Community Update: “New look” River Riders Bike Share up and rolling, Be a part of the next “big” idea at HATCH-Wisconsin Rapids



“New look” River Riders Bike Share relaunches

VIDEO: Click on the photo to see my video of the new stations! Bike share went live on Thursday, June 14th!

If you’ve noticed the new River Rider Bike Share installations in our area, you’ll realize that this nationally recognized, community-conceived program continues to roll forward with innovations. The program launched its fourth season of operation on Thursday, June 14, is headed by coalition formed by Healthy People Wood County Wood County Health Department.

Starting its fourth year of operation, after two years of planning the no-frills, donated and restored cranberry colored bikes, River Riders Bike Share is introducing an updated, app-based program with Zagster, a national bike sharing company. The immediate result is a larger and more technologically advanced selection of bicycles. A rider can download the free Zagster app, available on the App Store, Google Play or online. Using this app, a rider can register, find stations and bikes, and use the app or an  

Tom Loucks/WRCM – Check out the new stations around town by searching

access code to unlock the bike to use. (Riders who do not have Internet availability will be able gain computer and Internet access through an installation at each site.)

When a rider is done with the bike, he or she can return it to any of the designated stations, regardless of where it was first checked out. Each bike contains technology that facilitates fee assessments and tracking.

From 2015 to 2017, River Riders Bike Share tracked more than 700 rides. Last year, the program was awarded a Mayors’ Climate Protection Award during the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ summer meeting in Miami. This national recognition affirmed that this community and its citizens are committed to fostering a healthy and sustainable environment in which to live, work and play.

In launching this updated program, the Healthy People Wood County Recreate Health coalition engaged the community, meeting with residents and organizations to get them involved in making decisions for locations, types of accessible bikes and membership fees. Responding to this feedback, the group researched options to continue making the program safe, accessible and affordable, while allowing for easy tracking of the bikes

River Riders Bike Share is empowering people to adopt a healthier, non-polluting mode of transportation that not only promotes healthful exercise, but also offers a convenient way to conduct short grocery shopping trips, job searches and visitor exploration.

Be a part of the next “big” idea at HATCH-Wisconsin Rapids

Join us in the Urban Forestry lab at Mid-State for HATCH 2018! Click on the photo to see the invite on Facebook.

Would you like the opportunity to help select the next “big” business idea? Your chance comes next Wednesday, when the City of Wisconsin Rapids again hosts HATCH – the exciting, community-based competition that helps entrepreneurs to transform their “napkin” ideas into early-stage companies. As an audience member, you get to vote on the winning idea!

Five presenters have five minutes to “pitch” their ideas in front of judges  – one of whom will be yours truly – and a live audience for the chance to win $2,000 and be selected as a semi-finalist for the HATCH regional finale. As so many participants discovered last year, HATCH is fun, highly social and inspirational.

The event is free and open to the public, and takes place on June 20, from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m., in the Urban Forestry Lab at Mid-State Technical College (I building, room 142), 500 32nd Street N. Complimentary food and beverages from Great Expectations will be served, and a DJ will be on hand to help keep spirits lively.

Semi-finalists in each region will eventually pitch for the grand prize of $5,000 and other business services for the best articulated and most developed business idea. Last year, the grand prize was awarded in a tie vote to two finalists: a business that helps track the growth of trees and a concept for an easy-access infant onesie.

Take advantage of this opportunity to bring a great idea to life. Join us at HATCH.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Wisconsin Rapids and Biron Recreational Trail Link Closer to Reality



Wisconsin Rapids and Biron Recreational Trail Link Closer to Reality

Photo by Jesse Austin/WRCM – A view of the construction along 1st St. N.

During a special meeting held on July 20, members of the Biron Board voted 5-2 to approve an intergovernmental agreement to reimburse the City of Wisconsin Rapids up to the amount of $10,000 for design, construction and other costs associated with the 1st Street North-Biron Drive road and trail project. The entire trail connection is estimated to cost $65,000.

This decision makes possible the expansion of a recreational resource that links multiple communities, by tying into our existing trail system that connects to Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa and beyond.

Over the past three years or so, the Village of Biron has performed a reconstruction of South Biron Drive. During this time, Biron’s engineers reached out to Wisconsin Rapids leadership about a potential connection to the project that would tie into our current trail system. As City leaders, we took a holistic view of this project. By financially assisting Biron, we would create an asset that attracts thousands of residents and visitors each year, and add value to our Riverfront and Community Redevelopment efforts.

Officials from the City, the Village and the Regional Economic Growth Initiative met several times to discuss realignment and trail connection issues. We placed the trail on the Wisconsin River side to maximize the aesthetic pleasure of users, avoid a nuisance to property owners and alleviate snowplowing maintenance questions. As part of the street realignment, the road width was narrowed and on-street parking eliminated. This entire project has been conducted on existing right of way, so that no property had to be purchased.

Wisconsin Rapids construction crews have been engaged in utilities, pavement and asphalt work along 1st Street North, up to the north City limits. We could not, however, begin work beyond our corporate border with Biron without a cost-sharing agreement with the Village. At the July 18 Wisconsin Rapids Common Council meeting, City officials negotiated with our counterparts in Biron to find a solution that allows for a connection. These tough, yet civil, conversations led to the positive July 20 decision by the Biron Village Board.

I want to send out a special thanks to the residents along 1st Street North. These citizens have displayed so much patience during this uniquely challenging construction project. Their understanding and positive attitude have contributed to what promises to be a much appreciated recreational amenity.

For weekly updates from the Engineering Department in-regards to construction, please visit

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink