Action Alert: Blair Street/John Nolen Meeting this Wednesday


What the intersection looks like without cars. Ride the Drive 2016. 

The John Nolen Drive/Blair Street corridor is arguable the most important bike corridor in Madison. Several thousand people ride their bikes on some part of it daily. And as it is, it has several problem spots, most prominently the intersection at Machinery Row and the crossing of John Nolen Drive at North Shore. Fixes to these and other problems in the corridors have been discussed for a long time. But now we're getting closer to actual decisions being made, and we need to make sure that the needs of people walking and biking will be adequately addressed. Next Wednesday, 7pm at Monona Terrace there will be a public involvement meeting, and I encourage all of you to attend.

At the previous public involvement meeting, several alternatives were presented. While most included important improvements for people biking and walking (e.g. reducing conflicts at the Machinery Row parking lot), at the same time they failed to take into account several important movements. Two of the most glaring omissions are a lack of improvements for the crossing at North Shore Drive and not taking into account the need for people to get from the westbound Cap City Trail toward the Capitol area. For the former, the option recommended for further study is to move sections of the path and building a ped/bike underpass:

This concept has much merit. But of course it is going to be complex and costly, with currently no budget or timeline when we might see it come to fruition. We need to also ask for improvements now.

For the Willy/Blair/John Nolen intersection at Machinery Row, all focus lies on the movement of people between the Cap City/Willy/Jenny St corridor and the Cap City Trail along Lake Monona. This is important, but what about people who ride on the Cap City Trail and want to continue toward the area around the Capitol and vice versa? What about people who want to walk from Machinery Row to Essen Haus? It appears that the idea there is that everybody would use the proposed overpass between Law Park and Wilson Street. Again, the overpass will only be built many years from now, and depending on where you want to go, this would be a significant detour requiring additional crossings. Again, we need improvements now.

For a city that says in all its planning documents that it is committed to increase the proportion of people biking and walking, we need to do better. I encourage everyone to attend the meeting in person and/or submit your written comments to city engineering and Strand Associates. Public input can make a difference: For instance, I have learned that one of the alternatives suggested for further study at the previous meeting, a couplet of one-way streets using Blair and Blount Streets to make it even easier for people in cars, was scrapped because citizens like you vocally opposed it.

We have set up a Facebook event that you can RSVP to if you plan on attending. If you cannot make the meeting, send your comments before or after the meeting to and 

Background material from previous meetings can be found on I especially recommend looking at the materials from the April 17 meeting, including the "Exhibit..." documents. 

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (7/31/17)

Image credit: Kidical Mass Madison

Last Week

Last Friday's screening and discussion of "Citizen Jane: Battle for the City" that Madison Bikes co-organized was a great success. The UW Cinematheque was fully packed and some people even had to be turned away. Thanks everyone for coming!

This Week

A pretty quiet week is coming up, with two family events on the weekend.

On Saturday, it’s the last Fitchburg family bike ride of the summer. Meet at the Leopold Community School at 9:30am.

And on Sunday, join the Kidical Mass ride to the splash pad at Goodman Center. Starting point is The Cargo Bike Shop on Willy Street. 

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Friday, July 28: Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Jane JacobsWe invite you to join us this Friday for a movie about Jane Jacobs, an incredible woman who changed how we think about the city. After the movie, there will be a reception for discussion and socializing, including a chance to meet one of the Executive Producers, who is a Madison resident. The movie is at 7 PM at Cinematheque, Rm 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave. The reception will be following the movie – about 8:30 PM, at the University Club, 803 State St.

If you know about Jane Jacobs, you need read no further. If you don’t know of her, I’m going to link to a few Wikipedia pages below, in case you want to dive in just a bit deeper.

Read more

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (7/24/17)

This Week

There are a number of items of interest on this Tuesday’s Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission agenda.

First up on the agenda is the 2016 Crash Report. The good news is a significant reduction in reported crashes involving people on bikes (98, down from 118 in 2015 and 135 in 2012). The bad news is a continued increase in the overall number of crashes in Madison (5,731) resulting in an estimated $113 million in economic loss and the nine traffic related fatalities last year--five of which were pedestrians.

