Keep on bikin'

County earns recognition as 'bike-friendly' community
by Emmitt B. Feldner

SHEBOYGAN — Sheboygan County has been designated friendly for a lot of things — families, children, tourists, golfers and more. Now, add bikers to that list. The county has been named a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists during the group's fall awards announcement. County Administrator Adam Payne announced the award during Tuesday's County Board meeting. “The league congratulates Sheboygan County … for implementing successful, long-term bicycle plans and programs that provide quality-of-life improvements for … citizens,” league President Andy Clark said in a press release announcing the award. “Even in tough economic times it is clear that communities are choosing investment in bicycling as key to building the places people want to live, work and visit.” Payne noted that Sheboygan County is one of only five communities in the state to be recognized by the LAB — and the only county. The city of Madison won a Gold Level award and the cities of Eau Claire, La Crosse and Milwaukee earned Bronze Level awards. “We are inspired by the tireless efforts of individuals and groups, from everyday cyclists to local government leaders, to build a great community for bicycling. To receive this type of designation is something special,” Payne said in announcing the award. He pointed out for supervisors that bicycling brings more tourism dollars into the state than deer hunting or snowmobiling. “We are proud of the efforts and dedication our citizens have made toward bicycling the past four years. We hope that dedication continues well into the future,” added County Board Chairman Michael Vandersteen. Sheboygan County Planning and Conservation Director Aaron Brault gave much of the credit for the award to the federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program. That program brought $25 million to the county over a four-year period to provide upgrades of nonmotorized methods of transportation, including improved bicycle trails and bike lane markings on highways and city streets throughout the county. Work is still continuing on some of those projects, Brault noted, but many of them have already been completed and are being utilized by many bicyclists, pedestrians and others. He credited Dirk Zylman and the Citizens Advisory Committee, which oversaw the disbursement of grant funds and approval of projects, for their key leadership in making the grant program successful and helping to earn the county the award. The BFC judges said they were particularly impressed with Sheboygan County's current and future infrastructure improvements and the non-infrastructure efforts such as Bike and Walk to Work Week, the ReBike program and the Walking School Bus program. They especially noted the latter non-infrastructure programs in that they are nearly entirely run by volunteers and have a wide range of community support.

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