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.


On Thanksgiving, thanks for supporting us!

Cranksgiving at the Capitol

 

As many of us gather with family and reflect on the things for which we give thanks, we want to take a moment to thank YOU for supporting us. We are an all-volunteer organization, so we depend on your members and friends to do the work we do: contact elected officials, write blog posts and on Facebook, help us with events, show up at meetings, and yes, donate to us as well. We couldn’t do it without you!

 

The past week

The Cap City Trail is back open after some upgrades and repair work. Flooding took a toll on the trail, especially where it crosses streams and passes through storm water areas. You will notice some dramatic changes in a couple of places, but the trail should hold up better in the future. 

The Cranksgiving ride collected tons of food to donate the Goodman Community Center for the Thanksgiving baskets they make for families that can’t afford a good dinner. I ran into the ride up at the Capitol, and I was very proud of our dedicated bike community. But the Goodman Center is still taking additional donations through  Monday, so it you can help, I’m sure they would be grateful.  

The BCycles have gone into hibernation for the winter. They will be back March 15.

Correction: BCycles will still be around until December 14. They will then return March 15. Apologies for the mistake.

E-bikes are officially legal in Wisconsin, although municipalities can ban them from paths. If you have strong feelings, feel free to contact your alder.

 

This week

There isn’t much going on this week, given Thanksgiving on Thursday and all. We had a little reprieve from our early winter this past week, and lots of people were out biking. But true winter is on the way, and while we still don't know what the predicted winter storm will bring, but it looks like it will be messy and nasty. If you are biking to a yummy dinner (or driving, walking, or taking the bus), be careful out there.

Monday

The Madison Bikes Community Meeting will meet at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. This is the meeting where we invite all our volunteers, or those who are just interested in helping, to meet with us and discuss upcoming projects. We will be talking about what types of activities we want to hold this winter and various advocacy issues.

Also on Monday, Bike Fitchburg hold its monthly meeting, 6:30 pm at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd.

You can learn more about Madison Freewheel on the WORT Access Hour at 7:00 pm. Tune in to the Access Hour in the Madison area on 89.9 FM, or livestream anywhere in the world via http://www.wortfm.org. Learn more about the Madison Bike Center soon to open in the Judge Doyle Square Building downtown. You can also learn about Freewheel's charitable work and how to use their facilities and support their mission of free bike access for everyone.  

Saturday

Celebrate the release of the Trek Midwest Beer. Joy the fun with a 24 mile bike ride around Madison to celebrate the great Cross season. Bring your friends! Ride will LEAVE Cafe Domestique at 9 am, ending at Working Draft for the tapping of Trek Midwest Beer. Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/22276945 (Seminole Trails will not happen if the trails are closed). Cafe Domestique will graciously be providing pre-ride coffee and doughnuts!

 

 


Monday Update: Bike Elevator Down, Transpo Commission, Cyclocross, and more!

Path Clearing under Verona Road. (Photo by City of Madison Engineering.)

At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, the Council adopted an Operating Budget that funds snow and ice clearing for Madison’s arterial shared use paths within 12 hours of a winter weather event! Previously there were only funds to keep the paths cleared on weekdays and non-holidays. This is a major victory for biking and walking in Madison. It will prevent some of the major issues with clearing paths on Monday after a Friday snow where a weekend’s worth of walking and biking compacts snow and creates dangerous, icy patches that cannot easily be removed. This will also help keep the paths clear for commuters whose job schedules don’t revolve around a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday schedule.

Also in the budget: $350K towards the implementation of Vision Zero/Traffic Safety. Introduced as an amendment by Alder Grant Foster, all council members signed on as co-sponsors and the amendment passed unanimously. The money will be available to do safety enhancements to some of our city's most dangerous intersections and corridors in the coming year. Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries, will be a larger process, but it's great that we have some money available to kickstart it.

Thanks to everyone who emailed their alder in support of this vital path maintenance!

