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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014

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A sample of the new Schlitz Park Varsity Bike Dock Rack system
A sample of the new Schlitz Park Varsity Bike Dock Rack system

Schlitz Park improves bike facilities in time for criterium Tuesday

On Saturday evening my options for entertainment had run dry. After contacting a few friends over dinner I decided that the night was apparently going to be a night in. But a block before home I was suddenly passed by a group of about 15 people on bicycles.

"What’s going on here?" I shouted across the street.

"It’s ‘Bike Like A Beast.’ A Bike bar crawl."

"Oh, mind if I join you?"

"Welcome aboard!"

Things were starting to look up. We enjoyed a round of mini-bowling at Koz’s before heading off to the East Side to check out the remains of North Avenue’s Summer Soulstice and enjoy some Ian’s Pizza.

For most of the trip we stuck to the Lakeshore Park and Lakefront trails. It was a six-mile haul, but with such a fun and friendly group and on such pleasant paths it felt effortless.

It’s pretty amazing how easy it is to ride around this city when the right accommodations are in place, and Schlitz Park is getting on board in recognition of that with state-of-the-art upgrades to their bicycle facilities.

The 46-acre commercial property is investing nearly $50,000 to make their part of the city more bicycle-friendly. This includes doubling the amount of bicycle parking, installing a state-of-the-art safe and secure bike rack system, and providing other tenants bicycling amenities desired to meet the growing demand for alternative ways to commute to work and meetings.

Schlitz Park is taking a three-pronged attack in making themselves bicycle-friendly: infrastructure, community and hygiene.

Already the office park has increased bike parking from seven to 11 locations with three more in the works (for a total of 14 locations). Forty racks may not seem like a lot until you realize they are the first commercial property in the country to install the patented Varsity Bike Dock Rack system to provide parking for 80 bikes.

They provide three points of contact for security, feature materials that prevent metal on metal contact and includes a wheel support system, which prevents bike tipping. The bike racks even have a covered public shelter to protect bicycles from rain and snow.

Not to mention the design of these bike racks are idiot proof providing proper spacing and proper support (unlike the "staples" you see around town, which are often installed incorrectly or used inefficiently). As a bike rack snob I can confirm that these racks give me what I’m looking for.

Schlitz Park has published a property specific bike map with suggested routes to and from the property, which should help gather riders together and guide them to the safest streets.

The Downtown office park has also solved one of the most concerning elements of a bike commute: the sweat. They have announced plans to develop a $30 million renovation that will include two fitness centers with showers and provisions that allow bike commuters a place to change and clean up.

The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin (Bike Fed), which performed a comprehensive audit of the 46-acre corporate campus located at the former Schlitz Brewery site, says Schlitz Park’s effort is one of the most extensive bike plans they’ve seen. "What Schlitz Park is doing and the scale of their activity is significant. They’re establishing themselves as a leader in the bike to work effort providing the type of example we promote as we work with businesses across the state," says Kevin Hardman, Executive Director of the Bike Fed.

Schlitz Park is a natural for tenants and employees looking for other forms of transportation to work than sitting in their cars. The commercial office complex is conveniently located to both highways and city streets with easy access to public transit and just steps from some of the city’s newest and most affordable places to live.

Multi-modal commuter Margit Schatzman appreciates that convenience. She is president of Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., a Schlitz Park tenant with more than 90 employees.

"I bike, I take the bus and when I need to, I take my car and I have a parking place," Schatzman says. "Schlitz Park makes all of those possible."

You can check out the new accommodations tomorrow with the Schlitz Park Criterium, the sixth stage of the Tour of America’s Dairyland, which features a 9 percent graded climb. It’s probably the closest Milwaukee will get to the grand struggle of the Tour de France. Racing starts at 11 a.m. and continues through the afternoon and evening.

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