Happy MLK Day and clear path weekend!

 

 

Monday being a holiday, everyone can enjoy the newly-cleared paths across the city due to the additional money in the city budget. This our first test of having paths cleared on the weekend and holidays, and Friday’s snowstorm was the perfect test. Can you imagine waiting until Tuesday to have tour paths cleared? Two TV stations also covered this new service, after the city issued a press release, but we’ve all been very excited to have the paths treated as well as local streets.

The Greenbush Neighborhood Association has a survey on traffic issues along Vilas Park Drive as part of the master plan for the park. We were specifically asked to share it with bicyclists, since this is an important route for a lot of people. You can access the survey here. Although originally planned to run through the end of the month, they will probably extend that deadline. Feel free to pass it on to your networks and other groups.

 

The week ahead

There’s not too much happening in city meetings, but there are some great classes and community events this week. It looks like everything is happening on Wednesday.

Wednesday

The city will hold two sessions of their bicycle-friendly driver training. When this came out, I called John Rider -- who is teaching the class -- and asked who he saw as the intended audience. They are targeting small businesses who have fleet drivers or delivery services, but anyone is welcome to sign up. This is the first time the city has taught this class, and the registration deadline was Friday, but more sessions will be available in the future.

In the evening, the Transportation Commission will be meeting at 5:00 pm in Room 215 of the Municipal Bldg. Earlier this month the Transportation Planning and Policy Board had a presentation on the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (aka traffic calming.) At this meeting, the TC will also receive a presentation. So you can watch the meeting streaming or check out the PPt.

Trek will hold a handle bar taping class at their west store off Mineral Point Rd at 6:00 pm . This is a great way to spruce up your bike, and if you aren’t sure how to put new tape on your handle bars, bring your bike along and learn by doing. Registration required.

Another community class is being offered by Slow Roll bike shop in Monona. This one is a level 2 suspension learning class. You do  not have to have attended the 101 class to attend this one.

 

What have we been talking about on Facebook?

Besides the usual discussions about bad intersections/roadways and insufficiently-cleared lanes and curb cuts, there was a lively discussion of the best neighborhoods to buy in if one is going to bike to the UW. Someone from Austin posted that she and her family are looking to buy a house, and they wanted a bicycle-friendly real estate agent. The good news is that we all decided that there are many good neighborhoods with safe, easy biking to downtown and campus, and so therefore the agent one works with is less important. (But people had lots of agent recommendations too.)

Someone also posted a link to a study finding Madison the third most sustainable metro area for transportation, principally due to our high use of biking, walking, and transit. Nice job.

 

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city's Bike Madison page.


Monday Update: MB Board Meeting, LYRT Phase 2, Suspension and Wheel Building Classes

Last Week

Initial reports are that the Free Bikes 4 Kids collection went well with hundreds of bikes collected.

Also last week saw some discussion of the poor quality of bike rack options at the Alliant Energy Center campus at the Bike Swap on the Madison Bikes Community Facebook Page. You can read the thread here.

Packed fence racks at Alliant Energy Center Saturday. Fence racks do not meet City of Madison standards for bike racks.

Image: Packed fence racks at Alliant Energy Center Saturday. Fence racks do not meet City of Madison standards for bike racks. Photo credit: Robbie Webber.

This Week

Monday, January 13,

The monthly Madison Bikes Board Meeting is taking place at Madison’s Central Library and starts at 6:00 PM.

Wednesday, January 15,

At 6:45 PM one of Madison’s newest bike shops—Slow Roll Cycles—is continuing its Suspension Learning classes with the Suspension Learning Session 202 Level. This is the second level of their bicycle suspension learning sessions. It is not required to have attended the 101 class as long as you understand the basics of suspension and how it works, but if you want to take part in the hands-on service session you must have sat in on the 101 or 201 level sessions. You can read more about this session here on the event’s Facebook page.

At 7:00 PM there are two events to choose from. The first I will mention is the Lower Yahara River Trail (LYRT) Phase 2 Public Meeting. This meeting will take place at the Pleasant Springs Town Hall located at 2354 CTH N in Stoughton. Phase 2 of the LYRT will see a trail built between Fish Camp County Park and Lake Kegonsa State Park along the north side of Lake Kegonsa. You can read more about it on Dane County Parks web page or on the Facebook Events page.

Early proposed alignment for the Lower Yahara River Trail. Phase 2 would be constructed between Fish Camp County Park and Lake Kegonsa State Park.

Image: Early proposed alignment for the Lower Yahara River Trail. Phase 2 would be constructed between Fish Camp County Park and Lake Kegonsa State Park. Source: Dane County Parks Presentation from February 27, 2014.

The other 7:00 PM event is a Capitol Times talk called Madison’s Gentrifying Neighborhoods: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. This talk will be at the High Noon Saloon located at 701 East Washington Ave. Doors open at 6 PM and the talk starts at 7 and is a free event. You can read more about it on High Noon’s website or at the Facebook Events page.

Thursday, January 16,

The Cargo Bike Shop is hosting a Wheel Building Session starting at 6:00 PM. The event will be $25 and will cover a spoke wrench, snacks, and possibly a beverage. Not included in the costs will be the components for your wheelset, but the Cargo Bike Shop does have on hand great hubs, rims, spokes, and nipples and will work with you to help design your ideal wheelset. The session will start with a review of wheel components and theory and then move into lacing, tensioning, and trueing. You can learn more about the event and buy tickets at the Facebook Events page.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city's Bike Madison page.


