On Monday, Robbie and I had a nice chat with Brian Standing on WORT’s 8 O’Clock Buzz. Check it out here or on the WORT FM website. As a reminder, you can find all past news coverage of Madison Bikes here.
Tuesday’s Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission meeting had a full agenda including a first look at a number of upcoming cross sections and a review of a new Request for Proposal for the Downtown Bike Center that will be built at Judge Doyle Square. I raised a number of questions and concerns about the RFP, referencing details found in this 2012 Report. While I’m very supportive of the bike center in concept, I think there’s a good chance of it failing if it’s not implemented and operated effectively. What could be worse publicity than a $1M bike investment in the heart of downtown that goes underutilized? As always, PBMVC meetings are available to watch online for anyone interested in tuning in live or watching the recordings.
And while I was at PBMVC, Harald stopped in at Hotel Red for the Regent Street/South Campus open house. A neighborhood plan was already adopted back in 2007. But while that plan sets some priorities and parameters for development, this open house was intended to carry the conversation forward and look at various options for bringing the plan to life. Biking featured fairly prominently, with ideas like improving the SW Path or to “explore bike opportunities” in the area of Regent Street where Budget Bicycle Center is located. Providing bike facilities on Regent Street, however, didn’t seem to be part of any plan. It didn’t become clear during the open house what the next steps are going to be or who to direct feedback to.
On Wednesday, the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee continued its work on reimagining and rewriting Madison’s transportation ordinance. It seems like the group has settled on the concept of creating a new Transportation Planning and Policy Board and is looking at potentially combining all of the other transportation commissions into a new single Transportation Commission. While there is certainly value in connecting the dots between the various elements of our transportation system, the new commission is currently drafted to have only seven seats with no requirement for representatives from any of the transportation modes that we are trying to strengthen (ped, bike, transit). This is really important and fundamental work, so please stay tuned and be ready to advocate to keep cycling’s seat at the table.
On Thursday, Alder Eskrich and city staff rolled out their vision for a reconstructed Monroe Street. After months of planning, a series of public input sessions, and an online survey all calling for significant improvements to pedestrian and bicycle accommodations and a commitment to green infrastructure, the proposal instead continues to prioritize motor vehicle throughput and on-street parking by not changing anything. That’s right: The rush hour travel lanes and miles of underutilized street parking will remain untouched and people on bikes and on foot will continue to watch from the sidelines. There’s a lot to dig into with this project and, in particular, the failed public engagement process. The proposal will go to the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission in November, Board of Public Works in December, and then will look for final approval at the Common Council meeting in January.
There are two opportunities to get involved directly with Madison Bikes this week. On Tuesday, join the Communications Committee at Cafe Hollander and, Wednesday, meet up with the Advocacy Committee at Cargo Coffee. Check the calendar for details and feel free to stop in and check it out.
On Thursday, there’s a Public Market Site Design workshop: “As the City continues to make progress on implementation of the Public Market, this workshop will be an opportunity to discuss the site design and how the Public Market connects with surroundings amenities, natural features, properties, infrastructure, etc.” Getting meaningful access by bike is often best accomplished at this early design phase.
And, on Friday, you have an opportunity to support the Bike Fed and statewide bike advocacy by attending the 2016 Saris Gala.
Last week, Madison Bikes joined City of Madison Traffic Engineering for a webinar and discussion on “Safer Intersections for Peds & Cyclists.” The focus of the webinar was on protected bike lanes, and examples were shown from Vancouver and the Netherlands. Protected intersections are ultimately an extension of protected bike lanes, so we’ll need to work on getting a few protected lanes installed before we can take advantage of the designs shared here. City staff said that there are currently no plans for a protected bike lane in the city…
In other news, buses will be returning to a newly reconstructed Jenifer Street, which has also received bike sharrows. The new cross section is 2′ narrower than it was before reconstruction and also features some bump outs for improved pedestrian crossing. Time will tell how these small adjustments will affect bike travel on Jenny.
The Madison in Motion Oversight Committee talked some more about performance measures and will start sending the draft plan around to city committees with hopes of council adoption in early 2017.
And the Madison Bikes Events Committee continued its planning for the Winter Bike Fashion Show slated for Saturday, November 19 at High Noon Saloon.
Monday:Robbie and Grant will talk Madison Bikes on WORT 8 O’Clock Buzz, and at 5:30 pm city staff give a complete streets presentation in the Lake Edge neighborhood in response to some neighbors’ concerns about adding sidewalks and bike lanes on an upcoming project.
