900% increase in people bicycling to airport

The bike racks were almost full when I pulled up this morning, but the parking is free if you pedal to Mitchell Field.

The first time I rode my bike to Mitchell Field 15 years ago for the first National Bike Summit I attended in Washington, D.C., even I wasn’t sure how to get into the airport on a bike friendly route or how to find the bike parking. Needless to say mine was the only bike parked there.

The temperature was zero when I left home this morning on my way to Summit, so I figured I was going to be the only one pedaling to the airport again. When I pulled up on my Dutchified Schwinn, I was pleasantly surprised to see the bike parking was nearly full! There were 9 bikes already locked up to the racks. I’m no mathematician, but that looks like a 900% increase in people riding to the airport.

I also remember when the City of Milwaukee gave the bike racks to the airport and we got some criticism that nobody would ever use them and it was waste of money. The same arguments were made at the first bike lanes, bike racks on buses and more recently, bikesharing and protected bike lanes.

Over and over again these bicycling boondoggle arguments have been proven wrong and the “if you build it they will ride” has proven true. The number of people riding bicycles for transportation has been increasing steadily, if slowly, since that first National Bike Summit I attended 15 years ago, proof that I have not been wasting my time making the trip to spread the good word about bicycling in our nation’s capital.

I will try to keep readers in the loop as our delegation of about 20 advocates, business leaders and citizens heads to the Hill this Wednesday.

In the meantime, you can read about our agenda and our asks on the Summit website on the League of American Bicyclists website here, or by clicking the image to the left.

UPDATE: While Wisconsinites pedal through our coldest, snowiest winter in decades, Washington, D.C, shuts down when a paralyzing 1 inch of snow falls. Washington International Airport closed and my flight was cancelled, but I caught a lift back home from Mitchell Field in a Wheel & Sprocket van with Chris and Amelia Kegel. We left Heather Fortune from Saris at the airport still trying to book another flight. 

Amelia and her dad made it on a 7:25 flight tonight. I am on another 9:15 flight tomorrow. We all have our fingers crossed. 

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.

5 thoughts on “900% increase in people bicycling to airport

  1. Hi, Dave:
    I hope you will be posting daily reports on the Summit for those of us who wanted to go, but could not. Your comments on bicycle access and parking is in line with facility development programs I have been talking to people about for several years. Like bikes on buses, bikes at airports is a perfect kind of inter-modal transportation solution.

    • I will do my best to have a blog post each day Roger. Watch our social media too as some updates may only make Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

  2. As the county supervisor who represents the airport, I’m interested in adding bicycle access. Let’s talk!


    • Thanks Jason, I will email you to talk after I get back from the Bike Summit, if I ever get there that is. My flight was cancelled today. I rescheduled for tomorrow morning, which means another ride down there. There is actually pretty decent existing bike route into the airport, and I included it on the Milwaukee by Bike map when I made that, but here is a link to the Google Maps view of the bike-friendly route in to the bike parking: http://goo.gl/maps/oRO37. I think all we need to do is add bike route way finding signs!

    • Hey Jason,

      I live in the Garden District and have used the route provided by Dave (Thanks, Dave!). I agree that it’s a fairly easy way to take by bike. And signs would definitely be helpful as would asking Mitchell Airport to add some information on their website regarding both the route and the bike racks available.


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