Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wienermobile bike!

Okay, okay. So we already mentioned the Wienermobile bicycle (aka "pedal car") on our Facebook page, but this thing is so cool I can't keep myself from writing about it more.

We'll be auctioning one of these babies off at the Saris Gala tomorrow night in Madison. The Saris Gala is our largest annual fundraiser and is put on by the generous folks at Saris Cycling Group, which is headquartered here in Wisconsin.

I would really really like to start commuting to work in one of these, but I think I'm too big to fit inside. So instead I'll have to resort to sticking Oscar Mayer stickers on my commuter bike and referring to it as my "pedal car." I won't look quite as cool as this kid, but I'll feel cool on the inside – and that's what really counts.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Learn about the U.S. Bicycle Route on Novermber 3

Adventure cyclingIf you're in the Milwaukee area, you have a great opportunity next Wednesday to learn more about the U.S. Bicycle Route System and bicycle travel from Jim Sayer, the executive director of the Adventure Cycling Association. Adventure Cycling is the largest membership nonprofit cycling organization in North America with more than 44,000 members. To fulfill its mission of inspring people to travel by bicycle, it has mapped more than 40,000 miles of cycling routes throughout the United States and Canada, and it works on national bicycling advocacy issues, including the U.S. Bicycle Route System.

Winona Bateman, media director of Adventure Cycling, sent the following description of what you can expect at Wednesday's presentation:

On Wednesday, November 3, grab your cycling buddies, friends, and family, and join Adventure Cycling Association for a special regional gathering and party in Fox Point at the Wheel and Sprocket North Shore Store from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Adventure Cycling's executive director, Jim Sayer, will be in town to share the latest news on bicycle travel and adventures in North America (and perhaps beyond!). He'll be looking to the year ahead, with new routes, trips, and policy and outreach initiatives to improve bicycling and bike travel in the United States, including an update on the emerging U.S. Bicycle Route System. There will also be time for you to share your thoughts, ideas, and stories. Refreshments and snacks will be provided, courtesy of Wheel and Sprocket. Click here for directions.

Refreshments start at 6:00. There will be a brief safety workshop at 6:30, followed by the program with Jim Sayer at 7:00 pm. Please RSVP for this event by calling Wheel & Sprocket North Shore at (414) 247-8100 or emailing Jesse at

Click here for a printable event flyer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another side of AAA

Last month, we told you about Rails to Trails talking AAA to task after the president of AAA Mid-Atlantic spoke against using federal Highway Trust Fund money for bike and pedestrian facilities. He advocated for using the Highway Trust Fund for highways only (as opposed to how it's been used since 1991) and paying for bike and ped facilities with general revenues only.

In contrast, the current issue of American Bicyclist (the member magazine of the League of American Bicyclists) features a story about steps the automobile association has taken to encourage road-sharing and bicyclist safety. According to the article:
  • More than half of AAA's 51 regional clubs offer bike safety outreach programs
  • The programs have traditionally focused on children, but clubs are increasingly working on bicycling programs for all ages
  • AAA Oregon/Idaho extends its roadside assistance program to bicycles. (The service is not available through the AAA club in Wisconsin yet; however, Better World Club - which is not affiliated with AAA - does offer this service nationally.)
  • AAA worked with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 to promote a "share the road" message nationally and to distribute a four-part video series on bicycle safety
You can read more about it in the American Bicyclist. If you're not a subscriber, you can view the September/October issue online beginning in November.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Omro, Wisconsin: Bicycling Paradise

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Omro students walk to school with U.S. Congressman Tom Petri (center)
Omro students gather for Walk and Bike to School assembly
From our education director and Wisconsin Safe Routes to School Network coordinator, Jessica Wineberg-Binder:
What places do you think of when you hear “bicycling paradise”? Portland, Oregon? Copenhagen, Denmark?

Today, I discovered a bicycling paradise in my own backyard: Omro, Wisconsin.