At 5:30, there will be a Public Hearing on potential pedestrian and bicycle projects. You can share your ideas in person or send them to

Adopting the Downtown Madison Bicycle & Moped Parking Study is also on the agenda. This is a study that was commissioned several years ago and is coming in front of PBMVC after going through the Plan Commission and Transit/Parking Commission. There are several recommendations from the study that Planning Division staff have taken issue with. You can review that difference of opinion in this Staff Report.

The final item on the agenda is Amending Section 12.167(2)(c) of the Madison General Ordinances to allow bicycles to be ridden within a portion of the West Mifflin Street section of the State Street Pedestrian Mall. This is an important precursor to moving forward with some infrastructure changes that will better facilitate bicycle travel from State/Mifflin/Carroll to Mifflin/Fairchild. This is another item that would benefit from emails/testimony in support.

You can attend this meeting in person and provide comment on any agenda item you wish or you can also watch the meeting online on the City Channel.

On Wednesday, the Middleton Pedestrian, Bike, Transit Committee will meet again after taking a break in June.

On Friday, consider attending Cinematheque’s screening of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. "a timely tale of what can happen when engaged citizens fight the power for the sake of a better world. Arguably no one did more to shape our understanding of the modern American city than Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist and writer who fought to preserve urban communities in the face of destructive development projects. Director Matt Tyranuer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) vividly brings to life Jacobs' 1960s showdown with ruthless construction kingpin Robert Moses over his plan to raze lower Manhattan to make way for a highway, a dramatic struggle over the very soul of the neighborhood." Madison Bikes is co-hosting the screening and a discussion with the executive producer of the movie, Juliet Page. 

And on Saturday: Join the Clean Lakes Alliance on their Loop the Lake, their "annual bike ride around Lake Monona that highlights our community’s lakes and lakeshore bike paths."

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to


Goodbye, Tim Wong: A Madison Radical on a Bike

Tim WongJust after Tim Wong died on June 30, I posted an announcement and added a few words about what Tim meant to the bicycling movement in Madison. Several people asked me to put it up as a blog post. I’ve adapted the original a bit with comments that other people shared with me.

If you didn't know Tim, you really missed a true Madison character, and someone who you can thank for being one of the early leaders of the bike advocacy that continues today.  

Read more

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (7/17/17)

Last Month

I’ve been enjoying my blogging break over the last three weeks, so there’s a bit to catch up on...

June’s Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission meeting had a few topics of interest, including a Project Database update resulting from the suggestions received last year for pedestrian/bicycle improvement projects (0:21:22 in the linked video); notification that Park Street will be part of a Smart Cities “Connected Park Corridor Initiative”that is hoping to pave the way for autonomous vehicle travel (1:42:36); and discussion of the upcoming North Blair Street reconstruction including the importance of working to improve the intersection with Mifflin Street--location of the current HAWK signal (2:59:36).

On 6/28-30, several Madison Bikes board members and a number of other local advocates were happy to join with city, business, and advocacy leaders from across the country at the Places for Bikes Conference. Several of the key talks are available to watch on their website.

On July 14, the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee met to finalize a draft of the new transportation ordinance that will be reviewed at Common Council in August or September. This is the legislation that would significantly reorganize our transportation committee structure and calls for the hiring of a Transportation Director for the city.

Also on Friday, the city put out the 2017 call for bike/ped improvement suggestions that should make their way into the database that was introduced at last month’s PBMVC meeting.

And last Sunday, there were many smiles and smoothies to be had at the popular Ride the Drive. Courtesy of the great folks at Saris, we had a bike-powered blender. At the end of the day, we had blended and served almost 500 smoothies! Thanks everyone for stopping by. You can find plenty of pictures and video footage at the end of the post after the fold.

This Week

This week will be relatively quiet.

On Tuesday, join Bombay Bicycle Club and Spokehaven for their Taco Tuesday Ride.

And on Wednesday, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee meets at Bendyworks.


For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to


Read more

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (6/26/2017)

It’s another busy week for biking in Madison..

Things start on Monday with Bike Fitchburg’s monthly meeting at the library.

On Tuesday, the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission has a packed agenda including some project updates and a look at a database that includes the biking and walking network suggestions submitted by the public last spring.

