June 5, 2010

Mayor has multiple goals for bike challenge

Mayor Dickert leads the way at the start of the Mayor's Bike Challenge
Mayor John Dickert, along with his wife and two kids, led about 30 cyclists on a bike ride along some of the city's bike paths Saturday. It was a hot and humid day -- but OK for a bike ride -- but the mayor had more than just the fun of being outdoors on two wheels on his mind.

In a short warm-up message before the ride, which began at the Tyler-Domer Community Center and was slated to end at the REC Center, Dickert outlined his three goals:

1. "Get out on your bikes and ride, and get healthy."
2. "Remind drivers that the bike paths exist."
3. "Get more of the city's bike paths designated, so they're easier for tourists -- and us -- to find."

Dickert related how he once was riding his bicycle on a bike path in Milwaukee ... and suddenly found himself totally lost. The path had ended, and he didn't really know where he was. He doesn't want that to happen here. Showing off the city's map of bike paths, he noted that while many are designated -- marked and striped -- many are not.

Getting more of them designated "is a priority," he said, adding, "The challenge is money."

Alderman Greg Helding, who was also along on the ride, pointed out that unless streets are already wide enough for a bike path -- so only striping is needed -- adding one to road construction adds 10% to 20% to the cost, for the wider pavement.

As Dickert preps riders, his wife, Teresa, and daughter, Eleanor, cheer each other on

Tresa and Dewey Johnson, with her pre-WWII bicycle

One of the more interesting bikes at the Mayor's bike ride Saturday morning belonged to Tresa Johnson, and her husband of 37 years, Dewey. Tresa said she bought her bike 42 years ago -- with $10 earned from baby-sitting. Although she's unsure of the make, she knows the bike, found at a yard sale when she was a teenager, dates from before World War II. Just look at that old-fashioned kick-stand!

Tresa has ridden the bike consistently. Dewey cleaned it up, put on new fenders and those boss whitewall tires, but the frame is original. "I've always enjoyed it," Tresa said. "Riding is relaxing and healthy, and I get to talk to interesting people."

And with that, she and Dewey gave me a honk or two from their squeaky horns, and were off!