Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (3/27/17)

Last Week

There are a few important projects in the works in Madison that were reviewed last week. Some updated Bassett Street designs were in front of the Board of Public Works (BPW) on Wednesday, and a concept similar to the one recommended by Ped/Bike/Motor Vehicle Commission was approved and will be forwarded to the Common Council in April. This is a concept that includes one-way protected lanes on both sides of the street from University to Dayton.

The Demetral Connector that was approved at Ped/Bike/Motor Vehicle Commission was also in front of Board of Public Works. It was referred to their next meeting in order for Alder Palm to solicit feedback from his constituents. This is the path that will connect across Johnson and Third Streets into Demetral Park. There are currently two alternatives under consideration: one that requires the use of eminent domain (and $300K of land acquisition costs) and another that uses the existing public right of way. A recommendation is expected to be in front of the Common Council in April for this project as well.

And of course, on Monday there was the very well attended public meeting on the upcoming West Wilson Street project. Check out Harald’s blog post for a summary of that meeting and next steps in the project.

This Week

Join Madison Bikes Events Committee for their monthly meeting at Cafe Domestique on Monday at 6:00pm and sign up to help with some of our upcoming events.

On Tuesday, consider attending the Ped/Bike/Motor Vehicle Commission meeting beginning at 5:00pm. There’s a presentation of the Madison Area Regional Transportation Plan 2050 and an update on next steps for the Wilson Street project.

And on Wednesday at noon, catch a webinar hosted by Safe Routes to School National Partnership on Innovative Bicycling Programs for Youth.

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Bike News

Wilson Street: Update and next steps

Last week a public input took place to discuss the reconstruction of West Wilson Street. Robbie’s previous post has more background about what is planned and why this is an important project for bike advocates. Here is a quick update on how the meeting went, what the next steps in the decision making process are, and how you can speak out in favor of a Wilson Street that works for people biking and walking.

To recap, the public input meeting was the second one about the project. But the first meeting had been only announced to immediate neighbors. This second meeting was scheduled at the request of the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Vehicle Commission, after they were presented with only one option for the project from Engineering, an 8′ widened sidewalk on the south side of the street that was supposed to mix travel on foot and bike. The Commission asked Engineering to develop additional concepts that would provide better accommodations for people travelling by bike and to present them at a new, publicly-noticed meeting for input.

The meeting was well attended, and I spotted many Madison Bikes stickers, t-shirts, or other other accessories that identified attendants as supporters of safe and convenient bike facilities. Alder Verveer also attended. A video recording of the whole meeting is available on Facebook. Engineering proposed three different designs:

  1. Keep all general travel lanes and both parking lanes. Narrow the terrace (the space between sidewalk and curb) to install a contra-flow bike lane (a bike lane going the opposite direction of the one-way traffic in the general travel lanes) right next to the sidewalk.
  2. Keep all general travel lanes and the current terraces. Convert one parking lane into a contra-flow bike lane, separated from oncoming traffic with a painted buffer but without physical protection.
  3. Keep travel lanes, parking, terraces. Widen the sidewalk on the south side to 8 ft. This was the recommendation of Engineering.

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Two of the proposed options. Apologies for the image quality — the slides from the meeting haven’t been made available yet by the city

An option for a two-way protected bike lane was not even on the table. A lively but civil discussion ensued about the impacts of each of the proposed solutions, such as on street trees, for people with reduced mobility, and of course for those who currently bike on Wilson or would do so if there were safe and convenient options available. One issue raised both by bike advocates and local residents was that putting people on bike and people walking together on the sidewalk seemed like a really bad idea. Residents pointed out that even just walking on the sidewalk right now at times felt dangerous, especially for those with impaired mobility. Adding more bikes to that mix was a no-go for many, widened sidewalk or not. If you want to see what riding on the sidewalk looks like right now, watch this video:

Another issue pointed out by bike advocates was the lack of bike accommodations for people going east to west in all of the proposed plans. Currently–and in the foreseeable future, if the proposed design goes forward–people biking have to ride in the general travel lane, next to parked cars. And at the bottom of the hill, at the intersection with Henry and Hamilton, people on bikes find themselves in a right-turn-only lane or have to merge to the left lane at high speed.