The Monona Terrace Bike Elevator is down! @MononaTerrace reported on Tuesday that the Bike Elevator has suffered a breakdown. At this time it is believed the bike elevator will be operational some time this week after substantial repairs are made.

This Week

 Monday, November 18,

The monthly Madison Bikes Board Meeting will be held at 6:00 PM in the first floor conference room of Madison’s Central Library.

Tuesday, November 19,

At 7:00 PM in the Discovery Building on the corner of Randall and University, the Crossroads of Ideas: How Can We Move Forward on Wisconsin Transportation? lecture will discuss the future of transportation in Wisconsin. The lecture will be in the H. F. Deluca Forum. The lecture will be held by several local transportation officials including Madison Bikes Board Member Robbie Webber and City of Madison Traffic Engineer Yang Tao. This event is free to attend, but registration is requested. Learn more about this event on the Facebook Events page.

Wednesday, November 20,

The Transportation Commission is meeting at 5:00 PM in Room 215 of the Madison Municipal Building at 215 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. The Transportation Commission will be reviewing the Third Quarter Traffic Safety Report by Madison Police and the City Engineering’s 2020 Projects among other items. You can read the full agenda here.

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, November 23,

Join Revolution Cycles and Trek at the Trek HQ in Waterloo at 9:00 AM for the 2019 Wisconsin State Cyclocross Championships! Learn more about the event on their Facebook Events page.

Sunday, November 24,

At 10:00 AM join Bombay Bicycle Club for the Bombay Freezaroo Ride. The ride is 26 miles round trip with a coffee stop at the half-way point in Cross Plains. The ride starts at Garner Park on Madison’s west side. The event has a Facebook Events page you can follow..

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.


Winter Bike Fashion 2019: Photos!

Just before it got really, really cold, the 9th edition of the Winter Bike Fashion Show took place on November 2. With record attendance of 125 people, we had a successful event. An edutainment event in the best sense, twelve people from the community who already bike in the winter, shared their knowledge and showed off their outfits to those who aren't yet riding in the winter. Our awesome photography crew -- Dan Stout and Mark Renner -- produced these great shots of the event. Still to come: video of the Q&A for those who couldn't make it.

Thanks to our models, event volunteers, Natalie Kuehn for designing the flyer, the High Noon Saloon for hosting us, Teddywedgers for feeding us pasties, and the local businesses who donated door prizes: Bloom Bake Shop, Cafe Domestique, The Cargo Bike Shop, EVP Coffee, Fitchburg Cycles, Planet Bike, Slow Roll Cycles, and Saris.

For lots more pictures, check out Dan's or Mark's full albums.

Brittingham Boats and Planet Bike let us borrow their bike racks. Subtle hint to the High Noon Saloon: You need more racks! (Photo: Dan Stout)

Gina, one of our great volunteers at the event (Photo: Dan Stout)

Our board member Baltazar introducing the MC. He had also led a group ride to the Show from Monona Terrace.

Our MC for the night, Luis LuckyVoy Martinez, and our board member Liz (Photo: Dan Stout)

Our first model, Eric, who works at Freewheel Community Bike Shop and will soon hold his own winter biking workshop there. When it's really cold, he resorts to wearing a motorcycle helmet (Photo: Dan Stout)

Terry is in her 60s and has been car-free for many years. She bikes year-round. (Photo: Dan Stout)

We were super excited to have Yang Tao as a model. When he's not on stage as a model, he's Madison City Traffic Engineer. He's been winter-biking in Madison for 16 years! (Photo: Dan Stout)

Our board member Elysha and her daughter Abby are veterans of the Winter Bike Fashion Show. Watch out for them when they ride around all winter in their family cargo bike or on their own single bikes.

