You might think that I would be inordinately proud of Madison’s elevation to rarefied air as one of only five Platinum bike friendly communities in the United States. I served as the city’s mayor for eight years and started the Platinum Biking Committee that set it on a path to achieve that recognition.
But the truth is that all of this was a broad based community effort of which my efforts were only a small part. Planet Bike’s Jay Ferm and then UW Dean of Students Mary Rouse chaired the committee, which included a dozen people from all over Madison.
Saris owner Chris Fortune led a group of community leaders on a study tour of some of the best cycling cities in Europe in the spring of 2010, which had a great influence on our thinking about what could be achieved.
And Downtown Madison, Incorporated President Susan Schmitz, an avid cyclist herself, put together DMI’s own Platinum Committee to bring us across the finish line.
The investments that were made in cycling started with Mayor Paul Soglin in the 1970’s, continued with his successors including me and were picked up again by Soglin when he retook the office in 2011.
If there’s a lesson here for other places it’s that this kind of accomplishment isn’t just about government but about the entire community and it’s not about just one leader but leaders in the same position over time.
But what I’m even more excited about is that Wisconsin communities, not just Madison, led the way. Here’s what the League of American Bicyclist said in a note to us this morning:
“Earlier today, we announced 55 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) , and Wisconsin dominated the list. Madison becomes one of only 5 Platinum level BFCs, Fitchburg and Shorewood moved from Bronze to Silver, and Middleton, Monona, the Wausau Metropolitan Area all entered the list at Bronze. La Crosse (Silver) and Sheboygan County (Bronze) renewed their designations.”
Coming on top of Wisconsin’s second straight win in the National Bike Challenge, where 12,000 Wisconsinites logged 4 million miles, this puts us where we belong: in the company of elite states for cycling. Moreover, the results underscore the value of the Bike Fed’s move to do even more at the local level. In a year where we lost Complete Streets and where bike funding took a hit in the State Legislature, we continued to make great advances working with local communities.
So, sure, Madison has every right to be proud, but so do 17 other communities in our state. Here’s the whole list:
Eau Claire (Bronze)
La Crosse (Silver)
River Falls (Bronze)
Sheboygan County (Bronze)
Stevens Point (Bronze)
Sturgeon Bay (Bronze)
Wausau Metropolitan Area (Bronze)