The point at which the meeting started to unravel was when the question of next steps came up. One would think that the point of a public input meeting would be to gather input and then use that input to modify your plans. That didn’t seem to be the case: City engineers were planning to just go forward with the same design that they came to the meeting with, the widened sidewalk option. City engineers rightly pointed out that there was no consensus in the audience that clearly favored one design over the other. But it was just as clear that a large majority of the audience (and not just people who regularly bike) did not like the idea of mixing people walking, biking, or using mobility devices on the sidewalk. I was probably not the only one leaving the meeting disheartened by what appeared to be a flawed process.

What are the next steps? What can you do?

The proposed design is going to be on the agenda of the Ped/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission this coming Tuesday. I encourage you to submit a brief public comment to the commission members, Alder Verveer, and your own alder. It can be as easy as pasting these recipients (plus your Alder’s email address) into an email and writing something like:,,,,,,,,,,,

Dear Members of the Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission, dear Alders:

Regarding the planned reconstruction of West Wilson street, please move forward with a street design that takes into account the needs of people biking and walking, both going west to east, and east to west. I oppose an option that mixes people walking and cycling on the sidewalk, as that is neither safe nor convenient for anyone.

Thank you for your consideration.

After that, the proposed design will go to the Common Council, which is the ultimate decision making body. We’ll keep you updated on when that’s going to happen and what the most effective way to advocate is going to be for that.

Bike News

Linda says: Get on your bike and just ride!

This is a guest post by Linda Larsen, a Madison Bikes supporter and volunteer. Thanks, Linda, for sharing your experience with biking more and more and more… If you’re interested in writing a post (and Madison Bikes is for everyone, no matter how little or much you bike), just shoot an email to

I love to bike. I bike a lot. I bike almost every day. I’m the one my friends think of when they see something cool that is bike related on social media and tag me or post it on my page. Have I mentioned that I love to bike?

While I’ve always enjoyed biking, several years ago I started making bicycling a major lifestyle change for me and began keeping track of my miles. Since then my annual mileage has kept increasing. I try to bike instead of drive any time I can. I find ways to overcome deterrents, such as cold weather, snowy or icy paths, or just plain lack of motivation. Yes, as much as I love biking, it is not always easy for me to get out there. But many factors have helped me get out, almost every day, and maybe some of them will work for you as well. In 2016 I biked over 6,000 miles, a personal record for me.

First, I keep track of my miles. It can make you feel good that you have gotten that much exercise, or that you have avoided driving that distance somewhere, or it can give you a goal to surpass. Every time you bike a little more than you are used to, it can encourage you to do more the next time.

How did I get there? Setting goals and overcoming challenges.

I had started with a goal to bike to work at summer school, which at the time was seven miles away. Once summer ended, I continued to bike to work and began looking for and coming up with ideas for being able to bike in the cold weather. There are many resources for researching this, and a lot of trial and error while making sure you have the right balance. I understand that not everyone is interested in biking in the cold. But remember: many other winter activities are enjoyed despite the cold –⁠ why not add biking to that mindset? Rain gear is also important to have, as well as winter tires such as fat tires for snow or studded tires for ice. I am still working on finding what I am comfortable with, and each year I manage to overcome more obstacles and avoid driving more and more.

Even biking against the wind can be a struggle, which I slowly got more used to the more I biked against the wind. It’s simply something you work up to, like biking more miles, although I must admit that I do have my limits with extreme gusts, which can play havoc with balancing the bike!

One source which helped me bike more miles was the National Bike Challenge. You virtually compete with others in the country and can compare yourself to bicyclists in your state as well as your community. I had no idea how competitive I could get–until I kept seeing some random guy in my community who was getting ahead of me! It wasn’t by much, and so it would encourage me to go back out and put a few more miles on just to stay in the lead.

The way the National Bike Challenge works is on every day that you bike at least 1 mile, you can log. You earn an automatic 20 points for the day, plus one point per mile ridden. I discovered that this is actually a great idea, because once you make the effort to get out there for that one mile, you are likely to be enjoying yourself so much that you decide to go for 2, and then 5, or, oh heck, might as well go for 10. It’s often just getting out there in the first place that is the challenge, at least for me, so this has really helped kick-start my mileage increase.

