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Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (7/31/17)

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Image credit: Kidical Mass Madison

Last Week

Last Friday’s screening and discussion of “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” that Madison Bikes co-organized was a great success. The UW Cinematheque was fully packed and some people even had to be turned away. Thanks everyone for coming!

This Week

A pretty quiet week is coming up, with two family events on the weekend.

On Saturday, it’s the last Fitchburg family bike ride of the summer. Meet at the Leopold Community School at 9:30am.

And on Sunday, join the Kidical Mass ride to the splash pad at Goodman Center. Starting point is The Cargo Bike Shop on Willy Street.

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 info@madisonbikes.org.

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Bike News

Friday, July 28: Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Jane JacobsWe invite you to join us this Friday for a movie about Jane Jacobs, an incredible woman who changed how we think about the city. After the movie, there will be a reception for discussion and socializing, including a chance to meet one of the Executive Producers, who is a Madison resident. The movie is at 7 PM at Cinematheque, Rm 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave. The reception will be following the movie –⁠ about 8:30 PM, at the University Club, 803 State St.

If you know about Jane Jacobs, you need read no further. If you don’t know of her, I’m going to link to a few Wikipedia pages below, in case you want to dive in just a bit deeper.

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Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (7/24/17)

This Week

There are a number of items of interest on this Tuesday’s Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission agenda.

First up on the agenda is the 2016 Crash Report. The good news is a significant reduction in reported crashes involving people on bikes (98, down from 118 in 2015 and 135 in 2012). The bad news is a continued increase in the overall number of crashes in Madison (5,731) resulting in an estimated $113 million in economic loss and the nine traffic related fatalities last year–five of which were pedestrians.

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At 5:30, there will be a Public Hearing on potential pedestrian and bicycle projects. You can share your ideas in person or send them to traffic@cityofmadison.com.

Adopting the Downtown Madison Bicycle & Moped Parking Study is also on the agenda. This is a study that was commissioned several years ago and is coming in front of PBMVC after going through the Plan Commission and Transit/Parking Commission. There are several recommendations from the study that Planning Division staff have taken issue with. You can review that difference of opinion in this Staff Report.

The final item on the agenda is Amending Section 12.167(2)(c) of the Madison General Ordinances to allow bicycles to be ridden within a portion of the West Mifflin Street section of the State Street Pedestrian Mall. This is an important precursor to moving forward with some infrastructure changes that will better facilitate bicycle travel from State/Mifflin/Carroll to Mifflin/Fairchild. This is another item that would benefit from emails/testimony in support.

You can attend this meeting in person and provide comment on any agenda item you wish or you can also watch the meeting online on the City Channel.

On Wednesday, the Middleton Pedestrian, Bike, Transit Committee will meet again after taking a break in June.

On Friday, consider attending Cinematheque’s screening of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. “a timely tale of what can happen when engaged citizens fight the power for the sake of a better world. Arguably no one did more to shape our understanding of the modern American city than Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist and writer who fought to preserve urban communities in the face of destructive development projects. Director Matt Tyranuer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) vividly brings to life Jacobs’ 1960s showdown with ruthless construction kingpin Robert Moses over his plan to raze lower Manhattan to make way for a highway, a dramatic struggle over the very soul of the neighborhood.” Madison Bikes is co-hosting the screening and a discussion with the executive producer of the movie, Juliet Page.

And on Saturday: Join the Clean Lakes Alliance on their Loop the Lake, their “annual bike ride around Lake Monona that highlights our community’s lakes and lakeshore bike paths.”

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 info@madisonbikes.org.

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Bike News

Goodbye, Tim Wong: A Madison Radical on a Bike

Just after Tim Wong died on June 30, I posted an announcement and added a few words about what Tim meant to the bicycling movement in Madison. Several people asked me to put it up as a blog post. I’ve adapted the original a bit with comments that other people shared with me.

If you didn’t know Tim, you really missed a true Madison character, and someone who you can thank for being one of the early leaders of the bike advocacy that continues today.

I wasn’t around for some his early adventures, like the mass, simultaneous flat tires that a group of bicyclists got at the intersection of John Nolen, Blair, and Willy St. If you think that intersection is bad now, you can thank Tim that it isn’t worse. I don’t know the whole story, but I know that Tim helped organize a movement to add bicycle accommodations that made it at least somewhat safer for bicyclists and pedestrians at a time when almost no one rode a bike for transportation. Tim was one of the founders of the Bicycle Brigade, the first Madison-focused bike advocacy group. At his memorial, someone had dragged out old copies of the Spoken Word, an early advocacy newsletter. When auto manufacturers claimed that auto emissions were now cleaner than the outside air, Tim co-wrote a letter to the editor at the Wisconsin State Journal introducing the concept of the “dash pipe.” The State Journal never published the letter, but you can read it here.

