On April 30, 1988, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin was established as an all volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for bicycle riders around the state. With a name change to the Wisconsin Bike Fed along the way, the organization celebrates its 35th anniversary in April 2023…and all year long!
In the Beginning
It took a few years of communications, meetings and working through details to gain support, determine goals, and draft the bylaws that ultimately established the organization in 1988, thanks to a team of eight from varied communities and perspectives – Jeannette Deloya, Bruce Germond, William Hauda, Ann Kaeemerle, Susan Kavulich, Arthur Ross, and Douglas & Susan Kowalski.
William Hauda was the League of American Wheelmen (now League of American Bicyclists) State Legislative Representative at the time, and also served as Executive Director and Board President of the Bicycle Federation in the early years. According to Hauda, “Bicycle advocacy in Wisconsin was largely nonexistent and badly fragmented in 1986. A few individuals and bicycle club representatives did what they could do to promote cycling at the local level, but there was no coordinated statewide effort. Wisconsin needed a formal umbrella organization to bring together local cyclists, clubs, dealers and manufacturers so that they could more effectively protect and promote the interests of cyclists.”
As cyclists from around the state, we can all be grateful for the efforts to create the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, now Wisconsin Bike Fed, and for the progress that has been made throughout the years including successful efforts for 1995 Assembly Bill 96, signed by Governor Tommy Thompson, which ten became law as 1995 Wisconsin Act 138, granting bicyclists for the first time the same rights as motorists, as well as the 3-foot law that passed in the last decade.
- Advocating at the state and national level for bike-friendly laws and budgets.
- Partnering with communities on trail and street projects that ensure safe access and travel.
- Teaching kids how to safely ride a bike and navigate their neighborhoods.
- Engaging with a Council of Advocates representing WI counties on local issues and needs.
- Enriching the lives of older adults through the Cycling Without Age program.
- Creating special events like Ride Across Wisconsin and Santa Cycle Rampage.
- Interacting with organizations such bike shops, businesses, communities, and advocacy/non-profit groups that share common goals.
On reaching the 35th anniversary of the organization, current Executive Director Kirsten Finn shares: “We are very proud to reach this milestone, but humbly aware that the best advocacy is done at the most local level. We depend on our engaged members, Council of Advocates, local bike shops, and bicycle clubs and advocacy groups across the state to help us move cycling forward in Wisconsin. The Bike Fed will continue to convene Wisconsin cyclists who are passionate about making things better. From advocacy at the Capitol for bike-friendly legislation, to assistance for communities around the state seeking better cycling infrastructure, to timely communication about issues and events that matter to those of us who ride for transportation and recreation, we are honored to continue the legacy and strive to make every ride convenient, safe and fun.”
- History and Origins of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin
- 35 Years of Bike Leadership in Wisconsin
- The Name Change Transition Years of 2009-2013
- 35 Reasons Why the WI Bike Fed Has Been Important for Cyclists for 35 Years
- Relive the 35th Birthday Party with Photos from the Celebration
Celebrate and Participate
- We had a wonderful, family-friendly outdoor 35th anniversary party on September 15, 2023 at the Bike Fed home office in Milwaukee. Click the link to enjoy event photos!
- During this anniversary year, Bike Fed members who share a $35 donation will receive a pair of commemorative socks!
- The WisconsinBikeFed.org website is filled with information on advocacy, programming, education, membership, giving, merchandise, volunteering, events, and bike stories. Check back often!
- To keep up to date on Wisconsin cycling & 35th anniversary news while being counted as one of our supporters, we invite you to subscribe to the the free weekly e-newsletter from the bottom of any webpage, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Wisconsin Bike Fed Mission
The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Educational Foundation, Inc. (AKA Wisconsin Bike Fed) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that cultivates, motivates, and unites residents, communities, businesses, and political leaders to move bicycling forward in Wisconsin through education, legislation, and involvement.
The Wisconsin Bike Fed is the only statewide organization that advocates for better bicycling for everyone who rides a bike in Wisconsin, with thousands of individuals, households, organizations, businesses, and communities who support our work.