It has been a fantastic 2015 Wisconsin Bike Week. And it ends with a great announcement from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
But first we need to acknowledge that the week’s events highlighted both the fun of biking and why the Bike Fed’s work is so important. Three tragic crashes – including two fatalities near Muskego – marred the week. The hearts of the whole Wisconsin biking community go out to the families and friends of Paul Brown and Anthony Oliver, who were killed in a crash in Muskego on Sunday morning. Criminal charges may be brought against the driver. And our wishes for a quick recovery also go out to the victims of two other crashes near Mount Horeb and on the southwest side of Madison.
While cycling becomes statistically safer every year, these tragedies remind us that we need to continue our work in providing safe cycling infrastructure and in strengthening laws that protect cyclists. That’s why the Bike Fed is fighting so hard to stop the repeal of Complete Streets and that’s why we’ll be reintroducing our vulnerable users law in the next few weeks.
So, that’s the very serious part of our work. But we’re also serious about helping make biking fun. That’s why we coordinate the annual Wisconsin Bike Week. This year we moved things back by about a month to take advantage of better chances for nicer weather. For the most part that bet paid off this year. Despite soggy weather on Thursday and Friday morning across most of the state, near perfect weather was the rule for the rest of the week. In Wisconsin, hey, we’ll take five and a half good days out of seven any week.
We also broadened the focus beyond just commuting to all things bike. So in addition to the wildly popular Bacon on the Bike Path and Brat Cakes on the Bike Path (apologies to our veggie members) commuting stations, we also had community bike rides, bike to baseball, the unveiling of our own Bike Fed Red beer, a women’s night, and more. A family fun night in Madison was rained out, but that will be rescheduled soon.
And the week ends with an exciting announcement from Dane County where County Executive Joe Parisi launched the PARC & Ride Program. PARC stands for Partners for Recreation and Conservation. Parisi is focusing that program on bike paths. The program will make $750,000 available annually as matching grants for local trail efforts.
Parisi’s Chief of Staff Josh Wescott was quote in the Wisconsin State Journal as saying: “What we found, frankly, when we administered that grant program is that a lot of applications were coming forward for this — bike trail projects. This is meeting a demand out there that seems to be rising to the top as what local communities are working on. We’ve heard their message loud and clear. They want to focus on bike trail development, and we’re going to help them with this,” he said http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/focus-on-dane-county-dane-county-grants-program-focuses-on/article_8a34d856-5ae9-56be-9d35-5639fafb3939.html
Also according to the story county staff have already received inquiries from numerous municipalities, including Oregon, Cross Plains, Middleton, Waunakee and the town of Westport.
Because the county program requires a local 50% match this means that as much as $1.5 million could be invested in local trails around Dane County each year.
After a roller coaster week of fun and tragedy it’s nice to end on such an upbeat note.