Ride the Polish Moon

It looms over Milwaukee’s Bayview Neighborhood like a beacon.

I knew it as the Allen Bradley clock when I was growing up in West Allis, but it is now the home of Rockwell Automation. Anyway, as a kid I learned that it is the largest four-sided clock in the world. You say that London’s Big Ben is bigger? Yes, but that is a two-sided clock. Our’s has four sides, so there.

And that big clock, shining over this once heavily Polish neighborhood, was affectionately and appropriately dubbed, “the Polish moon.” But since then the neighborhood, a traditional landing point for immigrants, has become more Hispanic than Polish and even more recently it has attracted hipsters to its reasonable housing prices and eclectic, funky, leafy surroundings.

Accordion players riding on the backs of bikes festooned with Polish and Mexican flags. People, what’s not to love about this?

So, a couple of years ago my Milwaukee colleague and fellow South Side Milwaukee guy, Dave Schlabowske, hatched a plan to celebrate all three heritages — Polish, Hispanic and hipster (not that the three are mutually exclusive) — with the Polish Moon Ride. This is a fun, family-friendly and very slow ride through the streets of the historic South Side. But before we ride we eat and after we ride we polka.

The fun starts at 5PM tomorrow, Friday, July 21st, at Wayward Kitchen, 1407 S. 1st Street, where Polish and Mexican food will be served. Beer and soft drinks will also be available. The ride happens from 7PM to 9PM and we return to Wayward Kitchen for polka dancing until 11PM.

And here’s the best part. You can have all that fun and also support a good cause. Proceeds benefit the Bike Fed’s work in fighting for you at the state and local levels, educating kids and adults about how to cycle safely, providing cycling encouragement and resources in underserved neighborhoods and so much more.

The Polish Moon is a nice bookend to our other big ride, the Ride Across Wisconsin. And the two rides together encompass what we like to say about our work: Just get more people on bikes! We don’t care how you ride, we want to make Wisconsin a better, safer, happier place to be on a bike.

So, it’s not too late to register online or you can do so at the event.

Finally, if you’re concerned about the weather forecast, don’t be. We’ll endeavor to work around whatever rain might or might not come our way. And even if lightening ends up keeping us off our bikes, the party will go on and your support for the Bike Fed will still count. We hope to see you tomorrow.


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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