Photo courtesy of Matt DeBlass
Just when the less hardy bicyclists were thinking they could finally ride in comfort, Sprinter (as my friend in Minnesota calls the endless combination of spring and winter) hit us with a last, ugly hit of horrible weather. As I write this on Sunday night, the main roads are wet and slushy, with questionable riding in the bike lanes or outer edges. Local streets were never plowed, so they are just piles of semi-frozen mess. Yuck. (I haven't checked any of the bike paths, so maybe someone can post the conditions as they come in on Monday morning.)
Last week, when things were looking better, Matt DeBlass from Revolution Cycles took the above photo of the path being swept behind their shop.
Besides a short burst of pleasant weather to give us hope, there was one big meeting last week. A public meeting was held to discuss how Atwood Ave from Fair Oaks to Cottage Grove Road will be reconstructed. There's a big gap in the bicycle network there, if you don't want to detour over to the Cap City Trail. We mentioned this as an upcoming meeting last week. We'll try to get an update out on how the discussion went.
Coming up this week
The Winnebago rebuild project that we've been talking about will be before the Board of Public Works on Wednesday (see time and location below). A group supporting canopy trees in Madison has sent out an alert for this meeting. Option #2 would allow more space for trees as well as more space for bikes.
Also this week:
Monday is the Madison Bikes board meeting at 6:00 pm at the Central Library. As with all Madison Bikes committees, the board meetings are open to everyone. So if you want to know more about us or see how we work, feel free to drop by.
Wednesday is the Board of Public Works, 5:30 pm in Room 108 of the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Blvd. All city files on the project can be found here. They will be considering options for rebuilding Winnebago. The BPW is the "lead" committee for this item, meaning they will be making a recommendation to the Council. How the BPW votes would be the default option if the Council decides not to discuss it further. (This is called being on the consent agenda, because the Council only discusses a handful of items at each meeting. All the other recommendations by cit committees are accepted and passed by the Council in one big vote. That's why city committee meetings and their recommendations are VERY important.
If you read this far, you've now had a lesson on how things work at the city.
Also Wednesday is the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee, meeting at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. All are welcome.
Saturday is the next Tour de la Familia Latina/Tour of the Latin Family, a casual and friendly ride at the pace where kids and inexperienced bicyclists can enjoy the day and the sights of Madison. All are welcome. Ride leaves from Olin Park at 1:00 pm. They've been riding all winter!
That's about it for this week on the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event you would like included, send it our way.
In Case You Missed It
There are always great contributions, opinions, comments, and updates from our members and on the Madison Bikes Facebook group, so if you aren't checking that out, here's what you might have missed:
Kierstin Kloeckner urges people to write to Capital Brewery and the Middleton City Council in support of extending bike lanes on High Point Rd from Greenway to Terrace Ave (those are the two local roads that go under the Betline
News comes that the Capital City Trail south of the Beltline -- through the E-way -- will get the first renovations since it opened in 2001. Look how long bike trails last! But some parts of the Cap City Trail are getting sort of rough, so despite the detours we'll have to endure, this is a good thing.
And a great article about how a Northern Virginia parking garage is used as a bike park after hours. Glad someone is using at empty structure at night!
Plus discussions about Atwood, the best bike racks for apartments, and lots of other fun and info.
The Wisconsin Bike Fed is changing its organizational structure to become more effective in their advocacy. Last Wednesday, the Bike Fed's executive director Dave Schlabowske met with Dane County bike advocates and presented his plans and ideas. Stay tuned for further announcement online or at the Wisconsin Bike Summit.
Bombay Bicycle Club had their annual spring membership meeting on Sunday, and their 2018 ride calendar will be available shortly. We'll work with them to also get those rides on our Community Bike Calendar.
