For a few years, I’ve been amused by emails from cyclists in Madison who complain about delays in clearing the bike paths in one of America’s most bicycle-friendly cities.
In Milwaukee, cyclists are lucky if the paths are cleared at all, much less in a timely fashion. Portions of the Oak Leaf Trail remain snow-covered and slippery for most of the winter, and reports suggest maintenance on the popular Hank Aaron State Trail is similarly lacking.
Dave Schlabowske and Jason McDowell, two commuters who pedal year-round, shared their frustration and a call to action amid last week’s “snowpocalypse.”
Schlabowske, the communications director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, describes the shared responsibility for clearing bike paths, which results in little actual work done by the Department of Natural Resources (the Hank Aaron) or Milwaukee County (the Oak Leaf).
“I think we need to start our advocacy efforts at a more localized level,” Schlabowske writes. “I suggest that those of us who care about winter access to trails target a the Oak Leaf and Beerline on Milwaukee’s east side and the Hank Aaron State Trail from 6th and Canal to Miller Park. Let’s get together to try to work with the various municipalities and non-profit groups connected to those specific trails to create a plan for those trails to be consistently and completely cleared of snow and ice. I suggest these trail segments because I know there are already people who want them better plowed.”
You can see his Friday morning ride here.
McDowell, a volunteer with the Milwaukee Bike Collective, argues in this post that more people would walk or bike on existing paths, if local government met its responsibility to keep them cleared.
“By not maintaining these paths, they become impassable, with deep ruts AND incredibly slick ice,” he wrote. “Then you get a self fulfilling prophecy wherein you assume people don’t use these paths, the paths then become too dangerous to use, and people then don’t use the paths.”