Great Lakes - Milwaukee MUPs
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03-01-12, 04:30 AM
I'm in the process of moving to Milwaukee, and I could use a little local insight into the state of the bike trails / MUPs in and around town.
We are a one-car family, and I tend to cart the kids around by bike and like to keep 'em off the roads as much as possible (for a number of reasons). I've got two main questions:
1. Are there a bunch of barriers to keep motorized vehicles off the trail? If there are, how navigable would they be with a trailer, or better yet a long cargo bike like this one:
2. How 'safe' are they after dark, in terms of baddies hanging out doing bad things? I'm no shrinking violet, but like to know what I'm getting into...
Thanks in advance!
03-02-12, 08:35 AM
I don't know where you are coming from or what part of Milwaukee you are moving to, but Milwaukee doesn't have a lot of MUPs. I live just north of Milwaukee, and there is the Oak Leaf Trail that extends up from the downtown lakefront area, but that is about it and sections of that still follow a regular street. I believe there are similar paths that head south and west of down town. Other than that there may be a few parks that have a loop of some sort but that is about it.
I have heard of a few safety incidents occurring where the trail passes near UWM, but that is about it.
03-02-12, 09:36 AM
I'm actually returning to Milwaukee after living in Glasgow for 10 years. I was mostly wondering about the Oak-leaf and Hank Aaron trails.
I'm mostly trying to figure out how navigable the city / ring suburbs are by bike with kids. I'm guessing we are going to wind up in shorewood or 'Tosa. If its mostly surface streets, that fine by me, but I'd like the option of hopping on a trail when the destination suits.
Here, there's a trail that we can take into town, but there are a couple of barriers that a pain with a trailer, and one would make a long cargo bike unworkable. Just wondering if it's a similar situation in MKE.
Here are some links for Milwaukee biking. Shorewood & Tosa both have good access to the Oak Leaf and Tosa would connect to the Aaron without too much road travel. Many of the surface streets they connect on are low speed (posted not always followed) parkways along the rivers. Weekday rush hours would be the worst for traffic. I don't know of any trail barriers that would preclude a trailer, but it's possible, non I've actually noticed anyway. Like anywhere in the "big city" there is always the possiblity of unsavory types on the trails. I have never had a problem, and never felt unsafe with my children. The Shorewood area Oak Leaf has greater potential for problems due to the more "urban" location, but also has much more traffic.
Another nice trail to ride with children is the Interurban with a stop in Cedarburg for Ice cream and playgrounds/community pools accessable from the trail. This does have a RR Xing that requires slow speed 90's but has plenty of room to fit a trailer South of Cedarburg.
PS We drive on the other side of the road here :)
03-03-12, 08:56 AM
PS We drive on the other side of the road here :)
Yeah, and the brake levers reversed too.
Thanks for the insight and the links.
03-04-12, 09:36 AM
I bike from Cedarburg to downtown MKE a lot in the summer. Almost the entire ride is on the interurban or Oak Leaf trail with just some short segments on road. I think the trails here a good and getting better. The links dedhed gave are good ones and they are expanding the trails and access every year so keep an eye on them.
03-04-12, 12:29 PM
On the southwest side, Greendale is networked with little walking paths that are great to ride. There's no map, you just have to poke around and learn them. We used to have a training loop we called the Ronde de Greendale which included an old bridal path in Whitnall Park that's getting overgrown. Scout Lake has paths too.
Dunno if it's in the links above, but also check out the Racine County Bike Trail, and the Muskego-Franklin Rec. Trail.
03-04-12, 03:16 PM
Thanks for all the input / info!
I think I might have misrepresented myself a little bit here :) I'll be doing almost all of my transport around town by bike, and when I bring the kids along, I like to be off the road when it's practicable. It sounds like Milwaukee is pretty similar to Glasgow as far as getting as using a bike for transportation, if not a little better. I'm just trying to get a heads up as to what it is like to be transportation cyclist in Milwaukee with two youngish kids. I'm looking forward to figuring it out!
