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Born to Ride

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For a city of “don’t blink — you might miss it” summers, Milwaukee has a surprisingly fast-growing bike culture. According to David Schlabowske, Milwaukee Program Manager of the Bicycle Federation of WI, “Whatever you want to do, there’s a group of people in Milwaukee that are doing it.” “We are poised on the verge of a bicycling renaissance,” he continued. “Milwaukee County has a whole bunch of bicycle facilities.” The trails in Estabrook Park, for example, were just refurbished. Also, the Holton Viaduct Marsupial Bridge is soon to be complete, connecting pedestrian and bicycle paths through the Brady Street and Beer Line B neighborhoods. “One of the hugest reasons” for the increasing popularity of bicycling in Milwaukee, stated Matt McNichols, manager of Cory the Bike Fixer, “is that policy makers are creating laws to make it easier to bike.” Schlabowske mentioned the fact that 20 more miles of bike lanes are being added to Milwaukee city streets and new bike maps are coming out this June. “Bicycles are an indicator species of an economically healthy city,” he explained. “People with money are moving into all the new condos that are being built. Coffee shops, restaurants, etc. move into these areas, which creates neighborhoods. These establishments employ young people who don’t have much money, so they bike to work. The older customers see how cool these young people look, which inspires them to invest in riding.” Bike Subculture Schlabowske described how a new business has changed the way people look at bicyclists. “We have a healthy bike messenger company — Break Away — which is cheaper and faster than car services in the city.” In fact, it has developed into its own subculture of “young vegan anarchists who smoke American Spirits who have no fear of death,” he said. For more information, or to get involved in their messenger races and bike polo events, call Wayne at 347-2373. One way to start exploring the cycling world is by participating in Bike to Work Week, May 14 — 20. Many bike shop owners cited this event as a huge way to raise people’s awareness of other ways of getting around Milwaukee. For more information, contact www.mkebikestowork.org. The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin (BFW) also provides biking resources for kids. They are working in conjunction with MPS as part of the Neighborhood School Initiative to start a “Safe Route to School” program, aiming to teach kids bicycle and pedestrian safety. In addition, the Holton Youth Center/YMCA is hosting a “Bikes for Tykes” program that teaches kids bike skills. BFW is also starting its own group this summer. For more information or a calendar of upcoming events, contact with their office at 271-9685, or visit their website at www.bfw.org. Physically Challenged Riders Kathy Mohar, Sports and Recreation Coordinator for Independence First, a non-profit serving the needs of individuals with disabilities, said “As for biking resources in Milwaukee for the physically challenged, there really aren’t any. There is a huge need for Milwaukee County to purchase hand cycles to have for rent at the lakefront. Any paved trails would be appropriate for biking; however, no trail is specifically designed for physically challenged riders.” Some local shops carry the right equipment, however. “Fox River Sports and Spas has quadracycles (a pedal bike with four wheels and covered with a canopy) and one hand cycle (a bike propelled by pedaling with your hands) for rent,” she said. For more information, call Mr. Kim Alexander at 262-544-5557. In addition, Mohar suggested Wheel and Sprocket in Hales Corners. As one of the largest sellers of recumbent bikes and hand cycles in the country, they have a modification specialist on staff for bike adaptations. For more information, contact www.wheelandsprocket.com. Her final recommendation was Creative Mobility in Saint Charles, Illinois which also does “a great job with adaptive bikes.” Call 630-587-8100 or visitwww.creativemobility.net. Mohar also pointed out that the ARC Foundation of Fond du Lac sponsors a bike camp for people with disabilities. Dr. Richard Klein comes to the Fond du Lac area to put on the camps and can be reached at: www.losethetrainingwheels.org. For more information on biking resources for the physically challenged, contact Kathy Mohar at Independence First by calling 226-8375 or email: .
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