Then, after I had been doing the NBC for a couple of years, I got contacted by a guy who is the captain of one of the teams. He noticed all the miles I had logged and that I was riding “solo,” so he asked if I would like to join the team. So now I have been on this team for a few years, giving me an additional push. The actual challenge goes from May 1 through September 30, but you can log all year long. During the challenge itself, I have a personal goal of biking an average of at least 20 miles per day. Many of my teammates go beyond that, so I am encouraged to reach my goal if only to make sure I’m not a dead weight! But I also like being able to use the team as an excuse to keep biking: gotta do it for the team! Then it doesn’t look like I am selfishly wasting time biking instead of cleaning the house…

In 2016 I bought a fat tire bike to help me bike on snowy days. In 2017, I had a studded tire put on the front of another bike so that I am willing to try to bike on the days when there are some icy patches. Major amounts of ice remain a challenge. But with these adjustments, I have made a goal for winter miles in 2017 to bike an average of at least 10 miles per day. Whenever I can, I will bike over 10 miles, to make up for those days when I can only manage a few miles, if I even get out biking at all. As of late February, I am way over that goal and will no doubt be able to maintain it!

I’m not sure what my total will get to for 2017; I will adjust my goal as I go along. A few years ago, in the fall, I had made a goal of 5000 miles. When I reached it long before the end of the year, I changed it to have it roll over to 5432.10 at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, we got hit with a snowstorm which changed all that and I did not reach that goal. But I was still happy to have surpassed the 5000 earlier than planned.

That is the beauty of personal bike challenges: you make it work for yourself and do whatever makes you happy. Riding with others, having a cool looking bike, transporting yourself or getting groceries under your own power? Figure out what you enjoy about biking and what it will take for you to enjoy it even more!

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (3/20/17)

This Week

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There’s a lot cooking this week, but for those that can only spare time for one thing it should be the Wilson Street Reconstruction Public Meeting on Monday. Robbie’s blog post gives some background on the project and tips for how to participate. Another take on the project is on the Imagine Madison blog. Showing up for this public engagement meeting is one of the best ways to really participate in democracy and to help build the community you want to live in. If you’ve never come to a public meeting like this before, give it a shot and help us achieve our vision of a connected bike network for people of all ages and abilities.

Tuesday at noon, America Walks is hosting a webinar entitled Advancing Neighborhood Change through Equity and Inclusion where panelists will discuss ways to work towards positive changes that are rooted in respect and authentic engagement with residents. These are really important conversations and Madison Bikes is committed to working towards equity and inclusion in our advocacy efforts.

On Wednesday, the Bassett Street protected bike lanes that were unanimously approved at Ped/Bike/Motor Vehicle Commission last month are up for reconsideration. The Board of Public Works is the controlling body of this project and may choose to recommend a different plan to the city council for approval. Consider attending the meeting and voicing your support.

And on Thursday, the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee will take up the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee’s draft update to the City’s transportation ordinance (3.14). This draft was in front of Transit and Parking Commission last month. At the end of this month, it will be considered by the Ped/Bike/Motor Vehicle Commission and may be in front of the Common Council sometime after May.

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Bike News

Changing West Wilson Street? You can make it happen

On Monday, March 20, there will be a meeting to hear from the public–⁠yes, that’s you–⁠about changes to West Wilson Street between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Hamilton/Henry Streets. The meeting will be in room 351 of the City-County Building, and we need your voice!

Some more information, including plans and past presentation can be found here on the City Engineering website. Also stay tuned for another post on the project tomorrow.

What’s the problem?

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This section of Wilson Street is a scary stretch for people cycling west: Two westbound lanes of traffic, parking on both sides, and no bike facilities. At the bottom of the hill and the intersection with Hamilton and Henry, you have few good options when biking. South Hamilton climbs steeply up to the Square and also lacks bike facilities. The same is true for South Henry. If you continue straight, West Wilson becomes two narrow lanes–⁠now one in each direction–⁠with no bike lanes. To the south of the intersection there are two dead-end streets. Worse, people on bikes must choose between staying in the right lane of Wilson, which is right turn only, and the left lane. Being in the right lane sets you up for a “right hook” from turning cars. But riding in the left lane requires merging on the downhill–not really an option for most people cycling.

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Aerial view of the intersection of Wilson, Henry, and Hamilton (Source: Google Maps)

Even more difficult is trying to travel eastbound. In theory, Wilson would make a great connection to the Capitol Square and points east, as it is less steep than any of the parallel streets. Many residential buildings, offices, and other destinations are along Wilson Street, and with the Judge Doyle Square redevelopment and the proposed bicycle center, this will be even more true. Finally, there are already concrete plans for connecting Wilson Street with the Capital City Trail by building a bridge across John Nolen Drive and the railroad tracks. But of course: Wilson Street is a one-way street, and so this is not an option.

