In The News

Madison commission set to discuss Winnebago Street construction

Channel 3000

Rose Schmidt talks to Madison Bikes president Grant Foster about the upcoming reconstruction of Winnebago Street

Bike News

Winnebago at PBMVC and the rest of the weekly update – March 26, 2018

Spring is definitely on the way and the ramping of activities for this week’s update shows it.

  • We have an important meeting on the planned reconstruction of Winnebago Street (discussed in more detail below).
  • Madison BCycle is back after being away all winter. To celebrate and give everyone a taste of the subject, you can ride free the first week of April. There’s a promo code to use, so follow the link for more information.
  • North Hancock St from E Johnson to the E Washington will be closed for three weeks for reconstruction, starting April 2. In addition, the intersection of E Mifflin and N Hancock will be close. Yes, that’s going to be a pain when you are using the bike boulevard! The city says you’ll be able to get through by bike, but you’ll have to get off and walk.
  • A report on the results of the East Mifflin Diverter test is available. Although the city received some pushback, they are recommending that the diverter be made permeant.
  • A stolen bike Boy, does it suck when someone takes off with your beloved ride. Let’s bring Kelsey Walsh’s bike home!!

The reconstruction of Winnebago Street is on the agenda of the Madison Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) when they meet Tuesday evening. The meeting begins at 5:00 pm in Room 201 of the City-County Building. The PBMVC will consider two proposed designs for the reconstruction of Winnebago St between Second St. and Bashford Ave. The public can speak for three minutes on this item (or any item on the agenda.) You can also find the list of Commission members here, in case you want to email them.

Thanks to Grant for creating a comprehensive overview of the project and its implications for people walking and biking on Winnebago here. Plans proposed by the city seek to create a more neighborhood-scale street profile that would benefit residents and street users alike. Option 2 offers more positives for everyone using the street:

  • Better access for walking from southeast side of street, especially with the elimination of the current grade separation,
  • Better, shorter crossings for people on foot,
  • Buffered lanes for bikes,
  • ADA accessible bus stop at Fourth St,
  • Narrower lanes for motor vehicles to encourage lower traffic speed,
  • A wider terrace on southeast side of the street would provide space for bigger, canopy-type street trees.

If you can get to the PBMVC meeting on Tuesday to voice support for Option that would be great. If you are unable to attend, consider sending an email in support of Option to the members of the PBMVC, city engineering, and Alder Marsha Rummel before the Tuesday meeting. Here’s the list of all those emails, so you can cut and paste them, if you want.


A detailed discussion of Madison Bikes review of the alternatives for Winnebago is available in a recent blog post.

Here are the week’s calendar, at a glance:

Monday, March 26

Bike Fitchburg monthly meeting, 6:30 –⁠ 8:30 pm at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd.

Tuesday, March 27

Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission meeting, 5:00 pm, Rm 201 of the City County Bldg, 210 Martin Luther King Blvd.

Wednesday, March 28

Middleton Pedestrian/Bicycle/Transit Committee, 6:30 pm at Middleton City Hall, 7426 Hubbard Ave.

Thursday, March 29

Olbrich Park Public Input Meeting, 6:00 –⁠ 8:00 pm at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The City of Madison Parks Division is hosting a public input meeting to discuss improvements at Olbrich Park focusing on the Garver Feed Mill – North Plat and the Olbrich Botanical Gardens operations area. At this meeting, City staff will review current site conditions and seek input from area residents and project stakeholders on the proposed improvements. If you have questions or comments but are unable to attend the meeting, please contact Mike Sturm at (608) 267-4921 or at

Saturday, March 31

Spring Rides

Cafe Domestique, 1408 Williamson St, Madison. This ride rolls rain or shine. The folks at Café Domestique are riding! What better way to guarantee that you’re going to ride than have a group hold you accountable? Meet at Domestique at 8:30 for Coffee, 9am roll out. Moderate 15mph pace, almost all pavement unless the group is feeling adventurous. Plan for the weather to be lousy. Distance 30 – 50 miles.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of the most popular posts on the Madison Bikes Facebook Group this past week:

After an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona, a lot of people had an opinion about what that means for human-powered transportation.