Monday Update: Two City meetings, bike swap, Free Bikes 4 Kidz

Happy New Year! 2020 is off to a great start for Madison Bikes: Last Saturday about 75 people of all ages met up at Lakeside Street Coffee House just before sunset. After some coffee and hot chocolate, we rolled over to Olin Park for the final day of Holiday Fantasy in Lights and did two loops before returning to the coffee shop. It was great to see many new faces and a lot of families with kids! Thanks to everyone who joined us. For more great pictures by Mark Renner, go here. And Channel 27 covered the event as well.

This Week

The Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) is meeting on Monday. The mayor will speak at the meeting about the Metro Forward Initiative, a plan to improve and expand our transit system. Bus Rapid Transit is one component of Metro Forward, but it will probably also include dedicated bus lanes and a reorganization of existing routes and stops. Another agenda item is a review of the Neighborhood Traffic Management & Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program. This program sets the process for how citizens or neighborhood groups can request traffic calming features. The way the program works has led to inequitable outcomes, where similar streets end up with very different levels of traffic calming, and there is no systematic process for prioritizing requests. The full agenda is available here. 5pm, Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Room 215. If you want to provide written comment, email the chair Tom Wilson: tlwilson1986@gmail.com

The capacity of a single 10-foot lane (or equivalent width) by mode at peak conditions with normal operations. (Source: NACTO)

On Wednesday, the Transportation Commission is meeting at 5pm. On the agenda:

  • The service road connecting the Olbrich Gardens parking lot and Garver Feed Mill will get gates to keep errant cars out. The road is open only to people walking and biking, as well as Olbrich service vehicles, but apparently people in cars have been using it as a shortcut. The proposed gates will have an opening in the middle to let bikes through.
  • The commission will receive an update on the University Ave reconstruction plans. Our board member Robbie has published two deep dives into the project, but from an active transportation perspective the main thing about the current plans is: There won't be bus lanes; there won't be bike lanes on this stretch of University Ave. If you have opinions on this, let the Commission know.
  • Full agenda here.
  • To provide written comment, email PMcGuigan@cityofmadison.com 

Need a new-to-you bike? Or want to get rid of one? Saturday provides you with opportunities for both:

The big annual Brazen Dropouts bike swap is happening at the Alliant Center's New Holland Pavilion from 9am to 2pm. It looks like you can still sign up for a vendor spot. Madison Bikes will have a table to talk bike advocacy in Madison -- make sure to say hi! The swap is a great opportunity to buy a used bike or bike components and accessories.

If you want to get rid of bikes: Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison (FB4K) is having their big bike collection day. FB4K is a non-profit that collect unwanted bikes, refurbishes them, and then provides them for free to kids and families in our community. From 9am to 1pm you can drop off bikes at Unity Point Meriter clinic locations all around Madison. If you want to volunteer at the pick-up event or later, sign up here.

 

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city's Bike Madison page.


Madison Bike(s) Highlights 2019

By the time many of you will get to read this, it will already be 2020. On behalf of our board, I wish you a Happy New Year! And what better start into a new year than to reflect on what has happened in 2019. Here are my personal reflections on everything Madison, bikes, and Madison Bikes.

January

One may think that January is a quiet month for biking in Madison. But in 2019, it started out with a big Madison Bikes event: We had a visitor from Berlin (Germany), Dirk von Schneidemesser. Dirk grew up in Madison but moved to Europe and was one of the key people involved in Berlin’s bike referendum. In our event at HotelRED, “From Madison to Berlin and Back: Civic Activism for a More Livable City,” Dirk described how the non-profit Changing Cities was able to mobilize for a referendum that would have binding rules for safe and comfortable bike infrastructure, collecting over 100,000 signatures in less than a month! You can read a recap of the event here. I can only speak for myself, but I was really inspired by the Berlin story and have kept thinking about whether and how similar advances would be possible in Madison. 

January also marked a significant change for the leadership of Madison Bikes. Grant Foster, the very person who instigated Madison Bikes and had been the organization’s president from the beginning, decided to step down and instead focus on running for the District 15 seat on the Common Council instead. I can’t say enough about how important Grant was for Madison Bikes, and I’m glad that he continues to be on our board! The new leadership of Madison Bikes: Yours truly, with Heather Pape as vice president. 

February

Local elections were on many people’s minds in February, and Madison Bikes took part in education and informing voters about the mayoral race. (As a 501(c)(3) organization we are not endorsing or advocating for candidates.) In January we co-sponsored a candidate forum, and in February we sent out a questionnaire with bike- and transportation-related questions to all candidates for mayor. It was heartening to see that all but two candidates took the time to respond to our questions. In the February primary, Paul Soglin and Satya Rhodes-Conway received the most votes and made the ballot for the general election in April.

Our other main focus for the month was Winter Bike Week. From February 1 to 8, every day we and our partners hosted events to celebrate and promote year-round biking. Unfortunately (but perhaps unsurprisingly), the weather tried its best to sabotage our efforts. Yes, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing -- until you have a week that has everything from freezing rain to days with wind chill temperatures of -25F. Still, we were out there, and some of you were out there too. Kudos to everyone who braved the conditions. This year we’re going to try something a little different to promote winter biking, starting with our Holiday Fantasy in Lights Family Ride on January 4.

March

Madison Bikes is only piece of the bike ecosystem of Madison. Two other orgs had an eventful March: Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison finished their third season and gave away 1400 free bikes. Our board and volunteers contributed to this in a tiny, tiny way by having a volunteer session to help clean and fix bikes. This year’s FB4K season has just started, and we plan on having another volunteer season in the coming weeks.

Freewheel Bicycle Collective had a big March as well: They were selected as the operator for the future Judge Doyle Square Bicycle Center. The center, which will likely open later in 2020, will feature secure bike parking, showers, repair space, and a new, more central location for Freewheel to host its classes.

