Dedication is the word of the day. It works on two levels. First came the dedication of Bike Friendly West Bend to create on-street bike routes in the city. It was the work of more than 5 years, and in 2017 the dream looked like it was over when the city’s Common Council refused even to vote on the idea. But BFWB stuck with it, breaking down a big plan into smaller, easier-to-digest chunks. Last December the city approved one of those chunks: the Orange Loop. And today BFWB met with city officials at the intersection of Sylvan and Vine for a short dedication ceremony to mark the opening of the route. Mayor Chris Jenkins and City Administrator Jay Shambeau were among those on hand.
After the ribbon-cutting, Shambeau rode the loop with BFWB representatives. It was an opportunity for BFWB to share its observations with someone at City Hall who is in a position to help. Along the way, I commented that the Orange Loop goes where it goes so that it can connect what needs to be connected: residential neighborhoods, schools, parks, and the Eisenbahn State Trail. To the dismay of some critics, the loop does not always travel the best-maintained streets. And one or two intersections will feel a little challenging to a less-skilled, less-confident rider. Witnessing these limitations and fielding recommendations from long-time local advocates like Jeff Puetz and Rich Ramsey will give Shambeau a first-hand perspective to share with city employees and elected officials.
I rode to the dedication ceremony, took the tour, then rode home again. At only 8 miles, it was the shortest ride I’ve done for a while! But it was an important ride. It was a way to show appreciation for the combined efforts of BFWB and City Hall, and it was a chance to have the attention of people in government in a casual but still respectful and collaborative way. It’s only in that way BFWB has been successful, and it’s only in that way BFWB will succeed in the future.