Summit, Hall of Fame Make for Big 48 Hours

Members of the Girl Scout Troop 8344 won Youth Advocates of the Year award for their efforts to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety around their school, Fernwood Montessori.

It was a great 48 hours for the Bike Fed.

Last Thursday we held our annual Bike Summit in Milwaukee. We had a great turn out of 150 people. As usual, workshops covered a wide range of topics, but the focus was on “equity,” the idea that more people will ride bikes if they feel like it’s an activity for them.

Anthony Taylor from the Major Taylor Club in the Twin Cities gave a great session on his perspective on equity issues as they relate to cycling in a very broad sense.

The observation that cyclists tend to be white folks isn’t new and, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that we think cycling is great for everyone, so when you notice that people who could benefit from cycling aren’t doing it it’s good to ask what the barriers might be. No, we don’t want to be patronizing. No, we will not force you to ride a bike against your will. But if there are barriers – physical, financial, cultural or social – to riding a bike let’s identify what they are and work to lower them.

It was a pleasure to honor Phil Van Valkenberg as our first Advocate Inductee for the Hall of Fame.

Then on Friday evening, also in Milwaukee, we had our inaugural Wisconsin Bicycling Hall of Fame Gala Dinner. (Not to be confused with the Saris Gala, which is scheduled for October 27th in Madison. Yeah, we know it’s confusing, so next year we’ll drop the “gala” part from the Hall of Fame Dinner.)

Held at the Italian Community Center on the lakefront, 280 people attended to watch Phil Van Valkenberg, Otto Wenz and the late Chris Kegel become our first three inductees in the categories of advocacy, competition and industry, respectively. Phil was there to receive his plaque and to give a touching speech while members of the Wentz and Kegel families accepted the honors on behalf of Otto and Chris.

The turnout for the inaugural Hall of Fame Gala was great, as more than 275 packed the Italian Community Center.

It turned out to be a sort of kickoff event for the Chris Kegel Foundation as well, with the foundation raising several thousand dollars by auctioning off several bright yellow “Enjoy the Ride” Saris racks, provided specially for the event by Saris owner Chris Fortune.

The Hall will have an online presence but also a small (for starters) physical location at the Bike Fed’s office in Milwaukee. Next year we’ll have three more inductees and you’ll be able to help nominate them. We’ll get details out as the year progresses.

So, all-in-all a pretty darn productive couple of days for the Bike Fed. Thanks to everyone on the staff, board and our members for working so hard and for just being part of it all.

Otto Wenz’s Berry track bike and jersey were highlights at the Gala and will be on display at the Hall of Fame’s physical home at Cafe Velobahn in the same building as our Milwaukee office when it opens later this summer.

About Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director

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.

One thought on “Summit, Hall of Fame Make for Big 48 Hours

  1. The first picture appears to be overlaid on the written message about the Summit, at least on my Apple laptop.

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