Tim--uh, I mean "Yukon Cornelius" riding in on his sled! (Photo: Mark Renner)

Alder Grant Foster (District 15) and our board member Pete informing attendees about a city budget amendment that would expand snow and ice clearing from 5 to 7 days a week. (Photo: Dan Stout)

Our photo booth had great accessories: Snotcicles, ice beard, foggy glasses (Photo: Dan Stout)

Photo: Dan Stout

Beth and her winter commuter bike. She bikes from the east side to her job on the west side, and she "refuses to let weather determine my happiness" (Photo: Dan Stout)

Caleb's secret weapon for winter biking: Electric gloves! (Photo: Dan Stout)

One model, Nick, failed to wear his winter biking outfit! Or did he? No, in his velomobile he is protected from the elements and can get away with just wearing a sweater. (Photo: Dan Stout)

Winter biking can (but doesn't have to be) expensive. Carlton talks about how as a grad student on a limited budget he slowly accumulated and refined his gear over time.

Heather and her three kids (who were slightly distracted by the velomobile...)

When Andy isn't busy running his bike shop in Lake Mills or Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison, he does recreational rides, no matter the season.

Michael has been doing the winter bike thing since the 1990s. Not only does he ride for transportation; he also has participated in exploits like the Triple-D, a 70-mile offroad bike race in Iowa in the depths of winter.

Q&A with the models. I believe the question was how to deal with snot...

Renowned local artists Jenn and Nicole had painted bike-themed winter scenes that helped us raise over $300 in the silent auction.

Let's end with some pics of the audience and more volunteers:

Happy Winter Biking!


Action Alert: Path clearing, Vision Zero

The Common Council is going to finalize the city's operating and capital budgets this week, starting on Tuesday. That means it's time again to make your voice heard for biking, walking, and traffic safety. There are two items below that could use your voice.

1. Thanks in no small part to your response to our previous action alert, a budget amendment to clear our arterial shared use paths such as the Cap City and SW Path clear of ice and snow 7 days a week passed at the Finance Committee. However, now Alders Moreland (District 7) and Tierney (District 16) have proposed an amendment that would eliminate that funding (among other things such as funding for bus rapid transit positions and more staffing at Pinney Library). Please contact your district's Alder and the whole Common Council to oppose cutting the funding for path clearance.

2. In the capital budget, there is an amendment to allocate $350,000 to "advance the implementation of Vision Zero, which seeks to eliminate all severe injury and fatal crashes on City streets." Vision Zero is an approach to traffic safety that views every crash as preventable, that looks at the problem from a systemic perspective, and that acknowledges that humans will make errors, but builds a "forgiving" system that means those errors don't lead to people getting killed or injured. Many US cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York have adopted Vision Zero, and this funding would help us jumpstart Vision Zero in Madison as well.

How to contact your alder? The easiest way is to email to allalders@cityofmadison.com. This will distribute your email to all members of the Council. Alternatively you can use this contact form. If you don't know who your Alder is, you can find out here. We recommend sending your email to all Alders. Please also include your full name and your address so that Alders know you actually live in their district. Please send your email before noon on Tuesday, November 12.

The emails don't have to be long--the alders will thank your for being brief--but it helps to put them in your own words and say why this is important to you. Below is sample language, but we suggest you add a sentence or two of your own.

"I oppose the removal of funding from the operating budget for snow and ice control on arterial shared use paths adopted by Finance Committee amendment #21: $65,000, as proposed as part of operating budget amendment 1b."

"I support the capital budget amendment 19, which would allocate funding "to advance the implementation of Vision Zero, which seeks to eliminate all severe injury and fatal crashes on City streets."

 

 


Public Meetings and Winter Bike Fashion Show in the News

Last Week

The Capital City Trail paving wrapped up but the bridge at Longford Terrace is still out. 

Winter Bike Fashion Show was a success! We are very thankful to everyone who helped make it happen, the volunteers, models, and everyone who came to watch. Check out the wonderful coverage we were given by Channel 3. 

