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If you were around downtown Madison on Sunday afternoon, October 1, 2023 you might have been awestruck by the sight of 700+ cyclists of all ages pedaling their way to the Capitol steps as part of Ride For Your Life 2023. 

The first Ride for Your Life was held in Washington DC in December of 2022 following the death of Sarah Debbink Langenkamp, a mother, US diplomat, and cyclist who was hit and killed by a truck while riding in a painted bike lane. Langenkamp was born in Oconomowoc and her family was committed to bringing Ride For Your Life to Wisconsin this year.

In addition to Sarah Langenkamp, the 2023 Ride For Your Life honored Tom Heninger, a Madison musician and teacher killed crossing John Nolen Drive this year, and the needless other cyclist and pedestrian fatalities in Madison, Milwaukee, and across the U.S.

Following the six mile ride, participants gathered for a rally and community remembrance featuring members of the Debbink and Langenkamp family, Representative Lee Snodgrass, Trek President John Burke, and Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway who called for behavior change, legislation and infrastructure to increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

We could not have had a more beautiful day to ride to the Capitol and make our voices heard for safer streets. As our friends and co-organizers at Madison Bikes put it this weekend we rode “to bring attention to the need for safer conditions for those walking, biking, and rolling on our street.”

This event was one more step in a growing Ride for Your Life movement to inspire advocacy, policy change, and culture shifts in active transportation. The Wisconsin Bike Fed, as well as cyclists, parents, friends, and community organizers, are proud to be part of this amazing event and work. 

Thanks to all who came out to participate.

What next steps can everyone take to help move this effort forward?

1.  Keep walking and riding your bike. Normalize active transportation and claim your space – the streets are for people!

2. Let your elected officials know that you bike and walk and demand safer streets.  In Wisconsin, ask your legislators to require that streets built with Federal dollars are Complete Streets and are designed for all users. Infrastructure that makes streets safer for all users should not be a partisan issue.

Something you can do today is email Senator Ron Johnson and ask him to introduce the bipartisan Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Safety Act (HR 1668) in the Senate. This legislation will:

  • Give states the flexibility to spend safety dollars on local priorities
  • Give states flexibility to fund bicycle and walking safety project with 100% federal funds, including for locally identified safety priorities
  • Make it easier for states and local governments to fund the safety project identified in the IIJA (Infrastructure and Jobs Act – also called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) funded safety plans.
  • Highlight the need to fill the gaps in our biking and walking networks and make these projects eligible for funding under the Highway Safety Improvement Program

3. Support your local bicycle advocacy organization. For those of you who have already made donations to the Wisconsin Bike Fed, we are deeply appreciative of your generosity. If you would still like to donate, you can do so here or become a Bike Fed member. Or, to stay up to date on advocacy opportunities across the state, visit our website and subscribe to our weekly newsletter at the bottom of the page.

Many thanks to photographer David Nevala for capturing these moments at the event: