Thousands of Cycling Santas invaded the City of Milwaukee Saturday, December 7, 2019 for the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s annual Santa Cycle Rampage. The Milwaukee event is arguably the largest Santa Rampage in the world, with police estimating 2,500 Santas taking part.
Santas gathered early in the morning at meet-up locations throughout the city and traveled to the ride start at 69th and North Ave in Wauwatosa.
At 9:30 a.m. sharp the Santas were unleashed, turning North Ave red as far as the eye could see the crowd cheered as the Santas jingle-jangled down the road to Lake Front Brewery. Bike bells were ringing, and the sound of holiday music filled the air.
Santas rode bikes of all types from unicycles to tandems and everything in between. Their sleighs were decorated with tinsel, lights, garland, ornaments, antlers and speakers blasting holiday music.
Kids watched in wonder and beaming smiles beaming as the Santas rode past. Adults cheered from windows and rooftops, honking their car horns in appreciation despite being stuck in traffic waiting for the Santas.
The ride officially ended at Lake Front Brewery where the Santas enjoyed refreshing post- ride brew. After much merriment and holiday cheer, the Santas made their way to the many unofficial post ride gathering spots at local restaurants, bars and breweries; exploring all that Milwaukee has to offer by bike.
Santa’s Safe Route
This year Santas were treated to a pop-up protected bike lane dubbed “Santa’s Safe Route” on N. Water Street. Santa’s Safe Route was positioned on one of the most popular post-ride routes to Great Lakes Distillery, Mobcraft Brewery and Conejito’s Place home of this Santa’s favorite enchiladas.
Santa’s Safe Route, sponsored by Spin Scooters and Saris Infrastructure featured paint treatments, popcorn and expert sock hand-ups from the new WI Bike Fed Executive Director, Kirsten Finn.
The fun Wave Delineator, on loan from Saris Infrastructure, enhanced the existing bike lane by providing a beautiful visual barrier between Santas and vehicles. Santas overwhelmingly approved of the enhanced infrastructure.
A bit ridiculous and a heck of a lot of fun, Santa Rampage is a fantastic way to highlight existing infrastructure for riders and drivers as well as the economic impact of cyclists in the community.
For drivers, a Santa riding a bike is easy to spot and really hard to get mad at. Santa! It’s one of the only times a cyclist will be honked and yelled at by drivers…in approval.
The Santas, many of whom do not ride the road regularly, experience the community’s good, bad and ugly bike infrastructure in a fun and festive way.
Local businesses benefit from 2,500 Santas spending money for pre- and post-ride merriment helping to change the misconception that cyclists have little economic impact on the community.
All in all, Santa Cycle Rampage brings great visibility to bike infrastructure, whether its bike lanes, protected bike lanes, missing links or simply bike parking.
Keep scrolling for more photos of this awesome event!