This Week

Monday

Blair Street Public Information Meeting - Blair Street is scheduled for reconstruction from John Nolen Drive to East Washington in 2022. The City of Madison is working jointly with the State Department of Transportation on design and construction of the project. The project will include safety improvements at the Wilson Street/Williamson Street intersection as well as pavement replacement of Blair St from Wilson/Williamson to East Washington and E Washington from Blair Street to Blount Street. The public is invited a public information meeting scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m., Nov. 4, Madison Municipal Building Room 153, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Madison. At this meeting, engineers and project managers will talk about the details and plans for the intersection and pavement replacement projects. A more specific timeline of work will also be shared. There will be an opportunity to ask the project managers and engineers questions about the project, and the public is encouraged to attend.

 

Wednesday

Yoga for Cyclists will be at Trek on the West side from 6 pm to 7 pm. If you can pedal, you can Padmasana. Join yoga instructor Hope Henley for an evening focused on cycling-specific stretches and mind/body wellness. There will be a $10 fee to join the class, and they’ll cap the class at 40 people, so be sure to sign up in advance. This class is BYOM, so bring your own mat. Namaste!

 

Madison Area Transportation Planning Board Meeting 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. There will be a discussion of Transportation Alternatives Program Priorities and Downtown BRT Routing Introduction . An overview of the options is available here. The whole agenda can be found here

Saturday
2019 Sun Prairie Cup Cyclocross Race is 8:00am to 4:00pm at Sheehan Park, Sun Prairie - The Brazen Dropouts are excited to host the 2019 Sun Prairie Cup Cyclocross Race! We'll be bringing another fun, fast, and technical course. The Nitty Gritty will be on-site cooking up hot food and a kids race will be held in the middle of the day. More information is available here

Quarry Park Jump Jam hosted by Capital Off Road Pathfinders, Inc. is 11:30am to 2:30pm - It's the annual jump at Quarry Park. Life got busy and we had to push the date back a little later this year but it will be a good time regardless. There will be lots of low key contests for ALL ability and age riders. Don't know how to jump? Come learn! Family friendly, we cannot stress this enough. There is no rain date so if trails are muddy it will be canceled and y'all will have to wait till next year. Meet at the playground jump area. More info is available 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.


Winter Bike Fashion Show on the radio!

Our board member Pepe and two of our volunteer models for the Winter Bike Fashion made an appearance on local radio station WORT this morning. If you missed it, you can listen to the segment here (if the embedded player doesn't appear, try this link:

We hope to see you and your friends this Saturday at the High Noon Saloon! You can get a preview of some of our models on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MadisonBikes/posts/


Detours, wheel tax, and Winter Bike Fashion Show, oh my

 

This past week

The county has been repaving the Cap City Trail from Seminole Highway to Fish Hatchery Rd, and one of the more dramatic changes will be smoothing out the S-curve just west of Fish Hatchery. The steep hill and S-curve at the bottom has caught more than one bicyclist off guard. There is a lot of tree loss, but the path should be safer for everyone. 

In case you missed our post on Saturday, we went through some of the frequently asked questions about the wheel tax. Check it out here.

Even though the Council will not formally take up the city budget until Nov 12, there are other meetings and decisions that precede the Council meeting(s). The Finance Committee met this past week to decide which alder amendments to the budget should be forwarded to the full council. There were three besides the wheel tax that we were watching. Funding for weekend maintenance of the paths during the winter passed. Additional funding for crosswalk painting also passed. However, funding to make improvements at several intersections with high crash rates did not get the OK from the Finance Committee.

 

The week ahead

Plenty of detours to keep track of. The Campus Dr Path east of the Vet School is supposed to close soon and stay closed until March, although it was still open as of Friday. A part of the SW Path northeast of Midvale is supposed to be closed starting Monday morning. Also, work on the Yahara River Path under Johnson is supposed to start on Oct 30. East Mifflin by Lapham school is closed, but should be open on Tuesday. There are more outside of downtown. 