So many bicyclists going both directions end up riding on the sidewalk. On this particular stretch it is legal. But as you can see in this video, it is not pleasant, and once you get to East Wilson, riding on the sidewalk is prohibited.

The proposed street reconstruction offers an opportunity to fix many of those issues. We have a chance to West Wilson Street (and eventually all of Wilson) safer for all users, but especially for people biking and walking. We could have a two-way, protected bike lane on the south side of the street. And that is one of the ideas we can discuss at the meeting on Monday. Pretty exciting, huh?

But there is a lot of pushback against that idea. Those who don’t want to lose any car parking on the street may be opposed to accommodating people on bikes on Wilson. A protected bike lane would replace car parking on one side of the street.

So we need your help to convince the city and your fellow citizen that the safety of bicyclists should be more important than a few parking spots. After all, there are literally hundreds of public parking spots on the street and in parking garages within a couple of blocks of West Wilson Street.

Besides Madison Bikes, who says we need better bike facilities here?

There are many public studies and plans that have identified West Wilson Street as a critical gap in the biking network. These gaps hold us back from achieving the goals to make transportation more sustainable and make getting around by bike a real alternative to driving for people of all ages and abilities. The South Campus Transit Oriented Development Plan looked at the entire area south of the Capitol, and that plan also identified a need to improve bicycle facilities on Wilson, especially for eastbound travel. The City and the Transportation Planning Board both have “complete streets policies” that make it a requirement to accommodate all modes of travel when a street is being reconstructed. And the Wisconsin Bike Fed wrote a letter pointing out the need for eastbound accommodations, especially with the soon-to-be-completed Judge Doyle Square Bike Center.

OK, you convinced me and I’ll come. What should I do or say at the meeting?

The Monday meeting is not a formal city committee meeting. It will be a presentation of options for the street, and then questions and comments from those in attendance. You can just come and watch, but make it obvious that you are someone riding a bike and wants safe conditions for that. Bring your helmet or wear a Madison Bikes or Bike Fed t-shirt. Fill out a comment form with something as simple as, “I want safe biking conditions on Wilson Street.” Ask questions or share stories about how biking on Wilson Street currently feels.

Madison Bikes supports a two-way protected bike lane. We think that having facilities for people biking, separated from people walking and protected from people driving, is the best option. A slightly widened, eight-foot sidewalk that mixes two-way bike traffic with pedestrians would be frustrating and dangerous for all.

If you can’t make the meeting, you can still weigh in. We will have a separate blog post that will outline some of the future engagement opportunities. But for now you can email your support: The Engineer in charge of the project is Jim Wolfe, and you can email comments directly to him. The alder for all of Wilson from Proudfit to Williamson is Mike Verveer. And you can email your own alder or the whole Council as well, since this project will eventually have to be passed by the entire Council. To find out who your alder is, check the map or look it up by address on the Council website. To send an email to the entire Council, you can use the address:

Being involved in decisions is actually pretty easy.

A few voices can really make a huge difference, and your alder needs to hear from you. You may actually know a lot more about these issues than they do, since you ride the streets and paths every day. You are the expert on what makes a city easy and safe to bike. But also keep in mind that we want a city where everyone can bike, not just the brave and the experienced. So think what kind of street your neighbor, child, friend, or parent would feel safe and comfortable on when biking to work, go shopping, school, or errands.

A short email, a phone call, a written comment at a meeting, or even your presence all contribute to a better biking city for us all. Everyone’s opinion is important, and everyone’s voice is needed. See you on Monday!

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (3/13/2017)

It’s another relatively quiet week for bike advocacy, with two great opportunities to connect with Madison Bikes.

On Monday, our board of directors will hold their monthly meeting at the Central Library at 6:00. We’ll be refining some of the work that came out of our strategic plan in January and narrowing down on our top goals for the next year.

On Tuesday, join us for a public viewing of a webinar on “Preparing for Successful Safety Education and Enforcement Efforts to Promote Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety.” More details and RSVP on the Facebook event page.

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Is this what you’d like Wilson Street to look like between MLK and Henry? Let the City know!

