Bike Anywhere 2015

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Free Wheelin’ Wednesdays

June 3rd, 10th  & every Wednesday throughout the year, 4:00 – 8:00 pm

Pearl Street Brewery, 1401 St. Andrews St., La Crosse

Bike to the brewery and enjoy a free beer

C.R.A.P (Cheeseburgers, Ride, Ales and Pins) Ride

June 3rd, 10th & every Wednesday throughout the year

Depart from Pearl St. Brewery at 6:05 for a casual group ride through La Crosse’s neighborhoods, enjoy a $3 burger at Ye Olde Style Inn and finish the ride with bowling at Pla-mor (2 games and shoe rental for $5)

Led by Michael Barreyro, ph 715-586-1736

Bike to Coffee

Sunday, June 7-Saturday, June 13

Bike to coffee, show your helmet & enjoy a free cup a coffee.

Grounded Specialty – Bean Juice – Java Vino – Jules – McCaffrey’s – Moka – Ground Up – Root Note – Cabin Coffee – People’s Food Coop – River Rocks – Blue Dog -The Pearl Coffee House – 500 Club Bistro in legacy building Gundersen

Bike Rodeo

Sunday, June 7, noon

Hogan Administrative Building, 807 East Ave., La Crosse

Have the kids complete the bicycle safety course. Following the bike rodeo there will be a neighborhood group ride.

Led by Carolyn Dvorak, carolyn.dvorak@WisconsinBikeFed.org

Bike Ride with Kevin Miller and Carolyn Dvorak from Blue Heron Bike Shop

Monday, June 8, 6pm

Blue Heron Bike Shop, 213 Main St., Onalaska

Bike from the Blue Heron Bike Shop to the North Side of La Crosse and back.  Estimated distance 10-15 miles.

Wisconsin Bike Fed’s Executive Director, Dave Cieslewicz will take a bike ride with Mayor Kabat from City Hall

Tuesday, June 9, 8am

Everyone is welcome to join.

Women’s Bike Ride from River Trail Cycles

Wednesday, June 10, 5:45pm

River Trail Cycles, 106 Mason Street, Onalaska

Women’s Road Ride 25- 30 miles with a couple of hills; no one will be left behind

Led by Carolyn Dvorak, carolyn.dvorak@WisconsinBikeFed.org

Bike to Loggers Baseball Game

Thursday, June 11

Bike Basics Class

Thursday, June 11, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

People’s Food Co-op, Community Room, 315 5th Ave. S., La Crosse

$5 PFC Members/ $10 Nonmembers

A must attend for both novice and avid bikers. Colin Stiemke of Blue Heron Bikes will show you the basics from lubing a bike chain to tire pressure and brake adjustments; learn basic repairs to keep you on the road.

Bike Week Celebration

Friday, June 12 4:00 – 8:00

Cameron Park Farmer’s Market, La Crosse

Enjoy music by Grand Picnic & learn more about how the DRBC is working to improve bicycling in the driftless region.

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Construction Ahead: Transportation Planning in 2015

Big changes are proposed for transportation in the La Crosse region this year, with high stakes for everyone, including cyclists and pedestrians. There’s a limited window of opportunity for the public to be involved in the complicated plans; here is a bare-bones summary of many different issues with a few specific links, dates and events. But things are changing so fast that this list will probably be outdated by the time it hits the web, so be ready to sprint to stay informed.

 

Dates to remember:

 

February 23, 7PM, Myrick Center La Crosse – City Transportation Vision – opening public meeting

February 26, 7PM, Myrick Center La Crosse – City Transportation Vision – closing public meeting

April 11, 8AM-Noon, Myrick Center La Crosse – Mayor’s Neighborhood Conference: Transportation

TBD – State DOT Coulee Region Transportation Study public meetings

 

After decades of complicated history, including a referendum in 1998 and a spirited discussion before the La Crosse Area Planning Commission in 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has announced a new study of what was once known as the north/south corridor. This project is described in state law as covering USH 53 extending approximately 6.2 miles between I 90 and USH 14/61 near 7th Street, but recent public statements from the DOT have broadened the area to include WI-16 and WI-35 along with USH 53. In La Crosse itself, those highways are better known as Copeland, Rose, George, 3rd, 4th and La Crosse streets as well as West Avenue and Lang Drive.

Now under the name Coulee Region Transportation Study, the DOT is conducting a year-long process to come up with a plan for a major highway construction project, listed in state law for decades (though still without dedicated funding set aside for its estimated $140 million price tag). While state statute seems to require this type of project to either build new road or add new lanes to existing roads, the DOT has indicated that many different options are still possible; at this point in early 2015, no one knows what the recommended option will be – a new highway? New lanes on existing highways? New technology or improved roads? No new construction?

