Madison Bike Week is from June 1 through June 8, 2024!
Bike News

Weekly Update for Winter Bike Week Eve

As you may know, Winter Bike Week starts this Friday! With the frigid temps this week, hopefully we will all be ready to get out there into the balmy above 0° weather.

For a complete list of events, check out

This Week


Bike Fitchburg has confirmed that their monthly meeting will be held tonight at Fitchburg Public Library on Lacy Road from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Basset Street Corridor Study Meeting #3 will be tonight from 7 pm to 8:30 at the Madison Senior Center at 330 W Mifflin St.

MEAThead ride is also still on at 7pm from Ford’s gym.


Bombay Bicycle Club is hosting a special one-time screening of the film Le Ride, Tuesday January 29th at AMC Madison 6 at 6:30 pm. Beverages and socializing at Great Dane Hilldale afterwards.

LE RIDE follows Phil Keoghan and his friend Ben Cornell as they attempt to recreate the original route of the 1928 Tour de france. Averaging 240 kilometres a day for 26 days, Phil and Ben traverse both the unforgiving mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, on original vintage steel racing bikes with no gears and marginal brakes.


Wilson Street Corridor Study Meeting #3 7:00 –⁠ 8:30 pm Room 260, Madison Municipal Building. Stay tuned for an action alert!


Winter Bike Week starts!

Frozen Assets Fat Bike Ride will take place instead of the race due to lake conditions. More info about the event can be found here. It will start at the east end of Law park at 6:30 pm.


More festivities for Winter Bike Week. Check out out for more details about all of the events.

Fat Bike Sled Pull was canceled.

Bike News

Action Alert: Closing the Wilson Street Gap

Action Alert button

UPDATE 1/31: The meeting has been canceled because of the weather. It will be rescheduled at a later time.

We need your support. This Thursday (1/31) at 7pm, the third public input meeting on the Wilson Street corridor study is going to be held at the Madison Municipal Building (Room 260). We’re assuming the meeting is going ahead as planned, despite the weather. After the public input meeting, the project still has to wend its ways through the city’s committees, but it will be helpful to have people speak up now.

Please express your support in creating a safe and convenient bike corridor on Wilson Street, from the Cap City path at Machinery Row to the Cap City path at Broom and continuing to the connection with the SW Commuter path. Wilson Street is a major connection to the Capitol Square, and it currently lacks accommodations for people biking. We now have the opportunity to change this and close a major gap in our city’s low-stress bike network.

What can you do?

There are two ways to take action:

1. Attend the meeting and speak

You can go to the meeting in person and voice your support for safe and comfortable bike facilities on the Wilson Street corridor. Some tips:

  • Mention why you care about the project — do you live or work in the area? Do you want to ride to the government offices on Wilson or access the Square to reach businesses or restaurants? Have you tried riding on Wilson and had bad experiences?
  • Ask if what is being proposed at the meeting will allow seniors, kids, or people new to biking to ride on Wilson Street.
  • Ask for protected bike lanes — even if you personally feel fine riding in an unbuffered bike lane or even sharing the lane with cars.
  • Don’t get lost in the details. Details matter when it comes to great bike infrastructure. But at this point we need to focus on the big picture: Bike access on Wilson Street that works for people of all ages and all abilities.

2. Submit your comments by email

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking at the meeting or would rather submit written comments, you can send them to the project lead Dave Trowbridge, Director of Transportation Tom Lynch, and Alder Mike Verveer. Also consider cc’ing us <>

Dave Trowbridge <>;
Tom Lynch <>;
Mike Verveer <>;

Here is some more background on the project:

Why Wilson Street? Why now?

Wilson Street has long been identified as a significant gap in Madison’s bike network. Policy documents and plans such as Madison in Motion, the Downtown Plan, or the Judge Doyle Square Master Plan all have called for improving bike access to the areas east of the Capitol. Most recently, the Common Council adopted a resolution “to develop a plan for a bike friendly corridor on Wilson St, by the time the Judge Doyle Square Project is complete.”

Wilson Street provides access to the cultural, political, and economic heart of our city. Over 27,000 jobs are in the area bounded by Bassett, Johnson, Blount, and John Nolen. State and municipal agencies and offices are on and near Wilson Street. The neighborhood also has dozens of retail businesses, restaurants and cultural institutions, and it hosts major cultural events such as Concerts on the Square. And soon Wilson Street will be the main access route for the Judge Doyle Square Bicycle Center.

However, the access that Wilson Street currently provides is mostly limited to those who drive. With no protected bike facilities, only the small group of strong and fearless cyclists is comfortable “sharing the lane” with motor vehicle traffic on Wilson. The much bigger proportion of people who is riding majority of people already biking or potentially biking either avoid the area or are forced onto the sidewalk—where they have to share limited space with people walking. The issue is made worse by the fact that there are no reasonable alternatives to Wilson Street from both the east and the west. Parallel streets are steeper, discontinuous, take people too far out of the way—or they fail to offer safe bike facilities just like Wilson St.

