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Jason McDowell is also known as Little Tiny Fish. He is the Creative Director for OnMilwaukee. Occasionally he freelances. Mostly he rides bikes.

littletinyfish.com is not a cohesive blog, but a repository of musings on an assortment of topics, such as design, art, cycling, Milwaukee, and other personal experiences.

I started attending meetings for a new Milwaukee group that, at this moment is called “Milwaukee Businesses by Bike” or MBByB or “Embibe” (which is a little iffy since it’s mixing alcohol and transportation…even though it’s not about alcohol at all). At any rate we need a name, a logo, a mission statement and a checklist of what makes a bike friendly business.

The League of American Bicyclist’s have put together a basic list of how businesses can become more bike friendly, but personally I feel it’s not ambitious enough. So I started brainstorming more options and expanding on ideas they already presented. It should almost be a non–stop, always developing list.

Some stuff should be relatively easy just to make the barrier of entry a little lower. The idea is that businesses could figure out how friendly they already are and gives them something to aspire to be. For instance they could check off that 1% of their office commutes to work and aspire to reach 2%. The higher the percentage the higher the poins. If you have a bike rack, you get a point. If you have a covered bike rack, you get 2. If you have secure bike parking you get 3 points.

The higher the points, the higher your business would rank. Brown, Bronze, Gold, Silver, and Platinum. As businesses reached Platinum you could add more ideas and rank double Platinum, Triple Platinum, Unnllquadium, Unnlhexium, Unnlennium etc.

Some of the requirements might seem unobtainable, but it’s good to shoot for the moon. If you can’t improve further in that direction you can gain more points in other categories.

So here’s the list so far. If you think of any other great additions (or subtractions…it’s a very loose list at this point), please leave a comment and I’ll add it in there and present it to the group the next time we meet.

  • Talk with your aldermen or district representative and let them know you want bicycle facilities (off–street bike paths, lanes, trees, other traffic calming measures, boulevards, etc) in your area. (+1 pt)
  • Talk with your aldermen or district representative yearly. (+1 pt)
  • Talk with your aldermen or district representative twice a year. (+1 pt)
  • This might have to be adjusted for business size. Businesses with 10 employees could gain an unfair advantage.
  • Get 10% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 9% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 8% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 7% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 6% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 5% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 4% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 3% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 2% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Get 1% of your office to commute by bike. (+1 pt)
  • Follow up with those businesses. (+2 pt)
  • Talk with other local businesses about becoming bike friendly. (+1 pt)
  • Showers and private changing rooms are ideal. (+5 pt)
  • Arrange for shower use at a local health club for your employees. (+2 pt)
  • Hanging space or a standing wardrobe will provide ample storage for work clothes. (+3 pt)
  • Provide an iron and ironing board. (+1 pt)
  • As an alternative to installing expensive showers, allow bike commuters to dress casually in the office. (+1 pt)
  • Provide sanitary wipes for sweat removal. (+1 pt)
  • Offer subsidies for bike commuters who don’t use car parking spaces. (+3 pt)
  • Provide lunch for bike commuters. (+1 pt)
  • Offer extra vacation time for daily bike commuters. (+5 pt)
  • Appoint a bike commuting coordinator to procure local bike route maps. (+1 pt)
  • Help employees plan routes to work using low–traffic but direct roads and paths. (+1 pt)
  • Start a Bike Pool program. Having a cycling partner increases the joy of riding dramatically. (+2 pt)
  • Post an outline of local traffic laws and how they apply to bicycles. (+1 pt)
  • Encourage cyclist education among employees; educated riders are safe riders. (+1 pt)
  • Send regular safety and ettiquette notes through the office. (+1 pt)
  • Offer even more vacation time to those with no excuses. (+3 pt)
  • Offer even more vacation time to those who commute below 20 degrees. (+2 pt)
  • Offer even more vacation time to those who commute below 30 degrees. (+2 pt)
  • Offer even more vacation time to those who commute below 40 degrees. (+1 pt)
  • Offer extra vacation time for bike commuters. (+1 pt)
  • If on a narrow arterial, sharrows outside the business. (+3 pt)
  • If on an arterial, bike lanes outside the business. (+3 pt)
  • Partner with a local bike shop to offer employee discounts or maintenance clinics. (+2 pt)
  • Have a professional bike fitting as needed. (+1 pt)
  • Have a professional bike fitting twice a year. (+1 pt)
  • Have a professional bike fitting once a year. (+1 pt)
  • Have loaner bikes in the office for people to use over their lunch hours. This gives people a chance to get their toes wet to let them know that commuting is not only possible, but easy and fun. (+1 pt)
  • Have high quality loaner bikes. This shows people that investing in a good quality bike with the right weight and fit is a good idea. (+3 pt)
  • Get the loaner bikes from a local bike shop, not a department store. This increases awareness and supports local business. (+2 pt)
  • Bike racks outside the office. (+1 pt)
  • Bike racks in a visible area. (+1 pt)
  • Adequate bike racks available to the public. (Enough to serve the office AND the public). (+1 pt)
  • Covered bike racks. (+2 pt)
  • Secure bike storage within the office building. (+3 pt)
  • Secure bike storage on the ground floor. (+1 pt)
  • Provide bus passes on rainy days. (+1 pt)
  • Provide washers and dryers for rainy/muddy days. (+5 pt)
  • Provide dryer sheets. (+1 pt)
  • Provide closets and hangers. (+1 pt)
  • Participate in the Bicycle Commuter Act. (+3 pt)
  • Submit your name to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and post a “We are a bicycle friendly [Color] Standard Business” on your website. (+2 pt)
  • Promote bike teams for charity rides.  (Trek 100, UPAF Miller Lite Ride for the Arts, Riverwest 24, etc.). (+2 pt)
  • Form a company bicycle club or race team; increase your own exposure locally. (+5 pt)
  • Organize a lunchtime race. (+2 pt)
  • Ask the local bike shop to showcase new bike models during lunch. (+2 pt)
  • Get local news media to cover your events. (+1 pt)
  • Encourage employees to help co–workers make the switch to bike commuting. (+1 pt)

