If you missed the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meeting on Tuesday, you can watch it online here. It was a long one (over 3 hours) with conversation centered mostly on 1) the Quarterly Traffic Report from City of Madison Police Dept 2) a Racial Equity and Social Justice Presentation and 3) updates to the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (with a particular focus on trying to make that program more accessible and more equitable for all neighborhoods).
I’ve become very disappointed with the information that is presented each quarter from our Police Department and am concerned with the lack of focus around actually increasing safety for our road users. Lt. Knight shared with the commission that, yet again, the bike safety grant funds that the department received were used to target cyclists failing to come to a foot-down stop at major path/street crossings. Without getting into discussions around the Rolling Stop (also known as the Idaho Stop), it’s clear that this is not the highest leverage enforcement activity to increase safety for people on bikes. People on foot and on bike are the most vulnerable and at-risk users of our public streets today and we need to start to work towards meaningful interventions that will reduce traffic violence.
The Madison Bikes Board of Directors met last week and fleshed out some more details for our party at the High Noon Saloon on 9/19. Stay tuned for more details.
The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commissionmeets this Tuesday, 8/23/16, at 5:00. Topics for this month include a Racial Equity and Social Justice Presentation by City of Madison Racial Equity Coordinator, Toriana Pettaway, and a review of revisions to the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program.
The Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Commission meeting for this month was cancelled and there will also be no Long Range Transportation Committee or Madison in Motion meeting in August.
The public input meeting about pedestrian, bike, and transit improvements for the Monroe Street Reconstruction was the big event last week. Coming up next week is a visioning session about Jackson Street Plaza (where the Cap City Trail crosses Atwood Avenue). Read more after the fold.
Monroe Street Reconstruction
Last week’s big bike advocacy event was the Monroe Street Reconstruction Ped/Bike/Transit World Cafe at Edgewood College. There was a good crowd of attendees that sat through the three hour session. There were three presentations, one each on possible improvements for people on foot, people on bikes, and people who use transit. After each presentation, there were guided table conversations about what we heard, what was missing, and what we liked.
Some information from the online survey (2,779 responses) was interspersed in the presentations and the summary of survey results can be found here.
Key questions and top three responses:
“Other than by car, how would you prefer to access destinations on Monroe Streets if conditions were improved?”
“Please choose up to three (3) qualities that you would most like to see improved and/or invested in as part of the reconstruction process.”
46% Green street (more plant life and sustainable design)
“Please choose up to five (5) priorities regarding what you believe is most important to achieve as a result of the reconstruction of Monroe Street.”
70% Better pedestrian-friendliness and safety
65% A reconstructed street, free of cracks and potholes
51% Better bicycle-friendliness and safety
These results are very consistent with the opinions that have been expressed at the community meetings to date. Improved safety, comfort, and access for people on foot is the primary concern followed closely by improved safety, comfort, and access for people on bike.
Of the 1,000 or so people that said they would prefer to access destinations on Monroe Streets by bike if conditions were improved, there was some clear consensus around what improvements would be the most important (response of 9 or 10 on a 10 point scale):
69% stated that protected bike lanes would be a major factor
62% said that bike lanes (even without separation) would be a major factor
46% called out smoother streets as a major factor
45% hoped for better bike connections from nearby bike paths
37% and 33% said that less and slower automobile traffic would be a major factor
And less than 30% of respondents selected better signage, more bike parking near destinations, and installing Bcycle stations as a major factor that would lead to them biking more to Monroe Street
Unfortunately, the presentation on bike enhancements by Assistant City Traffic Engineer, Yang Tao, only mentioned protected and unprotected bike lanes briefly while stressing the impact on car throughput and on-street parking that would result from including bike lanes in the reconstruction. Most of the presentation focused instead on concepts like providing an alternate route from the SW Commuter Path to Monroe adjacent to Glenway or on the long hoped-for connection from Wingra Park to Edgewood Drive. While both of these would be welcome additions to our bike network, neither address the needs of people who do or who would bike on Monroe if adequate facilities were provided. Significant time was also spent discussing improved wayfinding signage from the SW Path to Monroe and the possibility of including more bike parking on the side streets off of Monroe. These are also good ideas, but neither fundamentally improves access to Monroe Street for people on bikes.
The Bicycle Facility Maintenance Subcommittee meeting for this coming week has been cancelled and will pick up on reviewing a new maintenance policy (with particular focus on winter maintenance) in September. Madison Bikes board of directors will meet on Tuesday to work on finalizing plans for our Kick-off Party on September, 19th at the High Noon Saloon. Save the date!
For anyone that lives on or frequents the eastside, consider stopping in at the Jackson Street Plaza on Saturday, 8/20 to contribute your placemaking ideas to an important node on the Capital City Path. Conflict between people on foot and people on bikes was noted as the biggest opportunity for improvement around the plaza.
