No matter where you live in Wisconsin, we are blessed with many great places to ride a bicycle. It is the mission of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin to improve conditions for bicycling statewide, but often that means working at the local level on specific campaigns. Our state’s capital city already has miles of great trails, some of the most innovative on-street facilities around and one of the highest percentages of people riding bicycles of any large city in the country.
It is in part because of those facilities that Madison is often ranked as one of the most desirable places to live in the country. Another reason it is such a great place to live, work and play is that so many people choose to get around Madison by bicycle. In places where more people ride bicycles, we remain connected to our communities as we pedal quietly through them. We smile as we pass our neighbors, say hello to friends who cross our paths, smell the flowers as we contribute to clean air and feel our hearts race as we climb a hill. People out on bicycles improve their own health, activate their neighborhoods, reduce crime, and make our streets safer for everyone.
While people in Madison are much more likely to get around by bike than most places in Wisconsin and the rest of the country, our state capital could be even stronger if cycling was even more popular. The mission of the Bike Fed’s 20by2020 campaign is to unite 10,000 people in Madison with a common goal of creating a city in which it is so attractive, so convenient, so safe and so much fun to get around by bicycle that 20% of all trips are made on two wheels. Read on to find out more about this aggressive goal in Madison, and if you want to set similar goals for your community, contact Kevin Hardman, via email at kevin.hardman (at) bfw.org.
Why 20by2020? In the cities across the world where bicycling is truly a part of everyday routine, the quality of life is incredibly high. Take Munster, Germany for example. In Munster, 35% of all trips taken are made by bike. In Copenhagen 40% of trips are made by bicycle. In Amsterdam a whopping 50% of all trips are made by bike. Although a national leader in cycling cities in the US, in Madison only 3% of trips are by bike. In part due to their standing as some of the bicycle capitals of the world, these cities are rated among the top cities in the world for quality of life.
Two years ago a group of Madison community leaders, politicians and business owners visited many of these world bicycling capitals and brought what they learned back to Wisconsin. It was their idea, to make Madison, not only our state’s cycling capital city, but put it on par with the other cycling capitals of the world. You can read more about that trip here.
Those European cities were not always such great places to ride a bicycle, they got there through conscious choices. For decades, these cities have invested in innovative bicycle facilities, policies and programs to encourage cycling for daily
transportation. By developing an attractive and convenient network of trails and protected bike lanes, they created cities in which everyone from men, women, children, and seniors find it more convenient and feel safe to get where they need to go on a bike. What works in Europe has now been proven to work anywhere. Chicago recently constructed its first European-style protected bike lane or “cycle track” on Kinzie. Bicycle traffic on the street shot up 60% after the cycle track was installed, and bicycles now make up 48% of peak hour traffic there. New York City has seen similar increased in bicycle traffic on streets once dominated by honking yellow cabs and delivery trucks.
If it works in Copenhagen and Chicago, if we build it in Madison, they will come. If we invest in innovative bicycling infrastructure like protected bike lanes and back that up with encouragement, education and enforcement, there is no reason why Madison can’t have 20% of trips taken by bicycle by 2020. In these difficult economic times, we need to unite and engage bicyclists to build a political base that supports the goals and investments.
Madison can be on par with cities like Munster, but to meet our ambitious 20by2020 goal the bicycling community has to be organized and effective. We need to investment more
money in innovative infrastructure, education, and encouragement. To increase our investment, we need to show our city leaders that bicycling is a top priority for thousands of residents. To that end, the Bike Fed and Madison community leaders have launched the 20by2020 Campaign to empower bicycle supporters in order to move bicycling forward. By building a coalition of 10,000 people we can communicate more effectively and reach out to a large network of volunteer support.
To build our network of supporters and encourage more people to bike in Madison, the 20by2020 campaign is comprised of 4 key elements:
We’re encouraging 10,000 Madison area residents to sign the pledge in support of the 20by2020 vision. Whether you ride for transportation, fitness, or just for fun, we’re encouraging all types of bicycle supporters to sign the pledge. Bike Fed will then communicate volunteer opportunities, public information meetings, fun events, and other notices to keep folks updated on bicycling happenings.
“I bike” advertising program
The “I bike” advertising campaign features local Madisonians in prominent Madison locales. The idea is to remind people of the ease and joy of bicycling and to encourage them to try bicycling to their favorite Madison hot spots.
By offering a bike valet for some of Madison’s most popular events (concerts on the square, True Endeavors concerts, Taste of Madison) we encourage more people to bike to the event by providing convenient, secure, and fun bike parking. If you are interested in bring bike valet to your event, please email@example.com.
To help Madisonians understand how to bike around their neighborhood and to popular destinations, we’re offering the Madison By Bike Neighborhood Ride Series. These four rides are easy routes to bicycle, many being along bike paths and bike boulevards. A free Share & Be Aware safety education class the hour before the ride will give riders quick tips on bicycle handling and rules of the road. A Madison police officer on bike will lead each ride. We will be finalizing the ride series meeting locations soon. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or watch the 20by20 blog.
August 28, 2-5pm: Downtown Direct to Hildale
· Wednesday, August 31, 7:00 – 9:00pm: Escape to East Towne Mall
· Tuesday, September 13, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Easy Bicycling on the East side
· Sunday, September 18, 2 – 4pm: Experience Segoe Rd. Buffered Lane
Town Hall Meeting
During the upcoming Madison budget session, Bike Fed will gather 200 – 300 Madisonians who care about bicycling to update them on the 20by2020 campaign, discuss the budget process, and engage them in helping us increase bicycling in Madison. This meeting is important in uniting Madison bicycle supporters and demonstrating the strength of our Madison bicycling community.
We can achieve 20by2020 but not without the support of those who care about bicycling in Madison. We need you to pledge your support of achieving our vision of 20by2020 and to support in the above events. The Bike Fed will keep you updated on local bicycling news, fun bicycling events, and exciting new bike paths and bike boulevards.
About 1,200 people have signed the pledge so far. If you live or work in Madison, please pledge now by clicking here. Pledging your support is simple and may seem like a small thing, but the impact of 10,000 supporters will be significant.
If you live or work in the Madison area, please sign the pledge today. If you would like to start a similar campaign in a different community in Wisconsin, email kevin.hardman (at) bfw.org. You can stay in touch via the 20by20 Facebook as well. Become a fan today!