There are over 100 points to earn so far, so for starters I’m thinking:

  • Brown: 20pts
  • Bronze: 50pts
  • Silver: 70pts
  • Gold: 90pts
  • Platinum: 110pts

If you have any other ideas of what should be included in the list, leave a note in the comments. I’d love to see this list grow larger and larger with more creative ways of promoting cycling.

Archived Comments

These comments were pulled from the archives after a site failure in mid 2014. Though I no longer accept public comments on my site, I’ve included them for posterity. If you’d like to submit a comment, send one to littletinyfish@littletinyfish.com.

  1. this is all like a dream true. At my current job, for OVER A YEAR they said they were putting in a bike room and recently, a coworker saw a room near the loading dock full of racks. Yet they claim they are still working on the room. ugh.

    Hails · 2010-02-05 05:31 · #

  2. I’m not sure if it was listed, but in Portland they have on-street bike parking… Very slick.

    Dave Reid · 2010-02-05 08:41 · #

  3. Two more ideas:

    1. The company provides use of a company car for those who need to entertain clients.

    2. The company uses bicycle friendly services such as Breakaway, Milwaukee Courier, and Cream City Rickshaw.

    littletinyfish · 2010-02-06 09:16 · #

  4. 1. The company contacts not just their district alderpeople, but those higher in the political chain as well, from mayors to governors, to senators, etc.

    2. Businesses provide small discounts to cyclists.

    littletinyfish · 2010-02-09 15:27 · #

Make way for the king. The automobile rules the road and getting in their way is comparable to heresy. Or, at least, that’s where the American road system has lead our beliefs.

Street designers are always looking for ways to clear the way for a steady flow of auto traffic. This is particularly obvious at busy highway on–ramps and interchanges; the more steady the flow of traffic, the less likely a traffic jam will occur. Unfortunately this has tricked people into thinking that there is a social right to flow. In other words, if you cause a person to hit their brakes, you’re in the wrong, no matter what. The next time you hit a deer on the highway, ask it if it believes in the right to flow.

Automobile flow does make sense when dealing solely with automobiles. Cars are big and fast and wasteful. But city streets are filled with all kinds of non–automobiles: pedestrians, cyclists, dog–walkers, children, the elderly, skateboarders, the differently–abled, construction workers, ipods, and cell phones. The streets are also filled with specialty vehicles that don’t always move in a straight line: emergency response vehicles, garbage trucks, semi trucks with trailers, construction vehicles, taxis, parallel parkers, school buses, delivery trucks, and more.

Despite the incredibly common appearance of any number of these non–commuters and non–automobiles, drivers continue to drive beyond the speed limit and blindly struggle to keep pace in an effort avoid hitting the brakes as often as possible swerving impatiently around a cyclist to race to the next red light. To a driver it makes perfect sense to respect the laws of the uncaring light, which is hanging safely above the dangers of auto traffic. A driver will stop unquestioningly and waiting semi–patiently for the light to turn green. That respect drops dramatically, though, when it comes to merely slowing down and move cautiously around living, breathing human beings. Cyclists are “unpredictable” and that’s aggravating.

