http://imgur.com/Fd7Mox1 Winter Bike Fashion Show (Photo credit: Rob Streiffer)
Last week the Madison Bikes Events Committee met to evaluate how things went with the Bike Winter Fashion Show and to start planning future events. Watch for a blog post later this week with a summary and more pictures from the event. The focus will now turn to working on Madison Bike Winter Week in February. If you’re interested in helping out with plans, check the Madison Bikes calendar and join the committee at their December 19 meeting.
http://imgur.com/nRIKeti Winter Bike Fashion Show (Photo credit: Rob Streiffer)
There are three important meetings this week that will have a big impact on bike travel in the city.
On Tuesday, the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission will deliberate on two critically important street reconstruction projects: Monroe Street & East Johnson Street/First Street. The commission is being asked to approve a proposed cross section geometry for Monroe Street that maintains the rush hour travel lanes in order to prioritize motor vehicle throughput. The commission will then recieve its first look at the E. Johnson Street /First Street project.
On Wednesday, the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Ad Hoc Committee will continue to work towards a rewrite and reorganization of our current transportation ordinance and associated committees. And then at 7:00 at the Monona Terrace, the public is invited to the first in a series of meetings to look at the John Nolen Drive and Blair Street corridor. Actual reconstruction for this corridor is still many years out, but the work to influence design alternatives begins now, and it’s a crucial piece in Madison’s bike infrastructure.
I really encourage anyone that can make it to attend these meetings. In particular, if you use or would like to use Monroe Street or East Johnson Street you should attend the PBMVC meeting and share your opinions. The same holds true for the John Nolen/Blair meeting on Wednesday. The TORC meeting is a little bit wonkier and probably only makes sense for those that are interested in the structural/policy side of things.
On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) held a public involvement meeting on the I-39/90/94 study. WisDOT shared what alternatives it plans to move forward into the next stage for consideration. They plan to add capacity either through additional lanes in the existing corridor or (more likely) by constructing an additional ‚Äòreliever route’ north of the existing corridor. In terms of impact on biking in Madison, our biggest opportunity will be to advocate for additional freeway crossings. There is currently consideration for one between Cottage Grove Road and Milwaukee Street, another over Highway 30 west of Thompson Road, and a pair over the interstate and Highway 151 on the far east side of town.
On Sunday we had a great turnout at High Noon Saloon for our Winter Bike Fashion Show. Stay tuned for a blog post with pictures and other highlights from the show!
There’s not much scheduled around town this week in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday. One exception is the Madison Bikes Event Committee meeting on Monday at Barriques on Atwood. The agenda includes a review of the Fashion Show and a look ahead at planning for upcoming Madison Bikes events. Committee meetings are open to anyone interested and a great way to connect with us.
We asked for your favorite winter biking photos and you delivered! We will show all submissions plus a bunch of our own favorites during the #winterbikefashionshow this Saturday, but as a teaser we’ve been featuring one pic of the day on our Twitter account. Follow us on Twitter to see the remaining three photos, or check out the ones already published here.
In related news, we have also received our order of Madison Bikes winter-themed t-shirts. These will be available for purchase at the Fashion Show!
On Thursday, City Engineering and Strand Associates unveiled an updated East Johnson Street proposalfor the reconstruction between Baldwin and First Street. Their first draft, shared with the public back in April, called for 4′ unbuffered bike lanes along Johnson. There was significant feedback from the public at this first meeting that this was an inappropriate design and that it would not accommodate users of all ages and abilities.
City Engineering and Strand (the contractor for this project) went back to the drawing board and, based on that feedback, came back with a much improved concept. This new proposal includes a two-way separated multi-use path from Baldwin through the end of the project limits at First Street (see image above). This is a significantly improved design and shows the value of a real commitment to public input.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t very much time for questions and dialogue as another group needed to use the space, so many questions about the project remain unanswered. Of primary importance are the following:
How will people on bike travelling east on Johnson Street connect to this 2-way facility at Baldwin?
How does this serve the predominantly low-income residents of Sherman Terrace and those connecting to/from Fordem Avenue?
How does this address the disastrous First Street crossing for people on foot and on bike?
How do we improve access for people on bikes on First Street, especially given the proposed six lanes of motor vehicle traffic and the critical importance for bike and pedestrian access to the planned public market?
I’m hopeful that the design team will schedule additional time for public deliberation before committing to a final recommendation. In the meantime, you can review all the information available for the project here and send your feedback and questions to: Chris Petykowski, Alder Zellers, and Alder Palm.
This week Tuesday, WisDOT is holding a Public Involvement Meeting to receive feedback and input on six corridor improvement alternatives for I39/90/94 from Madison to Portage. The primary question on the table will be about expansion. This won’t have a significant direct impact on biking in Madison, but is an important piece of the larger transportation puzzle.
And then on Saturday, treat yourself to a fun afternoon at the Winter Bike Fashion Show at High Noon Saloon. Doors open at 11:30 and the show starts at noon. This is a great event to bring a winter bike curious friend.
Not much to report from last week, but there are some interesting happenings in the week ahead.
On Monday, both the Madison Bikes Board and our Events Committee will meet with a focus on the final preparations for our Winter Bike Fashion Show at High Noon Saloon. You can still send us pictures of your winter bikes, gear, and adventures at email@example.com, to be featured on the blog and/or at the Fashion Show.
On Tuesday, get yourself to your polling place (if you haven’t already). Madison B-Cycle is offering free rides on election day, so there’s no excuse.
On Wednesday, the Bicycle Facility Maintenance Maintenance Policy Workgroup will meet to review the draft Bikeway Maintenance policy along with a first draft of a map that will help winter cyclists identify which routes receive priority clearing after a snow event.