The one big, important advocacy event this week is the Monroe Street Ped, Bike and Transit World Café onThursday that Robbie has blogged about already. Read more about that and about last week’s highlights after the fold.
If you’ve thought about attending a public meeting on a bike project, but haven’t done so yet, consider coming to the Monroe Street Bike, Ped, and Transit World Cafe this Thursday at Edgewood College. Monroe Street is up for a complete reconstruct from Regent to Leonard and curb to curb resurfacing from Leonard to Odana. This is a once in a generation opportunity to reprioritize our public right of way. Some argue that accommodating bikes on Monroe isn’t needed since the SW Commuter Path is only a few blocks away. But those who rely on their bikes for transportation know that people on bikes need to get to all the same places as people in cars.
With a relatively narrow 66’ right of way, there’s no way to squeeze in bike lanes without losing some on-street car parking. Some business owners worry that a loss of parking would have a negative impact on sales even though studies on the topic show again and again that bike lanes increases sales and are a boon for business. Some neighbors have also objected to the loss of parking on Monroe out of a fear that visitors will park in front of their houses on the side streets and increase traffic in their otherwise quiet streets ‘searching’ for parking—something that could be addressed with better parking management or diverters on side streets that prevent through traffic.
See our Action Alert for more details and plan on coming down to support safe and comfortable bike facilities for all on Monroe Street.
Last week’s highlights
Monona Bay Bike Boulevard
You didn’t miss much if you weren’t able to attend the Monona Bay Bike Boulevard meeting. The plan is to add some bike sharrows and a few Bike Boulevard signs along West Shore and South Shore. None of that will change how the street functions, but perhaps it will help highlight that this is a shared road space for people on bikes and people on cars (and joggers who don’t have a sidewalk bayside). Some neighbors pointed out the challenge of Gilson Street and wondered if something could be done to address the high speed car traffic that comes through there. I advocated for a wider curb cut at the top of West Shore heading into Brittingham Park. It’s not that bad unless there is two-way traffic or in the winter. Widening it to the south would make it much more comfortable for all users.
Good bike parking is an important but often overlooked component of bike infrastructure, despite its relatively low cost. By and large, the situation in Madison isn’t too bad. The zoning code requires a modest number of bike parking spots to be installed in new developments, and many developers and businesses have come to acknowledge the benefits of providing bike parking.
But sometimes a little citizen activism is needed.
In the summer of 2015, 5th Element Coffee, a high-end coffee shop, opened in the mixed-use building at the corner of University and Highland. I’m a bit of a coffee geek, and so I was excited to bike over there and check out their offerings. The coffee did not disappoint, but the bike parking did: There were no racks in front of the shop, nor even in the general vicinity. One other biking customer had dealt with that by locking to a young tree, and I locked up to a traffic sign nearby. When I mentioned the lack of bike racks to one of the baristas, he acknowledged the problem. To move things forward, a couple days later I emailed the shop:
Hi, I love your shop and I love your coffee – and now it’s even better with the outdoor seating. What is missing, though, is a place for your customers to park their bikes. Just today I noticed three cyclists having to use traffic signs, streetlamps, and even a tree to lock up. You may already know this, but you can send a request to the city to install bike parking in front of your business, at no cost to you: https://www.cityofmadison.com/bikeMadison/programs/bikeParking.cfm Thanks for looking into this!
A response followed quickly, and it was very positive:
Thank you so much for your business, but also for your concern and suggestion. I’ve taken your advice and submitted the request on the link you provided. I’ve also spoken with our City Alder, and she’s supportive of the idea.
We’ll do our best to get bike parking asap. In the meantime, thanks again for being our guest. If there’s ever anything I can do to make your visits more enjoyable, please let me know.
So far, so good. However, for the next ten months nothing more happened. I would get my coffee fix elsewhere, where bike parking was easier, and I was too busy with other things to follow up with the shop or the city. A couple weeks ago, though, I bike past 5th Element and spotted newly installed racks on the sidewalk! And not only were there racks in front of 5th Element, but also right next to the entrance of Oliver’s Public House, located in the same building.
One can argue that eight bike parking spots busy a coffee shop and pub is not a whole lot, and waiting almost a year for those to be installed is a long time. But hey, little victories still are victories. Have you successfully convinced a business to install bike parking? Do you know of locations that desperately need more bike parking? Share your stories in the comments.
Image: Current bike parking situation. Green are the newly installed racks. The rack in the back of Lombardino’s is wall-mounted and not very useful. Map: OpenStreetMap contributors, Harald Kliems
The public input process for the Monroe Street Reconstruction project continues with the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Transit World Café , to be held Thursday, August 11 at Edgewood College from 6:00-9:00 PM. This will give users of these modes a chance to say what is important to them and think about trade-offs on the street.