And this very blog you’re reading also had an exciting moment in March: Our new board member Steph published her first “Biking with Steph” column!

And while all these things were happening in the open, behind the scenes maybe the most important thing for Madison Bikes in 2019 happened: After hosting Madison Bike Week for many years, the Bike Fed asked us whether we wanted to take over the event. Knowing how much went into organizing a week-long event and given that we had less than three months to pull it all off, it wasn’t an easy decision. But because Madison Bike Week is such an important part of biking in Madison, we said “yes”! More on Madison Bike Week below.

April

Did everything change in April? Probably not. But from the perspective of a bike advocate, certainly a lot of things did change in Madison on April 2, 2019. Madison elected a new mayor, and 9 out of the 20 seats on the Common Council were filled by new Alders -- one of them being our board member Grant, representing District 15. I was cautiously optimistic back then that new leadership would be a good thing for active transportation in Madison, and I continue to be optimistic. Of course, we still have a long way to go to move away from car-focused planning, and we still need advocates to push, push, and push. But I think April was a start into the right direction.

Maybe one example from April that exemplifies how things are moving the right way but aren’t quite there yet is the Wilson Street corridor study. Wilson Street, which is a crucial downtown gap in our low-stress bike network, was a major advocacy focus for us in 2018. While we didn’t succeed in getting the city to commit to adding protected bike facilities on West Wilson, the Common Council tasked the Department of Transportation to conduct a corridor study. That corridor study looked at connections to the Capitol Square from a larger perspective, and in April 2019 the Department of Transportation published their interim recommendations. The recommendations included many improvements for people on bikes. But they also still included many compromises because of a hesitation to remove car parking or tolerate a couple more seconds of delay for people driving through the area. Nothing has been finalized yet and construction won’t start before 2020 or later. So it remains to be seen how far we as a city have come in prioritizing people walking and biking.

May

In my recollection, all we did in May was rushing to get ready for Madison Bike Week. But of course that’s not quite true. A group of high school students from Oshkosh came on a field trip to Madison. It wasn't an ordinary field trip, though: The students were on bikes, and the theme was bike-friendly communities. Our board members Pete and Jim, Steve Arnold from Bike Fitchburg, and a number of other Madison volunteers took the students around town and showed off our city's bike infrastructure.

Bikes and buses make for a great combination

May was also the month when planning for Madison’s future Bus Rapid Transit system really picked up. This clearly had been one of the big election topic, and with a mayor strongly committed to improving transit in Madison, the city put many resources into making BRT a reality. An integrated transportation system beyond cars is important for everyone, and bus rapid transit can work well in combination with biking and walking. This topic will be with us for years to come, and for 2020 Madison Bikes is going to make a push to drive a conversation about how BRT can best work together with biking. 

June

What can I say? June was Bike Week, and it was great. Some of my personal highlights:

  • Working with all the amazing partners we had. Sponsors who contributed financially, bike station hosts, local non-profits that helped us spread the word or tabled at our events, all the volunteers, and of course Renee Callaway at the City! 
  • Producing Madison Bike Week TV with Liz: All we had was an idea: Wouldn’t it be nice to have short videos about what is happening each day of Madison Bike Week? No script, no rehearsal, no experience, all shot in one afternoon in Liz’s backyard.
  • Speaking in front of the Common Council when they officially pronounced Madison Bike Week in a resolution
  • The Fetch the Keg ride: For our Friday party, one of the beer sponsors was the Hop Garden in Paoli. How would we get the beer from Paoli to Madison? Of course by bike! 
  • Riding with the mayor: To kick off Madison Bike Week, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and several members of the Common Council joined us on a big group ride to city hall for a press conference.

Another June highlight was the launch of an all-electric BCycle bike share system. Madison BCycle replaced its entire fleet with e-assist bikes, and the launch was a big success. Some of our board members joined the launch ride around the Capitol, and our former board member Hank wrote a detailed review of the bikes and system.

July

It took us a little bit to recover from Bike Week. In July we ran a successful fundraising campaign in support of the new Pinney Library. We think books and bikes go together really well, and the new Pinney Library will be in a very bike-friendly location. For that reason the Madison Public Library Foundation ran a “Rack-Raising” campaign. Instead of the traditional model where you “buy” a brick for a new building, your donation was signified by a personalized bike rack. We were able to raise $1000 for the library -- thanks to everyone who donated! We’ll have some news to share about this in the next week or two. Stay tuned.

August

August started with a great event that Madison Bikes co-sponsored. Just Bikes!, Madison’s bike equity coalition, invited renowned mobility justice scholar and advocate Dr. Adonia Lugo to Madison. After a bike ride through Madison’s south side, Lugo gave a book talk about “Locating ourselves in Mobility Justice: Planning for multiracial and just future streets.” If you want to learn more about her work, I recommend reading her book “Bicycle/Race.”

Two exciting new bike infrastructure projects came online in August: In Shorewood Hills the Blackhawk Path opened. The path closes a gap of the University Ave/Campus Drive corridor, where previously bikes had to detour through Marshall Court. On the isthmus, the first stage of construction of the John Nolen/Williamson/Blair/Wilson (a.k.a. The Hairball) intersection was completed. While the intersection is still constructed in a way that prioritizes motor vehicle throughput over everything else, the project did bring some nice improvements for people on bikes, such as the much widened bike path in front of Machinery Row and a new protected two-way bike lane on Blount.

Blackhawk path video

September

I talked about change in the city earlier, and this fall we saw two more indicators of this change: Our board member Baltazar de Anda Santana was appointed to the city’s Transportation Policy and Planning Board, and yours truly was appointed to the Transportation Commission. 

