Why they stand out
Kenosha County is using bike trails to blaze new collaborative pathways towards health. In 2010, the county executive, inspired by seeing other bike-friendly communities, brought together a ‘Blue Ribbon Panel’ of stakeholders from the county’s cities and towns, as well as regional planners and bike advocates. Members from different communities excitedly shared their plans to build bicycle infrastructure, but the conveners quickly noticed that the plans did not always connect. In response, they secured Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding from the Department of Transportation to collaboratively develop Kenosha County’s Comprehensive Bike Plan 2025. The Kenosha County Board of Supervisors adopted the plan in 2013 and the County’s Division of Planning & Development created a Multi-Use Trail Committee to oversee implementation of the plan.
Today the coalition known as the Kenosha County Multi-Use Trail Committee is comprised of representatives from the local cities and towns, law enforcement, businesses, academics, advocacy groups, and non-profit community groups. They apply for grants, and bring together action teams that plan and promote active events, including Bike to Work Week, and the creation of a new bike rodeo and efforts to address local trail safety concerns. They ensure implementation of the comprehensive plan by building and maintaining trails, lanes, and routes with budgetary resources and through grant funding. The group makes trail use easier through its new wayfinding signage system, and is working to create a bike share program in the future. Kenosha County also participates in “Route of the Badger,” a regional initiative working to transform 340 miles of existing trails into an interconnected 500+ mile network across Southeast Wisconsin.
Kenosha County’s efforts to implement its bike plan are already paying off, for example, in achieving as an ‘honorable mention’ Bike Friendly City Designation from the League of American Bicyclists in 2015. As they continue to aim towards higher designation levels, the coalition’s persistence in creating connections across the county and the region - both literally and figuratively - embody their vision to create more choices for getting around where residents live, work and play. Keep collaborating, Kenosha!
Approach to Equity
Kenosha acknowledges that people do not experience equitable and just opportunities to walk and bike. With this knowledge, they aim to advance equity by working to improve opportunities for populations facing economic and geographic barriers to active living. The committee is prioritizing efforts to connect rural areas west of highway I-94 to the eastern leg of the trail. This is supported by the Safety Center who educate children east of I-94 through a program on bicycle and pedestrian safety. Similarly, one of the organizations that sits on the Trail Committee, the Kenosha Bicycle Ambassadors, is leading the way on providing and promoting bicycle usage and knowledge. Each of these efforts helps increase access to active living in Kenosha County. The committee is eager to become connected with opportunities to learn about root causes that create access barriers in their communities.