bike commute but need a bike, some commuter gear, or some mechanical help? Stop by Latitude 45 Bicycles and Fitness in Petoskey for a tune-up or a new ride. Either way their friendly and professional staff will help make your riding successful.

Get your kids involved too. Smart Commute week is a perfect opportunity to talk to your children about actively commuting to school. There are many ways kids can get a little fresh air before the school bell rings, and it will benefit more than just their health. Safe Routes to School programs have shown that when kids have a safe way to actively commute to school, traffic jams are eased, air pollution is decreased, and students are more ready to learn each day. If you live close enough to school, have them walk or bike with neighbors and friends, or if you’re too far outside of town, you can drop them off 1/2 mile away from the school so they can walk the rest of the way.

Smart Lot Locations:


Free breakfasts abound for Smart Commuters Monday-Thursday at the following locations (please note that times vary at each location):

  • Johan's of Petoskey and Harbor Springs
  • Grain Train, Mitchell Street, Petoskey: 6:30 – 10 am
  • Roast & Toast, Lake Street & Burns Bldg, Petoskey: 7 – 11 am
  • Johan's Burger Express on (M 119)
  • Crooked Tree Breadworks, M119, Petoskey: 8 - 10 am

*At breakfast locations you will need to submit your filled-out breakfast voucher.

Smart Commute Certified Organizations (formerly Commuter Cup)

Organizations and teams with a high level of participation can earn a certification for their efforts. The requirements are scaled for different size organizations and certification will come in 4 levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Recognition will be given to all of the teams that reach the various levels of certification.

Team leaders, your role this year is very simple!

  • Contact admin@trailscouncil.org by June 1st to sign up your organization and indicate your number of members.
  • Help your members create an account here. Make sure they select your organization.
  • Use any means necessary to get your team members to log their smart commute trips on Smartcommuteemmet.org.
  • Distribute breakfast vouchers.

We will total up trips at the end of the week to determine your organization's certification level and email you your electronic award, which can be proudly displayed online and/or printed. Below are the required number of trips:

Micro (2-4) Mini (5-7) Small (8-11) Medium (12-16) Med/Large (17-22) Large (23-46) X-Large (47-70)
Bronze 7 16 26 38 53 55 94
Silver 10 22 34 50 70 83 140
Gold 12 27 43 63 88 110 187
Platinum 14 32 51 76 105 138 234

Note: Large and X-Large organizations can form smaller sub-groups based on department. For example: McLaren Hospital - Human Resources.


Smart Commute Emmet is a project coordinated by Top of Michigan Trails Council, with help from a committee of community members. This year’s committee consisted of Jeff Winegard and Sue Bouwense of the Trails Council, Emily Hughes of Little Traverse Conservancy, Joe Graham of Latitude 45 Bicycles and Fitness, Amy Socolovitch of McLaren Northern Michigan, Lynne DeMoor of the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, Megan Goedge of Petoskey District Library, and Mindy Taylor of Grain Train Natural Foods. A special thanks to North Central Michigan College student Robert Heinbokel for developing the new Smart Commute Website.

Rewards and Prizes provided by

Latitude 45 Bicycles and Fitness
Bearcub Outfitters
McLean and Eakin Booksellers
Grain Train Natural Foods Markets
Crooked Tree Breadworks
Yoga Roots
The Outfitter in Harbor Springs

Smart Commute Week Breakfasts provided by

Grain Train Natural Foods Markets
Roast and Toast
Johan's Burger Express & Johan's of Petoskey and Harbor Springs
Crooked Tree Breadworks

Financial Support provided by

Health Department of NW Michigan