Why such accolades? Omro Middle School has woven bicycling into almost every facet of the school day, with a noon recess riding program, an in-school bike shop, and physical education classes that teach bicycling skills. Over the next couple of years, the city of Omro will improve bicycling facilities and sidewalk connections near schools using an $89,438 grant it received through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Today, well over 200 Omro students celebrated their school’s progress by walking and biking to school with U.S. Congressman Tom Petri and Bike Fed Executive Director Kevin Hardman. The “walking school bus” was more than two blocks long! Petri – along with Omro Mayor Bob Breu, Wisconsin Assemblyman Richard Spanbauer, Omro School Board members and other special guests – toured Omro Middle School’s in-school bike shop, its noon recess riding program, its PE-based cyclocross course, and the nearby community fitness trail. Credit goes to PE teacher Joe Horvath and Principal Paul Williams for creating bicycling options before, during, and after school.

Omro has utilized volunteer efforts and many small donations to build a comprehensive bicycle program that should be replicated across the state and the country. The Wisconsin Safe Routes to School Network, which I coordinate as part of my work here at the Bike Fed, will help Omro Middle School share its innovative ideas with other communities and inspire them to truly embrace walking and biking to and from school.
You can watch WBAY's coverage of the walk and bike event here.

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Bike Fed board Chair Elect Chris Kegel visits the Omro Middle School bike shop.

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Right to left: Bike Fed Chair Elect Chris Kegel, U.S. Congressman Tom Petri, Bike Fed Executive Director Kevin Hardman.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Remembering Jeff Littmann, a champion of bicycling

jeff littmannOn Tuesday, October 5, Jeff Littmann became the eighth bicyclist this year to die from injuries received in a bike-car crash in Wisconsin. As a road racer, owner of Attitude Sports in Pewaukee and president of the Wisconsin Cycling Association, Jeff was a tireless ambassador for bicycling. He mentored many competitive cyclists and is greatly missed by those who knew him.

A service for Jeff will be held this Saturday, October 9, at Nativity of the Lord, 3672 E Plankinton Ave., Cudahy, Wis. Visitation is from 9:00 a.m.-12:45 p.m., and the service begins at 1:00 p.m.

We have heard from many of Jeff's friends in the past few days who want something good to come out of this tragedy. Here are some steps you can take to commemorate Jeff and make Wisconsin's roads better for everyone:

  • Donate to the Littmann family collegiate cycling scholarship fund. Jeff's family will be setting up a collegiate cycling scholarship fund in Jeff's memory. We will post more details to our website when they become available.

  • Understand the rules of the road and educate others. The Share & Be Aware section of our website has lots of information about avoiding bike-car collisions, from both driving and bicycling perspectives. Click on the Facebook or Twitter icons on our Share & Be Aware pages to share the information with your social networks. (We also regularly post safety tips to our Facebook and Twitter accounts.)

  • Support complete streets. Thanks to the efforts of our members, Wisconsin enacted a law in 2009 that requires new and reconstructed roads that receive state funds to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians – for example, with wider shoulders on state highways. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is holding a series of workshops around the state about the new law, with three coming up in Waukesha, Eau Claire and Green Bay. Attend a workshop to learn about complete streets and how they can make roads safer for all of us.

  • Take a road safety class. The League of American Bicyclists has certified a number of Wisconsinites to teach bicyclist safety classes geared toward a variety of audiences, including motorists, bicyclists and commercial drivers. Please contact us to find a League Cycling Instructor in your area.

We also want to do our part to honor Jeff. The Bike Fed will soon receive funding to dramatically expand our Share & Be Aware program to educate drivers, bicyclists and law enforcement about sharing the road. Our policy, road planning and Safe Routes to School programs are additional strategies for improving the environment for bicycling in Wisconsin.

Over the past few decades, Wisconsin's roads have become safer as the rate of fatal car-bike crashes has dropped significantly. But that doesn't diminish the tragedy of Jeff's death or of the deaths of the seven others who were killed this year while riding their bikes in our state. We can't bring those lives back, but we can work together to prevent future tragedies.

We will celebrate Jeff's legacy by continuing our work to make Wisconsin's roads safer for everyone.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chicago parking rates and the popularity of bicycling

Jessica Binder, the Bike Fed's education director, was back in Chicago yesterday and sent us this email, along with the picture to the right:
Want to know why so many Chicagoans bike? A dense urban fabric, congestion, and EXPENSIVE parking all play a role. The hotel I was at yesterday for a conference charges $22 to park for an hour or less! Good thing I biked.