Current plans for Atwood Ave reconstruction
The big advocacy event this week is a public involvement meeting on Atwood Avenue. The street is going to be reconstructed between Fair Oaks and Cottage Grove Road, and one goal of the project is to improve conditions for people walking on biking in the corridor. Right now, Atwood forms a barrier between the residential areas and the park and lakefront. Crossing the road is difficult, and vehicle speeds are high. Bike access is limited to a narrow sidewalk shared with people on foot. The city has proposed a number of improvements that would address some of these issues. But some important questions remain -- for example, do we really need two lanes in both directions on Atwood? Will the new road design lead to slower vehicle speeds and allow safe
crossing? Why does the city want to allocate more space for car parking? So please attend the meeting and help the city get this
project right. Monday, 6:30-8 pm at Olbrich Botanical Garden. You can also send questions and comments to the project staff:
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Current state of Atwood (Image: Google Maps)
Sun Prairie Moves, the local bike advocacy group in Sun Prairie, also meets on Wednesday. On the agenda: Updates on planned events, on a planned network of off-street paths, and on a new official bike map in Sun Prairie. Wednesday, 6:30pm at Colonial Club Sun Prairie.
An area that also could use improvements for those who don't get around by car is the "Milwaukee Street Special Area". The planning efforts for the area are still in the early stages. Learn more at the first open house at Whitehorse Middle School on Thursday, 6:30-8pm.
On Saturday, you can again join the folks at Cafe Domestique for their rain-or-shine Spring Rides. Meet at Cafe Domestique at 8:30am. A more mellow ride option starts at noon at Freewheel Community Bike Shop: This kid- and family-friendly ride will go to Elver Park and include a potluck picnic. And if you'd rather stay inside on Saturday, consider attending Terrace Town at Monona Terrace: Dane County elementary school kids have build a small-scale city with a focus on sustainability out of recycled materials, and now they're eager to present their work to the public. 10-4 at Monona Terrace.
And on Sunday, bike out to Warner Park for the Annual Bird and Nature Festival. Or finally get that tax return done...
On Tuesday, Jim Wolfe from Engineering presented two options under consideration for this summer’s Winnebago Street reconstruction to the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission. If you haven’t been following along, you can get more background on the project on the city’sproject page or by reading this Madison Bikes article from February. For those that couldn’t be there in person or catch the live stream, you can watch a recording of the discussion here thanks to City Channel.
Option 2 for the Winnebago Street reconstruction
Public comment at the meeting was split between those that worried about the impact of lost parking on adjacent residents and businesses (supporting Option #1) and those that supported Option #2 for its positive impact on our urban canopy and the improved bike access for people of all ages and abilities. Commission members received 27 emails in support of Option #2 and 0 emails in support of Option #1 in advance of the meeting.
After close to an hour and a half of comment and discussion, the commission voted 5-1 in favor of Option #2. The project is expected to be in front of the Board of Public Works on April 18th and a final decision will be made by the Common Council on May 1st. Watch for additional action alerts for both of these meetings and please consider adding your voice to this important discussion.
Tuesday: Remember to ride your bike to your polling place and vote in the spring elections! The Madison Bikes Communications Committee will also meet up at the Memorial Union at 6pm. Check out the About Us section of our webpage for more info on any of the Madison Bikes Committees.
Thursday: The Wisconsin Film Festival kicks off on Thursday and runs through April 12th. Two movies that feature biking this year include Makala and Not Without Us. You can read a brief summary and watch the trailers after the fold. Just remember to save yourself the headache of car parking and ride your bike!
Saturday: Cafe Domestique Spring Rides continues on Saturday with this rain or shine series. Coffee at 8:30 and roll out at 9:00a. And if you'd rather ride inside, come to the season finale of the Capital Goldsprint Series at Octopi Brewing at 7pm.
Sunday: And on Sunday, Bombay Bicycle Club hosts its annual Spring Member Meeting. RSVP required by Monday, April 2nd.Read more
Spring is definitely on the way and the ramping of activities for this week’s update shows it.
- We have an important meeting on the planned reconstruction of Winnebago Street (discussed in more detail below).
