"Trek is really excited to be a sponsor of this event," John Burke, president of the Waterloo, Wisconsin-based bicycle giant, said at Thursday's news conference announcing Ride the Drive. What's not to be excited about?
Scheduled for 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday, Augusut 30, the inaugural event will close down about six miles of downtown roads -- including parts of John Nolen Drive and East Washington Avenue -- to motor vehicle traffic, transforming the route into a public promenade.
Announced during this morning's press conference at Olin-Turville Park, the event is being hailed by cyclists as comparable to established events in cities including New York, Chicago and Melbourne.
"This is an incredible opportunity to open the city up so that people can ride their bikes, they can walk, they can Rollerblade, they can really get out there and they can see their city from a lot of different vantage points," said Burke, who was joined at this morning's announcement by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin President Kevin Hardman and other dignitaries.
Cieslewicz was careful to note that no taxpayer dollars would be involved in the family-friendly event. "We are going to raise all the money that's necessary to pay the police costs and other costs -- which will be in the neighborhood of $20,0000 -- we're going to raise all that money privately," he emphasized. In addition to Trek and the Bike Fed, sponsors lined up so far include AT&T, Group Health Cooperative, Isthmus/TheDailyPage.com, Saris Cycling Group and radio stations Charlie FM, Triple M and WOLX.
The route map (PDF) starts and finishes near Olin-Turville Park, follows John Nolen Drive to Blair Street to East Washington Avenue to Paterson Street, where it doubles back up East Wash to the Capitol Square. Circling the Capitol, it proceeds down State Street to Lake Street to West Dayton to South Bedford to West Wilson to South Broom, returning to Olin-Turville by way of John Nolen Drive.
Motor vehicle traffic will, for the most part, be detoured around the event, though there will be some cross-traffic allowed at some controlled intersections along the route.
Additional details are available at the Ride the Drive website.
Following the press conference, several dozen cyclists rolled out with a police escort down John Nolen Drive, affording a preview of Ride the Drive. The prevalence of smiles among the cyclists suggested that Burke is not alone in his excited anticipation of the event.