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  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Cyclist bikes the shape of Wisconsin on Milwaukee's neighborhood streets

    By Claire Reid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

    28 days ago

    Mid-June can yield a perfect day for a bike ride, and Sam Mattson, a 25-year-old Yankee Hill resident, decided to take advantage of that.

    Around 11 a.m. Wednesday, Mattson set out on a 15.5-mile bike ride around Milwaukee, intricately mapped out in advance to create the shape of the state of Wisconsin. The ride took him about an hour to complete, two hours if you include stopping for coffee at the Community Market Coffee Shop.

    Wednesday afternoon, Mattson posted about his ride on X, formerly known as Twitter. The post has over 1,800 likes and was reposted by Visit Milwaukee.

    The Wisconsin-shaped route was first created by Mattson's friend, a software developer who used a program that enabled him to take an outline of the state and place it over Milwaukee's street grid to create a route. Mattson said his friend originally created it as a joke, but Mattson took the program-created route and manually tweaked it to be safe and make sense.

    "It was fun," Mattson said. "I got to see a ton of streets that I'd never normally bike on."

    Mattson and some of his friends use the app Wandrer to keep track of what Milwaukee streets they've ridden on; it's become somewhat of a friendly competition to see who's completed the most. With this ride behind him, Mattson said he's now biked 10% of the city's streets.

    While Mattson doesn't consider himself an avid cyclist, the carpenter and painter said he bikes to work as often as possible and usually bikes everywhere else. A self-described "transportation advocate," he is a member of Critical Mass Milwaukee, a group that organizes large protest rides calling for safer streets for cyclists, pedestrians and other non-vehicle road users.

    Mattson said he hopes to use the Wisconsin-shaped route for a Critical Mass ride next year once more of the construction along it is complete. The route features many calm, residential side streets, and, overall, he said it was "pretty safe" and "uneventful."

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