By Evan Casey
Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton decided to take a different mode of transportation on his way to city hall last week. It involved two wheels, but it wasn’t a motorcycle…it was a bicycle. Hamilton rode alongside over 20 other bicycle riders on his way to work Monday morning to raise awareness for biker’s safety.
The event was organized by the Wisconsin Bike Federation as part of Wisconsin Bike Week, which began June 2. Hamilton used the event to discuss using different modes of transportation to get to work.
“I didn’t realize how important bike lanes are,” said Hamilton. “Being a little conscious of other people who are using the rode is an important thing.”
Caressa Givens, projects coordinator with the Wisconsin Bike Federation, helped organize the event, and she spoke about the benefits of biking at a press conference at Red Arrow Park following the ride.
“Once people start to try this, and see how convenient it can actually be,” said Givens, “I think more people will use it.”
The Complete Streets Policy was also discussed at length during the event. Complete Streets was first signed by the State of Wisconsin in 2009, but many city leaders are calling for a Complete Streets policy specifically for Milwaukee. A Complete Street may include, “sidewalks, bike lanes (or wide paved shoulders), special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, curb extensions, narrower travel lanes, roundabouts, and more,” according to the Smart Growth America website.
The Complete Streets Policy would require a Common Council vote. The Wisconsin Bike Federation are spearheading a petition for signatures. They have already collected 228 signatures, according to their website.
City engineer Jeffrey Polenske said that he’s already working to draft the policy with city leaders and organizers.
“It’s all about making our streets more safe, more available and usable…for everyone who wants to be able to move around in the city of Milwaukee,” said Polenske. “We want to improve it for everyone.”
Other events during bike week included a Complete Streets Day of Action, and a festival ran by the Wisconsin Bike Federation which boasted live music, a raffle and a resource table.