Friday, June 25, 2010

Valid Bike Shop in the spotlight

Radio Milwaukee recently posted interviews with several mechanics at Valid Bike Shop in Milwaukee to its Unified Milwaukee blog. Valid Bike Shop is a vocational training program run by the Bike Fed in cooperation with the Milwaukee Workforce Investment Board. I loved hearing reporter Adam Carr's interviews with Mechanics of the Year William Weathersby and Brandy Porter and with Giovanni McVicker. Their love of bikes and great senses of humor really shone through.

Click here to read an earlier post about Valid Bike Shop and get a video tour of the space.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Trade your car for a $3,000 commuter bike

Today I received the above photos from New Belgium Brewery of the bike model they are planning to give away in the car-bike trade at Milwaukee's Tour de Fat on Saturday, July 3.

Car-bike trade? Yup, you heard right. One lucky person will get to trade her or his car in for a $3,000 custom-built commuter bicycle from Black Sheep Bikes, complete with waterproof panniers. (Click here for a PDF with more specs.) The car goes to charity and the bike hits the streets. A win-win situation, n'est-ce pas?

If you've been looking to bike more or drive less, the car-bike trade is a great opportunity to put your dreams into action. To enter, just shoot a video of two minutes or less about your desire to make biking your primary transportation mode. Then upload it to the Milwaukee Tour de Fat Facebook page or email

Here's a video with stories from past car-bike trade participants:

Tour de Fat is a celebration of bicycling and will take place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Humboldt Park. Folks are encouraged - but not required - to dress in costume. The event is free and for all ages, and everyone is invited whether they know how to ride a bike or not. Beer, food and merchandise will be for sale, with proceeds from beer and merchandise going to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Commuting tips from Susan Schmitz of Downtown Madison Inc.

During Bike to Work Week in Madison, Downtown Madison Inc. (DMI) and Godfrey & Kahn sponsored a commuter tips luncheon at the Madison Municipal Building. Susan Schmitz, DMI's president, handed out a list of great commuter tips that we'd like to share here. There are a couple of Madison-specific references, but most of the information is applicable no matter where you are in the state. Here goes

It is not hard — it is fun — and you can do it!

The thought of commuting to work via a bicycle can seem like a daunting task. But if you consider the following tips, it will help you work through your fears and make it an enjoyable experience.


It is important that you be committed to trying this new way of getting to work and home. The dynamics are different than driving a car.

Because bicycling to work is different that driving a car to work, patience is extremely important—change is hard for people and you need to take your time in order to build confidence in what you are doing. Also, you will be sharing the road with other bicyclists and motor vehicles—this takes some getting used to and can be inhibiting. That is why the next tip is important for your confidence and your safety.

Gather any and all information that you can get your hands on before starting. The Bike Fed is the best place to get started. They can help you with your route and provide you with tips about riding and the rules that you must follow (including bike etiquette). Also, you will want to talk to other commuters. Make sure to check out your chosen route on the weekend when you are not in a hurry so you can get used to the stops, lights and crossings—this will help build confidence. Having alternate routes is very helpful.

Go to a local bike shop (preferably one near your home or on your bike route) and ask them to help you get ready for commuting. There are many great locally owned bike shops in Madison and they all have trained staff that will ask you the right questions and give you the right answers.

Planning ahead is the most important part of bicycle commuting. You need to take time to think about your clothes, shoes, make-up, hair, errands on the way home, etc. This is where talking to other commuters will be helpful. Start with getting the right “pack” for your bike. Think about what you want to keep at work so that you do not have to haul items back and forth every day. This is especially important with shoes and boots because they take up a lot of space and they can be heavy. Also, keep hair products and make-up at work. It takes time to figure out what works best for your lifestyle, but that is where the “patience” comes in.

This is the best part of all! Once you have everything figured out, you can relax and enjoy your commute! There are bike paths next to both lakes and there is nothing better than the sunrise on Lake Monona and the sunset on Lake Mendota! Remember that you are being good to your mind, body and the environment! It becomes addicting!


Something fun to remember when biking, there is no bad weather—just bad clothing.
Susan commutes by bike year-round. "Winter riding is so much fun," she says. "You feel like a kid going through the snow."

You can see more pictures from the commuter tips luncheon, including a show-and-tell of cool commuter accessories, on our Flickr page.

