For the first time in at least a decade, the Great Taste of the Midwest will not have a bike corral. The Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, which organizes the annual event at Olin Park every summer, recently voted to ditch the bike parking.
"This is something that has been a concern of ours for several years," says Eric Schoville, the group's president. "It's just a safety issue. Bicycling after having several drinks is dangerous, just like driving a car is."
Car parking is already not allowed at the event, although many attendees do park nearby. But in the past, the event has offered bike parking. Bike advocates are upset by the change.
"What are they going to do when 300 people show up on their bikes and there's no place to park?" demands Tim Wong, a Guild member who plans to ride his bike to the event. He says bicyclists will chain their bikes to trees, signposts and benches - anywhere they can find a spot. "Bikes are going to get stolen," he predicts.
Ald. Robbie Webber believes the group dropped bike parking because of concerns about liability. Seven years ago, a man crashed his bike on the rocks off John Nolen Drive after leaving the festival; he later died from his injuries. "It seems to me the legal argument is faulty," she says. "Under that scenario, bars should not have parking at all."
But Schoville says the group is less concerned about being sued than it is about protecting its patrons. The death "weighed very heavily on the people who put on the event that year," he says.
The 5,000 people who attend the event can get free shuttle rides or use a taxi service for a nominal fee. "We're not assuming people won't bike. All we want to do is discourage people from doing it," says Schoville. "We do our best to make it as safe and fun for everyone as possible."