And on Wednesday, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will be meeting at Barriques on W. Washington to talk about upcoming projects, including Wilson Street downtown. The public input session for that project is scheduled for Monday, March 20th and it’ll be very important for folks to show up and call for appropriate east and westbound bike facilities as part of this reconstruction. Watch for another blog post this week with more details. And if you’re on Facebook, you can vote for your favorite option here.

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Bike News

#MBWinterChallenge 2017 Recap: Stories, Photos, Winners

When we planned Winter Bike Week, Elly and Eleanor, two members of our Events Committee, suggested having a winter biking challenge. But it would be a challenge with a twist, focused not on cranking out as many miles as possible or having to ride every day. This challenge was more about getting out and about, exploring your snowy city by bike on days when otherwise you maybe wouldn’t have done so.

Before we announce the winner, show some of our favorite pictures, and tell you how you can get your finisher badge, let’s hear from two participants of the challenge, Elly and Kevin:

Elly’s take

Most days I’m not conscious of the decision to swing my leg over the frame to get from Point A to Point B. The winter bike challenge – a photo scavenger hunt on bike – made my routines feel less, well, like routines. I didn’t wait for an intersection to look to my left and right, and the possibility of finding something on the list of photo categories was exciting in a simple I’m-a-kid-and-just-found-an-amazing-puddle-to-jump-in sort of way. I slowed down. I stopped more often. And I noticed signs, murals, people, and bridges that I had either completely missed before or didn’t give more than a two-second glance. I started to take different routes in search of artwork and paths found in pictures shared by other Madison bike challenge participants. For me, the true bear of winter isn’t so much the cold temperatures, it’s the danger of how easy it is to get lost in a routine. The winter bike challenge cracked open the predictability of my commute, and lifted intentionality back into my ride. Plus, I get a cool new and elusive finisher badge!

Kevin’s perspective

Look, I hate to admit it, but I am … a fair weather biker. I see others out there, taking on the beard-icing temps, curse-worthy wind, and more curse-worthy treacherous surfaces. I have no problem running through the relentless Wisconsin winter, but, until recently, my tenacity whilst in running shoes did not transfer to my pedals. It only took two or three bike trips to realize what my problem was. Logistics. Or, more accurately, perceived logistics. I don’t have the right clothes. I can’t possibly carry all of my stuff. I can’t show up to work looking like a crazy person. I’ve got too many groceries to get. It looks pretty slick out there, I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t think it’s good for my bike. It took the winter bike challenge (and my lovely, yet persistent) wife Elly for me to call BS on myself. I do have the right clothes – it just takes a few moments to layer right. I can carry all my stuff if I take two minutes to figure out what I actually need to take. I teach middle school, so everyone knows I’m already a crazy person. If I only get what’s on my list, I’ve got plenty of room in my panniers and my backpack to fit the week’s groceries. It’s never as bad as it looks outside if you actually get close enough to see the conditions. It’s as good for my bike to be out and about as it is for me. Yes, it took the bike challenge to get my butt in the saddle – but simply being out on the bike in the winter for a week was my gateway activity to bike-commuting my errands and discovering the joy of defying society’s expectations. Oh, it feels so good.

So without further ado, here are some of our favorite pictures:

1. “Friends with Frosty” by Kevin Leigeb

Whatever the weather, it’s always better biking with friends! Kevin was also the overall winner of the challenge, with a whopping 29 submissions! Awesome job, Kevin!

2. “Out of this World” by Healthy Kids Collaborative

Despite the chilly temperatures, Healthy Kids Collaborative made it all the way out to Jupiter on the Southwest Path. Maybe appropriate, given that the average temperature on Jupiter is a frigid -234 degrees Fahrenheit…

3. “Round and round” by Grant Foster

Madison Bikes prez Grant chose a beautiful winter day to head out to the Fitchburg bike path crossing. So many winter paths, so little time.

4. “Queen of the Mountain” by Eleanor Conrad

Making a mountain out of a snow hill.

5. “Forward Wisconsin” by Ben Sandee

Sometimes the snow can disguise the Capitol dome, but Ben found it all the same!

Feel free to link to your personal favorite in the comments, or explore more of the submissions on Instagram.

How to get your finisher badge

If you’ve participated in the challenge and think you’ve earned a finisher badge (bike scout honor system!), please send an email to with your name and mailing address. We will mail you the badge once it is ready (please be patient; it’ll take a bit to produce them).

And rest assured: The challenge is going to return!