Friday, December 17, 2010

Madison Bike Winter Events

A group of Madison bike supporters have created a series of events, Madison Bike Winter, to help all of us hop on our bikes a bit more this winter. The next Bike Winter event is tomorrow! Don’t miss it…

Santa Rampage/Ugly Sweater Ride

Saturday, December 18, 11am

Starting from Espresso Royale (650 State)

This ride is planned for participants to either break out their Santa suits or a favorite UGLY sweater and go for a short ride from downtown stopping a various establishments for hot/cold beverages along the way.

Bike Fed Member, Mindy Preston, provides a recap from the last Madison Bike Winter Event.

Madison’s first annual Bike Winter Fashion Show was a dazzling event, even after the models removed their reflective jackets, safety vests, and blinking lights. Ten models gathered to show off what keeps them warm on their winter rides, which ranged from 20 minute commutes around campus to hours-long snow endurance races. Whether models were showing off base layers, rain pants, goggles, or their work attire, all agreed that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to ride your bicycle in the winter.

Event models began by talking about their full riding ensembles. Outer layers – for keeping out snow, wind, and slush – often had reflective elements as well, for additional safety. Beneath that, cyclists showed an astounding variety of warmth layers, ranging from layers of normal street clothes to high-tech sport-specific gear. Many models demonstrated layering vests and scarves over shirts to keep the core as warm as possible. Most wore “base layers” (also known as “long underwear”) made of wool or synthetic materials, as wet cotton feels very cold next to the skin.

Cyclists shared a number of strategies for keeping the weather off sensitive skin, and staying comfortable even in the coldest temperatures. Liners, mittens, lobster gloves, and bar mitts all had their time in the limelight. Models suggested covering faces and ears with balaclavas, scarves, masks, goggles, hats, and helmet covers.

Audience members included seasoned cyclists, prospective winter cyclists, and folks new to the upper Midwest’s temperature extremes. ”It seems very possible to ride in winter,” a prospective rider commented after the show. “If you ride the bus or walk in the winter, you probably have all the gear you need,” another said. Madison Bike Winter’s organizers agree, and welcome new winter riders to join the Madison Bike Winter group on Facebook to hear about fun winter cycling events.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What biking season?

I usually get annoyed when the bike racks on State Street, near the Bike Fed's Madison office, are full and it's hard to cram mine in. But yesterday I had a different reaction.

I went to State Street after work to visit an art exhibits and found this situation at the rack closest to my destination:

Although it took a little extra effort to lock up my bike, my reaction was more of delight than dismay. Yesterday was the first day in Madison with sustained below-freezing temperatures and a pretty vigorous wind. But people are still biking. Who says that Wisconsin has biking weather only half of the year?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Milwaukee bike racks on buses prove their usefulness

Milwaukee Bike Racks on BusesIt's been popping up in the Milwaukee news lately that the bike racks on the count's buses are getting used pretty frequently, after the Milwaukee County Transit system put out a press release that their usage has rocketed up since last fall.

In August and September of 2009, the buses had 1,890 bike boardings, while in August and September 2010, they had 14,289 boardings.

The dramatic increase shouldn't come as a huge surprise. The fleet only became fully equipped with racks in August 2009, and it has taken time for people to get used to the idea that they can bring their bikes along on bus trips. Since August 2009, there have been more than 46,000 bike boardings.

Before the program was in place, the transit system projected the bike boardings could hits 100,000 a year. (That number was based on a ridership of 51 million; based on today's ridership of 39.4 million, the adjusted projection would be closer to 77,000.)

A lot of people have expressed impatience that the bike boarding numbers haven't reached the projections yet. But it seems a bit audacious to expect a brand new program to reach its full potential within the first year.

It should also be noted that the boardings that have happened have pretty much covered the cost of the bike racks to Milwaukee County. The initial investment in the racks by the county was $20,250 (the rest was paid by federal funds), and maintenance costs are less than $20,000, according to MCTS. The average income to the transit system from each boarding is $1.12.

46,000 x $1.12 > $20,250 + $20,000
or (in other words)
income is greater than expenses
or (in other words)
The bike racks are paying for themselves.

Good job, Milwaukee County!

(If you want to learn more about bike racks on buses throughout the state, look for our article on this topic in the next issue of Wisconsin Bicyclist, the Bike Fed's quarterly newspaper. It will be available in early December.)