One of the jobs of a local bike advocate is to be critical of the status quo and to often focus on the negative. So it is nice every once in a while to be reminded of the good things we have in our city. In September a delegation from the Wasatch Front Range region in Utah came to town because from their perspective Madison is a biking success story. We were very happy to organize the event and show our visitors around on a bike tour and connect them with local planners, elected officials, and advocates.

October

The focus of October was the city budget. To paraphrase a well-known quote: What a city truly values is reflected in its budget. Yes, there are many other important levers that we need to pull on to improve active transportation, and most bike infrastructure is ridiculously cheap when compared to, say, expanding the Beltline. But this year’s budget had many important -- and sometimes controversial -- pieces that will help make transportation in Madison better. We contributed to the discussion by writing explainer blog posts about the wheel tax, encouraging you to write in about Vision Zero and 7-day-a-week clearing of our arterial multi-use paths.  

November

The advocacy efforts of October came to fruition in November. The Common Council passed a budget that from my perspective was overwhelmingly good: Funding for bus rapid transit and a study to reorganize our existing Metro bus network, to improve our most dangerous intersections, and to keep our paths clear of ice and snow seven days a week. The path clearing project had been something that we had been working on for several years, and so it was a great success to see it finally come to fruition! Thanks to everyone who has supported us in this.

Photo: Dan Stout

Speaking of winter, November also saw us host another edition of the Winter Bike Fashion Show, an event to encourage and educate people to try riding in the cold season. We had great models and a record attendance! Lots of pictures in this post.

Another exciting thing in November: A new, parking-protected bike lane opened on Bassett Street. Instead of having parked cars on the curb and a bike lane between the parked cars and the regular travel lane, parked cars and a buffer create a protected bike lane on these two blocks of Bassett. This is the first parking-protected bike lane in Madison, and the city is conducting a year-long test, which hopefully will lead to a wider adoption around the city.

December

December is a time of reflection. One result of that reflection was that we decided to do a strategic planning exercise next year. Madison Bikes has been around since 2016, and we feel that it’s a good time to check in what we have achieved so far and where we’re going to go in the couple years. How do we prioritize what we work on? Is an all-volunteer model sustainable in the long term? (And if it isn’t: what are the alternatives?) What are some achievable, measurable goals for the next 1, 5, or 10 years for our organization? I’m excited to explore these questions and continue to build on the past four years of great work that we’ve been doing.

December is also the time of our board election. I’m sad to see some of our previous board members leave: A big thanks to Steph, Jake, Kate, and Pepe for your time with us! We will miss you! And I’m excited to welcome our new board members. We’ll introduce them on our blog in January.

Ah, and one last thing: There are many ways to support Madison Bikes, and one of them is by supporting us financially. If you appreciate what we’re doing, please consider making a donation to us. We appreciate any support you can offer, no matter how small. Thanks!

 


Last Weekly Update of the Decade

This Week

Wednesday

New Years Day Ride Meet at Barriques on Park St for a relaxed ride around Lake Wingra, with the traditional stop at The Laurel Tavern on our way past.

This is the inaugural training event for the BDETS (Bombay Donut Event Training Series), and there may or may not also be the great elixir Cherry Bounce or other drinkables (sipables?) in the offing. More info can be found here


Saturday
Holiday Fantasy in Lights Family Bike Ride 4:00 – 6:00 pm Who says cars get all the fun during the season of lights? Join the Madison Bikes Community for a free family bike ride through the Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park (http://www.fantasyinlights.com/). We will meet at Lakeside St. Coffee House at 4PM and leave at 4:30PM sharp to Olin Park. We will also return to Lakeside St. Coffee House as a group after. There will be free coffee and hot chocolate before and after the ride! The Holiday Fantasy in Light organizers have asked participants to please wear light/bright clothing and have functioning lights for your bike.

 

FB4K Madison Season Kickoff Party 5:30 – 10:30 pm at Harmony Bar & Grill Come shake off those New Years cobwebs by joining FB4K for a family friendly, early show at the Harmony Bar with The Kissers (Acoustic Irish Pub Set) and Covered in Fuzz (debut performance from FB4K Madison staff/volunteer band playing an 'Electric Campfire' set). They will also be announcing the winner of the Giant Fat Bike Raffle at 9pm and having a silent auction. $15 Suggested Donation at the door. All proceeds benefit FB4K! More info here.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city's Bike Madison page.

Monday Update: University Ave updates, Jan 4 Family Ride

With the holidays upon us, our calendar is pretty empty. That provides a great opportunity for a recap from last week's University Ave public input meeting.

Before we get to that, a quick reminder that early in the new year, our Holiday Fantasy in Lights Family Ride is happening. Join us at Lakeside Coffee House on January 4 for free coffee and hot chocolate and the ride over to the holiday lights in Olin Park. More information on Facebook.

Now let's get back to University Ave. A reminder that this project runs from Campus Dr/Farley/University Bay Dr to Shorewood Blvd. The construction has been pushed to 2022; it was previously planned for 2021. If you want to see any of the materials and presentations from the meeting, you can find them here. You can also find contact information for key project staff and alders as well as a way to sign up for future updates on the project.

I know this is another long blog post, but there is a lot going on with this project. I won’t go over all the things that haven’t changed from the first meeting. You can read about in my Dec 16 blog post. At that time, I didn’t have the materials for this meeting, so below are the things that have changed.

First things first. I want to thank everyone who attended, wrote an email, called city staff, and otherwise contributed to making this a better project. As you will see below, several elements have been added to make the project more friendly to a multimodal future. (It’s still going to be a very large, busy road, but sometimes you have to take the victories when they come, because otherwise all looks bleak.) Your comments and advocacy on this project truly made a difference, so I want to acknowledge that.

