Yesterday many communities across Wisconsin celebrated the first “official” day of National Bike to Work Week with glorious sunshine and unseasonably warm spring weather. The Bike Fed were able to celebrate the day with a ride from City Hall in downtown, to our new office just off the Hank Aaron State Trail.
About 100 people made the ride from City Hall, through downtown, to S 2nd (a recent “complete street” project DPW did), over Milwaukee’s signature 6th Street Bridge, west through the Menomonee Valley on the Hank Aaron, and then up through the Valley Passage to our new digs at 3618 W Pierce Street.
Another 75-100 joined us at the open house, which was also the grand opening of the Pedal Milwaukee Building. Pedal Milwaukee is a building Tom Schuler recently purchased to be the home of his sports marketing and team management business, Team Sports, Inc. He bought the building because of it’s nearness to the trail and the new business developments in Menomonee Valley. The building is a classic warehouse that has been updated for offices and the Bike Fed shares space on the second floor. The building is in great condition and the remodel was very well done.
Eleven years ago when I opened the first Milwaukee office for the Bike Fed, the building I was in didn’t even have working water on my floor and there were homeless people living in the bathroom I used. Most recently the Bike Fed shared office space at the Milwaukee Environmental Consortium on Milwuakee’s east side. That was pretty nice space, but we had outgrown it and the new office has room for us to grow.
The Pedal Milwaukee Building used to be home to a plumbing company that went out of business when the real estate market fell. When business was good, they had sand blasted the cream city brick walls, sanded the hardwood floors and even installed Kohler fixtures and Fischer Paekel dish drawers. Compared to that first office, I sure feel like the Bike Fed is moving on up!
Although the space is certainly nice, I think there are deeper reasons why so many people at the open house told me they thought this was a landmark occasion for the Bike Fed. Beyond being a great place to run the organization, the nice offices are a symbol of how the Bike Fed has successfully brought together a diverse community of business leaders, politicians, and citizen advocates to move cycling forward in Wisconsin. I hope you come by and visit your new “club house” next time you are in the neighborhood.
In an increasingly rare show of bipartisanship, political leaders at the state and local level from both parties now understand that cycling is good for Wisconsin and its communities. Business owners understand that it is easier to attract and retain the best and the brightest employees if their companies and the cities where they are located are bicycle-friendly. Citizens from Wisconsin’s large cities and small towns recognize that bicycling is part of what makes a great place to live.
Wisconsin is nationally recognized as a great place to ride a bike, but we can’t rest on our reputation. As the only organization that represents all cyclists in Wisconsin, we remain committed to moving cycling forward with your help. The staff at the Bike Fed has worked long and hard to move cycling forward across Wisconsin. We love where we live, we love what we do, and we honestly believe that by making Wisconsin a better place to bike, we will make it a better place to live.
We would have no chance of success if not for the strong support we get from our members in cities, towns and villages from Ashland to Kenosha and all places in between. For that, we sincerely thank each and every one of you. No matter where you live, I hope you can take some pride in the new office in Milwaukee, the new office in Madison, and the 20 plus full and part-time Bike Fed staff across the state. Together with you, we are the Bike Fed.