When motorists encounter the more vulnerable non–automobiles, their default thought is to view the encounter as a threat, even one as innocuous as a person crossing in the middle of a block. This person, they think, who is in my way is challenging my kingdom. 9News out of Colorado ran a report about threats being made against a local bike race. Trooper David Hall reassured that caution would be taken, but didn’t seem to foresee a real problem. That is very much appreciated, but my problem was in a closing statement made by Hall:

This is not a new issue. I understand the frustration that motorists feel sometimes when they encounter bicycles on the road and I also understand the frustration that bicyclists feel when a motorist is belligerent to someone on a bicycle. This issue is a two way street.

A two way street, perhaps, but a lopsided one. The problem is that Hall is comparing a motorist “encountering” a cyclist to a cyclist being threatened by a motorist. Hall is essentially saying the two are the same and that bikes on the road are, by default, an assault on a motorist.

Really those cyclists are an assault on the myth of flow. Cyclists aren’t out to piss off motorists. They’re out to ride their bikes.

I encountered a belligerent driver on my way back to work a few weeks ago. Traffic was traveling at a very moderate pace due to the signals which were programmed to shuffle cars through a pedestrian heavy area at a safe speed. As I attempted to merge from the bike lane a man in a suburban didn’t appreciate my butting in and accelerated, knocking me off my bike, in a threatening (thankfully), not injuring manor.

His anger was particularly unjustified as he had nowhere else to go, but in the 10 feet between him and the next car that I was presently trying to occupy. When I was on my feet I immediately called the police. They reviewed both sides of our story (My claim was that he hit me, his claim was that I was interrupting traffic) and they reviewed the stories of two witnesses (One saw me swearing at the guy to stop hitting me, one saw him actually hit me). Their ultimate decision was that it was a “misunderstanding.” They didn’t write warnings (they apparently don’t do this in Milwaukee) and they didn’t file a report, so it essentially it was like it never happened. I talked to Attorney Daniel E. Goldberg about what I could do, but since there was no report, my bike wasn’t damaged and I wasn’t damaged, there wasn’t much I could do.

Frustrating, yes.

Then not even a week later, two Milwaukee police officers were hit on their bikes in two separate incidents. I wondered towards the Milwaukee Police, if those incidents were considered “misunderstandings” as well.

If you’re ever in a car to bike accident:

  • Do not overreact. Do not yell at the person. Do not assault their vehicle. The law will treat you as if you are a car, not a cyclist and not a pedestrian.
  • Get the license plate number.
  • Get the names and numbers of all witnesses immediately. Witnesses tend to leave the area when they’re needed most: when the police arrive.
  • Get the name of the officer.
  • Demand that they file a report.

But this city is slowly livening up to the idea that there are more people on the road than just themselves. This weekend my neighborhood is running a 24 hour bike race calledThe Riverwest 24. In only its second year it has managed to attract over 350 registered riders, with the expectation that it will continue to rise, well into the hours before the race begins.

If you want to see what it looks like when a cities residents, both motorized and pedal powered, start to cooperate come out and cheer on the races.

[EDIT: This blog is dedicated to Terry Smith of Waukesha and the people who agree.]

The following is an open letter I sent to license@milwaukee.gov to get a more accurate bicycle license application page.

I was talking with some of my cycling friends lately and I’m all about registering my bike. As a representative of the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective I make sure to tell everyone to get their bike registered to be a legal rider in the city.

However, I feel like the registration form is a bit lacking as far as bike description goes. For instance, it asks for the tire size, when really you should be asking for the rim size. Furthermore, the tire size only uses inches while today’s modern wheels follow European standards. And even the archaic “inch” measurement doesn’t include larger wheels, like 28” wheels.

It may not seem like such a big deal to just use a close estimation (700c rims are only marginally smaller than 27 inch wheels) but some cyclists are afraid of being caught between a technicality.

Rim sizes should include:

  • 29”
  • 28”
  • 26”
  • 24”
  • 20”
  • 17”
  • 16”
  • 12”
  • 10”
  • 8”
  • 700C
  • 700D
  • 650A
  • 650B
  • 650C
  • 600A
  • 550A
  • 500A
  • 450A
  • 400A

The bike type is also pretty lacking. Instead of men’s and women’s, which is a very generalized (and increasingly sexist) delineation I would recommend something more descriptive:

  • Mountain
  • Dirtjump
  • Comfort/Hybrid
  • Road/Racing/Track/Touring
  • Folding
  • Electric
  • Traditional/Cruiser
  • Recumbent
  • BMX
  • Chopper
  • Tandem
  • Tall Bike
  • Penny Farthing

As you can see, it would be hard to classify a BMX or Folding bicycle as expressly male or female. Add a final option for the technical “sex” of the bike and include a “Not Applicable” for those that don’t apply.

