Archive for July, 2012

Racine county revises its bike loop

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 8th , 2012.

About forty years ago, Racine county designed and published a bicycling route circling the county. It followed low-traffic routes near the edge of the county. The county posted signs along the route.

Over the years, the route was left unchanged despite increasing problems. Traffic on county KR, along the Racine-Kenosha county line became increasingly busy. From the start, the route disappeared when it entered the city of Racine. The route was entirely on roads, even as bike trails in the county grew. And several years ago, 7-mile Road was closed at the railroad tracks yet the signs continue to direct bicyclists to the dead-end section of road.

The county has now published a new map with extensive revisions. The southern leg has been rerouted from KR to Braun, which is less busy. Where possible, it now follows bicycle trails. Most of the northern leg has been rerouted away from 7-mile to 5 and 6 mile roads. When I checked it last month, however, the signs had not been changed.

Generally the changes make sense, in my view. Those bicyclists who prefer pavement may wish to avoid unpaved trails (the MRK north of Racine, most of the 7-waters Trail, and the White River Trail) by taking the roads shown on the Milwaukee and SE Wisconsin map. Also some of the roads, particularly in the western part of the county, that were eliminated are quite scenic. Also there is one odd and unnecessary routing on highway 45; not terrible–this section has moderate traffic and good shoulders.

Update: I changed the link above to call up a pdf of the map.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

New Trail Along Woods Road

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 5th , 2012.

Woods Road in Muskego was part of the old Wisconsin Bikeway from Milwaukee to La Crosse. In recent years, however, traffic on Woods Road has gotten heavier. I was pleased, therefore, to see that a bike trail is being constructed parallel to the road. Like many roads in the Milwaukee suburbs, Woods suffered from a series of short, discontinuous bike trails that would stop short when they reached a property linel

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Map Changes in Kenosha and Racine

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 5th , 2012.

In the next edition of the map, there will be a number of changes in the Kenosha and Racine areas, especially  Kenosha. These changes reflect both the construction of new streets and the reconstruction of others, making them more bicycle-friendly. In constructing new through streets both these cities and their suburbs seem to have settled on a design which consists of a lane of traffic in each direction, with a marked bike lane and a parking lane to its right. Wherever possible, I have tried to move routes onto these new streets (and older ones rebuilt using this design) and away from old streets that offered no separate space for bikes.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Sneaking across the Illinois border

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 4th , 2012.

For years bicyclists have used a short dirt trail to follow the Lake Michigan and get from Wisconsin to Illinois Beach State Park. Most of the land on either side of the line is in public hands: in Wisconsin the Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area and the Spring Bluff Preserve in Illinois. To make the crossing, from 116th St, travel south on 1st Court until it ends at an unpaved parking area. Then ride on the trail (or push your bike if the sand is too deep) to the marina parking area in Illinois. Then you can travel south on park roads and trails to Illinois Beach.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Creating a Cultural Shift

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 2nd , 2012.

Philip Vang and his buddies love mountain biking, but wished they weren’t the only Hmong riders on the trails. This past weekend they started doing something about it. They rented booth space at the annual Hmong Sports Celebration in Como Park. With the help of Cycles for Change, they set up a simple mountain bike course on a small hill. They added easy obstacles using free wood from Craigslist, printed flyers and spread out a laminated version of the Twin Cities Bike Map on a table.

They waited. Fifty thousand Hmong came to the festival this year. They came from across the country, from France and from Laos. They came for flag football, soccer, the giant marketplace, the beauty contest and the chance to be part of the largest gathering of Hmong people in the world. It’s safe to say they did not come to test-ride mountain bikes.

“This morning the guys in the tent next to us just looked. They were wondering what we were doing riding up and down the hill.” Mr. Vang told me. Finally, he took a flyer over to them and explained mountain biking. Eventually the guys gave it a try. Later a group of young women rode the course, then tried the road bike on a trainer. By mid-afternoon about 25 people had ridden one of the bikes. If the pattern held through the weekend, Mr. Vang and his riding buddies reached 100 people. Some will joint them for an easy ride around the Salem Hills course next week.

It’s a small but realistic start. Some people dream big, and do nothing. Mr. Vang and his friends started where they could. The numbers will grow. At some point bicyclists will notice. They will speculate about the cause. I already know.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News