Thursday: City staff will present a new proposed cross section at the Monroe Street Cross Section Open House at Edgewood College at 6:00 pm. This is the last planned public meeting before the design moves through city committees and the council.
Three ways you can be involved and share your love of winter riding:
Volunteer to be a Madison Bikes Winter Fashion Show Model!
We’re looking for folks to model “shoulder season” gear that gets you through late fall and or early spring rides.
We’re looking for models for“deep winter” gear that gets you through the coldest and darkest days.
Our credo at Madison Bikes is “all ages, all abilities.” We welcome models of all body shapes, genders, ages, colors, levels of experience.
No technical gear necessary, in fact we’d love to see what DIY and/or inexpensive solutions you’ve found for keeping warm and dry!
All models must:
Be able to commit to be available on November 19 from 11:30am to 2:30pm.
Complete a brief application (below) by November 5
We’ll let you know by November 12 if you can expect to be walking the catwalk!
Volunteer to host a bike station at the fashion show!
We’re looking for folks to have their winter bikes on display at the fashion show. Volunteers will chat with others at intermission and throughout the show about their bikes and the bike gear that they use. Come share your winter bike solutions!
All bike station volunteers must:
Complete a brief application (below) by November 5
Send your three favorite winter biking photos to firstname.lastname@example.org! This could be a picture of yourself, your winter bike, your winter gear, or a great ride in winter. Along with your pictures, feel free to include a tip or two about winter biking, or share one of your winter biking experiences. We’ll compile these pictures and feature some of them on our website and during the Fashion Show. Help spread love and excitement around winter riding!
Please complete the following information to help us gather a sense of who you are and what gets you excited about winter biking. You can be brief: a bulleted list, a couple of sentences, or a short paragraph for each response. Send them to email@example.com
Describe the type of winter biking you love to do. Tell us where you go and why etc.:
What kind of bike do you ride?
What do you change on your bike or add to your bike for winter riding?
What are some of the key items that you wear for winter biking?
What tips do you have for the winter bike curious?
What do you enjoy most about winter biking?
Tell us a story about an experience you’ve had winter biking.
Editor’s note: This guest post is crossposted from Kierstin Kloeckner’s blog. Kierstin is a cyclist and bike advocate who lives and works in Middleton. Last week she she organized the Middleton Bike Infrastructure Ride to highlight the significant gaps in cycling infrastructure in Middleton, especially when it comes to accommodating people commuting and kids getting to and from school. And some concrete results have already started to materialize.
Once in awhile, an experience is presented to us when something really bad can be turned into something possibly good. It’s usually a split second decision that will tip it in one direction or another. This past week, I was given a chance to prove, not to anyone else but myself, that this can sometimes happen.
I was biking home from work on a sunny Monday afternoon around 2pm. Traffic on Century Avenue, the road I take at least twice a day, was a bit heavier than usual, but nowhere near rush hour intensity. This road I am forced to take, because there is no good alternative, is a narrow four lane which runs through a mostly residential area. There are no bike lanes or paths, even though many of the bike commuters and parents in the area have for a long time been begging the city to build one or the other. The speed limit is 35 mph–too fast in my mind for a residential area with parks, a plethora of children, and poorly maintained sidewalks. People, however, rarely travel 35mph. Most go 45-50 mph, and the police won’t ticket anyone unless they are above the 45 mph mark. This road is a corridor leading to more suburbs or an alternative route to the East side of the city. Drivers always seem either in a hurry or extremely distracted, since weekly I have “close calls” even though I am a very courteous, predictable, and skilled cyclist.
That particular Monday, I became the victim of a road bully. A driver who chooses to use their vehicle not as transportation but as a weapon. I was forced off the road, went over my bars, and landed on my shoulder and neck. I was hurt, thankfully not badly, and yet not one person stopped, including of course the person who ran me off the road. I got up, did the head-to-toe check, checked my bike, and proceeded to walk the rest of the way since I was so shaken up and my bike needed some TLC. I went into urgent care to get checked out, fearing a fracture and impinged nerve, called the cops to make a report, and began to think. I thought about what this incident meant to me. I knew that it could happen again, maybe the next day, or the day after, and if not to me, to anyone else in the neighborhood. I knew the next time it could mean death.
