2018-08-09 / Front Page

Officials wary of bike route

56 miles are in the county
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


AS NOW envisioned, the bike portion of the Iron Man race would wind primarily through Leelanau County. AS NOW envisioned, the bike portion of the Iron Man race would wind primarily through Leelanau County. The Ironman 70.3-mile triathlon may have gotten support from the Traverse City City Commission, but supports seems to be lagging among Leelanau County officials.

City commissioners voted 6-0 Monday to host the triathlon in late August 2019 and 2020. The competition, expected to attract as many as 2,400 participants, includes a 1.2-mile swim at Clinch Park, a 13.1- mile running course on the Old Mission Peninsula and a 56-mile bike course — most within Leelanau County.

“It’s not a fun-run, get a T-shirt kind of thing. It’s highly competitive,” Sheriff Mike Borkovich said. “We’re talking about closing roads to traffic when there’s the TART Trail and the Heritage Trail — already designated for non-motorized vehicles.”

The proposed 56-mile route begins in Traverse City and travels up Co. Rd. 633 to Suttons Bay; Herman Road to M-204 and then up Co. Rd. 637 to Co. Rd. 626; looping back to M-204 and down French Road to Schomberg Road through Cedar and back to Traverse City via Co. Rd. 616.

Borkovich, Undersheriff Steve Morgan and Matt Ansorge, director of emergency management, have not yet been approached by event organizers.

However, perhaps as a pre-emptive strike, the three met Tuesday with representatives of the TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trails) to discuss a possible alternative route using the existing trail system.

“They do this all over the world. There are steps to follow and getting the City of Traverse City on board was a first step for them,” Ansorge said yesterday morning.

A mass gathering ordinance is not in place at the county level. Instead, townships have local control and work with Ansorge who writes a emergency plan for each event.

Some, like Glen Arbor Township, have ordinances in place which make the event sponsor liable for the cost emergency staff who are standby during the event.

As Leelanau Peninsula events have grown in popularity with visitors and recreationalists. But the frequency of special events has pushed law enforcement, emergency services and some residents to the limit, public safety officials say.

“I have plans in place for four events this weekend alone,” Ansorge said.

Increased road traffic, including motorist and bicyclers, has increased safety concerns for law enforcement all summer long. Adding another 2,400 bikers on county roads doesn’t add up for those who work d in public safety.

“These are competitive bikers who rides as fast as they can,” Morgan said. adding the farmers are busy and the number of driveways along the route alone are problematic.” We don’t have the manpower to close these roads so it’s safe for everyone.”

Morgan noted a growing tension between bikers and motorists and taxpayers.

“They pay to have good roads and closing these roads for a bike race, rubs people the wrong way,” Morgan said.

A call for comment to Trevor Tkach, president and chief executive officer of Traverse City Tourism, was not returned yesterday.

“Traverse City OK’d being the beginning and the end of the race,” Morgan said. “But the biking part is the biggest part of the event.

“They need to come talk with us.”

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I live on the route and fully

I live on the route and fully support having this event. I'm willing to put up with a small inconvenience, it's the price we pay for living in a civilized society. It's not meant to be all about you.