Last week I wrote this post wondering why some people read our blog and comment about issues, but don’t join the Bike Fed as members. A few people said they just forgot, but a couple others said they didn’t feel the Bike Fed was doing enough on bicycling issues they care about. Even though these folks read our blog and Facebook, I thought a review of all we do might be helpful in case they don’t follow our work every day. This 2013 review will also appear in the upcoming quarterly Bike Fed magazine, which should be in all your mailboxes by the end of the month.
Excuse us for bragging, but we think our new quarterly magazine I just mentioned might just be the best cycling magazine produced by any bicycle advocacy organization in the country. Similarly our latest book, Endure, might be the best cyclocross book ever published. Those are bold statements, but we stand by them because the quality of our publications is a direct reflection of our great Wisconsin cycling. From racing, to industry to relaxed rides on scenic roads, Wisconsin leads the nation.
Consider the Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS) and the Tour of Americas Dairyland (ToAD), the largest mtb and road racing series in the country; the Washington Park Velodrome is the oldest in the nation. Wisconsin is the epicenter of the national bicycle industry, and is home to Trek, Schwinn, Saris Cycling Group, Planet Bike, Hayes Disc Brakes, Answer, Manitou, Wheelsmith, Sun-Ringle, Fyxation, Waterford Precision Cycles, Ellis Cycles, Wyatt Bikes, Milwaukee Bicycle Company, Schlick Cycles, Team Sports, Cognition Caps, Cyclogical, and Vessel Workshop. Who did I forget?
From funky, fun urban rides like the Santa Cycle Rampage and the Underwear Ride to the more than 300 other rides organized across the beautiful varied Wisconsin topography, you can find them all listed in our April Ride Guide edition of this magazine. Wisconsin cycling has flavor, which we serve up between the pages of our print publications and on our daily blog
Our big legislative push at the 2013 Lobby Day was to get a Vulnerable Users Law passed. We worked particularly hard on this bill with our sponsors, Sen. Luther Olson (R – Ripon) and Rep. Gary Bies, (R-Sister Bay) because the Wisconsin cycling community has lost too many close friends to inattentive drivers who got walked away with their lives and little more than a minor traffic fine even though they killed someone. With bipartisan support in the Legislature and the support of many District Attorneys, our bill fills the gap in the current law between those basic traffic citations and charging someone with a more serious crime.
The law also includes other groups who are more vulnerable on our roads, such as law enforcement officials, people walking, those on horseback and farmers. Did you know that from 2005 to the present, there have been 1,400 crashes involving farmers, resulting in 708 injuries and 25 deaths? Hopefully the increased penalties will help to remind everyone that we all need to pay full attention to the task of driving when we are sharing the road with those more vulnerable than us.
In November, the Bike Fed rallied our members to shelve an ordinance in Iowa County that could have meant the end of some of Wisconsin’s favorite organized rides in the Driftless region, including GRABAAWR, the Dairyland Dare and the Horribly Hilly Hundreds, as well as smaller organized club rides. We immediately sent out Action Alerts through all our networks resulting in hundreds of letters, phone calls and emails in opposition. On the night of the hearing for the ordinance, so many people came out they had to find a larger meeting room.
We won this round for bicycling, but it’s not over. We will stay engaged with the Iowa County committee members to help address any legitimate concerns they might have, and do it in a way that’s a win-win for cycling, for the county and the state.
Thanks to a great team of regional Ambassadors across the state, including Matt Andrews, Zac Barnes, Barb Blick, Carolyn Dvorak, Keith Holt, Scott Reilly, Walker Young and Randy Zarecki, Share & Be Aware has directly reached 259,965 people, beating our goal for the year by four fold! From classes to billboards and trainings to newspaper interviews, Share & Be Aware is using effective methods to improve the safety of people walking and biking. In 2014, pedestrian safety billboards will be printed and displayed across the state as well. Thanks to the Department of Transportation for funding the program and to MadMax Designs for being dedicated project partners.
Beyond our Share & Be Aware program, our Safe Routes to School instructors directly educated 2,428 kids how to ride and walk safely to school. The 150 bikes for that program were maintained at our Valid Bike Shop, a youth job training program at North Division High School. We even hosted several “Savvy Cycling Classes” specifically for women. Watch for an expanded calendar of all our 2014 cycling classes on our website soon.
Ride On Wisconsin Website
Thanks to the talented team at Shine United, a Madison-based advertising agency, Wisconsin now has a great new one-stop website for people interested in bicycling. The site features an interactive map on which people can upload their favorite rides, an improved calendar of every organized bicycle event in Wisconsin, tips for riders of all abilities, and an eventual classifieds section and cycling group forum.
Take a few moments to explore RideOnWisconsin.com and add your favorite ride!
For the first time, the Bike Fed managed a statewide mountain bike program. Matt Gissibl, our Business Relations Manager and resident dirt trail test rider, spent about 20% of his time working on mountain bike issues around the state. As part of that work he organized of the 2013 MTB sessions of the WI Bike Summit and the post ride at Quarry Ridge. He worked with the NEWOM members and IMBA to advocate for mtb trails at Camp Vits in Manitowoc. The vote passed and NEWOM is currently building trails.
Matt has weekly calls with Hansi Johnson (Regional Director for IMBA) and attends IMBA chapter meetings and events across the state. In September he and Hansi organized and hosted “Rock & Ride” at the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, the first MTB ride event co-hosted by the Bike Fed and IMBA.
Along with representatives from IMBA, TREK, and CWOCC he met with senior DNR staff to discuss the masterplan to make Wausau an IMBA “Ride Center”. Finally, we are working to add mountain biking to the list of approved activities for which ski hill owners and operators have liability protection.
It was a pleasure to see thousands of Bike Fed members at the many fun events we organized in 2013. More than 300 of you came to our State Bike Summit to network and learn. Thanks to the 700 people who showed up to celebrate at the Saris Gala, we raised $109,000 to improve cycling in Wisconsin. Our drinks with Dave events gave hundreds of people an opportunity to network and meet our new Executive Director Dave Cieslewicz.
Bike to Work Week was huge, thanks to the 4,500 people who signed up for the 2013 Wisconsin Bike Challenge! Not only did we beat 2012’s totals, we came in third place nationally! We biked over 2,468,457 miles, burned over 51,367,426 calories, conserved almost 993,977 pounds of CO2, and saved over $315,587!
Thanks also to the sponsors of the Wisconsin Bicycle Challenge: Kimberly-Clark & Schwinn. Let’s start gearing up for next year Wisconsin and aim for the #1 state in the rankings!
Our Resolutions for the New Year
For 2014, Our new Executive Director and the staff at the Bike Fed hope you will join us in our resolution to work even harder to fulfill our vision of making Wisconsin America’s Best Ride. That vision includes a signed and mapped state bike route system, epic mountain bike destinations across the state and next generation bikeways in dozens more bicycle friendly communities.