Grants available for Wisconsin bike advocacy – apply by Jan. 31

The Dane County Bicycle Association is inviting applications for the 2011 grant cycle. Each year DCBA invites proposals from organizations to fund projects that promote bicycling in Wisconsin. DCBA annually awards grants that total approximately $10,000. Most individual awards are range from $500 to $2,500.

Grant applications are due by January 31, 2011 for the upcoming grant cycle. Grants awards will be announced at the February 20, 2011 DCBA Board of Directors meeting.

For nearly 30 years DCBA has provided grants to improve the quality, scope and effectiveness of bicycling education, usage ,and advocacy. DCBA grants have funded a variety of bicycling projects, including sponsoring bicycle events, supporting bicycle advocacy efforts, promoting bicycling for young people, and publishing bicycle touring routes. In recent years, the emphasis has been on funding projects that expand the bicycling community and offer resources and services to lower income individuals and households.

Grant application materials can be found on the DCBA website or by contacting Bill Putnam at (608) 770-8242 or Groups from throughout Wisconsin are eligible to apply.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

La Crosse gets new bike lane

Nov 18 2010 - VID00009_2
Originally uploaded by jack.zabrowski

Jack Zabrowksi, bicycle pedestrian coordinator for the La Crosse County Health Department, just posted this video of La Crosse's newest bike lanes to Flickr. Riding in a 5-foot wide bike lane is so delightful that Jack periodically bursts out in spantaneous, joyful laughter, as you'll hear when you watch it.

Ripon College gets single-track mountain bike trail

IMBA Trail Specialist Jill Van Winkle checks her GPS as she plots the trail corridor for a new singletrack mountain bike trail within the woods of Ripon College's Ceresco Prairie Conservacy. Photo by Ric Damm.
Our guest blogger today is Ric Damm, head of the Ripon College Cycling Team and a Bike Fed board member. We asked him to tell us about the new mountain bike trail that will be built on the Ripon College campus thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Each month, the Pepsi Refresh Project puts charitable projects up for public vote on its website, and the top vote-getters receive grants. Ripon College is in Ripon, Wis., about 20 miles west of Fond du Lac.

We're starting to move forward on the Ripon College mountain bike trail that's been made possible by a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant that we won in August.

Earlier this month, Jill Van Winkle, a trail specialist with International Mountain Bicycling Association's (IMBA's) Trail Solutions team, came to Ripon College to help us piece together an initial design for the trail. The trail, which we plan to have ready by fall 2011, will be used by our mountain bike team as well as by casual riders from the college and Ripon community.

The trail will be located in the wooded sections of the college's Ceresco Prairie Conservancy, which comprises 130 acres of native prairie, oak savanna and wetland habitat. The area is part of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Glacial Habitat Restoration Program, a partnership between the DNR and the college.

Minimizing the potential for erosion and other impacts of the new trail is clearly a priority for us. IMBA will design and build the trail, drawing on its expertise to ensure the integrity and longevity of the trail, as well as the prairie and woodland habitat.

The trail will be a great boon to the Ripon College mountain bike team, which has flourished since its inception in 2008. The team has won the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference Division 2 team mountain bike championship and qualified multiple students for national competition in each of the past two years. Still, the nearest mountain biking trail is more than 20 miles from Ripon.

I also want this trail to be a gateway for others who are curious about the sport of mountain biking. The trail will be built with some challenges in mind for more advanced riders, but will not be so intimidating as to scare off would-be newcomers. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Ripon community at large all supported this project and voted online to help us secure the grant. This trail will be built for all of them, and everyone is welcome to use it.

We're also grateful to the greater Wisconsin bicycling community, including the Bike Fed, for supporting our Pepsi Refresh Project grant request and getting out the vote through Facebook, Twitter and email.

The Pepsi Refresh Project began in 2010 as a means to help "refresh" communities. People submit ideas on the Pepsi Refresh Web site in tiers of $5,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $250,000 grants. Each month, Pepsi awards $1.3 million. According to Melisa Tezanos, communications director for Pepsi, the company is using the money it saved by not advertising during the 2010 Super Bowl.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Milwaukee Trails survey

Do you bike/walk/run/explore the Milwaukee River Trails?

If so, please take a short survey at .