  • Men’s
  • Women’s
  • Boy’s
  • Girl’s
  • Mixte
  • Not Applicable

Here it is all coded up:

<!-----BEGIN CODE CHANGES----->
<td width="13%" height="28" align="center">
<select name="RimSize" size="1">
<option selected>Size...</option>
<option value="29"">29"</option>
<option value="28"">28"</option>
<option value="26"">26"</option>
<option value="24"">24"</option>
<option value="20"">20"</option>
<option value="17"">17"</option>
<option value="16"">16"</option>
<option value="12"">12"</option>
<option value="10"">10"</option>
<option value="8"">8"</option>
<option value="700C">700C</option>
<option value="700D">700D</option>
<option value="650A">650A</option>
<option value="650B">650B</option>
<option value="650C">650C</option>
<option value="600A">600A</option>
<option value="550A">550A</option>
<option value="500A">500A</option>
<option value="450A">450A</option>
<option value="400A">400A</option>
</select>
<script language="JavaScript1.2">
<!-- //Validation description for title
arrValidationDesc[idx++] =
[
["dontselect=0","Please select rim size"]
];
// -->
</script>
</td>
<td width="37%" height="28">
<select name="Type" size="1">
<option selected>Select Type...</option>
<option value="Mountain">Mountain</option>
<option value="Comfort/Hybrid">Comfort/Hybrid</option>
<option value="Road/Racing/Track/Touring">Road/Racing/Track/Touring</option>
<option value="Traditional/Cruiser">Traditional/Cruiser</option>
<option value="BMX">BMX</option>
<option value="Recumbent">Recumbent</option>
<option value="Tandem">Tandem</option>
<option value="Folding">Folding</option>
<option value="Electric">Electric</option>
<option value="Chopper">Chopper</option>
<option value="Dirtjump">Dirtjump</option>
<option value="Tall Bike">Tall Bike</option>
<option value="Penny Farthing">Penny Farthing</option>
</select>
<script language="JavaScript1.2">
<!-- //Validation description for title
arrValidationDesc[idx++] =
[
["dontselect=0","Please select bicycle type"]
];
// -->
</script>
</td>
<td width="37%" height="28">
<select name="Sex" size="1">
<option selected>Select Sex...</option>
<option value="Men’s">Men’s</option>
<option value="Boy’s">Boy’s</option>
<option value="Women’s">Women’s</option>
<option value="Girl’s">Girl’s</option>
<option value="Mixte">Mixte</option>
<option value="Not Applicable">Not Applicable</option>
</select>
<script language="JavaScript1.2">
<!-- //Validation description for title
arrValidationDesc[idx++] =
[
["dontselect=0","Please select bicycle sex"]
];
// -->
</script>
</td>
<!-----END CODE CHANGES----->

NOTE: You’ll definitely want to have a programmer check through my code to make sure everything is proofread and sound.

Make these changes and we’re one step closer to an even more bike–friendly Milwaukee. Thank you very much.
–––Jason

I’ll post an update if I hear back from them, but in the meantime if you agree with these changes and care enough to send a quick note (you can simply direct them to this blog) please do.

A recent acquaintance of mine, Tim Cigelske dropped himself off in Colorado with a bike, a bottle of water, and a few power bars (as well as a kick ass Chipotle jersey) and in currently working his way back up to his home city of Milwaukee.

Having only biked 80 miles to Madison and, more recently 115 miles around Riverwest, this seems like quite the feat.

Now I’m on vacation in Iowa and since I have no significant other traveling with me (unless you count my beagle, Frutiger) I had room in the trunk in which to throw my bike. Half the family I’ve come to visit is gone and most of this morning I was alone. And since I forgot to pack some food for my lovable companion, I thought it would be good to start practicing my distance biking by making a trip out to Target.

From where my parents live, it’s only a mere 7 miles away, but since I’m in the suburbs of Iowa, the city planners only come up with plans for expansion and rarely come to any sense of completion. Roads suddenly end (they’ll put them there soon) or they’ll suddenly turn you down the opposite direction and bike paths suddenly end (you just wait, this place is gonna be great!).

Or maybe those are just my excuses as to why I got lost and overshot my goal by about 13 miles. I went back and forth down a few main roads and just as I was about to give up and find my way home, I was at Target’s front door. When I realized that I was practically feet from it almost a half–an–hour before I felt a little sheepish, but ultimately it was just exciting to take the bike around.