- Madison BCycle is back after being away all winter. To celebrate and give everyone a taste of the subject, you can ride free the first week of April. There’s a promo code to use, so follow the link for more information.
- North Hancock St from E Johnson to the E Washington will be closed for three weeks for reconstruction, starting April 2. In addition, the intersection of E Mifflin and N Hancock will be close. Yes, that’s going to be a pain when you are using the bike boulevard! The city says you’ll be able to get through by bike, but you’ll have to get off and walk.
- A report on the results of the East Mifflin Diverter test is available. Although the city received some pushback, they are recommending that the diverter be made permeant.
- A stolen bike Boy, does it suck when someone takes off with your beloved ride. Let’s bring Kelsey Walsh’s bike home!!
The reconstruction of Winnebago Street is on the agenda of the Madison Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) when they meet Tuesday evening. The meeting begins at 5:00 pm in Room 201 of the City-County Building. The PBMVC will consider two proposed designs for the reconstruction of Winnebago St between Second St. and Bashford Ave. The public can speak for three minutes on this item (or any item on the agenda.) You can also find the list of Commission members here, in case you want to email them.
Thanks to Grant for creating a comprehensive overview of the project and its implications for people walking and biking on Winnebago here. Plans proposed by the city seek to create a more neighborhood-scale street profile that would benefit residents and street users alike. Option 2 offers more positives for everyone using the street:
- Better access for walking from southeast side of street, especially with the elimination of the current grade separation,
- Better, shorter crossings for people on foot,
- Buffered lanes for bikes,
- ADA accessible bus stop at Fourth St,
- Narrower lanes for motor vehicles to encourage lower traffic speed,
- A wider terrace on southeast side of the street would provide space for bigger, canopy-type street trees.
If you can get to the PBMVC meeting on Tuesday to voice support for Option #2 that would be great. If you are unable to attend, consider sending an email in support of Option #2 to the members of the PBMVC, city engineering, and Alder Marsha Rummel before the Tuesday meeting. Here’s the list of all those emails, so you can cut and paste them, if you want.
A detailed discussion of Madison Bikes review of the alternatives for Winnebago is available in a recent blog post.
Here are the week’s calendar, at a glance:
Monday, March 26
Bike Fitchburg monthly meeting, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd.
Tuesday, March 27
Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission meeting, 5:00 pm, Rm 201 of the City County Bldg, 210 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Wednesday, March 28
Middleton Pedestrian/Bicycle/Transit Committee, 6:30 pm at Middleton City Hall, 7426 Hubbard Ave.
Thursday, March 29
Olbrich Park Public Input Meeting, 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The City of Madison Parks Division is hosting a public input meeting to discuss improvements at Olbrich Park focusing on the Garver Feed Mill - North Plat and the Olbrich Botanical Gardens operations area. At this meeting, City staff will review current site conditions and seek input from area residents and project stakeholders on the proposed improvements. If you have questions or comments but are unable to attend the meeting, please contact Mike Sturm at (608) 267-4921 or at email@example.com.
Saturday, March 31
Cafe Domestique, 1408 Williamson St, Madison. This ride rolls rain or shine. The folks at Café Domestique are riding! What better way to guarantee that you're going to ride than have a group hold you accountable? Meet at Domestique at 8:30 for Coffee, 9am roll out. Moderate 15mph pace, almost all pavement unless the group is feeling adventurous. Plan for the weather to be lousy. Distance 30 - 50 miles.
In Case You Missed It
Here are a few of the most popular posts on the Madison Bikes Facebook Group this past week:
After an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona, a lot of people had an opinion about what that means for human-powered transportation.