Generally speaking, how well do drivers interact with cyclists on the road? Do they tolerate 'taking the lane' and all that jazz, or do they tend to fairly aggressive ? Here, it's a mixed bag. For the most part cars leave enough room when passing, will yield at intersections when the cyclist has the right of way, but I'd say on average there are 1 or 2 incidents per ride where I'm passed too closely, or a car pulls out in front of me even though they have definitely seen me (they are looking at me when they do it). It's rarely anything that remotely puts me off, or even raises my blood pressure. It is, however, enough to me think twice about bringing the kids along on these routes.
With Milwaukee's grid layout, it seems that it would easier to take quieter streets to get where you needed to go, or is this something that only looks feasible on the map, but once you get on the road...
It's nice to see / hear about the recreational options too though, and will certainly be doing plenty of that whenever the opportunity presents itself!
03-04-12, 04:50 PM
Drivers in Wisconsin share the road pretty well, but like everywhere, there are some that are clueless behind the wheel. Drunk driving is a real problem.
I do most of my riding as commuting (4K/yr)and find that drivers by and large are pretty tolerant. I take the lane quite often to stay out of the "door zone" and rarely have trouble. Yeah, I once in a while get some unintelligble comment, and also have learned to keep the bird and the FU's from flying to not aggravate things. I always go in turn lanes to go left and nobody bothers me about it. Sometimes they are too timid and follow along behind instead of just passing, especially on residential side streets.
I do almost prefer larger busier streets as you will have 2 travel lanes and a parking lane that you get all to yourself except for the inferquent parked cars. You can often ride a parallel residential street, but I often find the constant stop signs a pain as can be the frequent uncontrolled intersections where the car cedes to you (even if they have the ROW) and you both wait until someone goes. The only issue with some of the side streets (at least where I do most of my ride) is RR, freeway, and river xings are often only at the major roads. I would also have to think twice about riding at or near bar close time.
I'm also pretty well fredded up with plenty of reflective tape, always wear a work safety vest, and have a retina burner headlight and a couple of blinkys - No excuse to not "see me" I also won't ride without a mirror.
Now rush hour with small children (youngest is now a teen) might give me pause and make me really look into a route that would without a doubt be different than I'd ride by myself.
By and large MKE isn't a bad place to ride and drivers are pretty good. Trails and bike lanes are getting better. Better have good wheels as the pavement is crap, many sections of off road trail are not plowed or randomly plowed, and winter sucks for riding IMHO
Of course these are my thoughts and experience (6 -7 yrs of 3-4K/yr), in the areas and times I ride to and from, YMMV.
Here's some pics from the Oak Leaf in Tosa and NW Milw
03-06-12, 07:50 AM
Thanks again for all the info. Dedhed, I don't do the same milage as you since I work from home but is sounds like we share a similar style of riding. Glad to hear it's mostly an enjoyable experience.
We'll see how I bear the winters on the bike, but I am looking forward to not having perpetual 20 MPH + winds all the d*^n time!
Have studded tires, will travel. :thumb:
I do not live in Milwaukee or Wisconsin, but in my travels through the USA, I have found in general, Winsconsinites to be among the best and least aggressive drivers. I'd say they are in a three way tie with Minnesota and North Dakota... the politeness belt :). Normally when crossing from Canada into the US you expect a drop in coutesy, but I actually prefer the northern midwest US to my birth home of Northwestern Ontario.
The worst I've seen were in Florida. THe Rest of the southeast is just clogged with cars, but not overly aggressive in general, in my experience.
Of course, you always need to watch your back no matter where you are.
They have people in N. Dakota? I've had some great times in NW Ontario, of course I mostly interacted with walleyes, Northerns, and the stray wolf, moose, and bear.
bendem you would have loved this winter. I have way more miles on my bike than my plow truck this season, XC skiing wasn't too good though.
They have people in N. Dakota?
Perhaps not. MAybe it is completely unihabited and that is why I have never had any problems in traffic there.
03-07-12, 06:58 PM
Try and pick up a copy of the Milwaukee county bike map, should still be free at many of the bike shops in the area.