In the planning world, one year is an incredibly short time, and indeed this is an accelerated process that is entirely new to the region: it’s an innovation known as Planning and Environmental Linkages, or PEL, an attempt to speed up existing National Environmental Policy Act requirements for environmental studies that has only been applied once before in Wisconsin. While observers don’t know a great deal about this new process, we can see that public involvement in the early stages is incredibly important to the eventual outcome. The study’s Citizen’s Advisory Groups have already been formed. If they’ve not been invited to those positions, DRBC members can sign up for announcements of upcoming public meetings to get their viewpoints included in the DOT planning process.

No matter what option is planned, it will still have to go through environmental permitting and the state budgeting process, in a time of great budget uncertainty. This means that the possible eventualities range from nothing at all to the largest construction project in the region. With this huge variety of outcomes, there is of course a chance of great impact on cyclists and pedestrians – will increasing traffic volume, speed, or lane numbers on north/south roads include bicycle traffic options, on-street lanes or off-street paths? What about transit? Will changing north/south roads alter the ability of cyclists and pedestrians to move east/west in La Crosse? What will be the impact future land use patterns for neighborhoods, suburbs and surrounding communities?

1.  La Crosse City Transportation Vision

In an attempt to contribute to the state DOT’s planning process over the rest of the year, the city of La Crosse is organizing its own Transportation Vision process. The first public meeting is Monday, February 23rd at 7PM at the Myrick Center, with additional meetings with key stakeholders and open office hours over the rest of the week and a closing presentation Thursday, February 26th at 7PM. (Complete schedule). Consultant Toole Design Group, a firm with nationally-recognized expertise in complete streets design and bike-ped planning, will use these meetings as a basis for a document summarizing a city Transportation Vision, which the DOT has indicated that they will include in their own planning.

2.   Mayor’s Neighborhood Conference

With all of these transportation issues going on, it makes sense that the La Crosse Mayor’s Neighborhood Conference would pick transportation as its theme for this year. Come to the Myrick Center April 11, 8AM – 1PM to hear invited keynote speaker Chuck Marohn of the nonprofit Strong Towns, reports from neighborhood associations, tables and information from representatives from groups and companies involved in transportation, and short presentations on a variety of transportation topics in the region.

3.  Wisconsin

Of course, all of this is happening with a background of a rapidly-changing state budget. In particular, the proposed Senate Bill 21 would repeal Wisconsin’s Complete Streets law. As the Wisconsin Bike Fed puts it, The law requires that bicyclists and pedestrians be taken into account whenever a road is built or reconstructed with state or federal funds. In addition, SB 21 would eliminate all state support for the Transportation Alternatives Program (cutting about $2 million from state bike programs and construction projects), and essentially eliminate the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, which funds state trail purchases.

There are obvious implications for state-controlled road building here in the La Crosse region, which has recently jumped into a leading position in complete streets planning. The County and City of La Crosse and the City of Onalaska all have passed their own complete streets ordinances in the last several years, with the DRBC’s support. Along with a 2011 La Crosse Area Planning Commission resolution, the city and county ordinances were recently named in The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014 by the non-profit Smart Growth America. Respectively, they were ranked 4th, 6th, and 25th in their categories from the more than 700 policies examined nationwide. While no one knows what might happen in practice if the state eliminates its own complete streets requirements, in principle it certainly looks like a step backward for sustainable transportation options in the La Crosse region if SB 21 is passed with the repeal intact.

 

For all of these issues, the best way to stay involved is to stay informed; I encourage DRBC members to follow the issues that motivate them and attend the city Transportation Vision meetings, February 23-26, as a key opportunity to contribute to the future of getting around in the La Crosse region.

 

— James Longhurst is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, studying the history of urban and environmental policy. He is the author of Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road, out this spring from the University of Washington Press.

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Wheel Fever

Guest post by James Longhurst

Wheel Fever2
An Elliott Hickory — 1891-1893 — hickory rims and spokes, from the La Crosse County Historical Society collection.

 

There’s a bicycle renaissance in America right now, featuring bike share programs in major cities, more bike lanes, increasing numbers of commuters, and new advocacy groups injecting much-needed energy into long-established discussions of bicycles and their place on the road. This 21st century bike boom has also attracted the attention of all kinds of academics and scholars in urban design, politics, history and the culture of bicycling. Many of the books and articles these scholars produce are only read by a small audience of academics; they are fairly arcane and impenetrable for the general public. But a small number of these projects attempt to take scholarly interests and communicate them in an interesting and approachable way.

