Understanding what, when, and how to prioritize biking amongst other community improvement priorities is a necessity.

Follow the crowd of walkers and bikers and you will find vibrant districts, bustling businesses, and healthy, happy neighbors. Quality-of-life improvements top nearly every community’s priority list. What a quality-of-life improvement means for your community, however, may be different than neighboring communities. Even when a specific goal—such as encouraging active, healthy lifestyles through supporting biking—becomes a priority, the nuances of how to meet this goal can be challenging and vary from town to village to city. 

Distinctive needs and unique characteristics make each community special. While adding a bike path may be the solution for one community, another community may lack adequate wayfinding or safety measures. Then, there is the added complexity of accommodating multiple priorities. Adding or moving a bike path could pose an economic challenge by diverting trail users away from businesses that are currently frequented by bicyclists. Likewise, economic opportunities may be present by relocating a bike route through a retail district.  

Diagram

Description automatically generated

Understanding what, when, and how to prioritize biking amongst other community improvement priorities is a necessity. A healthier community can reduce healthcare costs, improve employee productivity, and increase property values. Prioritizing biking and providing a strong biking network can improve the health of your community. Becoming a Wisconsin Bike Fed member now comes with a new opportunity to kickstart this initiative for your community. 

To support communities who prioritize recreational infrastructure for biking, ISG, a multi-disciplinary architecture, engineering, environmental, and planning firm, has partnered with Wisconsin Bike Fed. Each new Bike Focus – Community Member will be added to a quarterly drawing to win an in-kind, interactive advisory service valued at $3,000. The service, provided by ISG design and planning professionals, is meant to help communities move their vision of bike-friendly enhancements further, faster. The ISG team will help new members analyze context, prioritize best practices, and jump-start improvements to get the most out of their Wisconsin Bike Fed membership. 

The goal is to convene a focused group of community champions, public works staff, parks and recreation teams, elected officials, and community leaders. Through ISG’s proven engagement method, participants will work directly with ISG experts to:

  • Assess their community’s readiness to become more bike friendly
  • Evaluate their current bike network’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Develop a high-level plan for bicycling improvements in their community
A group of people sitting around a table

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

The best planning efforts begin by taking the time to listen and understand the community. One-size-fits-all solutions often struggle to yield desirable results. ISG will begin each process with a community readiness survey, giving stakeholders the opportunity to share the community’s current level of planning, improvement wish list, and priorities. Following an analysis of the survey results, ISG will conceptualize ideas for biking improvements that leverage the community’s strengths while overcoming weaknesses. This evaluation process will also include follow-up questions that dig into any ambiguity discovered within the survey results.

ISG recognizes the importance of a clear and actionable plan to ensure successful implementation. Therefore, within each community, a workshop will be conducted to understand and prioritize community concerns. During the workshop, priority areas will be highlighted on a community map which will inform designers, engineers, and planners as they craft an action plan.

At the conclusion of the process, each community will have a tangible brochure-style action plan with “Fast Five” prioritized best practices—recommended steps to jump-start their biking goals. ISG will also provide a relevant list of industry-related references and reading materials to investigate for future planning initiatives.

With three Wisconsin offices, as well as recreation and transportation focused teams, ISG is a proud Wisconsin Bike Fed partner. The partnership brings communities that become Bike Focus Members the added value of ISG’s urban planning expertise—making it possible for them to encourage active, healthy lifestyles with bike-friendly initiatives and networks. To learn more about becoming a Bike Focus Community Member, contact Wisconsin Bike Fed’s Community Engagement Manager, Michelle Bachaus at michelleb@wisconsinbikefed.org.