Madison attained Platinum status as a Bicycle Friendly Community in the League of American Bicyclists awards released Monday, and now ranks as one of the five best cities for biking in the country.
The recognition caps a decade-long effort initiated by then-Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, and one that has origins in the bike paths that Mayor Paul Soglin pursued during his first terms in office, in the 1970s.
“When the City of Madison joined with local bike enthusiasts to begin the process to achieve Platinum status, many people thought it was an unreachable goal,” Soglin said. “What a journey, and what a great recognition for the incredible bike paths, bike lanes, our relationship with Trek and B Cycle, cycling amenities and the welcoming nature of our city toward cyclists.”
The state’s capital city joins Boulder, Co., Davis, Ca., Fort Collins, Co., and Portland, Ore., in the Platinum level of the LAB’s prestigious and demanding bike friendly ratings.
The latest round of awards confirmed that Madison and its surrounding communities have invested in infrastructure, education and encouragement to make bicycling safe and easy. Fitchburg improved from Bronze to Silver status, and Monona and Middleton received their first recognition (Bronze) as Bicycle Friendly Communities. Sun Prairie received Honorable Mention.
In all, eight Wisconsin cities and villages established or renewed their Bike Friendly status in the new LAB awards, the most of any state. Wisconsin now has 18 communities on the Bike Friendly list, including honorable mentions, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison recently received a Gold award as a Bike Friendly University.
“The Wisconsin story is more exciting to me than Madison getting Platinum,” said Cieslewicz, now the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Bike Federation. “We’ve been saying for years now that we have to redouble our efforts at the local level and this shows the positive results of that work.”
The Bike Fed has been a leader in working with Madison to implement the Platinum Biking City Planning Committee blueprint created in 2008.
The city now boasts nearly 75 miles of off-street paths, 120 miles of on-street bikeways, designated safety zones at intersections and bike parking at the majority of businesses and institutions. More than five percent of commuters travel by bicycle.
“That’s really the mark of a bicycle friendly place. People are riding bikes and it’s a safe place to ride,” said Bill Nesper, the LAB Vice President of Programs. “All the five Es are in place to remove barriers to people biking, and in a place like Madison you’re doing all of those very well.”
More details about the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Communities Program can be found here.