And it rides so much better now that I’ve raised the seat an inch.

I’ve only recently discovered the miles/calories/gas-savings site, Gas Free Commute in which you can input your miles and compete to see how green you are. Most of my trips have lately been to work, which is kinda boring. But today I win.

Archived Comments

These comments were pulled from the archives after a site failure in mid 2014. Though I no longer accept public comments on my site, I’ve included them for posterity. If you’d like to submit a comment, send one to littletinyfish@littletinyfish.com.

  1. Sorry I missed you in Iowa. We may have been biking around the same suburb the same time, crossing bike paths.

    Teecycle Tim · 2008-08-11 14:30 · #

This weekend Milwaukee was loaded and packed to the brim with things to do. There was the Downer Avenue Bike Race, Brady Street Days, a Bay View block party, The Riverwest 24, a free rummage sale on Holton, GermanFest, Critical Mass, Bar Camp Madison, Secret Chiefs 3 (with aquaintence and opener, The Demix) and plenty more that I’m unaware of. If you were bored this weekend, you’re an idiot.

As for me, I picked up a new pair of padded biking shorts and chose the Riverwest 24, a 24–hour bike race through the Riverwest neighborhood. The course was approximately five miles long and within the 24–hour time period I managed to make the circle 23 times. Every two hours new bonus spots would be rewarded. If you made it to the spot and accomplished the goal you’d be rewarded with an extra lap. For this special occasion, my friend Tracy and I designed and spray painted our team logo on the back of our shirts.“O! My taint!” Most thought it to be quite appropriate.

Things started out well as we felt out the course. The wind was minimal on the first day and tolerable the next. Our trail took us through four checkpoints and just as many block parties. It took us down the busy Humboldt Ave, across the Milwaukee River via the Marsupial Bridge, and through the side–streets of Riverwest. Neighbors often cheered, even early in the dusky morning.

During the day–long event I was mostly biking along with Tracy, and periodically with my friend Clifton. We took Beagle breaks, bathroom breaks, and breakfast breaks. At one point my kevlar tires allowed a punctured tube and difficulties patching the tube caused me to lose some time.

We left for the East Side at 1 in the morning in order re–charge with Pizza from Pizza Shuttle. By 4am we decided to take a two–and–a–half hour nap. I’m not a morning person and when I got up I was in full–on zombie mode, but we headed out to the breakfast point, where we were served up Vegan pancakes.

The next few laps were accomplished on sheer willpower alone. Just keep moving forward, I kept telling myself. Despite my weariness, I pushed myself harder, and forced a happier mood each time I stopped for a checkpoint, pretending that this was the easiest thing in the world.

After we made the 20th circle we took a lunch break for cereal and eggs. I felt better, but not for much longer. I was able to squeeze out three more laps and, just before we started the fourth lap, my body gave out. I felt sick and tired and angry and felt like I wanted to cry. I could barely walk and standing was making me nauseous. I went home, grabbed my dog, Frutiger, and headed to the finish line. I laid on the ground and passed in and out of consciousness for the next 3 hours. Tracy completed her goal of 25 laps and came back with a peanut butter sandwich and a cracker pack, which improved my mood tremendously.

After the race was over we had to leave before the final results were in (The race board noted that some teams had made over 100 laps) because we had to go lend our tired support to The Demix at the Secret Chiefs 3 show at the Turner Ballroom. The music there was loud. Deafeningly loud. I had to keep fingers in my ears at times because the experimental noise, while artistically and entertainingly arranged, was ear piercing. And even so, I was still managing to nod off.

It was a punishing 24 hours, but I’m very satisfied to see just how far I was able to push my mind and body. I wish I could have gone further, but I really believe I reached my limits. Before the end of the race we were already talking about plans for next year. “We’re definitely doing teams next year,” we said, but there’s still a part of me that wants to go solo again.

Archived Comments

These comments were pulled from the archives after a site failure in mid 2014. Though I no longer accept public comments on my site, I’ve included them for posterity. If you’d like to submit a comment, send one to littletinyfish@littletinyfish.com.

  1. I’m proud of you and I’m glad you didn’t get hit by a car. Yay for not being killed by a car! 😀

    Ashe · 2008-07-28 17:26 · #

  2. Yes!! Great article and I loved the shirts you and tray made!

    KeVroN · 2008-07-28 19:10 · #

  3. Man, I know exactly how you feel. Wish I could have been there. I’m in for next year.

    Incidentally, I’m typing this while sitting on your brother’s couch in Lincoln, Nebraska. Crazy!

    Teecycle Tim · 2008-08-03 17:04 · #