Creating Healthier Communities in Wisconsin

Photo courtesy cmh2315fl | CC BY-NC 2.0

Building the Badger Route


In development since 2014, the Route of the Badger was conceived by RTC after an analysis revealed that in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis-Racine metropolitan area, 90 percent of the population lived within 3 miles of a trail.

The region—which has 340 miles of trails on the ground—was recognized as an ideal potential model for the next step in trail development: making small investments in trail infrastructure to leverage these larger (completed) investments—thereby creating benefits bigger than the sum of their parts related to health, economic development and tourism, conservation, walkability and bikeability.

On Sept. 14, 2016, RTC and Wisconsin Bike Fed unveiled the project to 100 potential partners at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in Racine, with presentations by RTC President Keith Laughlin, Wisconsin Bike Fed Executive Director Dave Cieslewicz, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Hank Aaron State Trail Manager Melissa Cook.

Building on that momentum, an official kick-off meeting for the project took place on Nov. 30, 2016, with more than 60 people in attendance.

Moving Forward

The Route of the Badger partner network has embarked on the first phase of the project (2016–2017). This is an exciting time, as the groundwork is being established to create a strategic initiative to complete the gap-filling strategy. The first step the partner network established was to focus on four working groups to accomplish the separate yet over-lapping goals of the Badger. 

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The working groups include: 1) Governance 2) Economic Development and Tourism 3) Public Outreach and Communication 4) Mapping and Trail Network Planning. The partners will convene four quarterly meetings for all four working groups to help establish a collaborative design phase to: identify the trail gaps; determine which gaps would add the highest value if filled; and develop strategies for completing the work. Tools that will assist the working groups include T-MAP and Bikeable analysis.

An early focus of the project is to close gaps in the trail network between urban and suburban neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine counties to develop a 75-mile trail loop connecting Racine and small towns to the west and Milwaukee to the north.

Key Partners

The Route of the Badger is a partnership of the Wisconsin Bike Fed and RTC to build healthier communities across Southeast Wisconsin.

To build regional momentum for the project, the partners continue to seek and develop relationships with many different stakeholders, including local governments, trail managers, biking groups, friends groups, nonprofits and the public.

Get Involved

Join the movement to bring the Route of the Badger to reality.