The tl;dr bullet points are:

  • Wider sidewalk on the south side should help all non-motorized users
  • No right turn on red from side streets will hopefully improve safety for and yielding to anyone in the crosswalk.
  • Countdown walk signals and continental crosswalks at all intersections
  • Sidewalk on the north side of street will go all the way from University Bay Dr to Shorewood Blvd
  • Lots of changes to transit stops and pullouts for buses in anticipation of BRT
  • Change in speed limit on both University Ave and Campus Dr.

More details and other changes below.

The city is accepting comments on this meeting until Jan 1, so let them know if you have any ideas, comments, gripes, or compliments. (See project page for contacts in the materials, but the main contact is the project engineer, Glen Yeoger.)

Now the longer version.

My pet peeve—that there were no bike facilities on the south side of the road, leading many people to take to the sidewalk on their bikes—has been heard, if not fixed in the most optimal way. Instead of a standard five-foot sidewalk, there will be a sidewalk measuring 7-8 feet along the length of the project. This is still too narrow to call it a “path,” and I anticipate continued conflict between people biking, walking, and waiting for the bus for the bus, but it does give everyone more space.

This wider sidewalk was achieved mostly through narrowing the travel lanes on the road. These narrower lanes should also help slow traffic a bit. And that’s another piece of good news. The city is planning on lowering the speed limit on this part of University Ave to 30 mph (currently 35 mph), and Campus Dr will become a 35 mph road (currently 40 mph.) Lower speed limits are always good for people trying to cross the street, and for those traveling along the road as well, because it gives drivers more time to react to situations.

Source: Tefft, B.C. (2011). Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In another safety improvement for people biking and walking, the city plans to prohibit right turns on read on all the streets coming in from the south. This will significantly improve conditions for those who are biking on the sidewalk as well as all who use the sidewalk. Not being able to turn right on the red will discourage motorists from inching out into the crosswalk and assure that they won’t just surge through as they are looking left to find a gap in traffic. One reason riding on the sidewalk “against” the adjacent traffic on the road is that motorists turning right are only looking left; they rarely look right to see pedestrians and bicyclists approaching from the right or coming up to the right of their car, either on the street or on the sidewalk parallel to them.

Current conditions on University Bay Dr: People walking either have to walk in the bike lane or take the goat trail visible on the right. Source: Google StreetView

Also on the sidewalk front, there will be a full sidewalk on the east side of University Bay Dr all the up to the Children's Hospital. This will be an improvement over what is there now, which only goes as far as the driveway to the VA Hospital.

And another improvement on the bike end of things is that the 2600 block of University Ave—which now looks more like an off ramp from the larger portion of University Ave eastbound to “old” University Ave—will have an actual bike lane. Not only is an on-street lane here a good idea to encourage people to not ride on the sidewalk, but it will visually narrow the road to slow drivers as they enter the neighborhood.

For people trying to cross University Ave, there will be continental crosswalks and countdown timers at all intersections. These crosswalks are more visible, so hopefully that will increase yielding by turning motorists. (We’ll see.)

Continental crosswalk standards for Madison. Source: City of Madison Engineering

Many people in my neighborhood would have liked to have seen the removal of the right-turn lane from southbound University Bay Dr to westbound University Ave. There is far too little yielding by motorists, regardless of whether they are facing a red or green light. And pedestrians—including transit users getting off at the University Bay Dr stop—have to get to the “refuge island” in order to then cross University Ave itself. The city is not getting rid of that slip lane, but they are proposing to add a table top crosswalk, which would both elevate pedestrians for better visibility and slow drivers.

There will also be improvements to the crosswalk on the east side of University Ave/Farley. Up until about 15 years ago, there was NO crosswalk there (!) Now the city wants to make that the preferred crossing from people headed north. The eastbound buses and future BRT will be stopping in a new pullout lane on the east side of the intersection, so transit users will already be on that side of the street. I think a lot of northbound pedestrians from the neighborhood prefer this side anyway, because you are facing all the left-turning traffic and can see if someone isn’t paying attention. (I personally hate crossing with my back to the left-turning folks. I just don’t trust them, and I want to see if I’m going to have to jump out of the way. Seriously.)

The diagonal crossing at Ridge should be easier to handle, as the city is planning on retiming the walk lights to reduce delay in the two-stage crossing. Right now, it feels like a long time standing in the median as car rush by on both sides.

There’s more information in the presentation materials, including a few changes I didn’t list here. But I think I covered all the really big ones that are new for this meeting.

Thanks again to everyone who weighed in. Your voice has made a difference, but University Ave will still be a big road, and the intersection with University Bay Dr/Farley will still be a huge intersection with a lot of turning vehicles. It’s better, but still a pretty car-oriented corridor.




University Ave reconstruction meeting Wednesday

Short version

This Wednesday, Dec 18 at 6:00 pm at the Best Western InnTowner, 2424 University Ave (intersection with Highland), the city will be holding the second public information meeting (PIM) about the upcoming University Ave reconstruction. This project -- running from Shorewood Blvd to Campus Dr and currently scheduled for 2021 -- will be a real test to see if we can rebuild a major corridor that will safely and comfortably serve all modes of travel -- a Complete Street. If you live, work, or shop nearby, or if you travel through by any mode of transportation, I urge you to attend the meeting. If you can’t make the meeting, but have a comment, you can contact the project engineer, Glen Yoerger. You can also include Traffic Engineer Yang Tao and/or alder for that area Shiva Bidar.

