sun prairie

Why they stand out

Passionate people are any community's biggest asset when it comes to kick starting local change. In Sun Prairie's case, a sizable cohort of Trek Bicycle employees not only biked the community and made the 15 mile commute to work, they also began to notice places that could be made better or safer. They joined with other bike advocates to talk to the city about the improvements they wanted to see. Those who participated in conversations eventually created the Sun Prairie Bicycle Advocacy Group (SPBAG), a grassroots volunteer organization that provides in a wide range of programs and a consistent voice in support of policy changes aimed at creating a more active community. Continuing its evolution, SPBAG received 501c3 status in 2018 and rebranded as Sun Prairie Moves, Inc.

Sun Prairie Moves’ transition into policy change was inspired when they decided to lead Sun Prairie’s application to be a Bike Friendly Community in 2015. They received an honorable mention, and more importantly, identified processes and practices to improve at the city level. In March 2018, Sun Prairie passed an ordinance updating the official city map with on-street bike lanes for all arterial street. Soon after, they established a Bicycle Subcommittee within the city’s Transit Commission, with the goal of establishing an off-street multi-use path network. As an official part of city government, the Bicycle Subcommittee now has a representative on other city committees to provide input and review other proposals and policies from a bike perspective. Sun Prairie Moves has at least 1 person on the city’s Bicycle Subcommittee, while also continuing their community-based efforts to get more people safely on bikes. They lead regular group rides for people of all ages and abilities, for example, and participate in programs like Free Bikes 4 Kids in partnership with groups such as Sunshine Place, the local food pantry.

 

Although bike advocacy has been a gateway to policy change in Sun Prairie, partners across the city also recognize the importance of other transportation options like walking and transit. City staff, leaders, non-profits and other organizations are also attuned to other policies that affect residents’ abilities to walk and bike, including affordable housing and land use development patterns in this quickly growing city. A new high school will soon be built, and it has not been possible to situate it in a walkable, in-town location. With development expected to continue, however, housing will develop in areas around the school, and the city recognizes the opportunity to create a walkable school community in the future. Sun Prairie’s unique brand of volunteer activism combined with city leadership puts it on track to continue bringing about positive changes that all residents can enjoy. Stay tuned to see what happens next!

Approach to Equity

The Sun Prairie Bicycle Advisory Group works hard to increase mobility access for all residents, and in particular, have partnered with senior services advocates to emphasize the importance of sidewalks, safe multi-use paths and other transportation services (local taxi, mass-transit) at the city level.

 

Thanks to these and other efforts, the city is increasing its focus on wheelchair access, and is also working on implementing the affordable housing policy in Sun Prairie’s comprehensive plan. The Advisory Group also work with organizations that serve the most vulnerable populations, such as the local food pantry, the Sun Prairie Area School District, after school groups and local library to connect more directly with underserved groups, and have started to be known as a group that can help connect individuals to resources and information about mobility options.

Strategy snapshot

Local Action Strategies

  • One-time Community building walks or rides (e.g., Slow Roll, Bike Rendezvous, etc.)

  • Walk to School day/week (October)

  • Bike week (June 3 - 10)  

  • Bike to Work Day (May 19) or AHA’s National Walking Day (April 5)

  • Bike donation or bike swap event  

  • Safety education campaigns

  • Regular weekly or monthly community building rides or walks

  • Weekly/Monthly travel training or transit club events (trips to farmer’s market using alternative transportation)

  • Installing bike racks and/or fix-it stations

  • Place physical walking/biking route maps in the community

Planning to do: 

  • Open Streets event(s)

  • Share and Be Aware classes and rides

  • Participation in the National Bike Challenge or the APHA Billion Steps campaign. Encourage individuals, teams, schools and/or worksites to sign up

  • Conduct a community walk audit

  • Bicycle benefits program with local retailers (e.g., bike bingo)

  • Cycle Without Age programs

  • “Stop for your Neighbor” walking education campaigns

  • Create simple community walking loops / trails with signage

  • “Walk Your City” signage or paint on sidewalks for routes that connects people to destinations

  • Community Bike Share

  • Build a better bus stop (bus stop design contests)

Community Engagement Strategies

  • Pop-up visible crosswalks

  • Pop-up directional signage or maps network. Include transit stops in network

  • Pop up art at local ‘activity hubs’ like main streets, schools, bus stops, senior centers, etc.

  • Create supporter email lists

  • Grassroots education (potential topics: economic benefits, trips under 2 miles, Stop for your Neighbor)

  • Local official education (e.g., meetings, 1-pagers, walk/bike/ride transit with your mayor)

  • Participatory photo mapping/photovoice. (Recommendation: focus on project areas most impacted by lack of access to active transportation)

Planning to do: 

  • Pop-up sidewalk, protected bike lane or bike boulevard

  • Pop-up traffic calming

  • First mile/last mile connections demos to show safe walking connections to transit stops

  • Local Bike Walk Civics Course

  • Collect walk/bike transit/transportation rider’s stories

  • Walking meetings with municipal leaders/legislators or office hours on the bus

  • Participatory public art

  • Community walk audit  

Community Impact

  • Apply for walk / bike friendly designation  

  • Establish a Bike/Ped Committee or Safe Routes to School Task Force

  • Serve as a mentor to other communities

  • Attend a statewide conference /summit on active transportation

  • Connect trails across city or county lines in bicycle and pedestrian plans

Planning to do: 

  • Adopt a Bike/Ped Plan

  • Create a Safe Routes to School Plan

  • Establish consistent Wayfinding Signage

  • Support leadership development opportunities / leadership roles with individuals in underrepresented communities / those that lack access to active transportation

  • Local Safe Routes to School policy / funding

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How to help

Where they would like support or resources

  • Information and resources to help expand their volunteer base in order to lead more community programs.

  • Resources to address challenges associated with rapid population growth. In particular, public transportation options and connections have lagged behind population growth, making it difficult to get employees to areas of employment.

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