On Wednesday evening, the Places for Bikes conference kicks off with an opening reception at the Monona Terrace. On Thursday, it’s a full day of conference followed by a slow roll from the Monona Terrace to the Institute for Discovery. And on Friday, the conference wraps up with a trip out to Trek.

On Saturday, Bike Fitchburg holds its next installment of the Leopold School Rides and on Sunday, it’s another family-friendly ride as Kidical Mass heads to the zoo.

Next week, I’ll be celebrating Independence Day with a break from the weekly updates. See you again in two weeks! 

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (6/20/17)

Last Week

Last week saw some bad news for frequent users of the Mifflin Street bike boulevard with the installation of new Stop signs on Mifflin at Livingston. This came as a surprise to those that use this primary bike route as there was no notice or opportunity for public comment prior to installation. Such a big move is even more surprising given the fact that the Tenney Lapham Neighborhood Association has been putting in significant energy to try and improve conditions for walking and biking in the neighborhood with specific focus on improving the quality of the Mifflin Street Bike Boulevard.

Anyone who spends a lot of time on a bike understands that adding additional stops on a primary bike route is not an improvement. In fact, limiting stops is one of the primary characteristics of a real bicycle boulevard. The Mifflin Street Bike Boulevard already suffers from a high number of stops (including Dickinson, Baldwin, Ingersoll, Paterson, and Blair) and efforts should be taken to reduce this impact on bicycle traffic. Something like Copenhagen’s Green Wave, perhaps?

Unfortunately, this misstep reinforces the fact that bicycle travel is still not considered or prioritized on par with car travel by our city’s engineering staff. Maybe a Director of Transportation could help define a clearer focus?

This Week

On Wednesday, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will be meeting at Bendyworks to check in on current and future transportation projects in the city.

And for anyone handy with a wrench, consider helping out at Worthington Park Bike Repair at 6:00.

On Thursday, there will be a Listening Session for Northern Dane County Bike Access held at the Waunakee Village Center. Consider attending or sending in your comments via email to support safe and comfortable bike travel around Lake Mendota.

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (6/13/17)

Last Week

It was great to celebrate all things bike last week! Big thanks to all the sponsors of last week’s events and to the Bike Fed for organizing Bike Week in Madison and all of Wisconsin.

And meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Common Council approved plans to reconstruct Wilson Street as-is, with no accommodations for safe and comfortable bike travel. But thanks to an amendment proposed by Alder Demarb at the Board of Public Works, and to all the comments received by residents about the need for bike facilities, the resolution also included language to “develop a plan for a bike friendly corridor on Wilson St, by the time the Judge Doyle Square Project is complete.” Construction is currently slated to be completed in 2020, at which time the eastern half of this street project (between MLK and King) will be reconstructed.

The Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission will take up the charge to develop this plan in the coming months and we’ll need your continued support to land on a recommended cross section that provides for safe and comfortable bike travel in both directions on Wilson Street. One possible design that has received positive feedback is a two-way protected bike lane on the south side of the street. Stay tuned and stay involved.

This Week

On Wednesday, Sustain Dane’s WOW Bike Tour: Sustainability Stories heads out from Lowell Elementary school at 5:15.

And on Saturday, there are two events leaving Fitchburg: June’s Bike the Art ride heading to Paoli and the Family Fun Bike Ride riding from Leopold Elementary School to the Fitchburg Library.


For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Bike Fed Asks: Should They Support a Bike Tax?

As part of the Wisconsin state budget negotiations, a tax on bikes has repeatedly come up. The Bike Fed is conducting a survey whether you think they should oppose that tax or consider it a symbolic compromise that may (or may not...) placate some legislators who have the stubborn-but-false belief that "cyclists don't pay their way." The survey is open to members and non-members.

With Wisconsin facing a transportation funding shortfall of between $500 million and $939 million over the next two years, and Governor Walker pledging to veto any increase in the state gas tax or vehicle registration fees, could legislators look to Wisconsin cyclists to pay more? We want to know how you would like to see bicycle infrastructure funded, and have embedded a very short survey at the bottom of this longish blog post. Feel free skip reading this and take the survey if you already know how you feel about bike taxes, registration fees, and the gas tax.

Consider weighing in on this important topic.


get updates