The good news on campus is that the work near Limnology -- between the Lakeshore Path and Memorial Union is done! Less conflict with pedestrians now. 

The best way to keep up with what’s going on is to subscribe to the city’s Friday update from Bike Madison. 

Monday

Madison Bikes Community Meeting for all committees at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. In case you haven’t noticed, we are no longer posting individual committee meetings. Instead, we are having a “community board meeting” on the fourth Monday of each month. Everyone is welcome, and this is where we will talk about what we need to do in the areas of advocacy, communications, events, and volunteer opportunities. If you want to be involved, but don’t know exactly what area you want to help, this is a great opportunity to find out where you can fit in. 

This Monday, we will probably be talking about all the things we need to do -- and for which we need help -- to out on the Winter Bike Fashion Show on Saturday, Nov 2. If you can help out on Saturday, we still need some volunteers, from demonstrating the bike racks on the bus parked outside to greeting people at the door. Email Liz if you can help out.  

Also on Monday is the monthly Bike Fitchburg meeting, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Fitchburg library, 5530 Lacy Rd, Fitchburg. 

Tuesday

The city council will hold a special meeting to discuss and vote on the above-mentioned wheel tax. The meeting will be early -- 4:30 pm in Room 201 of the City County Building -- to allow alders to also attend other committee meetings that evening. A reminder that your voice is important, and you can contact the entire council or just your alder to voice your opinion. Don’t know who your alder is or need contact information? Go to the Council webpage to find that information. You can also attend any council or committee meeting in person to speak or just to fill out a comment card (if you don’t want to stay.) Yes, they do pay attention to constituent comments!

If you are interested in what’s going on with BRT, you can hear about the options for the downtown portion of the routes. City staff are trying to decide whether the BRT should go around the Square, the outer loop, or some other route. The BRT public information session is 6:30-8:00 pm at the Madison Senior Center, 330 W Mifflin.  

Thursday

Although there aren’t any big issues of interest to bicyclists on the Transportation Commission agenda, it’s always a good idea to keep track of what is up with the overall transportation discussion. You can watch the meeting or check out the agenda here. Or attend in person: 5:00 pm in Room 215 of the Madison Municipal Bldg.

Saturday

As you must know by now, if you’ve been reading any of our communication, is the Winter Bike Fashion Show at the High Noon Saloon from 1:00-4:00 pm. It’s free, family-friendly, very fun, and very informative. 

Before the WBFS, you can also drop by the Mayor’s Neighborhood Roundtable at the Central Library from 9:00 am-Noon. This is a great place to find out what’s going on across the city, meet up with neighborhood organizers, and find out more about what resources are available to improve your part of the city.

Sunday

Bombay Bicycle Club Fall Meeting and Potluck at the Lussier Center at 5:00 pm. You must be a member of Bombay and RSVP to attend. More information can be found here.

2019 Battle of Waterloo cyclocross races at Waterloo Fireman's Park 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. Bring your bike and join in on the fun, or come out to cheer on the riders as they compete in the fast and furious sport known as cyclocross!  Food and beverage available for purchase - Cowbells encouraged!


FAQ on the Vehicle Registration Fee (also known as the “Wheel Tax”)

There has been a lot of discussion, as well as confusion, about the “Wheel Tax” that the mayor has proposed as part of the upcoming budget. So we thought we’d try to answer some of the questions that have popped up as well as explain why we think that bicyclists should care about it. 

What is a wheel tax?

Simply put, it is a local registration fee for your car. Each year you have to renew the registration on your car with the state of Wisconsin, and this is just the same as that registration fee, except this additional fee goes to the city of Madison if your car is registered to an address in the city. You will pay it at the same time as you pay for state registration, and the state will send the money back to the city.

Why is the city doing this now?

The city has a deficit for the upcoming budget year. This means that we either have to reduce spending or raise more revenue.