Because poor bike/pedestrian infrastructure was not a new issue for my area of Middleton, I had little hope that changes would be made if I just made yet another report reported to the city. I knew I had to raise my voice a bit and get others to do the same in a constructive way. That night, I planned an infrastructure ride for the following Monday. I invited people through Facebook, Nextdoor, and word of mouth. I wanted to get other’s view on the problems in the area and I wanted them to report the things they felt needed to be changed. I didn’t want to stand alone anymore on these issues and decided the only way I could do it was to get folks out on bikes to experience riding this and other unsafe roads in the area.
The route I chose was just 3.5 miles long, but from past experiences, I knew overwhelming folks with too many problems wouldn’t solve anything. Instead, my hope was to point out key projects and issues, and if it worked, I would plan another ride, for a different area, come spring. Eighteen people showed, including several parents and three children. Almost everyone had the same reaction to the lack of safe infrastructure and lack of city support. I no longer felt alone or without a voice. Although eighteen isn’t many people, it was a start, and since I also got an overwhelming amount of feedback via social media from those who couldn’t make the ride, I began to think, “Yeah, maybe things can and will change.”
Working in a grassroots way isn’t by any means a new thing. Madison Bikes was just formed this year due to an overwhelming need to have a stronger local bike advocacy, in addition to a state wide one. In a matter of months, their membership has grown to over 500, and together they will work to make cycling as well as walking safer in Madison and the surrounding communities. I have always believed that change starts with one drop of water, and groups like this are proof that big changes can be made by small starts. My hope, by planning this ride and educating myself and others in Middleton about how we can make it safer for children to bike to school and adults to work or for errands, that slowly changes will occur. I’m also hoping a group similar to Madison Bikes, will form in Middleton and work with not only Madison, but other suburbs in the county. It takes a village, or two, or three…
Update: Good news! Kierstin’s initiative has already led to change: “Good news on the Middleton front. In just one week since the infrastructure ride, changes are already occurring. I, along with several others, made a list of changes that need to be made (short and long term) and sent it to Mark Opitz. Already, several things on the list have been addressed. Thanks go out to those of you who rode with my group and those who supported my efforts. I’ll keep things rolling and plan on doing another ride next spring.”
The week started out with an event in Middleton: Local cyclist and bike advocate Kierstin, who the week before had been forced off the road by a person driving aggressively, organized a Middleton Bike Infrastructure Ride on Monday evening. The ride showcased some of the significant gaps in the bike network in Middleton and brought together both local advocates and supporters from Madison (and Madison Bikes…). Kierstin will publish a guest post about her the ride and her efforts on the Madison Bikes blog later this week.
It turns out all the traffic at Warner Park on Thursday was actually there to watch the Mallards play and not to carry in hundreds of participants for the Regional Transportation Plan 2050 Public Involvement Meeting. In fact, I’m not sure if there was anyone in attendance who wasn’t a staff person, transportation committee member or reporter. I didn’t stay for the whole slide deck, but I did look at all of the maps that depicted current and future bike routes. I think there’s a lot of work needed on these maps to make them meaningful sources of information. On the pedestrian side, there are clearly marked Tier 1 and Tier 2 priority gaps that are prioritized for improvements. On the bike side, there’s no way at all to tell where the most important gaps are currently or how we should go about prioritizing. Until we start clearly identifying our current All Ages and Abilities/Low Stress bike network and the missing links, we’re going to continue to struggle to make any real headway. These maps aren’t up yet, but should be available online soon.
It was a quiet week last week that gave Madison Bikes Board and Events Committee members time to meet. Things are starting to come together for the Winter Bike Fashion Show slated for Saturday, November 19th.
Monday: Help highlight the need for improved bike facilities in Middleton by joining Kierstin on her Middleton Ride for Safety.
Thursday: There’s something for everyone this Thursday. Head up to Warner Park to take a look at the draft Regional Transportation Plan and provide your feedback. Or stop in at the Old Sugar Distillery for the Love to Ride Finale Party. For those with connections to Sun Prairie, you should head to the Watertower Chop House for the Sun Prairie Bicycling Advocacy Group‘s October meeting. Or if none of that catches your interest, ride out to REI for a class on Cold Weather Cycling Basics class.
Yesterdays’s Badger Herald, the UW-Madison student daily, had a niece piece about Madison Bikes, as well as about Madison in Motion and the UW campus master plan. Here are some snippets:
[Grant Foster] said the group was created for people who bike around Madison and noticed opportunities for improvement in the city’s bike infrastructure. Many of those people felt like there was not a good way to organize and work towards fixing the problems that they saw.
“We decided to come together and create a space for that to happen,” Foster said. “Our vision is for a city where anyone can ride to and from any place in the city comfortably.”
