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Wisconsin among top two states for bicycling

Bicyclists pause outside the entrance to tunnel 3 on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. The Elroy-Sparta bike trail was the first rail to trail bike trail in the nation. photo by Joe Warren, DNR.

MADISON - Wisconsin has been ranked as a top bicycling state in the country. Only Washington topped the Badger State in a rating by the League of American Bicyclists.

In addition to the number two ranking from the League of American Bicyclists, the Rails to Trails Conservancy recently named the Elroy-Sparta recreation trail to the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

Elroy-Sparta is only the seventh inductee into the hall. In 1965 Wisconsin was the first state to convert abandoned railway beds into recreational trails promoting hiking, biking, snowmobiling and some ATV use.

"Our state trail system is among the best in the country and is an important contributor to the quality of life in Wisconsin," said Matt Frank, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary.

He added that through the state's stewardship fund, $3 million has been added to help acquire more trails.

Frank noted that the league's survey measured factors like quality roads, safety, use of available federal funding and policy favorable to cyclists.

Wisconsin has one of the largest recreational trail systems in the country with 42 named trails and nearly 10,000 miles in roadway rated suitable for bicycle touring.

The Wisconsin Bicycle Federation and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation work together to produce eight comprehensive maps dedicated to making these trails, state and county parks and forests, and the communities they connect easy to access and navigate for bicyclers of all ages and skill levels.

"At the Wisconsin DOT, we take great pride in working with communities to promote a multi-modal transportation system," said Frank Busalacchi, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Information about the state's bike trails and help in planning a bike tour of the state can be found on the Travel Wisconsin Web site at

Users can check the calendar of events, read the information on the Great Outdoors, or order a Wisconsin Biking Guide. Bicyclists can also call 800-432-8747.

The survey is the first of an expected annual ranking of states and is part of the League's Bicycle Friendly State program which is in part supported by Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo. Three upper Midwest states made the top ten with Minnesota ranked fifth and Illinois eighth.