Waukesha County frustrations

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 8th, 2012

I have completed most of the research on Waukesha county for the updated Milwaukee and SE Wisconsin map. As usual, I find it the most frustrating part of the map. In picking out routes for the map I look for beautiful (or at least interesting) things and safe ways to connect them. Waukesha county falls short on both counts.

On the beauty count, Waukesha county is amply blessed by nature, with lakes, glacial moraines, and forests, and often stunningly attractive farms. The county’s problem is mainly a plague of scattered subdivisions, in their sameness and blandness, lack of connection to their location, and missing, to my mind at least, any pretense of charm.

Its scattershot development has led to an overloaded road system: old two-lane country roads with no paved shoulders or new four-lane highways with no shoulders. Too the extent bike lanes are constructed, they are often haphazard, periodically starting and stopping for no other reason than crossing a political boundary or leaving a construction project.

As a result of these considerations, I am taking off several roads that appeared on previous editions of the map:

  • County B through the Pabst Farms in favor of a new section of the Lake Country Trail. When first proposed, the Pabst Farms development was criticized by environmentalists both for taking very fertile crop land out of production and because it was an important groundwater recharge area. What surprised me is how uninspired the development has been. It is dominated by two huge warehouses and the housing areas look like those all over the county. On either side, county B is a pleasant country road that suddenly seems to be going through an industrial park.
  • The Walnut-Woodside route north of Sussex. It passes a seemingly endless series of standard issue subdivisions.
  • Lisbon Rd east of county KF. Busy traffic with no shoulders. Unfortunately that change also loses the northern section of the very nice Swan Rd.

That said, I should mention a deletion that represents progress: County C between Nashotah and highway 18. A new bike trail along Cushing Park Road offers a much friendlier alternative, with a side trail connecting to Lapham Peak.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News