Tim wrote more letters, showed up at more meetings, and spoke at more city committees than almost anyone I’ve known. He served as the Chair of the city Bicycle/Pedestrian Sub-Committee (before the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission that exists today was formed), but was squeezed out when the committee structure was rearranged. In the early and mid-2000s he was back, serving on the Transit and Parking Commission. Putting his professional skills as a data analyst to use, he poured over the quarterly reports and asked detailed questions when others just passed them over. He ended up getting thrown off that committee as well, probably because he asked too many questions about how money was spent and how things were run.

He never owned a car, and was probably the person that first coined the term “death-mobile.” He was also fond of calling John Nolen Drive, “John No-Lane,” because when Monona Terrace was being planned, the Lake Monona Path was going to be shut down for two years, and city officials scoffed at the idea that a lane of the existing road should be devoted to the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. Tim helped organize Friday peak hour rides that took over a lane anyway to demonstrate the need for safe facilities for walking and biking during the construction. The path was shut down for only 6 months instead of two years. I thought about him and those early critical mass rides when that path was being worked on recently, and there was indeed a lane of John No-Lane blocked off for bicyclists.

Tim was not subtle about his distaste for cars and driving, often calling drivers “muderists.” He could be irritating and alienated some people — including his allies. But you could never say he didn’t speak his mind and stand up for what he believed. One person wrote saying, “He always had strong opinions but I can’t think of any instances where he was actually wrong, even (or particularly) when we disagreed.”

Betty Chewning, a neighbor of Tim’s and a professor at the UW whose research focused on health, spoke at his memorial, and she said how much she appreciated that Tim put his reputation and time on the line over and over again. He told the inconvenient truth, even when no one wanted to hear it. He convinced her to testify about how important the bike paths were to her. He knew that it couldn’t just be him, or any one person, carrying the message; everyone has to speak up.

Even former City Engineer, Larry Nelson, wrote to say that he appreciated working with Tim:

“Despite the derogatory terms Tim used, such as the ‘great Wasteside of Madison’, I found him actually to be a very gentle person. He was also very frugal, and perhaps large transportation projects, even though they were bike facilities, were in Tim’s mind contrary to his own innate frugality.

“On the other hand, I found Tim very helpful pointing out both the need for and the most effective way to maintain bike facilities. The concept that the City should provide winter maintenance for bike facilities isn’t that old, folks. But, Tim needed to bike in the winter.”

Tim was 69, and rode his bike everywhere until a month before his death, when he fell (not while riding) and hit his head, leading to complications that ultimately did him in. At his memorial service I heard his family talk about how he refused to give a thumbs up to the doctors trying to determine his physical abilities. Tim said the thumbs up was what Trump did. So his doctor asked him to raise any finger, and sure enough he gave it to them.

If you didn’t know him, you have no idea how far back his advocacy for bicycling goes. He wasn’t always easy to work with, but he will be deeply missed. 

Rest in peace, Tim.

Categories
Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (7/17/17)

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Last Month

I’ve been enjoying my blogging break over the last three weeks, so there’s a bit to catch up on…

June’s Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission meeting had a few topics of interest, including a Project Database update resulting from the suggestions received last year for pedestrian/bicycle improvement projects (0:21:22 in the linked video); notification that Park Street will be part of a Smart Cities “Connected Park Corridor Initiative”that is hoping to pave the way for autonomous vehicle travel (1:42:36); and discussion of the upcoming North Blair Street reconstruction including the importance of working to improve the intersection with Mifflin Street–location of the current HAWK signal (2:59:36).

On 6/28-30, several Madison Bikes board members and a number of other local advocates were happy to join with city, business, and advocacy leaders from across the country at the Places for Bikes Conference. Several of the key talks are available to watch on their website.

On July 14, the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee met to finalize a draft of the new transportation ordinance that will be reviewed at Common Council in August or September. This is the legislation that would significantly reorganize our transportation committee structure and calls for the hiring of a Transportation Director for the city.

Also on Friday, the city put out the 2017 call for bike/ped improvement suggestions that should make their way into the database that was introduced at last month’s PBMVC meeting.

And last Sunday, there were many smiles and smoothies to be had at the popular Ride the Drive. Courtesy of the great folks at Saris, we had a bike-powered blender. At the end of the day, we had blended and served almost 500 smoothies! Thanks everyone for stopping by. You can find plenty of pictures and video footage at the end of the post after the fold.

This Week

This week will be relatively quiet.

On Tuesday, join Bombay Bicycle Club and Spokehaven for their Taco Tuesday Ride.

And on Wednesday, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee meets at Bendyworks.

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 info@madisonbikes.org.