Madison Bikes hopes to build out a network in Madison that will make cyclists feel more comfortable riding bicycles on the same roads as cars, Foster said. Many people are interesting in riding, but nervous to intermingling with cars.
“We don’t really envision Madison Bikes being the one that brings change on its own, more so a catalyst,” Foster said. “It really takes individual citizens to speak up, to share their input at city meetings.”
After a month off, the Transportation Ordinance Review Ad Hoc Committee reconvened to review Attorney Strange’s draft ordinances proposing the creation of a Transportation Policy and Planning Board, and the recreation of Transit and Parking Commission and Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission. The committee is weighing the benefits of that 3-body structure (keeping Transit/Parking and Ped/Bike) versus a 2-body structure that folds transit and ped/bike into a singular Transportation Commission. This is fundamental conversation around our transportation planning and implementation systems and will have a big impact on how these issues are managed going forward.
At Wingra School on Thursday, attendees had an opportunity to share their ideas at the Monroe Street Reconstruction: Cross Section Workshop. Based on the cross-section designs offered up by attendees, it looks like almost all groups favored removal of the rush-hour travel lane in favor of a turn lane to increase pedestrian safety crossing the street and the majority of the proposed cross-sections also included bike lanes with some removal of on-street parking. The city will be taking that feedback and doing some modeling in order to come up with draft cross sections for further consideration. These will be presented on October 27, 6:00-7:30 PM at the Cross Section Open House.
I’m far from a biking expert: I have a hard enough time spelling ‚Äòderailleur,’ let alone explaining what one does; I leave flat-fixing and chain-aligning to my husband; and I don’t give a grip shift about the range of “gear inches” my bike offers. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the mechanical minutiae, I love to ride my bike and I’m a big believer in the benefits of a bike-centric approach to “getting around.”
I’m aware of the quantifiable advantages of bike versus motor-vehicle travel (gallons saved, emissions prevented, calories burned, etc). But as we’ve grown into a bike-dependent family I’ve also come to appreciate many advantages of biking that are harder to put a number on: the independence, fun, happiness, and sense of accomplishment that comes from “getting around” by bike. Furthermore, biking helps us better manage our pace of life, enjoy each other’s company, celebrate our strengths and encourage each other through struggles. There is time and space to interact with our kids and the world around us on a very tangible level.
How many of your car commutes were noteworthy enough to remember? Invariably, something happens on every bike ride – a new max speed achieved, a new route learned, a flat or two or three – that makes it memorable for one reason or another. We have the luxury of engaging in conversation with our kids that would otherwise be interrupted by the distraction of driving. While we ride, we deliberately work to help teach our kids safe biking practices, the rules of the road, how to be courteous on the bike paths, basic bike maintenance, and safe routes from our home to the places we frequently visit. The necessity of physical effort on everyone’s part provides a sense of accomplishment and teamwork just for getting to our destination and back home. Riding provides us an opportunity to share in an activity that is both healthy for our bodies and the environment and we all get a chance to embody a “can-do and I’ll try” attitude about life.
Although we bike year-round, summer gifts me extra time to go out riding with my kids. I like to call our bike outings “Urban Bike Adventures” because that is just what they are! We make a plan for where we want to go, how we will get there and what we need to bring. Then we hop on our bikes and set out. This summer our Urban Bike Adventures have taken us to Blue Mounds for a camping trip, across town to shop for Legos, to Picnic Point to roast marshmallows, to the library, out to lunch, just to run errands and more.
Urban Bike Adventures with kids can be easy and fun. Here are a few tips to get you past the “I could never do that” barrier and out on your bikes:
Choose a fun destination. Some of our favorite destinations include the the ice cream shop, the library, a friend’s house, and to our favorite restaurants for breakfast.
Anticipate delays, detours, impromptu play dates and changes in plans. Remember: It’s an adventure! Being prepared for a change in plans especially on longer rides can mean the difference between a positive experience or a challenging one. Be prepared to go with the flow. Pack snacks and water bottles to avoid hunger and thirst emergencies.
Plan a route that feels safe before you head out. Use bike paths, bike boulevards, neighborhood streets, and streets with bike lanes. A slightly circuitous route that is quiet and more bike-friendly is worth a few minutes in extra travel time. Know where you are going before you leave.
Make plenty of stops along the way to take breaks. We like to visit friends and make stops at the park to play if we need to rest.
Always shout “Woo Hoo” when going down the big hills! Enjoy yourself and make it fun. Get out and ride together-it’s so fun!
Do you go on adventure rides with your kids? Share your tips and stories in the comments!