I wrote about this project and the many current safety problems before the first meeting [presentations at the bottom of project website]. I will go into some additional details for each of the points below, but just in case you just want bullet points, the tl;dr is:

  • At the first public information meeting in June, the modifications that the city presented made some minor improvements for the many safety problems present for bicyclists and pedestrians -- and transit users who are pedestrians when they get off the bus -- but not at the expense of keeping motor vehicle traffic moving,  
  • There are no bicycle facilities on the south (city of Madison) side of the street, and none are planned (unless something has been added since June.)
  • Because of the lack of appropriate facilities on the south side, people on bikes use the sidewalk, which is dangerous for themselves and causes conflicts with pedestrians and the large number of transit users waiting at the very busy bus stops.
  • It is already very dangerous and intimidating to cross the street, and the city is planning on removing one of the current unsignalized crosswalks, at Franklin Ave. Even where there is a signal, turning vehicles and red light running mean that the crossings are uncomfortable and feel dangerous. 
  • The intersection of University Ave and University Bay Dr/Farley, has a very bad history of crashes resulting in injury. The city rates it fourth overall in the whole city.   
  • This corridor will be one of the first links in the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route, so there will be even more transit users waiting on the sidewalk and crossing the street in the future.   

Source: Vision Zero presentation to the Transportation Policy and Planning Board, Dec 12.

I was hoping that there would be information available before I wrote this post, but so far (as of Monday afternoon, Dec 16) nothing has been added or updated on the City Engineering website for the project. The Transportation Commission was supposed to get an update this past week, but referred it until their January meeting. 

The longer version, with more details

Left turns

At the last meeting, we were shown plans for modifications of the corridor. They show a double left turn lane from eastbound University Ave to northbound University Bay Dr. This is meant to move the many commuters through the intersection as they drive to and from the UW, VA, and Children’s Hospitals and other parts of the far west campus. This is also a major entry point for people driving to the eastern part of Shorewood Hills, since there are limited locations to enter the village.

Left turns are a major movement at this intersection -- also including left turns from both southbound University Bay Dr and northbound Farley (same street, different name of the other side of the road) to eastbound Campus Dr and westbound University Ave respectively, and these left turns are the bane of pedestrians and bicyclists crossing University Ave at the same intersection. Many people who live in the neighborhoods across University Ave work at the hospitals or use the bus or path on the north side, meaning they cross this road multiple times every day. It is also a critical connection for bicyclists coming from anywhere south or southwest of the hospitals or campus. I have come close to being hit myself when crossing from the bus stop of the north side of the road, and while waiting for the bus on the south side, I witnessed a pedestrian hit by a person driving a car right in front of my eyes. Both involved left turning vehicles. 

Overpass for Campus Dr Path

With the bike path completed on the north side, many more bicyclists are crossing University Bay Dr. Although the plans are to build an overpass of University Bay Dr to provide a safer crossing, there are many questions about whether that will be possible. Until that happens, a double left from University Ave will make the crossing even more dangerous. With the improvements to the Blackhawk Path this year, bike traffic at this intersection will probably continue to increase.

Traffic light at Overlook Terrace/Marshall Court and University Bay Dr to serve new VA parking ramp

In addition to the proposed overpass, the VA Hospital is planning on building another parking ramp just off U Bay Dr. This will generate more car traffic, most of which will be turning left onto U Bay Dr, the VA wants a new traffic light at the intersection of Marshall Ct (where EVP Coffee is), Overlook Terrace (the driveway to the VA), and U Bay Dr. This would pack the following into basically one city block: new traffic light at Marshall Ct/Overlook Terr, the Campus Dr path, railroad tracks and gates, then another traffic light at University Ave. Huh? 

The city essentially has no control over what the VA does, because it is a federal agency. They can’t force them to do manage their traffic demand, e.g. by increasing the cost of car parking, or to not build the new ramp. And the city needs a tiny sliver of land from the VA to build the new overpass for the path. The price for that land: the new traffic light to make getting out of the new ramp easier.

One crosswalk being removed

The intersection of University Ave at Franklin Ave, one block west of Farley/U Bay Dr, doesn't have traffic signals. The proposal is to remove the crosswalk. It's not a great way to cross the road on foot, but this is just one more barrier to getting across University Ave. It means that people will have to walk a block in either direction to cross the road. Right now, there aren't really any destinations on the north side across from Franklin, but that could change.  

No bike facilities on the south side

Now we come to my personal beef: There are no planned bicycle facilities on the south side. When I ask why we are doing a major road reconstruction with no bike facilities on one side, I’m told, “There isn’t space.” This is a SIX lane road with turn pockets at every intersection. New sidewalks are proposed on the north side and an extra left turn lane at one intersection, but there is no space for bike facilities? Currently there are unprotected bike lanes from Segoe Rd to Shorewood Blvd, as well as all of University Ave west of Whitney Way, so this is a big gap. City Engineering and Traffic Engineering seem to think that people can just cross to the north side and use the nice new path through Shorewood Hills. Or the bike boulevard on Kendall. But neither of these serve the needs or people going to and from origins and destinations on the SOUTH side of the road. There are stores and restaurants as well as new apartments on the south side. I expect the area to be further redeveloped as BRT comes in. Crossing to the north side to go a couple of blocks and then recrossing again, especially if one is headed to old University Ave, just is not realistic. Crossing that portion of University Ave even once is tough, but no one is going to do it twice when they aren’t headed somewhere on the north side. 

Consequently people ride on the sidewalk. I see them every day when I take the bus. It’s dangerous for the bicyclists because motorists aren’t looking for people riding on the sidewalk as they inch out at Ridge and Farley to make a right on red. It’s not safe for the pedestrians sharing the very narrow sidewalk on this stretch. And it’s not safe for the people trying to catch the bus -- they also aren’t expecting anyone going 10-12 mph on the sidewalk as they check to see if the bus is coming. And that bus stop is going to get a lot more crowded with BRT.