We need your support:
This coming Tuesday evening, March 27 at 5:00pm in Room 201 of the City-County Building, the Madison Pedestrian, Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) will be looking at two proposed designs for the reconstruction of Winnebago St between Second St. and Bashford Ave. Grant wrote a comprehensive overview of the project and its implications for people walking and biking on Winnebago here. Plans proposed by the city seek to create a more neighborhood-scale street profile that would benefit residents and street users alike. Option 2 in particular offers positives for everyone using the street:
- better access for walking from southeast side of street, especially with the elimination of the current grade separation
- better, shorter crossings for people on foot
- buffered lanes for bikes
- ADA accessible bus stop at Fourth St
- narrower lanes for motor vehicles to encourage lower traffic speed
- A wider terrace on southeast side of the street would provide space for bigger, canopy-type street trees.
Rendering of Option 2 (Image: City of Madison Engineering)
Please consider coming to the PBMVC meeting on Tuesday and voicing your support for Option #2. For anyone unable to attend, please send an email of support for the all ages and abilities design alternative to the members of the PBMVC, city engineering, and Alder Marsha Rummel before the Tuesday meeting.
It's almost spring, so I thought I'd include a nice photo of a bike relaxing by the lake. Here's what's happening.
Madison is hiring a Transportation Director, and it would be great if we had a really dynamic pool of candidates. This is a very important new position that will be able to shape all modes of transportation. So if you either know anyone who might be a good hire or have networks where a great person might see it, here’s the job announcement.
In the week to come:
Monday: The Madison Bikes board will meet at 6:00 pm at the Central Library. The board meeting and all committees are open to the public, so if you’d like to see what we are up to or have ideas for us, come on by.
Wednesday: The Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will meet at 6:00 pm at the Bendy Works, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. Again, this meeting is open, so if you want to help us out, come on by to chat.
The Madison Transportation Planning Board Citizen Advisory Committee is meeting in Room 103A of the City-County Bldg, and there are a couple of items on the agenda that might interest bicyclists. They will continue to discuss the Low-Stress Bicycle Network Analysis and also will review and look at recommendation on scoring and funding the Transportation Alternatives block grant. What that means is that they will consider how to pick bike-ped projects to be funded by federal transportation money. The full agenda and contact for the meeting can be found here.
Saturday: Café Domestique (1408 Williamson St) Spring Rides will start off on March 24 and run until April 14. The general idea is to get some base miles in. They will be riding even if the weather is lousy. This Saturday’s ride is going to average 15 mph and go 30-50 miles. Coffee at 8:30 am and roll out at 9:00 am. More info on their Facebook page.
Also of interest:
Survey: An MBA student from the University of Maryland is doing a survey on how people use their bikes and what type of bikes they own. They specifically sent it to us because they wanted responses from cities that are bike-friendly. It only takes a few minutes to complete, so if you’d like to help out, you can find it at the link above. And feel free to pass it on to your friends, family, and other bike groups.
Popular Facebook posts from the Madison Bikes group in the past week
You can find all the following in the news feed on the Madison Bikes Facebook group. There are new articles and links posted almost every day, so the group is a great way to keep up with the news and also learn something about what other communities are doing.
- A long, and somewhat contentious discussion of the acquittal of the motorist involved in the bicyclist fatality on Highway 14 in 2016
- Some great photos from Saturday’s Tour of the Latino Family
- And, unfortunately, a pedestrian was hit on S Park St and a bicyclist hit at E Johnson and North.
- And people had a lot to say about the collapse of the pedestrian bridge in Miami.
Madison Bikes Board member Harald reports some impressions from his recent stay in Germany. This article was originally published on Harald's blog, Ride or Pie?!
I grew up in small-town Germany. Welzheim, my home town, is a city of 10,000 people. It's on the edges of the Stuttgart metro region (population 2.7 million), about 30 miles from Stuttgart itself. My parents still live in Welzheim, and I visited them for a week this March. And, of course, I rode my bike.
|Lovely small roads make for great biking|
So as Welzheim is in Europe, there obviously is a lot of bike infrastructure, right? And nobody drives a car. Well, note quite. Germany with good reason is known as a nation of cars (Mercedes Benz and Porsche have their headquarters in Stuttgart). And in a small, rural town like Welzheim, there's actually not much obvious bike infrastructure to speak of. There are zero protected bike lanes, bike parking is pretty mediocre, and even on-street bike lanes don't exist, with the exception of an advisory bike lane on two streets. And yet, the biking experience is much better than you'd expect.
