What is on my desk at the office?

This is a personal blog, but there is no way to get around that I am the City of Milwaukee Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator.  Yesterday morning I took a quick snapshot of my desk 15 minutes after I got to work.

These items provide a snapshot of how I get to work, what I do at work and what it is like to be a City Worker.

1. This little fan is key to me riding to work in a suit and a tie.  Our AC is not set very cold in our building.  When I am riding to work in a suit, my slow pace and the breeze keeps me from sweating much.  But as soon as I get off the bike and sit in my office, I begin to sweat.  My wife Liz bought me this little “Hawaiian Breeze” fan a year ago or so and it is a life saver.  I turn it on as soon as I sit down and it keeps me nice and cool.

2. This bad boy is the draft update of the City of Milwaukee Bicycle Master Plan.  This document, after it is approved, will guide the City for the next 5-10 years.  It proposes the City continue to add more bike lanes (and we will), but also proposes innovative facilities designed to attract those people who don’t enjoy riding in bike lanes.  Bicycle boulevards, raised bike Lanes, bike boxes, green wave signal timing for bikes, and even European inspired cycletracks are detailed in this plan.  I have to read the whole thing, integrate comments received during briefings with council members, dept. heads, the public, and my own review.  The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin is the lead consultant on this project.  There will be a public information meeting about the plan July 14th, from 4-7pm in the main conference room on the 1st floor of the Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N Broadway.  Stop by to see a preview of all the cool things in Milwaukee’s future.

3. French Press and Alterra Dark Roast: You just can’t go wrong with that combo.  I have been a big coffee drinker for a long time and I recently quit, but I needed coffee to dunk my crueller.

4. What, you don’t have a pay-day bakery club at your office?  Well, where I work, every other Thursday is pay-day, and we have a club in which a different person buys bakery each time.  Yes, it is a club, there is a president, you have to be voted in and we do have rules.  Rule #1) 24 pieces of quality bakery.  Quality means no Hostess or Little Debbies.  But as an aficionado of bakery, I can tell the difference between a crueller from National Bakery v Simas v Cranky Als v Sentry, etc.  One look is all it takes for me generally.  Rule #2) 24 hard rolls: Here is where things get loose.  Hard rolls are Dutchie crust, sesame, poppie seed, etc.  They are supposed to have a crunchy crust.  But sometimes somebody brings in soft rolls. Rule #3) 1 lb REAL salted butter

That is it, but as you can see by my plate, some people go the extra mile and get boiled ham (Badger is the best), pickles, cheese and mustard.  That is what I got last Thursday, SWEET!

5. Al Green anthology to ease me through the zillion emails I have to read right away before things get crazy.

6. Gotta renew my Wisconsin Off  Road Bicycle Association membership, which has lapsed.  WORBA is a great organization, especially the local group, Milwaukee Metro Mountain Bikers.  You would not guess, but we have pretty nice mtb trails right in Milwaukee.  Not quite Durango (been there) but pretty darn fun, and right out my door.

7. A BIG part of my job is overseeing the traffic calming program.  This is a stack of files in with complaints about speeding or other traffic safety concerns on our local street network (residential side streets).  I wrote our Neighborhood Traffic Management Program.  We get so many complaints about speeding you would not believe it.  Who are all these people who are speeding if everybody hates speeding?  We have met the enemy Pogo, and he is us. When we get a complaint, I ask for signatures from a few neighbors and then do an engineering study.  That involves a radar speed study, traffic count, crash history report, field evaluation and a couple other checks.  Then I work with the residents to try to develop a solution.  It may be engineering, like speed humps, or it may be a combination of encouragement and enforcement efforts.

8. Cards from the New Belgium Brewery road crew for the Tour de Fat.  I worked with them to get the festival to Milwaukee, and I am going to hook up with them when they ride up after the festival in Chicago.  That is a nice part of the job, although I don’t get paid to go to the party.

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.

8 thoughts on “What is on my desk at the office?

  1. With regards to #7 – the intersection of Wisconsin and Jackson is terrible!!! Last month, there were 2 accidents within 1/2 hour of each other. In fact, the 2nd accident included hitting the fire truck that was there helping the 1st accident.

    While this may not be the forum for this, I already emailed the City about this a number of weeks ago, and now that I learned that this is a big part of your job, my email may be in that stack of #7.

    Oh yeah, can’t wait to get a look at #2, wish I were here for #8. Good luck with quitting #3 and take it easy on #4! Now that you are riding to not sweat, that may necessitate cutting back on the carbs a bit….

    • Chris,

      Wisconsin and Jackson are both Arterial Streets, so safety concerns would go to the Traffic Engineer unless bikes or pedestrians were involved. My NTMP only deals with the local street network. We have a hierarchy of road classifications: Arterial, Collector, Local. That is based on traffic volume, with arterials carrying the highest number of vehicles. We also have designated “through highways” which are more confusing, but can look like a local residential street. Our traffic calming program is designed just for the local streets.

      I hear you about the donuts. I may have to start racing again just to keep my figure!

  2. I *love* the bakery club rules! I have very high standards for baked goods and their accoutrements, and it’s often hard to find kindred bakery souls.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog since Dottie linked to your excellent post on helmets. Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator sounds like such a great job, even though I can easily imagine some of the frustration it might involve. I used to work for a town planning firm in Miami, and the battles we would have to fight to get things like pedestrian-friendly street dimensions were maddening.

    • Thanks for reading. Florida certainly does have its problems bike/ped wise. I have seen some very nice designs for sidewalks, bus shelters, traffic circles, etc. in Florida, but the wide cross sections and sprawling distances make using those facilities difficult. Facilities are great, but dense, walkable/bikeable destinations are more important.

      I hope you keep reading.

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