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Fitchburg Reaffirmed as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community

November 21, 2019 The League of American Bicyclists (Bike League) today renewed the silver designation to the City of Fitchburg in the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) awards, part of its national Bicycle Friendly America program. Bicycle Friendly America recognizes states, communities, universities, and businesses for their efforts to provide safe conditions and encouragement for bicycle transportation and recreation. Fitchburg earned a bronze award in 2012 and silver in 2015.

The award will be presented at 11 a.m. at the Madison Municipal Building, by Steve Arnold, Secretary of the Board, Wisconsin Bike Fed. Alder Julia Arata-Fratta will accept the award on behalf of Mayor Aaron Richardson. According to Arnold, Bicycle Friendly America is more than a certification program. It guides work at all levels, year-in and year-out to develop safe, fun, and healthy transportation and recreation opportunities across five action areas: engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation. BFC awards are made for four-year terms.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition after four more years of relentless work to make Fitchburg a great biking destination while contributing to a safer and more comfortable regional network,” said Mayor Richardson, who is an active and enthusiastic cyclist. “We have been working in all these areas to make Fitchburg a healthier, safer, more sustainable, and more vibrant place to live, work and visit by bike. This award shows that those efforts are paying off.” Mayor Richardson extended his thanks to members of the county-wide Active Living Work Group of the Healthy Kids Collaborative. Representatives of Dane County communities, County government, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison worked together to explore the “Five E’s”, share best practices, point out each other’s blind spots, and stitch their networks together. The Work Group met monthly for 18 months leading up to the 2015 applications and another year for the 2019 round. Work group members were supported by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (the area’s metropolitan planning organization, or MPO).

Four communities and the University submitted applications for this round of awards. In addition to Fitchburg’s silver award, Madison was renewed at the platinum level, and Sun Prairie and Verona received their first-ever BFC awards, scoring bronze. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was elevated to platinum status as a Bicycle Friendly University, from gold, on October 27. “Our city is six miles square, yet residents routinely bike beyond its boundaries. Working with Madison, adjoining communities, and our flagship university make these efforts so much more valuable,” Mayor Richardson observed. New achievements by Fitchburg since 2015 that contributed to the renewal of BFC silver status include:
• New facilities, including the Fitchburg’s first buffered bike lanes on Lacy Road, a new connecting path between the Capitol City State Trail and the Cannonball Path along Seminole Highway, paths in new subdivisions, and additional mountain bike trails at the Quarry Ridge Recreation Area
• Establishment of a permanent Bicycle Committee by municipal ordinance
• Incorporation of Bike Fitchburg as a 501(c)(3) charity for independent bike advocacy
• A comprehensive census of bicycle parking in 2018
• Extensive planning for biking, including for the future reconstruction of Fish Hatchery Road
• Equity initiatives such as Leopold rides to the library and first Free Bikes 4 Kidz giveaway
• Fitchburg Festival of Speed state championship criterium and Fitchrona Omnium cyclecross
Photographs and additional details may be found in the supplemental material for Fitchburg’s 2019 BFC application, available Here.

Fitchburg’s application was submitted by Bike Fitchburg, Inc., the non-profit local bike advocacy organization for Fitchburg. Bike Fitchburg was supported by its partners, the City of Fitchburg government and the Fitchburg Chamber Visitors+Business Bureau. Together, the three entities were recognized in 2018 as a Wisconsin Active Together community for just this kind of cooperation. Among the many benefits of biking, Bike Fitchburg President Matthew Jones cites cost savings, health benefits, and pollution reduction, creating more livable cities. “There are many ‘best-of’ lists and programs that one can pursue, but there are few better investments for a city’s health and economic prosperity than vigorously pursuing the Bicycle Friendly Communities awards.”

Mayor Richardson attributes Fitchburg’s accomplishments to dedicated staff, regional collaboration, contributions of funding partners and volunteers, and the vision of elected officials. “We could never have achieved these successes alone without the energy of Bike Fitchburg, the Fitchburg Chamber, and our peer communities.” Richardson says. “Biking has become an enduring part of Fitchburg’s identity.” Angela Kinderman, Executive Director of the Fitchburg Chamber Visitor + Business Bureau, says “We support biking in our community not only because it makes for happy and healthy citizens but also because biking is good business! Bicycle recreation contributes more than $900 million in economic activity in the State of Wisconsin. Add to that the impact of over $600 million from the bicycling industry, which includes innovative manufactures like Fitchburg’s Saris Cycling Group, and retailers like Fitchburg Cycles, and we have a $1.5 billion industry that helps to fuel our State's economy. That is a lot of pedal power! Biking is a part of our Fitchburg identity and our Fitchburg economy”. Earning the silver award gives Mayor Richardson great satisfaction, but he pledges to continue to improve every aspect of living and working in Fitchburg. Gold-level recognition is his next goal for bicycling. “The bottom line is that we encourage people to get out and enjoy bicycling in and around Fitchburg and throughout Dane County.”

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