The City and its Department of Transportation have acknowledged these problems and are proactively working on multiple corridor studies in the area, including one on Wilson Street. We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close this gap and vastly improve transportation options to and from downtown.

What do we need to close the gap?

The city needs to create a plan for the whole Wilson Street corridor that creates safe and low-stress bike access for people of all ages and abilities, following established guidance on bike facilities such as NACTO. Cross-sections and traffic volumes vary along the different sections of Wilson Street, and therefore the specific treatment may vary as well.

But it is clear that from Blair to Bassett a protected bike lane or cycletrack are the only options for an all-ages, all-abilities facility. The research on the topic is clear: Sharrows, pushing cyclists onto the sidewalk, one-way bike access, or steep and convoluted bike routes don’t work if we want to make biking an option for a significant proportion of the population.

Our city and its downtown are growing, and so it is essential that we create transportation options beyond the car. Doing so will improve population health, sustainability, and the livability of the heart of Madison. Let us act now and create safe and comfortable bike access on Wilson St: Let’s close the Wilson Street Gap now.

Bike News

It’s winter, but that’s the time for planning

Mark your calendars for Winter Bike Week

We hope everyone has been enjoying the snow and cold weather (yes, it’s really cold, but you all have lots of warm clothes, right?) Many people don’t think about bicycling in weather like this, but between planning for our upcoming Winter Bike Week –⁠ Feb 1-8 — and the city planning for construction season, there is plenty on the calendar. If you are looking for the Winter Bike Week events, make sure to head over to the Madison Bikes Facebook PAGE instead of the group where discussions happen.

Upcoming elections and last week’s mayoral forum

There will also be a primary for alder and mayor on February 19. Everyone in the city will be able to vote for mayor, and there will be a primary for alder in your area if three or more candidates are running. Then, the two candidates with the most votes will run in the main election on April 2. Madison Bikes is a 501(c)3 organization, so we can’t endorse candidates, but we did co-sponsor a mayoral forum on January 15 at the Central Library. Two transportation-related questions were asked, and you can check out the candidates’ answers here. Thanks to Harald for transcribing the answers! If you’d like to hear all the questions and answers, there is a link to a recording as well.

We urge everyone to vote an ask questions of the candidates, if you get a chance. Madison Bikes has sent a longer set of questions –⁠ ones we didn’t get a chance to ask at the forum –⁠ to the mayoral candidates. We will post the answers when after the January 31 deadline to respond. Early voting starts January 29, so if you aren’t sure who you are supporting, we hope the answers can help you make a decision.

This week


Meathead Ride. Starting at 7:00 pm at Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St, join the group for the weekly no-drop social loop around Lake Monona. Bring your extra layers!


The Common Council has two items of interest to bicyclists. They meet at 6:30 pm in Room 210 of the City-County Building, the Council will be passing plans for rebuilding parts of E Wilson, Williamson St, and Blount. This is the project that has been under discussion for quite some time, has been through a bunch of public meetings, and shouldn’t be particularly controversial. It will involve some changes to the streets between Franklin St and Blount that should make biking this stretch and connecting with the Cap City Trail and Lake Monona Path easier. You can take a look at the documents here.

Also on the Council agenda is the final lease between Freewheel Bicycle Co and the city for the bike center that will be part of the Judge Doyle Square development. While the lease isn’t all that exciting, you can also see plans for what is going to be inside. Cool. A bike wash, showers, indoor bike storage of various sorts, a small bike shop, public repair station, lockers, and lots more.

You can also watch the meeting on your computer from home, and maybe you’ll hear a few other things at the meeting that interest you. Everyone should try to attend a city meeting or council meeting at least once to learn how decisions are made, but it sure if more comfortable on the couch. (Says the former alder, who sat through three Council meetings that lasted until 5:00 am!)


The Transportation Commission will meet in Room 206 of the Municipal Building, to consider the list of Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP, also known as traffic calming) projects. If you are interested to see which projects accumulated enough points to receive traffic calming measures, or whether your streets has ever been studied, you can find the list here. A studied location must receive 30 points to be considered for traffic calming.

Also on the TC agenda is an update on “Bicycle Facility Planning,” however there are no specific items under consideration, and no further information on line. This appears to be a standing item that will appear on each agenda, along with other transportation updates. However, if you are interested in this meeting on anything else on it, you can either attend the meeting or watch the meeting on line.

