Yesterday in the comments section, d’Andre asked about a new local bicycle advocacy group called Milwaukee Business By Bike. I knew about MB3,but their mission is specific to business. I thought it might complicate our discussions to bring up another new local advocacy group.
The idea for MB3 came about when we were working on the City’s new bike plan. The Bike Fed staff asked me what kind of work they should do to garner support for the plan. I said that I thought the approval would be pretty easy, but it would help to have a group of businesses who supported the plan. A few days after that, I was talking to Ward Fowler, one of the owners of Alterra Coffee, and he mentioned that he wished there was more that he could do for bicycling in Milwaukee and more that he could do to encourage his employees to bike to work.
That is sort of funny because Alterra already does more for cycling than just about any business in Milwaukee. Not only do they already sponsor a bike team, donate coffee for Bike to Work Week, they are going to install the city’s first on-street bike parking, provide indoor bike parking for employees, etc., etc., but Ward is a year-round bike commuter and even hauls his kids to day-care by bike. So when he brought this up, I had to suggest something outside the box to take it to the next level. I suggested that he could form a coalition with other businesses and offer thier support for the bike plan.
Ward liked the idea, so we got some help from Bruce Keyes, a bike commuting attorney at Foley and Lardner and mutual pal, Kevin Hardman from the Bicycle Federation of WI, and Mike Eitel from the Lowlands Group, to introduce the idea to a number of local business leaders. It was pretty easy to get business leaders interested, bicycling is becoming the new golf, so many are already cyclists.
MB3 had quite a few sucessful meetings over the last year, but it proved to take longer than I thought to put a functional organization together. In fact, the bike plan was approved without the support of MB3 and after I got the bike plan approved, I kind of dropped out as an active member. A dozen or so core people kept working on Mb3, developed a mission statement, a logo, fleshed out some benefits to members and organized a formal kick-off meeting.
That first “official” meeting of the MB3 group will be held March 1st, from 5pm to 7pm in the Pilot House at the Discovery World Museum. President of Trek, John Burke, will be the keynote speaker. I will be there to lend support from the City DPW and so I can report back about the meeting to readers of Over the Bars.