What about the Kendall/Bluff bike boulevard? Well, at the intersection of Shorewood Blvd and Hill St -- where the bike lanes on University end and this project starts -- the bike boulevard is up a steep hill and on the other side of Quarry Park, so it’s really not practical. If you do get up the steep hill that is...Hill St… you can take Harvey for a little while and then duck through an alley for another block. But that ends at Franklin, still a block short of getting you to old University Ave. 

Some good news on facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists

Besides the proposed overpass for the path, the other good news is that the plans call for a full sidewalk on the north side of the road from U Bay Dr to Marshall Court (where it exits the strip mall across from Ridge.) 

One other nice addition has already been added. If you cross University Ave at University Bay Dr/Farley, you may have noticed that there is now a leading pedestrian interval for the walk light. That means that the WALK light comes on a couple of seconds before the drivers get a parallel green. This gives people walking across the intersection a little head start to get our into the intersection, making them more visible to turning drivers. 


Monday Update: Public Meetings for University Ave and Garver Path

This past weekend, BCycle went into hibernation for the winter. 

This week

Monday

Bike Fitchburg monthly meeting will be tonight, Monday, December 16 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Fitchburg Public Library 5530 Lacy Rd, Fitchburg

Wednesday

The public is invited to a second public information meeting about the University Avenue reconstruction 6pm, Dec. 18, at the Best Western Inn Towner, 2424 University Avenue, Madison. University Ave is scheduled for reconstruction from Shorewood Boulevard/Hill St to University Bay Drive/Farley Ave.  The City of Madison is jointly participating with the Village of Shorewood Hills on the design and construction. The project includes reconstruction of pavement, curb & gutter, sidewalk as necessary, street lighting, traffic signals, water main, sanitary sewer and storm sewer.  Design alternatives will include analysis to try and improve pedestrian & bicycle connectivity, bus rapid transit initiatives and stormwater drainage. 

Sign up for updates on the project here: 

https://www.cityofmadison.com/engineering/projects/university-avenue 

https://www.facebook.com/events/454492781870928/

Thursday

The public is invited to the second public information meeting for the Garver Path. The meeting is scheduled for 6 pm, Dec. 19 at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  The City of Madison is proposing the construction of a new 2800-foot long pedestrian shared use path that would connect the existing Capital City Path at Sugar Avenue northward to Milwaukee Street. Three structural elements are proposed as part of the design including a bridge through the northern limits of the project, a bridge replacement at Ivy Street, and a new bridge crossing over Starkweather Creek.

Learn more about the project here: 

https://www.cityofmadison.com/engineering/projects/garver-path

https://www.facebook.com/events/791203121342534/



Save the date

We will be hosting a Holiday Fantasy in Lights Family Bike Ride on January 4th.

Who says cars get all the fun during the season of lights? Join the Madison Bikes Community for a free family bike ride through the Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park (http://www.fantasyinlights.com/).

We will meet at Lakeside St. Coffee House at 4pm and leave at 4:30pm sharp to Olin Park (route to be announced). We will also return to Lakeside St. Coffee House as a group after. There will be free coffee and hot chocolate before and after the ride!

The Holiday Fantasy in Light organizers have asked participants to please wear light/bright clothing and have functioning lights for your bike. https://www.facebook.com/events/2505957879731034/

 

 

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city's Bike Madison page.


Monday Update: Bike Projects Updates and Fat Bike Demos Galore!

Last Week

Last week saw a number of updates to regional bike infrastructure projects. One major update came in the form of a Feasibility Study for the Wisconsin River Recreation Bridge at the southern end of the Great Sauk Trail in Sauk City. The bridge will connect the Great Sauk Trail to Dane County and is part of a planned trail network to connect Madison to the ‘400’ State Trail in Reedsburg. You can see the general routing of the trail connections here. The bridge will feature numerous lookouts and fishing piers, and the proposed design was guided by numerous public outreach efforts. You can view the presentation here. You can also follow the progress of the Wisconsin River Recreation Bridge at their Facebook page.

Rendering of the Wisconsin River Recreation Bridge (Photo Credit: Wisconsin River Recreation Bridge Feasibility Study)

Rendering of the Wisconsin River Recreation Bridge
(Photo Credit: Wisconsin River Recreation Bridge Feasibility Study)

Another project we were updated on last week was the Cannonball Trail Phase 6 extension to the Wingra Creek Path on Madison’s south side. Two options were presented at a meeting on Wednesday, both with their advantages and disadvantages. One option would remove an on-street bike lane to make room for a multi-use path on the same side of the street. The other option would be a new off-street path through Bowman Park. You can see a general image of the options here. You can also find the presentation slides and follow project updates at the City Engineering’s page for the Cannonball Path Phase 6.

Last week also saw the release of The League of American BicyclistsBicycle Friendly State Rankings. Wisconsin scored below average in its ranking at 29th place in the nation. When the list was first released in 2008 Wisconsin was #2 on the list and has dropped in ranking precipitously since, ranking #9 in 2015 and #26 in 2017 according to the LAB’s Historical Rankings Chart. In order to learn why Wisconsin is doing so poorly on the Bicycle Friendly State Rankings you can read the LAB’s 2019 Report Card for Wisconsin.

