Dozens of cyclists pedaled through the cold in Chicago this morning to join Winter Bike to Work Day organized by the Active Transportation Allliance.
The Jan. 20 date is tied to the 27th anniversary of Chicago’s coldest day, when the official temperature at O’Hare International Airport was 27 degrees below zero. Riders were lured to Daley Plaza with coffee, bike lights and balaclavas.
Bicycle commuting has been increasing in Milwaukee, both anecdotally and statistically, but cycling advocates in the city have not yet organized an official winter version of bike to work day. In that sense, Milwaukee remains behind its big neighbor to the south as a bicycle-friendly city.
It also lags behind Madison, where one of the hottest topics this time of year is the condition of the bike paths used by cycling commuters. The reports on the Madison bike email list-serve read like hyper-detailed traffic reports on a news-talk radio station.
- JND path well plowed scattered slippery spots (avoidable)
- Olin-Turville Ct (park drive) OK between Lakeside and Wingra underpass, slippery between underpass and Olin Ave.
- Wingra Path between JND and Park mostly clear, some slippery spots
- Park Steet bike lanes mostly clear between Wingra and Badger Rd.
- West Badger Road lane uphill from Park ice covered and slippery
- Badger Road overpass some ice/snow
- Rimrock Road bike lanes are mostly clear.
In Madison, most of the bike paths are plowed by municipal crews. Not so, in Milwaukee.
Dave Schlabowske, communications director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, took issue with this disparity in a blog post Friday morning.
"It seems odd to me that in a city like Milwaukee that has almost 1,500 miles of roads 50-foot wide on average that are cleared by plows within 24 hours of a storm, we can’t devote the resources to plow the 116 miles of 10-foot wide trails we have. Milwaukee’s plowing operations are paid for with a snow and ice removal fee that every property owner pays, whether you drive a car or not, so cyclists pay and should get their trails cleared of snow."