Baileys Harbor Begins Planning for Bikes

The Town of Baileys Harbor in Door County has partnered with the Bike Fed to complete a comprehensive bicycle plan for the town. I visited Baileys Harbor last week to begin assessing existing conditions in the area and determine what types of bicycle facilities will best fit the Town's needs.

The bicycle plan will focus on making cycling more accessible to residents of Baileys Harbor as well as the thousands of tourists who visit the area every year. The recent economic impact study of bicycling in Wisconsin demonstrated that bicycle tourism is big business in the state. Door County is already one of the top tourist destinations in the state and making the county safer for bicycling and more easily accessible by bicycle has the potential to increase this tourism while also improving conditions for local residents. The adjoining Town of Gibraltar and nearby Village of Egg Harbor have both adopted comprehensive bicycle plans developed by the Bike Fed within the past six months.

A public kickoff meeting for the plan will be held Tuesday, July 20 at 5:30pm at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall. The final plan is expected to be complete late this summer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

cLips of Faith = Super Fun in Madison

Last night, Madison served as the kick-off city for New Belgium Brewery's cLips of Faith Beer and Film Tour. The event was a fundraiser for the Bike Fed, and we had plenty of enthusiastic volunteers from the Bike Fed and local biking groups, including folks from the ACT Ride and the Bikers Against MS Ride.

The event was the world premiere for 17 short independent films, with the themes of sustainability, bicycling and beer running throughout. Sustainability was also a big theme in the beer garden itself, with several "Compost Offices" collecting the biodegradable beer cups, trays and food scraps for transformation into fertilizer by Wisconsin's Purple Cow Organics.

We're hoping to make this an annual event. In the meantime, you might enjoy Tour de Fat in Milwaukee on July 3, another New Belgium fundraiser for the Bike Fed where one lucky person will trade in their car for a $3,000 custom commuter bike. You want to be that lucky person? Find out how to enter here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Apply for Safe Routes to School and Bicycle Facilities Funding Now

On behalf of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin will offer June training sessions covering application processes for Safe Routes to School (July 9, 2010, deadline) and the Transportation Enhancement and Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Programs (August 2, 2010, deadline). These sessions will be held in several locations around the state to help communities and schools better understand the application process, what is required in an application, what makes a good application, and the project selection process.

Location DateTime
Fox Cities Area
Menasha Public Library
440 First Street
Menasha, WI 54952
Tuesday, June 15 1:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Greenfield Pavilion
2028 S. 124 St.
West Allis, WI 53227
Tuesday, June 22 1:00 - 3:30 p.m
La Crosse
County Administration Center
400 N 4th Street, Room B190
La Crosse, WI 54601
Thursday, June 24 2:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Madison Public Library - Room 202
201 W Mifflin Street
Madison, WI 53703
Friday, June 25 1:00 - 3:30 p.m

If you are interested in attending a training session please reply to Jessica Wineberg Binder with your name and the session you will attend.

You can find more information about Safe Routes to School and the information sessions on the Bike Fed Web site.

Valid Bike Shop: A note from the Bike Fed's Jake Newborn

I have been working in the North Division High School location in Milwaukee since fall of 2007. Then, it was me and one youth employee from Riverside University High School. The summer of 2008, the Bike Fed partnered with Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB) in Mayor Tom Barrett's Earn and Learn Program. Nine youth were placed in our site.

Milwaukee Public Schools provided a space in North Division that had served as an old autoshop classroom. It quickly became a bustling workshop for refurbishing bicycles. After a successful summer program, we found out about another program through MAWIB called Futures First Initiative. This program focused on giving at-risk youth job training during the school year as an after-school job opportunity.

We were accepted as a worksite for the Earn and Learn 2009 and will continue operating the shop this summer. Each session, a few of the youth are able to continue with us, so some have been with us for almost two years now. We also receive new placements, which gives previously trained youth the opportunity to teach and work with new trainees.

On Wednesday this week, Valid Bike Shop had an open house to celebrate Bike to Work Week and the end of the semester. William Weathersby and Brandy Porter were named Mechanics of the Year and received a home workstand and a starter mechanic tool kit.

We have more than 200 bikes currently in the shop. Of those, 150 are maintained as a part of the Safe Routes to School program in Milwaukee Public Schools. Many of those will be given to students who complete a bike camp over the summer. I am in the process of receiving another 150 bikes from the Milwaukee Police Department to refurbish over the summer.

We also fix adult bikes for sale to the community at reasonable prices. If you're looking for a new old bike, I have about 10 right now that are ready to go!

Thank you to:
- Jake Newborn, Bike Fed project coordinator and lead mechanic

National Center for Safe Routes to School announces Wisconsin grant recipients

The National Center for Safe Routes to School announced today the selection of 34 recipients to receive $1,000 mini-grants for projects designed to encourage safe walking and bicycling to school. The mini-grant activities, many of which are driven by student leadership, will occur during the fall semester of the 2010-2011 school year.

"The innovation and creativity of the mini-grant applications we received are impressive," said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. "The projects addressed a variety of local issues and concerns — truancy, tardiness, environmental effects of vehicle idling, student health, school zone safety — all of which illustrate the diverse approaches communities are taking to create successful walking and bicycling to school programs."

Adams, Monroe and Madison Elementary Schools and the School District (Janesville, Wis.) will begin a walking school bus program with adult chaperones accompanying students along the designated routes to address personal security issues. Students will create the logo for the city's Safe Routes to School program.

The School District of Omro (Omro, Wis.) will build, maintain, communicate, and routinely set up standardized visual reference points along safe routes to school. The district will construct six benches and social tables to be placed at the designated starting points in Omro during the monthly Walk to School group events. The district will improve the Omro Bike Rodeo event and will organize, plan, and implement a bicycle train along the safe routes to school path.

Westview Elementary School (Platteville, Wis.) will lead its third grade students in safe routes to school through its curriculum and walking school buses. Students will see SRTS tied to class lessons in civics and math, by using pedometers and graphing, and in health, by learning about exercise and crosswalk safety. Participation in walking school buses will result in additional special gym activities.

Visit the Safe Routes to School National Partnership for more information on the other winners.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rollin' to Work With Mayor Cieslewicz in Madison

Thanks to WKOW for documenting our morning commute!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bike to Work Week Extravaganza

Wisconsin media seem to be as excited about Bike to Work Week as we are. Check out some of these pieces:

Time to Bike to Work in WI - Public News Service
"Bike-to-Work-Week" in Wisconsin - Pierce County Herald
Editorial: Leave car at home and bike to work, for the health of it - Green Bay Gazzette
Bike to Work Week aims to boost commuters - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Biz Contest Part of "Bike to Work Week" - WHBL 1330 AM, Sheboygan
Could Bicycling Build Community - WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio
Though slightly dampened, ride serves as a state of cycling exercise - Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

Plus, coverage of Ride the Drive, which kicked off Bike to Work Week in Madison. The guy with the bubbles is Brian Conger, our statewide outreach coordinator. And Amanda White, our Madison office director, is in there too:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bike Fed executive director visits La Crosse

From Kevin Hardman, Bike Fed executive director:

I was in La Crosse on Thursday and Friday to meet with bicycling allies and find out about work being done in that area of the state, with the goal of learning what can be applied in other parts of Wisconsin. I had an amazing time. On Thursday evening, I rode the trails built by Human Powered Trails. This volunteer organization is one of Wisconsin's leaders in sustainable trail building, full of great people doing great work.

On Friday, I met with Tim Keneipp, president of the Driftless Region Bicycle Coalition. DRBC is a very new organization, but they have accomplished much in their short history. They are coming off of successful Bike to Work Week events in La Crosse and Onalaska. Right now, they're focusing on building a coalition of organizations to support countywide and local Complete Streets legislation to complement what passed at the state last year.

Friday afternoon I went on a bike tour of bicycle facilities with Larry Kirch, director of planning for the City of La Crosse. La Crosse is a bronze-rated city by the League of American Bicyclists and they are working hard to move up the ladder. I saw several trails under construction and a large bicycle bridge.

The Bike Fed is looking forward to partnering more with cycling advocates in La Crosse and throughout the state to improve cycling opportunities at the local level.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Join the Bike Fed at Ride the Drive in Madison on Sunday

Ride the Drive Banner

Join us for RIDE THE DRIVE!

Ride the Drive is a celebration of Madison’s commitment to healthy, active lifestyles. This community event is an invitation for all citizens to leave their cars behind to experience some of Madison’s most scenic byways a whole new way - by riding, walking, skating, or strolling along some of our city’s most beautiful streets.

  • SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 2010 | 10am - 4pm

Ride the Drive is free, open-to-the-public, and a family event — a whole new way to experience our great city. There are activities planned for all ages! Check them out at Ride the Drive Activities. The route is a 6-mile loop from East Washington Avenue to State Street to North Shore Drive to John Nolen Drive. Get directions or view route map.

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