Last night I attended the first meeting of the Lowlander Cycling Club at the Wauwatosa Cafe Hollander. That makes the fourth new Milwaukee bicycle group that I am aware of that started within the last year or so.
The other groups are the Cream City Bikers, which began in April of 2010 and now has about 115 members. The Cyclists Union Local 52 is still in the formative stages, but has 37 members. There is also the Milwaukee by Bike group, which has 27 members and finally the MKEBKE group, famous for their Underwear Ride, which has 459 members.
Facebook seems to be the common denominator in getting these groups going.
Most of the members of Cream City Bikers and MKEBKE are younger and live in Riverwest or Bay View. Their various night rides are typically well attended and have a welcoming social vibe.
The Milwaukee by Bike group has a central city focus, but the members live all over the central Milwaukee area. A number of the founding members are people of color and the group has connections with the Major Taylor Cycling Club and the Milwaukee Bicycle Works.
Cyclists Union Local 52 started as an idea I had to give people who ride bicycles primarily for transportation a sense of belonging and a social network. People who are members of bike racing teams and recreational bike clubs all have a social network. People who bike to work, the store and for other transportation needs don’t have a group of other cyclists to hang with.
Finally there is the group that formed last night, the Lowlander Cycling Club. They are based out of the Lowlands Restaurant Groups cafes (Cafe Hollander, Benelux, Trocadero, and Central). This is more of a recreational club, with the benefits of having really cool “club houses” scattered all around the area that serve frites and good beer. The Lowlander Club is having their first ride this upcoming Sunday, leaving from Cafe Hollander in the ‘Tosa village at 8am. The first ride will be a 15×15 no drop ride. The distance will be 15 miles and the pace will be about 15 mph. If there are slower riders, they will not be dropped, either one of the ride organizers will ride with them or the entire group will slow up.
Are there any other new similar groups in your area of the state that I am missing? If there are, please comment below and include a link to the groups Facebook or web page. I am aware of some of the more formally organized advocacy groups like the Driftless Region Bicycle Coalition, Human Powered Trails and The Waukesha Bike Alliance, but I bet there are other smaller bicycle groups out there like the new Milwaukee area Facebook based groups.
It is great that there are so many new groups of people getting together to have fun riding bicycles and socialize. While more people socializing around bicycles is a wonderful thing, no matter what else they do, I hope the various members are getting engaged in the political process to advocate for a more bicycle friendly communities across Wisconsin. At the very least, perhaps the Bike Fed can use their Facebooks to alert the members when some important issue comes up in Wisconsin.