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Coalition fights for cycling, against cuts

The Bike Fed has been hard at work trying to restore what would be lost if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget passes unchanged.

With your help, we’re making progress. So keep up the pressure. If you haven’t contacted your state senator and representative yet, please do that soon, as we go through public hearings.

We also want to let you know that we have friends. The Bike Fed is part of larger coalitions of groups who are helping make common cause on these issues.

On the fight to restore the Stewardship Fund, which has been key in building and improving two-dozen state trails around Wisconsin, we’re part of a coalition being led by the League of Conservation Voters and Gathering Waters, which is a group that represents land trusts. Land trusts are nonprofit organizations that help buy and preserve land for habitat protection and other public purposes. This is a strong coalition and we’re feeling optimistic about our chances for success.

On our issues in the transportation budget — repeal of Complete Streets and the $2 million cut to the Transportation Alternatives Program — we’re working with two groups. One is the Move Wisconsin Alliance, a group made up of the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association, the Sierra Club, AARP, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and various faith groups.

The other group we’ve joined is called the Transportation Investment Coalition and it’s made up of more business-oriented organizations like road builders, chambers of commerce, private sector employers and economic development associations. It also includes labor unions, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin Counties Association and the Wisconsin Towns Association.

As you might imagine one group that includes the Sierra Club and another that includes chambers of commerce might not always see eye-to-eye and we’re probably the only organization that is a member of both. But that’s how the Bike Fed views biking. We want to build the big tent of cyclists. We see how these two groups can work together toward the same goals and, frankly, we don’t see how either can be successful without the other.

So, know that we’re working hard to push back the governor’s negative provisions on biking, but you should also know that we’re not fighting alone.

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison, where he set the city on a path for platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He is the executive director of Wisconsin Bike Fed, found at wisconsinbikefed.org.

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