Wis. Bike Summit comes to La Crosse

Bicyclists from around the Midwest pedaled into La Crosse for a statewide summit. The event is the 2016 Wisconsin Bike Summit.

It’s put on by the Wisconsin Bike Fed as an informational event for riders of all ages and abilities.

The Bike Summit is held in different cities around Wisconsin each year. This year marks its first trip to La Crosse, but organizers already said it will come back to this bike-friendly community.

They were all around on Saturday afternoon. Bicyclists took in the sunshine around La Crosse. But on that same sun-shiney day, a lot of bike enthusiasts were indoors at the Wisconsin Bike Summit.

“We have your local elected officials here, we have people from departments of tourism here, we have people from out of state tourism here explain how they do it in Michigan,” Wisconsin Bike Fed Deputy Director Dave Schlabowske said.

The Bike Summit is labeled as an informational summit. Organizers said riders of all ages and abilities can learn something about biking and how to make their community more bike friendly.

“La Crosse is such a wonderful place to ride,” Schlabowske said.

While La Crosse may be a wonderful place to ride, Saturday’s keynote speaker, Associate Professor of History at UWL, James Longhurst, said there are ways the city can improve.

“La Crosse has a possibility of falling behind in that bike boom as other cities develop additional bike lanes facilities, education and make it safer and healthier for school kids, seniors and everyone to get out on a bike,” Longhurst said.

Longhurst said he is impressed by the Bike Summit’s ability engage different groups of bike riders and discuss the different reasons to ride.

Both health and getting school kids to school safely, and in a healthy way, but also tourism, Longhurst said.

He said if La Crosse can expand its bike-ability, it has potential to improve the area in a positive way.

“The possibilities are actually very simple to do and will have great impact in terms of the health of our community and the desirability of housing, the desirability of future employers and employees to come to the region,” Longhurst said.

La Crosse is rated as a silver-level bike friendly community League of American Bicyclists.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed said biking in Wisconsin brings about a $2 billion boost to Wisconsin’s economy.