Below are the official announcement and RSVP form from Urban Assets, the firm coordinating the public input from various interest groups. They ask that you RSVP so they can prepare for the right number of people but an RSVP is not required to attend.
If you think trying to squeeze in the interests of all those user groups is going to be tough, you’re right. That’s why the meeting is three hours long. If you can’t attend the whole meeting, you should consider coming to the first part, as this is when the information about your options to input is going to happen.
Transit users may not have the same interests as those who get around by bike; and when you are walking, you may be annoyed by someone riding their bike on the sidewalk (maybe because there are no bike lanes…?). But this meeting is a great chance for people who don’t primarily drive to or on Monroe Street to speak up for a more livable street that welcomes those who use active transportation and don’t need car parking.
A world café allows people to actually discuss what is important to them. Volunteers will be on hand to record everyone’s thoughts and concerns so that you don’t have to have all your comments prepared before the meeting. You will be part of an actual dialogue about what you want to see, what works now, and what doesn’t.
So I hope we get a really big turn out and a great discussion.
Also note that the deadline of the online community survey about the reconstruction has been extended once again – this time until Aug 7. So if you haven’t done so already, please respond to the survey!
The next meeting in this public engagement process is the Pedestrian, Bike, Transit Infrastructure World Café. At this meeting we aim to understand the community’s perspective on issues and opportunities related to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure design on Monroe Street, including how these different uses will interact following reconstruction. Participants will hear from City of Madison staff about reconstruction plans, multimodal design concepts and considerations, and have the opportunity to discuss in small groups the complex opportunities and tradeoffs involved in multimodal planning on Monroe Street. We hope to see you there!
*Note that some surface parking lot space may be unavailable at Edgewood College at this time due to resurfacing, so please allocate an additional five minutes for parking. If you have limited mobility, please contact Zia Brucaya at email@example.com to inquire about special accommodations.
And, last but not least, if you have not yet taken the Monroe Street Reconstruction Community Survey, please consider doing so! The survey deadline has been extended to next Sunday, August 7th, 2016. You can take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/monroestreetsurvey or reply to this email for more information on how to receive a paper copy.
Thank you for participating in this important community process!
Ride the Drive is my favorite Madison bike event. For a few hours each year, what is usually a busy thoroughfare full of cars gets transformed into a quiet, peaceful space full of smiling people. Media reports and roadside signs before the event reported that “John Nolen Drive is closed to traffic,” but what those signs should have said is “John Nolen Drive is opened up to people.” This year I was unable to ride the drive myself because of a broken wrist. Instead I took pictures of happy people on bikes, unicycles, inline skates, … Enjoy and let us know what your favorite Ride the Drive moment was!
This week there is only one meeting on the calendar, after last week’s three city transportation meetings. The meeting is tonight already and deals with “proposed bike route system enhancements along West Main Street, South Shore Drive, West Shore Drive, and Gilson Street” (see map above). Read more about the meeting, as well as a short recap of last week’s meetings after the fold.
“Please join me to hear from city Traffic Engineering staff to learn more about the proposed bike route system enhancements along West Main Street, South Shore Drive, West Shore Drive, and Gilson Street. We will discuss bike/ motorist signing and pavement markings to enhance the bike route system, including the “Bike Boulevard” designation and its associated signing and marking.”
got its first view of the draft Madison in Motion plan. The materials weren’t available ahead of the meeting and still aren’t published on Legistar, but there really isn’t much to see anyway (here’s a version posted to the MiM site). The plan is supposed to be a ‘comprehensive transportation master plan’ that is meant to ‘guide transportation decisions in the City of Madison…to help make Madison a more walkable, bikeable and livable city…’ It should ‘identify the strategies and implementation recommendations…and will include a realistic, strategic implementation plan for the City to follow for the next 25 years…’ Despite recommendations from the oversight committee, the current draft has no measurable goals and no clear vision, especially as it relates to bicycle transportation in Madison. It’s essentially a collection of concepts and a long list of recommendations to just continue what we’re doing. There should be an opportunity for public comment later this summer/fall.
TORC (TRANSPORTATION ORDINANCE REVIEW COMMITTEE)
reviewed the Draft Statement of Purpose drafted by City Attorney Strange. This is a big task and the group seems to be making good progress. The biggest identified gap to date has been in the lack of transportation planning (see issues with Madison in Motion). The discussion has begun to coalesce around the concept of having a more comprehensive Transportation Commission. This commission would be focused on driving transportation strategy and policy. What that means for the current transportation committees/commissions is still to be determined. Alder King called out what may be the most critical decision by this body: can we really make progress with a new centralized Transportation Commission if it doesn’t have a matching staff component? In my opinion, this new committee/commission makes a lot of sense, but only if there’s a matching Director of Transportation to coordinate and support it.