Traffic calming is one big reason for this. On most residential streets, the speed limit is 30 kph (19 mph). More importantly, the streets are built so that people by and large actually drive at that speed. The streets by default are much narrower than a typical US residential street. So when a car is parked on the street, two cars generally can't pass each other, keeping speeds down. Further, intersections are usually unsigned, meaning that the person coming from the right has the right of way. Effectively that means that at each intersection you have to be prepared to stop. Actual stop signs, on the other hand, are so rare that my navigation app actually gave me a voice notification the few times that I did encounter one.
Traffic signals are also much rarer than in the US. The whole town of Welzheim has not one signal. Roundabouts, on the other hand, are plentiful. Starting in the 1980s, new intersections on busier streets often were built as roundabouts, or old ones were retrofitted. On the 8-mile drive from the nearest train station to my parents' house, you will encounter no fewer than 10 roundabouts. Now in the US, among bike advocates and the general population, roundabouts have a bad rap. Much could be said here, but it's important to note that German roundabouts are built smaller than US ones, and multi-lane roundabouts like the one we have on Mineral Point Road in Madison are very, very rare. More narrow lanes means people driving have to slow down more and aren't tempted to pass people on bikes on the roundabout approaches or in the roundabout.
Some residential streets are designates as "traffic-calmed area," a concept similar to the Dutch woonerf. Cars must drive at walking speed, and people walking and biking are entitled to the whole street. Again, those streets are usually built in a way that makes it clear that people must drive slowly.
What about commercial streets? Welzheim's main street looks like this:
The speed limit is 20 kph (12 mph), and as a pedestrian you can easily cross the street wherever you like. Through strategic placement of planters or on-street parking spots, there will be locations where two cars can't pass each other, keeping speeds down.
Going one step further, some cities have pedestrian malls in their city centers. This is Schorndorf:
Biking is sometimes restricted in these areas, either banning bikes at specific times or asking people to bike at walking speed. Deliveries by car or truck are permitted only during a short time window each day.
Bike parking is not that great by Madison standards. If there are bike racks at all, they often default to what Germans call the Felgenbieger (rim bender) style of rack. This is probably one reason that kickstands are very common on bikes, allowing people to just park their bike wherever when they go for a quick trip to a shop.
|E-assist bike on a rim bender rack|
|Note the wheel lock on the bike on the right. Good enough for a quick stop.|
At train stations and in larger cities, bike parking facilities tend to be better. For instance, at the Bad Cannstatt train station, there is a "bike station" where you can valet your bike (and also have it repaired while its parked there). With the Judge Doyle Square bike center, Madison is poised to get similar facilities. We'll have to see how well they work without a transit location.
|The bike station is run by a charitable enterprise, training and employing people with disabilities or other challenges|
|Forest service roads are usually unpaved|
|The green signs point show bike bike route destinations and distances; the small square signs underneath them are for touristic bike routes; the yellow sign is for hiking.|
I want to be clear that there are some problems with these routes: Welzheim is in a rather hilly area, and the easiest routes up those hills are often taken up by roads. So if you follow a bike route, you should always be prepared for steep climbs. The routes also do not get cleared of snow in the winter. And finally, sometimes the routes are geared more toward recreational biking instead of providing the most direct route. But overall, they provide an amazing low-stress network for people biking, for recreation and transportation alike.