A great story about how a stolen bike brought out the kindness and community in Brooklyn.

Researchers at UWM have a bike survey about where and when you ride and how safe you feel.

Bike News

Action Alert: Support Option 2 for Winnebago Street

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We need your support:

This coming Tuesday evening, March 27 at 5:00pm in Room 201 of the City-County Building, the Madison Pedestrian, Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) will be looking at two proposed designs for the reconstruction of Winnebago St between Second St. and Bashford Ave. Grant wrote a comprehensive overview of the project and its implications for people walking and biking on Winnebago here. Plans proposed by the city seek to create a more neighborhood-scale street profile that would benefit residents and street users alike. Option 2 in particular offers positives for everyone using the street:

  • better access for walking from southeast side of street, especially with the elimination of the current grade separation
  • better, shorter crossings for people on foot
  • buffered lanes for bikes
  • ADA accessible bus stop at Fourth St
  • narrower lanes for motor vehicles to encourage lower traffic speed
  • A wider terrace on southeast side of the street would provide space for bigger, canopy-type street trees.

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Rendering of Option 2 (Image: City of Madison Engineering)

Please consider coming to the PBMVC meeting on Tuesday and voicing your support for Option . For anyone unable to attend, please send an email of support for the all ages and abilities design alternative to the members of the PBMVC, city engineering, and Alder Marsha Rummel before the Tuesday meeting.,,,,,,,,,,

Bike News

Madison is hiring a Transportation Director, and here’s the weekly update

It’s almost spring, so I thought I’d include a nice photo of a bike relaxing by the lake. Here’s what’s happening.

Madison is hiring a Transportation Director, and it would be great if we had a really dynamic pool of candidates. This is a very important new position that will be able to shape all modes of transportation. So if you either know anyone who might be a good hire or have networks where a great person might see it, here’s the job announcement.

In the week to come:

Monday: The Madison Bikes board will meet at 6:00 pm at the Central Library. The board meeting and all committees are open to the public, so if you’d like to see what we are up to or have ideas for us, come on by.

Wednesday: The Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will meet at 6:00 pm at the Bendy Works, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. Again, this meeting is open, so if you want to help us out, come on by to chat.

The Madison Transportation Planning Board Citizen Advisory Committee is meeting in Room 103A of the City-County Bldg, and there are a couple of items on the agenda that might interest bicyclists. They will continue to discuss the Low-Stress Bicycle Network Analysis and also will review and look at recommendation on scoring and funding the Transportation Alternatives block grant. What that means is that they will consider how to pick bike-ped projects to be funded by federal transportation money. The full agenda and contact for the meeting can be found here.

Saturday: Café Domestique (1408 Williamson St) Spring Rides will start off on March 24 and run until April 14. The general idea is to get some base miles in. They will be riding even if the weather is lousy. This Saturday’s ride is going to average 15 mph and go 30-50 miles. Coffee at 8:30 am and roll out at 9:00 am. More info on their Facebook page.

Also of interest:

Survey: An MBA student from the University of Maryland is doing a survey on how people use their bikes and what type of bikes they own. They specifically sent it to us because they wanted responses from cities that are bike-friendly. It only takes a few minutes to complete, so if you’d like to help out, you can find it at the link above. And feel free to pass it on to your friends, family, and other bike groups.

Popular Facebook posts from the Madison Bikes group in the past week

You can find all the following in the news feed on the Madison Bikes Facebook group. There are new articles and links posted almost every day, so the group is a great way to keep up with the news and also learn something about what other communities are doing.

