Highlights of my visit to the first ever Western Wisconsin Bicycle Summit:
1. City Brewing Company. One of the big employers in La Crosse used to the G. Heileman Brewing Company, which brewed Old Style, a legendary Wisconsin beer. On the trip up Krista informs me that she used to be a Heileman girl working the hospitality center and giving tours. My long time assistant Cindy was also a Heileman girl in the past. In my past, I would tour breweries in Milwaukee. Schlitz, Pabst, and Miller… all in the same day. I thought it was fitting if we stopped at the brewery before visiting the Trek dealer so that Krista could show me where these legendary Heileman girls worked. Pictured is Krista at that hospitality bar. One problem. It was closed.
2. On to Smith’s Cycles, the Trek retailer in La Crosse. Had a very good visit with Carl the owner who is a really good guy and his store looked AWESOME. I can tell how good a bike shop is 60 seconds after I walk in. Smith’s is a very good bike shop and they have a great group of employees. I always like visiting bike retailers and I was able to spend some time with Carl talking about improvements he would like to see at Trek. But the highlight of the visit to Smith’s was seeing Scotty McCallum, a mechanic at Smith’s and a long-time former Trek employee. Scotty was a legend at Trek. He worked hard and loved bikes. Scotty is also a very good baker and every once in a while he would stop by my office with chocolate chip cookies. And what should I see upon my arrival at Smith’s? Scotty with a huge smile and a huge bowl full of chocolate chip cookies. I had two. Krista had three. The old John would have had 6. Wondering about that guy with the tie? Well, that would be me. Krista told me I should wear a tie. I do what Krista tells me to do.
3. The Bike Summit. We arrived on time for the Bike Summit and I had no idea how many people would show up. I am calling it sold out - standing room only. Additional chairs were brought out a couple of times. I am guessing that they had 250 people in attendance. What an awesome group of people. They had a great lineup of speakers and I really enjoyed getting a chance to share my message with the people of La Crosse. My slides are posted below for you to take a look at and to share. A few key points that I made to the audience:
1. There are four major trends in the world today: traffic congestion, urbanization, global warming, and the obesity crisis.
2. The obesity crisis in America. For six years I served on the President’s Council for Physical Fitness and Sports and I spent a lot of time with some quality people at Health and Human Services, most of whom are predicting a health tsunami in America caused by the obesity epidemic. Make sure you take a look at the slides from the CDC below. It amazes me that the United States just passed the largest health care plan in history and there was ZERO talk about preventative medicine and people taking responsibility for their own health. Every time I show these CDC slides people are amazed.
3. The simple solution to all of these problems: the bicycle!
4. The good news is that a bicycle friendly world already exists. It exists in places like the Netherlands and Denmark. It also exists here in the United States in places like Portland, Boulder, and Davis, California.
5. What can you do to help create a bicycle friendly world? I gave the audience in La Crosse last night three ways to make a difference.
1. Ride your bike, especially two miles or less. 40% of car trips are less than two miles. Make a commitment to ride your bike. Up until last year I never rode my bike to work. It is a 44.8 miles round trip. Last year I set a goal of riding round trip 20 times, and using my bike as much as possible around town. I ended up riding 22 times to work, and rode my bike all over town last summer. Set a goal for using your bike this summer and keep track of it. What gets measured gets done!
2. Have a plan. In La Crosse they have a plan. Work with your city to develop a bicycle plan. In Madison we have developed a current map and a future map. Every city in America should have a bicycle plan.
3. Just show up. If there is one thing I have learned in Washington it is that we do have a democracy. It is government of the people, by the people, and for the people… who show up. One of the speakers last night was from the transportation department and he talked about a major bike/ped bridge project. His one request to make the dream a reality. Just show up.
Ride your bike today. Jb.