When it comes to bike commuting, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee faculty and staff have proved they can go the distance. UWM faculty and staff rode more than 69,000 miles to work from May to September 2017 and won the 2017 MKE Town-Gown Showdown.
They rode against competing teams from Alverno, Froedtert Health, Marquette, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee County and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. As the winning team, UWM accumulated the most points, based on a system that prioritized getting riders onto their bikes for repeat trips to work, rather that awarding points for total miles biked.
The idea, says Kate Nelson, chief sustainability officer and No. 22-ranked UWM bicyclist, was to create a friendly competition among Milwaukee’s educational and environmental institutions that got people from a variety of athletic abilities and neighborhoods biking more.
It worked for her. By the final week of competition, Nelson reached her personal goal: more than 1,000 miles biked to work in 2017. “It’s such a great way to start your day,” said Nelson, who sometimes saw her Milwaukee County and MMSD colleagues making their own commutes on the Oak Leaf Trail.
The university’s Ryan Lipski came in first place for UWM, with 4,129 miles biked during the challenge. Even Chancellor Mark Mone found time in his schedule to commute on two wheels instead of four. He was UWM’s eighth-place finisher with 2,624 miles.
Together, 67 UWM bicyclists have commuted more than 81,000 miles this year in total. The 2017 MKE Town-Gown Showdown is over, but UWM will have the opportunity to defend its crown in 2018. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to join the team. The competition’s database is housed on the National Bike Challenge website. New individual accounts can be added to the site at any time and linked to the university’s team account.