  • A long, and somewhat contentious discussion of the acquittal of the motorist involved in the bicyclist fatality on Highway 14 in 2016
  • Some great photos from Saturday’s Tour of the Latino Family
  • And, unfortunately, a pedestrian was hit on S Park St and a bicyclist hit at E Johnson and North.
  • And people had a lot to say about the collapse of the pedestrian bridge in Miami.
Bike News

Dispatch from Small-Town Germany

Madison Bikes Board member Harald reports some impressions from his recent stay in Germany. This article was originally published on Harald’s blog, Ride or Pie?!

I grew up in small-town Germany. Welzheim, my home town, is a city of 10,000 people. It’s on the edges of the Stuttgart metro region (population 2.7 million), about 30 miles from Stuttgart itself. My parents still live in Welzheim, and I visited them for a week this March. And, of course, I rode my bike.

Lovely small roads make for great biking

So as Welzheim is in Europe, there obviously is a lot of bike infrastructure, right? And nobody drives a car. Well, note quite. Germany with good reason is known as a nation of cars (Mercedes Benz and Porsche have their headquarters in Stuttgart). And in a small, rural town like Welzheim, there’s actually not much obvious bike infrastructure to speak of. There are zero protected bike lanes, bike parking is pretty mediocre, and even on-street bike lanes don’t exist, with the exception of an advisory bike lane on two streets. And yet, the biking experience is much better than you’d expect.

Traffic calming is one big reason for this. On most residential streets, the speed limit is 30 kph (19 mph). More importantly, the streets are built so that people by and large actually drive at that speed. The streets by default are much narrower than a typical US residential street. So when a car is parked on the street, two cars generally can’t pass each other, keeping speeds down. Further, intersections are usually unsigned, meaning that the person coming from the right has the right of way. Effectively that means that at each intersection you have to be prepared to stop. Actual stop signs, on the other hand, are so rare that my navigation app actually gave me a voice notification the few times that I did encounter one.

Traffic signals are also much rarer than in the US. The whole town of Welzheim has not one signal. Roundabouts, on the other hand, are plentiful. Starting in the 1980s, new intersections on busier streets often were built as roundabouts, or old ones were retrofitted. On the 8-mile drive from the nearest train station to my parents’ house, you will encounter no fewer than 10 roundabouts. Now in the US, among bike advocates and the general population, roundabouts have a bad rap. Much could be said here, but it’s important to note that German roundabouts are built smaller than US ones, and multi-lane roundabouts like the one we have on Mineral Point Road in Madison are very, very rare. More narrow lanes means people driving have to slow down more and aren’t tempted to pass people on bikes on the roundabout approaches or in the roundabout.

Some residential streets are designates as “traffic-calmed area,” a concept similar to the Dutch woonerf. Cars must drive at walking speed, and people walking and biking are entitled to the whole street. Again, those streets are usually built in a way that makes it clear that people must drive slowly.

What about commercial streets? Welzheim’s main street looks like this:

The speed limit is 20 kph (12 mph), and as a pedestrian you can easily cross the street wherever you like. Through strategic placement of planters or on-street parking spots, there will be locations where two cars can’t pass each other, keeping speeds down.

Going one step further, some cities have pedestrian malls in their city centers. This is Schorndorf:

Biking is sometimes restricted in these areas, either banning bikes at specific times or asking people to bike at walking speed. Deliveries by car or truck are permitted only during a short time window each day.

Bike parking is not that great by Madison standards. If there are bike racks at all, they often default to what Germans call the Felgenbieger (rim bender) style of rack. This is probably one reason that kickstands are very common on bikes, allowing people to just park their bike wherever when they go for a quick trip to a shop.

E-assist bike on a rim bender rack
Note the wheel lock on the bike on the right. Good enough for a quick stop.

At train stations and in larger cities, bike parking facilities tend to be better. For instance, at the Bad Cannstatt train station, there is a “bike station” where you can valet your bike (and also have it repaired while its parked there). With the Judge Doyle Square bike center, Madison is poised to get similar facilities. We’ll have to see how well they work without a transit location.

