Appleton Bike Summit a Big Success

Summit attendees at registration.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed hosted its annual summit outside the cycling hotbed of Madison for the first time on Friday, and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Representative Rohrkaste impressed the crowd with his commitment to cycling.

About 200 bicycle enthusiasts gathered on Appleton’s beautiful Lawrence University campus and shared their ideas and enthusiasm for cycling, not solely as a recreational endeavor, but as a means of transportation that will make our communities better.

Appleton and the Fox Cities Cycling Association offered on-the-ground examples. More bike and pedestrian paths led to business growth and a healthier population throughout the cities and towns in this industrial corridor. The locals showed off their achievements with a moonlight ride, led by Rob Gusky through quiet neighborhoods on a warm and breezy evening. The rain held off just long enough for the crowd of about 60 cyclists to pedal from the Houdini Plaza, along and over the Fox River, and back again.

Attendees in a session about equity in cycling discuss what they have in common.

Gusky and the Fox Cities’ Michelle Bachaus did more than organize a ride. They did an outstanding job of helping the Bike Fed staff coordinate the event.

We were honored by the presence of Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah), who talked about his efforts to promote cycling at the state level. Appleton Mayor Tim Hannah talked about the important role cycling has played in improving his city.

Kelsey Regan inspired the crowd with her story of riding across Wisconsin from the Illinois border to Lake Superior.

The summit itself included two dozen workshops, and every attendee left with their own highlight. Most would agree the Slow Roll Chicago presentation on “The Transformative Power of Bicycles” was amazing. And Kelsey Regan’s lunchtime talk about her epic 22-hour, 380-mile ride from Wisconsin’s southern border to the tip of the Bayfield Peninsula was as inspiring as it was entertaining.

The day was topped off with live music and a cold beer or two (thank you, Capital Brewery of Middleton!) at the History Museum at the Castle, where curator Nicholas Hoffman showed off the “Shifting Gears” exhibit on Wisconsin Bicycling history. It’s a must-see for cycling enthusiasts in the state.

The Shifting Gears exhibit had interactive exhibits in which people could ride virtual Wisconsin trails as well as important bicycles from velocipede to modern fat bikes.

The Bike Summit is a chance for Wisconsin cyclists to come together, share information, learn new things and leave inspired and recommitted to the cause of making every place in Wisconsin a great place to ride a bike. This year was no different.

Thanks to everyone who attended. Now it’s time to plan for the next summit in La Crosse.

About Dave Cieslewicz, Director Emeritus

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

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