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Jun 10 / Elizabeth DiNovella

Bike to Work Week: Bacon Edition

I was one of fifty or so hungry bicyclists who lined up at a makeshift commuter station that was set up on the bike path on Lake Monona this morning. The draw? Free bacon.

It’s Bike to Work Week here in Madison. Events are happening all over town, with inducements that range from morning treats to after work happy hours. A few local businesses, including Planet Bike and Just Coffee, sponsored this morning’s commuter station, which was

photo by newlow

photo by newlow

stocked with bacon, coffee, fresh fruit, bakery, and bike repair. How cool is that?

At lunchtime I wandered over to the farmers’ market and found another Bike to Work Week event at the cement park in front of an ugly state office building. Machinery Row workers were on hand to fix people’s bikes.

Courtney Klaus, who works for the Department of Natural Resources, was taking advantage of the opportunity. She was getting her brakes looked at.

Klaus is a fan of Bike to Work Week. “It’s great. I’m an all-year-round bicyclist, but I enjoy hearing my co-workers talk about it,” she told me. “My boss rode to work for the first time yesterday and he liked it. He’s going to try it again-and he lives in Verona.” (That’s quite a haul–around 10 miles away.)

“It’s really good for bike advocacy,” she added, “especially when they fix your bike.”

We need more advocacy for bicycling these days. In early June, GOP Representatives John Boehner and Eric Cantor proposed to end funding for many bicycle projects. The GOP wants to cut the Safe Routes to Schools program, which helps kids learn basic bike safety rules. The Republicans want to kill a program that pay for crossing guards, bike paths, and new sidewalks. We can fund never-ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but teaching our kids how to bike to school breaks our budget?

Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists, says this attack on bicycling and walking is “short-sighted and out of touch with reality.”

Even here in Wisconsin we have to fight for crumbs. For the first time, $5 million has been added to the state’s transportation budget specifically designated for bicycle projects. That may sound like a lot of cash-until you realize this amount accounts for less than 1/10 of 1% of the state’s proposed $6.5 billion transportation budget.

According to the Bike Federation of Wisconsin, Wisconsin currently ranks nearly last in total dollars spent on bicycle infrastructure, even though bicycling is a $1.6 billion industry in the state. The Bike Fed points out that “40% of all trips made by automobiles are two miles or less. Improved bicycle infrastructure alleviates congestion, eases wear on existing roadways and reduces pollution.”

Biking is good for the Earth and it’s good for the soul. Now about that bacon . . .baconcooking

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