The bike station is run by a charitable enterprise, training and employing people with disabilities or other challenges

Once you get out of town, biking can be really awesome. One feature of the region is a dense network of farm or forestry service roads and tracks. For historical reasons, parcel sizes in this part of Germany are very small. This is an aerial image of Welzheim and its surroundings (Image: Google Maps).
All those little strips of fields that you can see are owned by different farmers (and the same is true for forest parcels). And of course that means that each farmer has to be able to get to his or her field. The service roads to get them are public right-of-way, but motor vehicle access is limited to farm traffic.
Farm road
Forest service roads are usually unpaved
Navigation on these roads and tracks used to be a challenge. There is no orderly grid system, and it could often be hard to tell where any given road would take you. Fortunately, over the past decade or so, communities have made much progress on signing bike routes that string together little pieces of road to connect villages and cities.
The green signs point show bike bike route destinations and distances; the small square signs underneath them are for touristic bike routes; the yellow sign is for hiking.

I want to be clear that there are some problems with these routes: Welzheim is in a rather hilly area, and the easiest routes up those hills are often taken up by roads. So if you follow a bike route, you should always be prepared for steep climbs. The routes also do not get cleared of snow in the winter. And finally, sometimes the routes are geared more toward recreational biking instead of providing the most direct route. But overall, they provide an amazing low-stress network for people biking, for recreation and transportation alike.

Some snow left on this forest road

Are there any takeaways for bike advocacy in Madison? Obviously some of the things I have described we can’t recreate here. The issue of traffic calming may offer some lessons, though. Many advocacy efforts here in the US focus on creating protected bike lanes as a way to enable people of all ages and abilities to bike. And there are good reasons for that. But at the same time we shouldn’t lose track of the fact that traffic calming can also create spaces that are great for biking and walking (and have other benefits such as reduced noise). This applies not only to residential streets, but also to commercial corridors. This does require being serious about it, though. Merely slapping a 20 mph speed limit sign on an otherwise unchanged street is not going to be enough. And neither is the occasional speed bump or sporadic enforcement. Diverters that prevent cut-through traffic, reducing the width of a street, creating bump-outs at intersections–these are some measures that may transform a street into one that many people will feel comfortable biking on.

A second takeaway is that good signage can add a lot of value at little cost (financial and political. In a way, the farm roads in Welzheim are similar to, say, the network of multi-use paths in Fitchburg.

Fitchburg path network (Map: OpenStreetMap contributors)
You can get to many destinations on those paths. But unless you’re really familiar with the area, navigation is a challenge. Similarly, if you’re riding on the Southwest Path or Cap City Trail, knowing where to turn off to get to a destination on Monroe or Willy Street is not obvious. Good signage would help with this. Dane County actually developed a “Bicycle Wayfinding Manual” (warning: big pdf) to address this issue, but implementation has been slow so far.
Bike News

Weekly Update: Bcycle returns, St. Patrick’s Day

This edition of our weekly update is brought to you from an airport in Germany. I’ve been visiting my parents for a week and am now back on the way to Madison. Stay tuned for a post about biking in Germany. Until then, here are the latest bike-related events for the week.

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Lots of bikes in Freiburg, Madison’s sister city in southwest Germany

On Monday, the Madison Bikes Events Committee is going to lay out the schedule for our organization’s events for the year. If you’re interested in being involved, please come to Barriques on W Wash at 6pm or email our volunteer coordinator Heather.

I’ve been told that spring hasn’t fully arrived in Madison yet, but that does not deter BCycle from starting the 2018 bike share season on Thursday. Welcome back!

On Saturday, you can join Madison Bikes board member Baltazar for the regular Tour of the Latino Family/Tour de la Familia Latina. This month’s theme is St. Patrick’s Day/Dia de San Patricio. Meet at Olin Park at 1pm

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