My Bike Summit Experience
By Carolyn Dvorak
I am a new member to DRBC as well as the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. As a life-long bicyclist, I grew up in Glendale, Wisconsin in a family where it wasn’t unusual to travel to Kenosha on Tuesday nights for the bicycle races or to spend a Saturday riding the Ozaukee 64 with a group of cycling enthusiasts. My favorite bicycle tale is the summer when I was eleven; My parents took our family of seven on Amtrak with our bicycles to La Crosse, and we spent a week riding back home to Milwaukee. Bicycling has always been a favorite recreational activity for me.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Bike Summit in Madison. When I read that the Governor’s budget zeroed out $5 million dollars from the Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Fund, I knew the most important thing I could do to help the cause was to attend the Summit. As a summit participant, I agreed to speak to a legislator.
My legislative meeting was scheduled at 11:15 with Senator Dan Kapanke. I spotted Tim Keneipp who directed me to Gene Roberts and Mike Charron, both veteran lobbyists from our district. Almost all 72 counties of the state were represented.
We sat through the lobbying seminar and planned our meeting. Our goal was to inform our representatives that bicycling contributes $1.5 billion annually, to the economy of our state and provides 13,000 jobs. We asked them to consider these three issues:
- Support restoration of the $5 million Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Fund.
- Support the passage of a Vulnerable Users’ Law in Wisconsin.
- Support legislation/administrative rules that approve bicycling on Stewardship Lands.
The meeting was well received. Gene and Mike went on to meet with Jennifer Shilling, Representative for La Crosse, Chris Danou, Representative for Trempealeau, and Lee Nerison, Representative for Wesby.
I listened to the Education Seminar which included information on the Share & Be Aware program, a concept designed to educate bicyclists and motorists about the rules of the road and the Scott Get Up & Ride Wisconsin Bike Challenge, a program designed to get people in Wisconsin out riding. Other sessions included Bike Facility Design, Funds & Resources for Bike Projects, Mountain Biking in Wisconsin,and Wisconsin Retail and Industry Roundtable.
What an exciting experience to see people working together to make bicycling a safe and enjoyable activity. I have always been a recreational rider. Suddenly, I was surrounded by commuters, racers, mountain riders, trail riders, crossroad riders, and family riders all coming together with the passion to ride and the willingness to work to make Wisconsin a better place for bicycling. I felt as if I had contributed to the political process that goes beyond voting. It was energizing. My goals for next year will be more lobbying and a little more bicycle commuting.
You can find the presentations from this year’s Wisconsin Bike Summit on the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin’s website here. DRBC Board President Tim Keneipp and several other DRBC & HPT members were also at the summit this year.