|Some snow left on this forest road|
Are there any takeaways for bike advocacy in Madison? Obviously some of the things I have described we can't recreate here. The issue of traffic calming may offer some lessons, though. Many advocacy efforts here in the US focus on creating protected bike lanes as a way to enable people of all ages and abilities to bike. And there are good reasons for that. But at the same time we shouldn't lose track of the fact that traffic calming can also create spaces that are great for biking and walking (and have other benefits such as reduced noise). This applies not only to residential streets, but also to commercial corridors. This does require being serious about it, though. Merely slapping a 20 mph speed limit sign on an otherwise unchanged street is not going to be enough. And neither is the occasional speed bump or sporadic enforcement. Diverters that prevent cut-through traffic, reducing the width of a street, creating bump-outs at intersections--these are some measures that may transform a street into one that many people will feel comfortable biking on.
A second takeaway is that good signage can add a lot of value at little cost (financial and political. In a way, the farm roads in Welzheim are similar to, say, the network of multi-use paths in Fitchburg.
|Fitchburg path network (Map: OpenStreetMap contributors)|
This edition of our weekly update is brought to you from an airport in Germany. I've been visiting my parents for a week and am now back on the way to Madison. Stay tuned for a post about biking in Germany. Until then, here are the latest bike-related events for the week.
Lots of bikes in Freiburg, Madison's sister city in southwest Germany
On Monday, the Madison Bikes Events Committee is going to lay out the schedule for our organization's events for the year. If you're interested in being involved, please come to Barriques on W Wash at 6pm or email our volunteer coordinator Heather.
I've been told that spring hasn't fully arrived in Madison yet, but that does not deter BCycle from starting the 2018 bike share season on Thursday. Welcome back!
On Saturday, you can join Madison Bikes board member Baltazar for the regular Tour of the Latino Family/Tour de la Familia Latina. This month's theme is St. Patrick's Day/Dia de San Patricio. Meet at Olin Park at 1pm
Here’s hoping most of you were able to get out on the bike and enjoy the warm weather. I ride all winter long, but rarely get out of the city on my winter bike. It’s such a great feeling to get back out to the sights and sounds and smells of the country.
And for those that don’t follow the activity on the Madison Bikes Facebook Group, here’s a collection of some of the top articles recently shared:
Monday: Next Sunday is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time and that means today is the last MEAThead ride of the season. They’ll be back again in the fall after the easy weather is gone again.
Tuesday: On Tuesday, the Madison Bikes Communications Committee will meet up at the Memorial Union. Check out the About Us section of our webpage for more info on any of the Madison Bikes Committees.
For those that may not be fond of cold-weather riding, this week will give you a little taste of spring. Surely winter is not over, but the temperatures should be high enough to tempt the fair-weather riders. Enjoy some of the opportunities below or work on improving the city.
Monday, February 26
Bike Fitchburg monthly meeting; 6:30–8:30 pm. Come to the meeting and let the folks working to make Fitchburg an awesome place to bike you’re your ideas and concerns. Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd.
The MEAThead Ride leaves from Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St 7:00 pm. The ride follows the lake loop with the option to add on a trip through the Arboretum. This weekly ride is ends the last week of March, so if you haven’t gotten to meet up for this ride yet and have been thinking about joining the group, the time is now.
Wednesday, February 28
Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee; 6:00–7:30 pm at Bendyworks, 106 E Doty St #200. Stop by to see what this committee is planning or talk about any ideas you might have on what we can do on the advocacy front.
Middleton Pedestrian/Bicycle/Transit Committee; 6:30–7:30 pm, Middleton City Hall, Council Chambers, 7426 Hubbard Ave. The agenda can be found here.
Thursday, March 1
Madison Bikes Development Committee; 6:00–7:30 pm, Colectivo Coffee - On the Square, 25 S Pinckney St.
Ontario Park Bike Path Meeting; 6:00–7:00 pm, Whitehorse Middle School, 218 Schenk St. Come learn about a proposed bike path through Ontario Park. This is a short path that makes a critical connection for the Whitehorse School kids and the Eastmoreland neighborhood. More information on the planned bike/pedestrian connection to the Capital City path can be found on the project website.