Friday, April 30, 2010

Andy Clarke at the Wisconsin Bike Summit

Check out this SlideShare Presentation from Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists:

One constituent's perspective on 2010 Bike Lobby Day

Dana Johnson, Waukesha resident and owner of Open Leaf Excursions, participated in the Bike Fed's 2010 Lobby Day and had this to say about it on her blog:

I had the privilege to be part of the second annual Wisconsin Bike Summit, hosted in Madison by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. This two-day event included speakers from all different facets of the cycling community as well as open-forum brain-storming sessions about safer routes to schools and off-road mountain biking through public and private lands. The second day culminated in an opportunity to lobby at the capitol for bicycling in Wisconsin.

While I can be very opinionated about issues and have been known to write my fair share of government officials, I can’t say that I have ever actively sought their attention on their turf. For that matter, I have never even stepped inside of the capitol building—partied a fair amount in the surrounding neighborhoods in my college days, but never went inside the actual capitol. Wow, what an experience.

All of the bike summit attendees were grouped into their senate districts and then coached on the issues at hand. Appointments were made with each official and then the lobbying began. Because it was the last day of the assembly, most of us did not see our actual representative, but rather spoke with their aides. I was the only person from Waukesha to attend the lobbying portion of the summit and thus was left to my own devices to meet with these officials. I met two very nice aides who were very attentive to my discussion and took thorough notes on the points that I wanted the legislator to hear. Each gave me about a half an hour of time and shared bits and pieces of information about my legislator that would help me when approaching him/her again.

For the first time ever, when dealing with a politician, I felt heard. Maybe it was because I was dealing with an aide who was more of a down-to-earth average schmoe like me, or maybe it was because I was taking the effort to meet with them face to face. Either way, I felt really empowered to have spoken on behalf of the cyclists of Waukesha.

So, what did we talk about? Well, I shared with them some really great information about our fine state of WI. Did you know that WI is the second most bike-friendly state? Did you know that Madison is our most bike-friendly city? Did you know that bicycling in WI provides 13,200 jobs annually and that our state is loaded with nationally and internationally renowned bicycle businesses? Have you ever heard of Cannondale and Trek? Those are only two of ten major bike businesses located on our turf. Have you ever participated in an organized group ride? Did you know that each of those riders contribute $64-$87 per day to our economy?

Don’t even get me started on the health benefits of riding a bike. If just 20% of urban short car trips (5 miles or less) were replaced in the cities of Milwaukee and Madison, we would save $85 million in health care costs associated with poor air quality. If in those same two cities, every resident got their required exercise, a savings of over $319 million would be found in health care costs. All of these savings and just imagine how much happier and healthier everyone would be.

As an avid cyclist who owns a company that promotes outdoor excursions, I can’t help but get fired up about making our streets more bicycle-friendly. Let’s face it, biking is fun. Who doesn’t smile when hopping on a bike with a flower basket on the front or when riding a bike down a hill? It is SO important that we SHOW our children how to incorporate physical activities into their daily lives. This up and coming generation is in big trouble. Childhood diabetes is growing at an astronomical rate. The military is worried there won’t be enough qualified recruits in upcoming years because the physical abilities of our children are too poor to pass their standard requirements. It’s being projected that this next generation will be the first to not out-live the average age of their parents.

Come on parents, let’s do something about this. Let’s all make a point this weekend to dust off the family bikes (or go out and buy some bikes) and go for a family ride. You don’t have to do Tour De France distances or intensities, just get in the saddle and ride for 30 minutes. If you haven’t done it in a while, I promise you the goofy grin will be hard to wipe off your family’s face when you’re done. And if your butt is really sore from hitting all of the pot holes on our unfixed streets, then take a trip to Madison and see your legislator.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Bike Fed is a radio star

Amanda White, director of the Bike Fed's Madison office, was on WORT 89.9 FM in Madison today to speak with Stacy Harbaugh, host of A Public Affair on Tuesdays. They spoke about the Wisconsin Bike Summit coming up tomorrow and steps we can take in Wisconsin to make it easier for people to bike. You can listen to the interview here. It starts about 5 minutes into the program, after some non-bike related news and opinion.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

German television features Madison bike trip

Westdeutscher Rundfunk, a television network in western Germany, recently featured a news segment on a group of Madison civic and business leaders who have been touring Muenster, Germany, to learn how the city makes it so easy for residents to get around by bike. (35% of Muenster residents commute by bike.)

You can read a partial translation of the news segment at 20 by 2020, the delegation's Web site.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Muenster, Germany: Bicycling paradise

The Bike Fed's executive director, Kevin Hardman, is visiting some of Europe's best biking cities with Dane County business and government leaders. Here are some of his photos of bicycles and bicycle infrastructure in the city.

The goal of the trip is to learn from these cities so that Madison can raise the number of people who use bicycles and other alternative transportation means - 20% of the population by 2020. You can find out more about the trip here.

Participants in the trip will be speaking at the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin's Annual Bicycle Summit on April 21 at the Madison Concourse Hotel, 1 West Dayton Street.