The Chippewa Valley should have a car-free day

Mike Paulus

Just read this post about Madison’s “Ride the Drive” event all set for [last] Sunday. They closed down more than six miles of the city’s busiest streets – only self-propelled vehicles were allowed upon the pavement. From JSOnline:

  • In Madison, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz joined cycling advocates in organizing the Ride the Drive as part of the city's pursuit of a platinum ranking from the League of American Bicyclists. It now holds a gold rating from the national cycling group.
  • "We thought, 'Let's do something really big,' " said Steve Doniger, community services manager in the Madison Parks Department.
  • Through the early part of the year, city leaders planned the traffic engineering and police deployment necessary to close down the major streets and still provide routes for residents to drive to church, businesses and recreation. Trek Bicycles signed on as a major sponsor, helping cover the estimated $50,000 in city costs with private contributions.

I’m assuming a city like Eau Claire would not need quite as much planning or cash to make this kind of thing happen. I know it’d be a relatively big undertaking, but we probably wouldn’t need Trek Bicycles to make it happen. What we would need is a very organized group of people to work with the city – Ride the Drive has the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, Bike Walk Madison, and their local chapter of the Bikes Belong Coalition.

I think an event like this could be the catalyst for major growth in our local bike culture. If nothing else, it would provide some sweet PR for the Chippewa Valley and grab a few statewide headlines. It’d also be a nice addition to the “quality of place” column on the area’s résumé.