The state legislature has made it very difficult for cities to raise additional funds for their budgets. There is a cap on how much they can raise property taxes each year. But Madison is growing, and many people would like to have a better transit system. This money will allow the city to both fund basic services (police, fire, parks, garbage pick-up, social services) as well as maintain or expand transit. 

Without additional revenue or cuts in other areas, current Metro service would need to be cut. This would mean less frequent buses, shorter service hours, or the elimination of whole routes. Part of the wheel tax revenue would also be used to provide more summer bus passes to youth or bus passes for people with low incomes. 

One big project the city wants to undertake is bus rapid transit (BRT), which has been discussed extensively for the last couple of years. BRT is a special type of transit that is faster than regular buses, but cheaper than rail. There’s a lot of details that we can’t cover here, but suffice it to say that transportation planners, elected officials, and other decision makers in the city have decided that this is the best way to improve transit in Madison. You may or may not agree, but if you want more information, go to http://www.madisonbrt.com/

Having a dedicated source of funding to support transit will also help the city get federal funding. We’ve applied for federal funding before, but haven’t gotten it. The federal government likes to see some assurance that a project will go through, and one way to show that is to have a pot of money. We have to compete with other communities that have dedicated funding for transit from a regional transit authority (RTA), a local sales tax, or other dedicated funding. 

So, I’ve heard that a wheel tax has to be used only for transportation. But I’ve also heard the mayor and others talk about how this new fee will be used for other city services. 

Yes, that is a bit confusing. By state law, local registration fees or wheel taxes can only be used for transportation costs. But right now, we are using property taxes to support transit, walking, biking, as well as driving operations and infrastructure -- everything from snow plowing to patching roads and paths, as well as actually running Metro, buying gas for the buses, and paying the drivers. So what we are really doing is moving some of those expenses off the property taxes and moving them to the wheel tax. But ultimately all the money ends up in the same pot, so now we have additional property taxes to pay for those non-transportation things. If we don’t pass the wheel tax, we are going to have to make cuts somewhere else. 

So for people that like transit, you can think of this as taxes car owners to pay for transit. If you think transit is not useful to you or the city shouldn’t be spending more money on it -- and there are plenty of people out there who feel that way -- it’s easier to swallow that the wheel tax will fund things they want to fund.

Isn’t a wheel tax regressive? If you have a junker car you pay the same as someone with a new luxury car. 

Yes, that is true. No matter your income or wealth, no matter what car you drive: If you have a car, you will pay the same fee. But we don’t have many choices, given the constraints that the state has put on cities. We can’t use many of the tools that are used in other states, like local gas taxes, an RTA, local sales taxes, or other revenue sources (many of which are regressive as well). This is pretty much all we have. And low-income residents are less likely to have a car or multiple cars in their family than those with more money. And low-income residents are also more likely to be dependent on transit. Improvements to transit will benefit low-income residents (and cuts in Metro service would hit them especially hard). The city is also planning on using some of the revenue to provide support to low-income residents to offset the cost of the fee. We are prohibited by state law from refunding the fee or prorating it by income.  

I ride my bike almost everywhere. Why should I care about transit?

Madison needs to move away from depending on cars and get more people using other modes. Fewer cars on the road both directly benefits bicyclists by making the roads safer and more pleasant, and it will free up space for better bike infrastructure, bike parking corrals, and other things we want. But that is only going to happen if we give people alternatives to driving their private cars. Transit is a key piece of that.

And a lot of people who bike also use transit, when they don’t want to ride because of weather, illness, carrying a bunch of stuff, traveling with people who don’t bike, or even just because they are tired. Transit allows us to throw our bike on the bus if we have a flat tire or the weather turns nasty. Transit lets less committed bicyclists or new bike commuters know that they have a back up. It allows more people to bike because they know they won’t be stuck if something happens. Bicyclists should all be out there pushing for more and better transit, because it just makes it easier to bike, even if you never use it. 



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