In June 2013, John McDowell began a conversation with his next-door neighbor, Jordan Skiff, who also happens to be the Director of Public Works for the City of Fond du Lac. Being an avid bicyclist, McDowell shared his idea of creating a recreational loop around Fond du Lac, similar to a concept he had seen in Tucson, Arizona. Skiff took the idea into consideration. He realized the foundations of a recreational loop were already in place, and an initial loop could be completed within a reasonable cost. McDowell quickly began rallying the community and pulled together a planning committee that included approximately thirty individuals representing a variety of community organizations. By September 2013, Skiff had completed the City of Fond du Lac Bike and Pedestrian Plan, and the Fond du Lac City Council unanimously and enthusiastically approved the plan. Skiff and his team moved the process forward to complete the connecting infrastructure projects. They were successful in securing some project expenditures within the City of Fond du Lac’s 2014 Capital Improvement Plan.
Thanks to the guidance and fundraising of local bicycling advocates and organizations, one of the first initiatives of this plan is the development of a 15.4 mile recreational trail named the “Fond du Lac Loop” or simply put, the “Loop.” The Loop encircles a large portion of the City of Fond du Lac. It is intended to provide a safe, convenient, scenic and clear route into and around the community.
The Loop will be composed of a combination of existing bike trails and on-road facilities, as well as temporary measures for future trail improvements. This initiative includes infrastructure improvements, improved communications (signs, maps, pavement markings, etc.), and marketing the concept to the community. The Loop provides an interesting variety of terrain and sights including:
- The Prairie Trail – A six mile leg along the Hwy 151 bypass
- A beautiful 2.2 mile shaded Rails-to-Trails pathway
- A one mile section through Lakeside Park with restroom facilities, food services, and spectacular views of Lake Winnebago
- A 1.8 mile urban route through downtown, with access to shops and restaurants. This paved trail runs alongside Brooke Street and parallels the Fond du Lac River through downtown Fond du Lac
- A suburban 1.2 mile bike lane through southern Fond du Lac
The existence of the Fond du Lac Loop positions our city in the company of dynamic health conscious cities around the country and the world. Examples of communities with similar recreational trails include: Tucson, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Stevens Point, Wisconsin; Stratford, Ontario (Canada); and Sydney, Australia.
In addition to the Loop, which utilizes portions of several established multi-use trails, there are other state trails that serve Fond du Lac. A significant goal of the plan is to also improve the internal connections between these trails. These trails include: the Wild Goose, Old Plank, Mascoutin and Eisenbahn Trails.
The City of Fond du Lac has been generous in taking the lead in making the Loop a physical reality; however, some of the plan will require expenditures not covered by city funds. Funding is needed for projects both large and small. A generous donation by the Fond du Lac Area Foundation allowed for the initial seed money to start a Fond du Lac Bike Loop Fund. The initial seed money is being used to create ‘The Loop’ website www.fdlloop.com and to install a safe crossing of Scott Street at Brooke Street using a pedestrian-activated rapid flashing beacon. Agnesian Healthcare generously donated their marketing and design team to create the Loop logo and other marketing materials. An anonymous donor provided funding for photography of local residents enjoying the Loop, which will be used in marketing initiatives.
For a complete list of funding needs, please visit our donations page. Donations can be sent directly to the Fond du Lac Area Foundation or through a link on their website.
The Fond du Lac Loop Coalition is the community volunteer component of this effort. The mission of the Coalition is to provide marketing, fundraising, feedback and a pledge to create a branding effort worthy of the City of Fond du Lac using local resources whenever possible.
Community partners include the City of Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County, Fond du Lac Family YMCA, Fond du Lac Area Foundation, Fond du Lac Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, Living Well Fond du Lac Coalition and Agnesian HealthCare.
“We are excited about this wonderful quality of life facility and believe that this will be yet another reason why Fond du Lac is a great place to live,” said John McDowell, Chairman of the Fond du Lac Loop Coalition.
As phase one of the Loop is completed in May 2014, the trail will be more than 75% dedicated trails (separate from automobile traffic). This number will increase to 90% as upgrades occur during phase two. A kick-off event of the Fond du Lac Loop is being planned for Sunday, May 18, 2014.