Big News! Call for Proposals for Statewide Bikeway Network

The Bike Fed’s vision to make Wisconsin “America’s Best Ride” includes the creation of a statewide network of interconnected bikeways. Using a numbered or named wayfinding system, these state routes will utilize both our existing state trail system and excellent roadway system. We are delighted to announce that we are much closer to making this statewide bikeway system a reality!

The WisDOT request for proposals from consultants will produce a plan and initial segments of our bold vision for a statewide bike route system that connects existing trails with the best roads for cycling and looks for opportunities to add new trails. Note the image above is just a representation of our vision and the final project will be different and use standard signs.

Click image to open a larger pdf of this map included in the RFP.

The Bike Fed, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation have partnered together to oversee the funding and generation of a Statewide Bikeways Plan. Currently in the solicitation for services phase, the plan will contain recommendations, standards, methodology, and guidelines for identifying, designating and signing regional, intrastate and interstate bikeways.

To put it in layman’s terms, we’ll be getting a roadmap of how to create our bikeways, as well as turn by turn directions for the proposed Wisconsin segments of the U.S. Bike Route network. There are currently four US Bike Routes proposed for Wisconsin – 10, 20, 30 and 37. More information on the USBR system can be found here:

This map shows our existing trail system and the WDNR’s trail network plan. We are not that far away from our vision for making our trail network the best in the nation.

The focus of the Wisconsin plan will be on key regional and cross-state routes, major city connections, and linkages to USBR bikeways of adjacent states. For the more technical plan details, you can read this solicitation notice posted on the DOT’s website – look for the Statewide Intrastate Bikeway notification.

The planning process is expected to start in November of this year and Wisconsinites across the state will be given the opportunity to provide input.

We couldn’t be more excited that Wisconsin is moving forward with this visionary plan. As soon as we can, we will share more detailed information, but we can’t do that while the state is seeking proposals. We can say that in order to get the state departments to agree to this, the Bike Fed committed to contributing a significant percentage of the cost of the project. If you share our vision, please help us fund our share by joining us as a member or donating whatever you can afford if you are already a member.


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About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

7 thoughts on “Big News! Call for Proposals for Statewide Bikeway Network

  1. Sarah,

    If you can supply a release for me to post on, I’d appreciate it!

    Our readers around the state would be very interested in this news.


    Brian Otten
    Digital Content Manager
    Gannett Wisconsin Media
    800 Scott Street – Wausau, WI 54403
    Phone 715-842-2101- Fax 715-848-9360

  2. This is a wonderful idea, and I think once you get this built, the response will be incredible. I’m behind you 1000% percent.

  3. There have been attempts to do this since the middle 1970s, resulting in the creation of “the Wisconsin Bikeway”, an east-west route between La Crosse and (originally) Kenosha.  The first few runnings of SAAGBRAW, when it was sponsored by the Milwaukee Sentinel, used much of this same route.   By the end of the 1970s a second route, the “North-South Bikeway”, running between La Crosse and Bayfield on Lake Superior, had also been plotted and mapped.

    A Google search can still find information on the original routes as mapped in the 1970s.  If you try to work from these, though, a couple of caveats — 1) urban sprawl along some of the roads have resulted in them being ‘improved’ to the point where they may not necessarily be the most appropriate route for cycling; and 2) New cycle-specific trails have since been added to the state system (such as the La Crosse River Trail between La Crosse and Sparta, the 400 Trail between Elroy and Reedsburg, and the Glacial Drumlin Trail between Cottage Grove and Waukesha) and would probably be a more pleasant and tranquil alternative to some of the paved roads as well.


  4. The exempt railway from Madison (tie into Cap City at McCoy Rd) south through Oregon, Brooklyn, Evansville, and into Janesville would be ideal!

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