If you’re looking for one meeting to attend this week, I’d suggest Thursday’s East Johnson Street Reconstruction Meeting. Engineering will unveil their updated plan based on feedback from their first public meeting earlier this year. This will be a critical connector between Baldwin and First Street and will also include some potentially big alterations to First Street as well. Come see the plans and share your thoughts with city staff.
This is a guest post by Jacob Musha, sharing his advice for riding all throughout winter in relative comfort. As you’ll see at the upcoming Bike Winter Fashion Show, everyone’s approach to this is a little different, and a lot of it depends on where and how far you’re riding. If you want to share your tips, you can do so in the comments below or write your own guest blog post! Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been bike commuting daily in Wisconsin winters for eight years. The response I get from nearly everyone, even fair-weather cyclists, is “you’re crazy,” followed by, “I don’t know how you do it.” The truth is that you don’t need to be a polar bear to bike in the winter. I’m so averse to cold that I shiver in swimming pools when the water temperature is below 80F… The key is to dress correctly.
The most important thing is to protect the extremities. Your body is good at keeping itself warm during exercise, but if your fingers, toes, and face are cold, you’ll be miserable.
I’m particularly frugal and only spend when I decide it’s absolutely necessary. The things on this list are worth every penny, in my opinion. And what’s even better, if you live in Madison, you probably already own many of these items. Keep in mind that the following is based on what works for me – personal preferences vary. I have no relation to any of the businesses listed and I’m not getting any benefit from mentioning them. I’m only including specific products because I know they work.
The Hands: I like mittens. Mittens keep your hands warmer because your fingers are all together. I wear a pair of thin wool mittens covered by a heavier pair of “chopper mitts.” Last year I found a great pair that also have a 100g Thinsulate liner. Thinsulate is a magic material developed by 3M that seems to act as a wind breaker more than anything, making it perfect for winter biking. I’ve used mittens with and without Thinsulate, and the difference is immediately noticeable. I always buy mittens in the largest size available so I can fit smaller mittens inside.
For truly cold weather I have a pair of IceArmor Extreme mittens. These have a 150g Thinsulate liner. They are bulky and not fun to wear, but they kept my hands warm on a 30-mile ride at -18F. Actually I can’t wear them when it’s above 0F because they make my hands sweat…
The Feet: Normal winter boots work, but I find them heavy and bulky. I also like to be clipped in which requires a cycling-specific boot. Whatever you buy, I suggest getting them big enough that you can fit two heavy wool socks inside with plenty of wiggle room. Trying to stuff a thick sock into a small boot reduces its thickness and therefore its ability to insulate. Don’t do it. When I bought my 45NRTH Wölvhammer boots last year I brought my socks with me to try them on. I ended up getting a pair five sizes larger than my summer road shoes! They kept me warm on that same ride at -18F. To be honest though, they are overkill for most conditions and they’re quite expensive. For most rides including daily commuting I have a pair of Northwave Celsius Artic boots (that seem to be discontinued, or different than the ones I bought years ago) that are big enough to fit one pair of wool socks. If I’d bought these in the correct size they might be as warm as the Wölvhammers, but I will never know since I bought them too small. They are okay down to about 10F.
I mentioned socks. Thick wool socks are available at Fleet Farm and similar stores, but my favorite is the SmartWool Extra Heavy, which I bought online. I think they’re intended for hunting and they’re the thickest and warmest socks I’ve come across.
The Face: A face mask/balaclava is a must for me. I usually wear two: a thin one covered by a thicker one. Last year I finally bought a pair of ski-goggles and the helmet to go with, something I wish I would’ve done years ago. Bring your hat/mask when you try on helmets and goggles to make sure everything fits together.
The Legs: Lots of things can work here. I often wear jeans on top of generic long underwear. Last year I found a pair of casual dress pants at a thrift store that are more comfortable than jeans, just as warm, and seem to last longer. When it’s very cold I’ll wear two pairs of long underwear. I’ve never needed anything more than that.
The Body: Anything that keeps you warm without being so warm that you sweat. Not only is sweating uncomfortable, it’s dangerous if you stop exercising because the excess moisture can cause hypothermia. I generally wear a t-shirt, sweatshirt/sweater, and light jacket. Only when it’s very cold do I use my winter jacket. Note that this depends on your riding intensity. If you’re just puttering along, you will have to dress warmer. If you’re racing, you’ll want to wear less. Layers are good and having a saddle bag to stuff them in if you get too hot is nice.
Note: if you do research online you’ll see things like “cotton kills” and “never wear a t-shirt!” but in my experience that advice is overblown. A fancy wicking base layer might be more comfortable but as long as you don’t let yourself get sweaty a t-shirt is perfectly fine. If you’re getting sweaty, you’re dressed too heavily and you should take something off anyway.
The Bike: Your bike will likely need some preparation. It should be in well-maintained condition. If it’s not, winter will quickly expose its weaknesses. Tires with some kind of tread or knobs are a must – completely slick tires simply don’t work in snow. Studded tires are popular due to their added traction on ice, but they are also heavy, slow, and expensive. After crashing on ice several times last winter I’m giving studded tires a try for the first time this winter. Lights are another must have since winter is the darkest time of the year. Full fenders (not the cheesy half fenders or clip-ons) are really nice and I won’t ride without them. They not only protect you from nasty road spray, but they also protect your bike and help the components last longer.
Conclusion: The goal of my winter gear is to keep me sustainably warm for as many hours as I’m out in the cold. I don’t use throwaway chemical hand warmers because I want my clothes to keep me warm on their own. If you have a short commute to work you can probably skip over some of this. For example, you won’t need serious winter boots because it usually takes half an hour for the feet to become cold. By that time you’ll be at your destination.