This Week

Wednesday, December 11

The Transportation Commission is meeting at 5:00 PM in Room 215 of the Madison Municipal Building at 215 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. There will be a number of bike-related informational updates at this meeting so this will be a good one to watch online or in-person. First up will be a presentation on City Engineering’s 2020 Projects, including the 2020 Bikeways Projects. The Bikeways Projects are usually minor resurfacing projects that don’t involve a major reconstruction. One path scheduled for resurfacing is the Southwest Path continuing west from the 2017 resurfacing to Glenway Street. After that there will be an update to the Blair Street project that will include reconstructing part of the path by Machinery Row and adding stop lights to Blair Street’s intersection with Main Street--a major Bike Boulevard connecting to Madison’s downtown. Then, the Commission will be updated on the Cannonball Path Extension options discussed earlier. Finally, there will be an update to the University Avenue Project. You can read the full agenda to learn more about any of the projects and to see what else will be before the Commission.

At 5:30 PM, there will be an Arts, Crafts, and Cocktails event hosted by Trek Madison West, located at 8108 Mineral Point Road on Madison’s west side. Trek will provide the wheels, decorating supplies, and craft cocktails from Gib’s Bar. You bring any extra ribbons, ornaments, or lights that you want to make your wreath unique.The event is capped at 30 people. Learn more about it their Facebook Events Page.

At 6:45 PM Slow Roll Cycles at 4118 Monona Drive, near the intersection with Buckeye Road, will be hosting a Suspension 101 class. The class will cover basic suspension theory and basic set up and maintenance. You can read more about this class on their Facebook Events Page.

Saturday, December 14

Trek HQ will be hosting Race #2 in their Hugh Jass Fat Bike Race Series. Event registration will start at 9:00 AM at Trek Headquarters, 801 W Madison St, Waterloo, WI. The race will start at 11:00 AM, and at 1:00 PM there will be a party and awards given to the winners. Learn more about the event and get tickets at their website http://www.hughjass.bike/ or on their Facebook Events Page.

Revolution Cycles will be hosting a free Surly Fat Bike Demo at Camrock Park out of Cam Rock 3 Shelter. From 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon WOMEN (Women, Trans, Femme) will have priority, and from 12:00 to 3:00 the demo will open up to EVERYONE. Be sure to bring a helmet and a driver’s license to check out a bike. After 3 PM they will do a lap or two of the Camrock Trails. The bikes being demoed are the Surly Ice Cream Truck and the Surly Wednesday. Read more about it on the Facebook Events Page.

At 11:00 AM, Fitchburg Cycles, located at 2970 Cahill Main in Fitchburg, will be hosting their own Fat Bike Demo. Fat bikes from Giant and Borealis will be available. A photo ID, or a credit or debit card will be needed for a test ride. Beer and snacks will be provided and anyone who checks out a bike will be entered in a raffle to win one of a number of prizes from their vendors. Read more about this Fat Bike Demo at their Facebook Events Page.

Finally, Saturday is the Madison Santa Rampage. The Wisconsin Bike Fed is partnering with numerous local organizations to host the event. Rides from the west, north, east, and south will depart at 11:00 AM and convene at Library Mall where at noon they will ride up State Street Mall and around the Capitol Square. Learn more about the event from the Wisconsin Bike Fed page or the Facebook Events Page. Registration is $10 and goes to support a grant-match for Equity-based programs in Madison.


As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city's Bike Madison page.


Monday Update: Cannonball, Winter Biking, Global Fat Bike Day

We hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving Weekend! Yours truly stayed in town, ate Tofurkey, and on Sunday braved the horrible weather to go for a bike ride. While I certainly prefer riding in nicer weather, being outside always makes me feel better, even in sleet and rain and snow. Speaking of, many of this week's bike events are about winter riding.

On Wednesday at noon, the UW's University Bicycle Resource center offers a Ride Through Winter workshop: "Tips on biking through the winter including lessons learned from a winter bicycling veteran. Suggestions for clothing and other gear plus basic winter maintenance tips and available resources. Class taught by UW Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator Chuck Strawser. Free Planet Bike blinky light set to the first five (5) attendees. Bring a brown bag lunch! All events are free and are held at the University Bicycle Resource Center in the Helen C. White Garage (Lot 6) at 600 N. Park Street, unless otherwise noted. There is no registration required. Classes are first come, first served (limit 20 people per event)." If you missed the Winter Bike Fashion Show, this is a great opportunity to make up for it. Starts at noon.

Later on Wednesday, a public input meeting on the next (and possibly final) phase of the Cannonball Path will take place. The path currently ends at Fish Hatchery Road, with no low-stress connection from there to the Wingra Creek Path. Initial plans to continue the path along the railroad line have faced a number of hurdles, and the City is now seeking input on how to close this gap. One proposed option is to build a multi-use path along Fish Hatchery Road; the other is to further pursue the railroad alignment. 6 pm at Wright Middle School, Library Media Center, 1717 Fish Hatchery Road. More info on the project page.

On Friday evening, the MTB advocates from Capital City Offroad Pathfinders (CORP) are having their annual meeting at Slow Roll Cycles on the east side. After a short business part, there will be "food and drink to show our appreciation for our members and volunteers, a review of 2019's highlights and plans for 2020, and the awarding of the coveted Volunteer of the Year Award." Starts at 5:30pm, 4118 Monona Dr.

On Saturday it's Global Fat Bike Day. You can join CORP and Bell Joy Ride for some fat bike fun at the Camrock trails in Cambridge if (and that's a big if!) the trails are dry or frozen. Make sure to check the event page right before you head out there.

Finally, if you missed the Winter Bike Fashion Show and Wednesday winter biking workshop at UW, there's one more opportunity to learn about winter riding. Freewheel Bicycle Collective is hosting a "Winter Biking Workshop with Eric" on Saturday. Eric? Yeah, that Eric, one of our Fashion Show models:

Photo: Dan Stout

Workshop starts at noon, more info here. 1804 S Park Street, #5.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city's Bike Madison page.



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