New Madison mayor rethinks cycling advocacy
Cycling advocacy in Madison, Wisconsin, is already being impacted by the April election Paul Soglin over two-term incumbent Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.
Cieslewicz was a participant in the 20by2020 group driving to make cycling trips account for 20 percent of all trips taken in the state's capital city. In 2008, Cieslewicz spearheaded the Platinum Bicycling Committee Report, with a goal of earning a platinum designation from the League of American Cyclists.
He also joined a group of cycling advocates and business executives who traveled to Germany and the Netherlands to study transportation options in 2010.
Soglin, who previously served as Madison mayor for nearly 20 years, questioned a contract with Trek's B-Cycle to launch a bike-share program this year. Newly elected Soglin objected to the deal because the money would be drawn from a reserve fund.
In late April, soon afte3r Soglin took office, the city struck a new deal with Trek. The city has cut its annual contribution to the bikie-sharing program from $100,000 to $1, according to a release from Trek Bicycle and the mayor's office.
Through its B-cycle division, Trek and the city reached an agreement earlier this year to install 35 kiosks and 350 bikes for short-term rentals. Under the deal, Trek would provide about $1 million for the build-out and the city would contribute $100,000 a year to help with operations.
"I am confident that as we team up to make this program work, getting the second contract approved can be done expeditiously," Soglin said. "This is going to be a great program for the people of Madison, our visitors and B-cycle.
Soglin also criticized Cieslewicz for a budget provision that sacked Arthur Ross, the long-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.
On both counts, Soglin focused his criticism more on management style and the process (a no-bid contract for Trek) than on the merits of the moves.
Soglin has professed to support cycling and alternate forms of transportation, but he created a furor a few years back when he questioned the sanity of biking in a snowstorm.
On his Waxing America blog, he wrote, "The bicyclists who braved the week's second storm should be taken out and shot. Spare them and the poor driver, when they skid on treacherous streets and slide under the wheels of a truck delivering fresh vegetables."
Responding to the backlash two weeks later, Soglin wrote, "Upon reflection, the furor was to be expected. Constantly under assault from the opposition, in this case motor vehicles, some bicyclist took any criticism on their own as an attack on themselves, on their culture, their way of life, and their core values."
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