A group of fellow journalists and I got to see Madison, a gold-level bicycle friendly community, by bike this week. The designation is awarded by the League of American Bicyclists.
And it's well-deserved. Madison’s metropolitan area has 147 miles of streets with bicycle lanes or paved shoulders and 129 miles of off-street bicycle paths. The signed bicycle route system covers 149 miles. And Madison residents are commonly seen riding around this college town all hours of the day.
It probably helps that Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is a strong supporter of cycling and a cyclist. He joined our one-hour ride on Wednesday that cut through the University of Wisconsin’s Arboretum, South Side neighborhoods and took us over some of the city’s bridges, railroad tracks and finally ended along the scenic Monona Lake.
Also joining us were Krista Rettig, Trek’s director of advocacy, Andy Clarke and Eleanor McMahon of the League of American Bicyclists and Jeff Miller of the Alliance for Biking and Walking.
The ride departed from Madison City Hall. Mayor Cieslewicz is a strong proponent for cycling and has his sights set on turning Madison into a platinum level BFC. In fall 2006 he formed the Platinum Biking City Planning Committee.
Our large group navigates the intersection, where some of us fall behind after taking photos. Myself and other bike journos rode Trek’s Soho single-speed, equipped with front and rear lights, computer and handlebar bell.
Much of the bike path was alongside lush greenery, but the sun still pounded on us.
Along Lake Monona we were met with a refreshing breeze and scenic waterfront view.
You know you’re in a bike town when the convention center has an elevator strictly for two wheelers.
October 2 will be a big day for the mayor and city residents. It’s when the final decision will be made on whether Chicago will serve as host city of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. If chosen, then Madison and the surrounding area will serve as the site for the cycling competitions.
The Wisconsin Road Cycling Course would begin on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, head east through downtown and feature several steep climbs near the finish line in Blue Mound State Park. The Wisconsin Mountain Bike circuit would take place in Tyrol Basin, a popular ski and snowboard destination in the winter.
Chicago is competing against Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid.