Bike to Work Week Madison 2013: Color by Numbers

As the Bike to Work Week Madison coordinator, the end of last week brought a sweet little sigh of relief, but with wistful wisps mixed in. What a fabulous week to join the movement to Go By Bike. While the work I did coordinating events the week was for the Wisconsin Bike Fed, I realized with my wistful wheezing that Bike to Work Week in Madison has a life breath all its own. For every logistical piece I put in motion, others were already a step ahead of me, building on tradition, igniting their creativity and mobilizing their own resources to make the week a raging success for the entire community. Suddenly my job seemed a lot less like work and more like a week-long fun ride with thousands of my closest friends.

This weekend I raced a century’s worth of gravel roads at the Almanzo 100 in Minnesota. This gave me many (MANY!) hours to reflect on the highlights of Bike to Work Week and review pictures in my mind’s eye from the week. As I see it, the week covered a colorful spectrum from start to finish:

The brilliant red frames of Madison B-Cycle bikes are hard to miss, particularly during Bike to Work Week. B-Cycle generously waived 24-hour use fees and offered free yearlong memberships to those who joined or renewed with the Wisconsin Bike fed. Red highlights were prevalent elsewhere throughout the week as well — in the signature Just Coffee cargo bikes supplying morning java throughout town, the mobile wrenching kit from Revolution Cycles, the tent over the Griessmeyer Law commuter station, the welcoming beacon of Cronometro, our host for the week-ending celebration. Red is Badger Pride, and it was in full force this week. At our downtown commuter station alone, sponsors served between 200 and 400 cyclists each morning. Multiply that by 5 commuter stations, 5 days, and we get impressive numbers that only begin to tell the story of how important the option to go by bike is to the city of Madison.

Orange popped from the brightly colored chairs at the new Alterra Cafe’s outdoor patio. Alterra, The Isthmus and our friends from the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and The Urban League of Greater Madison popped into action last Tuesday as well for our first annual Community Commute. What a tremendous blending of friends and neighbors we had join us that morning, and a reminder that we are all advocates working in our own ways to move bicycling forward in Madison and throughout the state of Wisconsin.

Check out the commitment by our Bike to Work Week partners to Go Green in everything they did this week! Whether deliveries of coffee by bike, or the tremendous efforts by both Saris and Planet Bike to make our morning commute a tasty one, while staying carbon-neutral. My buddy Jonathan with Saris Cycling Group reports that with 6 hardy cyclists and ZERO motor vehicles, they were able to transport, set-up and host a station that served twenty pounds of brats, 50 veggie sausages, ten gallons of coffee and four gallons’ worth of pancake batter to over 200 morning commuters. The debut of Bratcakes by Saris was a huge success! Of course, Bratcakes may in fact be the start of a Bike to Work Week arms race (wheels race?) of sorts, as Saris upped its game just one morning before Planet Bike delivered yet another successful Bacon on the Bikepath Thursday – also entirely transported, hosted and powered by bicycle. Stay tuned for a Bike Business Battle Royale next year – where you, the bike commuter reap the delicious spoils of war. Going green tastes great!

Through universal balance, superstitious dance, or sheer luck, blue skies abounded for most of Bike to Work Week. We were all treated to some beautiful sunrises, glorious mornings and smiling neighbors…but perhaps most impressive were the undaunted commuters, station hosts and sponsors who kept rolling right through the deluge on Friday morning! Why let a little drizzle stop the fun, especially when the blue highlights of the Capital Brewery beer tent held generous promise of tasty celebration at our week-ending party??

The color of passion. It was obvious during last week, as it is most days, that we are a city passionate about bicycling. Even when we disagree on the details, our community is one that celebrates bicycling, choices in transportation, safety and solidarity. This passion and value of the choice to go by bike fuels discussion…discussion fuels action…action fuels our revolutions forward in a positive way. And that fuel – passion – is 100% renewable, and in abundance here in Madison!

Yellow is often associated with fear, hesitance, aversion. It is the only color missing from the spectrum during Bike to Work Week. No Yellow-Bellies here! New commuters asked questions and gave it a try. The uninitiated tasted their first Bratcake or Baco-Donut. Weekend warriors unearthed their bike, had the great folks from Willy Bikes take a look at their dusty rig, and got rolling again with confidence. THIS is why the Bike Fed is here — to continue to eradicate fear, hesitation, opposition to the choice to go by bike. We were so impressed to see so many fearless bicycle victories this week, large and small!

As you review this week’s forecast – predicting storms and winds – remember the colorful life breath that is bicycling in Madison. There may not always be a bacon hand-up, but there will be a commuting buddy, a helpful bike shop and a way forward that awaits you on each ride, rain or shine. Thank you SO much to all our sponsors and partners! Let’s keep teaming up to pump that Bike to Work Week life breath into each revolution, until we do it all again next May!

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