There are places in Milwaukee where you probably do not want to ride through, day or night. Ask when you get here for how things are along the routes that you plan to ride. I used to listen to a police radio scanner until they went to the new system.
I'm going to be checking out the Oak leaf trail system a bit this summer. I'm north of town a ways.
Meh, no place I wouldn't ride during the day (OK maybe not down an alley in "the hood"). Some places I wouldn't ride at night - especially on a nice warm summer night.
You could write to the address here http://city.milwaukee.gov/bike for a map to be mailed out, tell them you are planning on moving here.
Dave Schlabowske is no longer in that position and it is currently vacant. Or contact Dave at the bike fed and ask for a map to be mailed out.
Do you have to ride in a kilt in Scotland?
Here are some fun bike things to do too.
03-08-12, 10:16 AM
Trying to help someone out of some self-induced situations they got theirself into, I learned about all sorts of neighborhoods I'd rather not ride through day or night.
But overall the region is a nice place to ride.
I'm going to hopefully be starting a new job soon so now I'm looking at new commute options and routes, probably a park-n-pedal of some sort.
I'll be returning to WI within the next month. In addition to the previously mentioned maps, the Bicycling Federation of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin DOT have a 2010 updated version of their state bike map. It's an invaluable set of eight maps, with the roads color-coded to indicate bike-friendliness. Green = most friendly, Blue= moderate, Red = undesirable or not permitted.
If you end up exploring outside of the county, they'd be useful.
Clickable, printable maps of WI counties that show trails and more.
03-22-12, 11:45 AM
All the info from dedhed is right on.
I lived in 'Tosa and now I live blocks from Shorewood... and I have a couple of other comments:
1) All of the trails in Milwaukee are safe to ride during the day. Be smart. Be aware. You'll be safe.
2) There are no barriers to stop you from pulling a trailer. I pulled my two sons all over the Milwaukee area for years.
3) Milwaukee, the surrounding suburbs, and southern Wisconsin have pretty well developed trail systems... and many of them connect to each other. For example, this summer we're leaving from our driveway on Milwaukee's north shore and we're biking 150 miles west to Governor Dodge State Park (Dodgeville). Fewer than ten of those miles will be on roads. The rest will be on trails. I think that's pretty cool.
4) The Henry Aaron State Trail is a real gem. They're still working on it. They're adding spurs into neighborhoods and adjacent rest areas. I was on it Sunday as part of a forty mile ride on the Oak Leaf Trail. I thought the Henry Aaron was pretty special. I'm heading there again this weekend.
Milwaukee isn't a bicyclist's paradise... it's just not. But there are some good options and opportunities.
Welcome back... enjoy!
03-27-12, 08:42 AM
Tosa is great for cycling! There's easy trail access north, south, east and west, including the newly extended Hank Aaron Trail. There's a local riding group - The Spokesmen - that have multiple rides every week, including during the winter. There's a great bar - The Hollander - that has a bike friendly atmosphere right in the Village (old downtown Tosa). If you want a local tour guide, let me know, and I'd be glad to show you around.
04-05-12, 10:22 AM
I just got back from our exploratory trip around Milwaukee, looking at neighbourhoods, schools and all that stuff.
I managed to ride around a bit too :)
Although the condition of the roads is pretty dismal, the overal riding conditions were great! At least compared to Glasgow.
The little bit of riding I did led me to believe there really isn't any reason to think that I we can't do car-lite with 2 small kids in either Shorewood or Tosa.
Thanks for all the input, and maybe I'll see some of you out and about in June! (Red & Black Brompton, or the bike pictured in my original post, most likely.)
We'll be out there. You'll see me on my old red trek commuting if you do Tosa not so much Shorewood. Otherwise an old green Raleigh at some of the summer concert series.
05-12-12, 08:47 AM
Clickable, printable maps of WI counties that show trails and more.
Great resource skijor! Thanks a million. I will be using this site all throughout this summer as I plan several multi-county cycling trips. Thanks again.
05-17-12, 08:34 PM
I agree, that map is perfect. I dont come into this forum that much, but this link will help a ton planning for some summer rides. Was planning on riding the bugline this Saturday, but I have to work now.
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