The Village of Shorewood is now ranked as a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, the only village in Wisconsin with such a designation. The League has given BFC designations to 190 of the 500 communities across the country who applied. Wisconsin now has six Bicycle Friendly Communities:
- La Crosse (moved up from Bronze)
- Eau Claire (new this year)
- Sheboygan County (new this year)
- Shorewood (new this year)
I asked Alexander ‘Sandie’ Pendleton, one of the leaders in the Greater Shorewood Bikers, how Shorewood came to apply to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community. Sandie is a Shorewood resident and bike commuter. What he told me below could serve as a primer on how to do effective bicycle advocacy at the local level.
Bike Fed: What prompted Shorewood to apply to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community?
Sandie: I was at the Wisconsin Bike Summit in Madison earlier this year where I picked up the League of American Bicyclists’ “Blueprint for a Bicycle Friendly America.” After reading the pamphlet, which describes the program to designate communities as bicycle friendly, I looked around and realized there were a lot of other Shorewood residents at the Bike Summit with me , like [Bike Fed board member] David Waters, Mark Miller and Jerry Pearce [owner of Rainbow Jersey Bike Shop].
We all got to talking about how Shorewood was already bicycle friendly in many ways, but it just lacked the designation. We thought it would be beneficial for the Village of Shorewood to get credit for what we have. When I went home from the Bike Summit, I started the Greater Shorewood Bikers Blog so the group of us who met at the Bike Summit could stay connected and create a forum for other Shorewood residents to get involved.
Bike Fed: Who are the Greater Shorewood Bikers?
Sandie: We are a group of Shorewood residents and business owners dedicated to making our community an even better place than it already is to bike. We believe that by doing so, Shorewood can become an even better place than it already is to live, play, work and grow a business. There are about 60 people on our email list and we meet at local bars like Harry’s Bar and Grill on Oakland or the Three Lions Pub, also on Oakland. It is a pretty informal group. When people ask if we are a 501(c)3 or have membership dues, I just laugh and say no, that’s what the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin is for.
Bike Fed: You mentioned business. Are you a business owner?
Sandie: I am a business attorney at Kohner, Mann & Kailas, which is a short bike ride away in Glendale. Personally, I am a firm believer that bicycling can be a big part of smart development and help attract more businesses and good jobs. You can live in Shorewood and have a great 20 minute bike ride to work in downtown Milwaukee, but I think we can also attract more businesses to Shorewood, if we take a “smart” approach. We have developers, like Barry Mandel, already planning bicycle friendly projects in Shorewood. Shorewood is a great place to live, and I think more and more, people with families would like to live close to where they work, so they can easily walk or bike to work. Others who are working on the “bike friendliness” of Shorewood or who are supporters of GSB’s efforts include architects Mark & Linda Keane [Studio 1032], and Alan Freysinger [Design Group Three].
Bike Fed: Who applied for Shorewood to become designated as a BFC?
Sandie: When we got back from the Bike Summit, Dave Waters and I took a bike ride up to Port Washington and back, and along the way decided we should work on getting the designation for Shorewood. Our attitude was “we may not win, but we’ve got nothing to lose” by applying. I downloaded the BFC application from the League of American Bicyclists’ website and Dave and I began filling it out. It’s a long application, but it’s manageable, as the League’s website is user friendly. We got a lot of the application completed, and Shorewood Planning & Zoning Administrator Erica Lang provided a lot of help to get it finalized. We also worked with the Shorewood Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Committee, Jamie Harris is the Chair, and the Shorewood Police Department. Lots of our members contacted village officials to express support for the application. We presented the idea to the Village Board and they approved submittal of the application. Both Dave and I were really pleased to see the village officials and trustees “get it” and support the idea.
Bike Fed: Does Shorewood have a bike plan? If so, what are your next plans or projects?
Sandie: Shorewood has completed a couple of bike studies, but it’s still working on the plan. Tom Kuhlman on the Village’s Bike and Ped Committee is taking the lead on drafting a formal bicycle master plan, which I understand will be submitted for board approval sometime in the next six months. As far as other things on our wish list, there is still much to do, but first we want to celebrate “the win.” Lots of people have told us that most communities that apply don’t get the BFC designation the first time they apply, so we feel lucky. It’s a good thing for Shorewood, something worth commemorating, a good excuse for a bike party.
The Greater Shorewood Bikers would like to invite everyone to a gathering next Tuesday evening (Sept. 27th), at The Three Lions Pub, starting at 8:00 pm. At the event:
- See the unveiling of the Village’s new BFC Signs (scheduled to appear)!
- Talk with the genius who is drafting the Village’s new comprehensive bike plan (and give your input)!
- Meet Village officials behind recent Shorewood bike improvements!
- Hobnob with fellow bikers!
- Meet Greater Shorewood Bikers!
- Drink tasty beverages!