Pedal Power: Map project benefits Brown County bicyclists

Brown County Bicycle Map ProjectUW-Green Bay student Matthew Bergeon is an avid bicyclist. Classmate Jennifer Hart has a passion for the community in which she lives. When the two combined forces on their quest to develop Brown County’s first-ever comprehensive bicycle map, there was no stopping them.

The $3 map is now available to both serious and curious Brown County bikers at various Brown County municipalities, bicycle retail outlets and at the University Union Information Center. But hurry to get yours — nearly 3,000 of the 4,000 initially printed sold within the first three months of publication.The map emphasizes alternative forms of on-street transportation and recreation and identifies existing bicycle lanes and preferred routes that retain continuous routes when bicycle lanes are not available.

UW-Green Bay Prof. Bill Niedzwiedz (Public and Environmental Affairs), saw the map project as a great opportunity for an “Independent Study” project, and challenged Bergeon and Hart to make the project their own. They gathered most of their data from the Brown County Planning Commission and through public meetings. Spatial data (“bike-friendly” routes) were collected using GPS (global positioning system), then mapped using geographic information system software. Both students had taken Niedzwiedz’s GIS class.

The information was then reviewed and refined by a core group of county and municipal staff members, bicycle advocates, bicycle retailers and interested public and private agencies. The project was approved in various stages, and in its final form, by the Brown County Planning Commission.

“I am an avid cyclist and employee of JB Cycle & Sport, and find myself using the map all of the time,” explained Bergeon. “The ultimate goal is to get people to ride more and to use their bicycles not just as recreation but also for transportation…

”The map also displays bicycle facilities such as bike lanes, multi-use trails, public restrooms, parks and repair shops, explains Hart.

“Helping create the Brown County Bicycle Map was an incredible learning experience for me,” Hart said. “There is more work that goes into making a map than most people realize. Everyone who was involved with the project shared a common enthusiasm for how the end result could benefit Brown County communities. I’m glad I had the opportunity to be part of it.”Niedzwiedz says that internships and independent studies such as this one are vital to students and communities, alike.

“Students benefit by interacting with professionals in a variety of fields,” he said. “The ‘extra’ help provided by students, especially today, often can make the difference between a project being started and completed, or languishing on the shelf.”