 

Volunteers from the La Crosse County Historical Society set up historic bikes for the event.
Volunteers from the La Crosse County Historical Society set up historic bikes for the event.

On March 27, the authors of one of these new books on the history of bicycling came to La Crosse, and presented their research to a large audience from the campus and the community. Nicholas Hoffman and Jesse J. Gant are the authors of Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State, out from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2013. Hoffman is Chief Curator at the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, Wisconsin; Gant is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and currently on a research fellowship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

 

Their book, Wheel Fever argues that the conflict over bicycling in the 1890s — in which the social and cultural symbolism of bicycling was constantly contested between middle-class men, adventurous women, aspiring African Americans, and practically-minded workers — is a means of understanding why riding a bike is strangely politicized even today. As the authors put it, riding a bike has been political from the start: the bicycle “has been defined by a rich and often impassioned debate over who should be allowed to ride, where they could ride, and even what they could wear.” The authors argue that there are two forces – one group who sees the bicycle as a threat to traditional social order; and another group who see “democratic possibilities” through which the bicycle might assist in remaking society for the better.

 

Gant and Hoffman’s research is an example of social history, sometimes referred to as “history from the bottom up.” These are the stories of how everyday people – not just leaders and rulers – experienced the events of history and shaped their own lives. It’s not a new approach; historians have been working on these sorts of projects for more than four decades. But this approach might be new to non-historians, and so the public talk on the UW-L campus was an opportunity to bring two worlds together.

 

This mix of the popular and scholarly is most obvious in Chapter 5, “The Troubled Beginnings of Wheel Fever.” This chapter puts Wisconsin bicycling into context with the racial ideology of the 1890s, connecting bicycle history to prominent scholarly works. This kind of approach has already transformed our understanding of the “White City” at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The chapter concludes that “In the end, the exclusionary culture of the early 1890s, which reached a peak during the 1893 World’s Fair, put on full display the cultural limitations that would plague early cycling in the Badger State.” It would be easy to celebrate the positive legacies of bicycling in the Wisconsin; but while Wheel Fever does that, it also addresses the complexities and contradictions of race, class, and gender even when in the pursuit of the history of a “great bicycling state.”

Wheel Fever3 

The event on March 27 was meant to bring together the popular and the scholarly on the subject of the bicycle – with support from a variety of academic departments on campus, as well as the Wisconsin Bike Federation, and historic bicycle displays from the La Crosse Historical Society, the event brought students from economics, history and physical education together with cyclists and bike advocates from the community. With a lively Q & A, book signing and reception, it was an excellent way to spend a rainy night, and shows a building interest in cycling and its scholarship in the La Crosse community.

 

Missed the event? You can hear Gant and Hoffman interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Newsmaker program, with discussion of La Crosse bike history, at http://www.wpr.org/listen/559351

 

— guest post by James Longhurst, Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

 

 

 

Sidebar: Scholarly books about bicycling. From different academic disciplines, these are books meant to advance knowledge about the bicycle’s past and present, and are not as widely read as books written for a popular audience by journalists or bicycle advocates.

 

 

Luis A. Vivanco, Reconsidering the Bicycle: An Anthropological Perspective on a New (Old) Thing, Routledge, 2013.

 

Written for the college classroom; includes both historical and current observations on the cultural meaning of bicycles and their riders.

 

 

Glen Norcliffe, Ride to Modernity: The Bicycle in Canada, 1869-1900, University of Toronto Press, 2001.

 

The bicycle as a symbol of “modernity” and mass consumer culture in the late 19th century.

 

 

Christopher Armstrong, H. V. Nelles, The Revenge of the Methodist Bicycle Company: Sunday Streetcars and Municipal Reform in Toronto, 1888 – 1897, Oxford University Press, 2010.

 

An enjoyable but complicated story of urban politics, corruption and transportation policy.

 

 

Dave Horton, Paul Rosen and Peter Cox, eds., Cycling and Society, Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

 

Several different approaches to understanding cycling from the perspective of European scholars, especially sociologists.

 

 

John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, eds., City Cycling, Boston: MIT Press, 2012.

 

Collection of articles bringing data-driven scholarship to understanding bicycle policy internationally.

 

 

Wiebe Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995.

 

Using the technological development of the bicycle as a case study in what was known as the “social construction of technology” or SCOT debate in the history of technology.

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