This “trail use” survey that will determine the various uses of the Milwaukee River trails, as well as to gauge the public’s general knowledge of the Greenway. The survey has been distributed throughout the Greenway in nifty duct tape boxes, and is also available online.

Thank you so much for your time and input! It is greatly appreciated. You can check the MRGC out on Facebook at for updates and articles.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ride the Newest Trail in the State with the Bike Fed

On Monday November 6th, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin joined over 200 people in officially opening another 4.5 miles of the Hank Aaron State Trail. The trail previously went from Lake Michigan to Miller Park. Now it goes from the Lakefront to 92nd Street along an old rail road corridor. Once the Zoo interchange is built, Hank Aaron will connect to the Oak Leaf Trail and a system of trails that goes all the way to Mississippi.

If you missed the opening on Monday, you still have two more chances this week to celebrate. The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin will lead two free bike rides along the extension where you can see salmon spawning, beautiful new trail bridges, historic buildings and more. The rides are 9 miles round trip from 34th Street:

Lunch Break Ride
Thursday, November 11th
Meet at Hank Aaron/Canal Street and 34th St by the new bridge at 11:30 or 6th and Canal/HAST at 11:15

Sunday in the Park Ride
Sunday, November 14th
Meet at Hank Aaron/Canal Street and 34th St by the new bridge at 10:30 or 6th and Canal/HAST at 10:15

If you can't make our tours, the trail is marked with signs and is on the free Milwaukee By Bike map.

According the Melissa Cook, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources trail manager, "over 400,000 people live within a 15 minute bike ride of the trail and no other trail in the state has such a big potential user group." For the past three years, the Bike Fed and the Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail have helped connect local kids with the trail through summer Bike Camps.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Saris Gala raises $95,000 for the Bike Fed

The seventh annual Saris Gala, benefiting the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, was held at the Saris Cycling Group headquarters in Madison, Wis., on Friday, October 29th. Silent and live auctions helped bring in $95,000 to support a variety of infrastructure and educational programs throughout Wisconsin, including Safe Routes to School. Thanks to all who contributed!

"We strongly support bicycling advocacy in Madison and across the country," said Saris President Chris Fortune. "So working with the Bike Fed is really important to us. We're proud to host the Saris Gala, but we did not do this alone. This is a community event that relies heavily on volunteers and the generous support of our industry partners."

This year's event had a Halloween theme complete with a costume ride and costume contest. More than 600 attendees enjoyed food and drinks, bid on auction items, and listened to cycling commentator Phil Liggett (in the photo from Focal Flame with a fan) talk about his experiences at the Tour de France. Pro-cyclist-turned-coach Robbie Ventura led the live auction and got the crowd bidding on items like a Cyclesport Travel trip to the Pyrenees, Vision Quest Coaching Camp package, and a high-end Trek bike of the winner's choosing.

Kevin Hardman, the Bike Fed's executive director, said, "We're grateful for partners like Saris who are stepping up to make Wisconsin a better place to bike. The Saris Gala funds important work to increase transportation choices throughout the state, including our Safe Routes to School programs. Over the years, we have taught more than 9,000 kids how to stay safe on streets and sidewalks. We're looking forward to continuing this work and helping more Wisconsinites make bicycling a convenient part of their daily lives."

Photo credit: Clint Thayer / Focal Flame Photography

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The 3rd Annual Milwaukee Bike Swap is Dec. 12

Mark your calendars for the Bike Fed's 3rd Annual Milwaukee Bike Swap on December 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UW-Milwaukee Union. Come to buy and sell parts, accessories, complete bicycles, clothing and bike-themed crafts. The event attracts people from as far north as Green Bay, as far west as Madison and as far south as Chicago. (With the lake right there, about as far east as they'll be coming from is Lincoln Memorial Drive.)

Want to sell your stuff? Through November 29, retailers can reserve two display tables for $150 ($50 each for additional tables), and individuals and non-profits pay $40 per table. After that, the fees go up to $175 for two retailer tables and $50 for one individual/non-profit table. There are only 70 tables, so reserve yours now.

The swap is a fundraiser for the Milwaukee Junior Cycling Team and the UW-Milwaukee Cycling Club. The Junior Cycling Team gets Milwaukee middle and high school kids involved in bicycle racing first for fun and then for health, recreation and enjoyment to last a lifetime.