Also Wednesday, there is a meeting about planning for Burr Jones Field. City Parks will be holding a public input session at 6:00-8:00 pm at Festival Foods – Community Room, 810 East Washington Ave. If you aren’t familiar with Burr Jones Field, think about the big green space that is bounded by the Yahara River, E. Johnson St, E Washington, and the RR tracks behind the strip mall and city fleet services on First St. That’s it.

From the city: “You are invited to attend and provide comments on the project. If you have questions or comments but are unable to attend the meeting, please contact Mike Sturm at (608) 267-4921 or More information visit Parks Projects:”

Grant, outgoing Madison Bikes Board President, provides this comment: “There are some paths through the park today, but it’s really important that we think about improving the connection from the Yahara bridge to connect with MIfflin/First. A new ped/bike RR crossing is needed there (there is none technically, but there very much is a well-worn desire path). Dealing with the RR is tricky business, but the park planning should include a good connection to this future RR crossing. There should also be a path along the east side of the river.”

What have we been talking about?

Here are some of the lively discussion from the Madison Bikes Facebook group:

Now that we have snow, there have been a few discussions about winter maintenance. To brine or not brine. How to report a problem to the city.

If you want to see what the city says about their winter maintenance of bicycle facilities –⁠ in more detail than you probably want –⁠ check out this video from a meeting on that topic. The portion of the meeting on winter maintenance is about an hour long!

Lots of questions about how to keep warm and safe while riding in winter.

Ideas from other cities on reforming their transportation system.

And lots more.

Remember, if you have an event for our Madison Bikes Community Calendar, send it to us so others can find it. And all the details about all the events are up on, or linked from that same calendar, so make sure to visit often.

Bike News

2019 City Mayoral Election January 15 Forum

Madison Bikes is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse or oppose any candidate for political office.

The City of Madison is having elections this spring. The primary will take place on February 19; the general election will be on April 2. Find information on how to register to vote here.

On January 15, Madison Bikes was co-sponsor for a non-partisan candidate forum for the mayoral primary. At the event, two questions related to transportation were asked. You can watch the video of the entire event on the City Channel, and we have transcribed the candidates’ answers in full.

The candidates in attendance were (in alphabetical order)

Question: Research shows that there is a large proportion of the population that is interested in biking for transportation. They may bike on the Southwest Path or during Ride the Drive. But they do not feel safe and comfortable having to bike on a busy road or painted bike lanes next to cars. How are you going to create a connected network of bike facilities in Madison that is safe and comfortable and serves people of all ages and of all abilities?

Mo Cheeks: That’s an awesome questions. Thank you to the submitter. Madison is in a position right now where we have actually an extremely high percentage of bike ridership. Something like 10% of our modal transportation in Madison is by bike. Which is remarkable. Particularly in the north, where we know it gets plenty cold. And yet we know there is another 60 % of sort of interested folks that are not considered strong bike riders – these are the folks that would be interested in bike riding, as Shabnam said, but are hesitant a little bit. We know that the way that we get those folks to ride a bike more often – which is going to be important as we try to reduce congestion and reduce the use of automobiles – is to connect paths. As someone who represents an extremely diverse district on the city council, I know that – actually speaking of the Southwest Bike Path: Southwest Bike Path is really easy to get on to from some areas. And we know it’s an incomplete solution depending on where you want to go – whether you want to go downtown to the other side of the Capitol, or if you want to get to a job on the far west side – there are plenty of incomplete bike and ped paths. And so in order for us to get better at that the answer is simply: We need to be completing bike and ped paths. And that needs to be a priority if we’re going to make it easier for people, we’re going to have to invest in that as a priority.

Satya Rhodes Conway: Thank you and thanks to the Bikies for that question. If we are going to address climate change, which we have to do in the next decade, then part of our solution has to be reducing emissions from our transportation sector. And biking is part of that solution because it’s at least carbon emissions free. And so we have to make it possible for folks of all ages and abilities to feel comfortable using bikes as a form of transportation, but frankly also walking and using transit. And so the three modes need to be connected to each other. Madison is a Platinum biking city, but that’s not good enough. We need to be increasing our mode share, even though we have a high mode share already. And that means that we need to invest in connections. One of the things that I did when I was on the council, which took a good long time because it took some serious convincing of both the business community and the neighborhoods, was make sure that Sherman Avenue was accessible to bikers but also safe for pedestrians and cars. And we now have bike lanes on Sherman Avenue, which is something which some people thought would never happen. But that’s not good enough, right? We need to have a bike path in that area as well, and that’s part of why in my role as the chair of the Oscar Mayer Strategic Assessment Committee we have recommended improving their bike connections. Or what I would like to call: The Smoky Link behind the Oscar Mayer site. But it’s a critical priority and it’s something that we’re going to need to make sure is part of our capital investment going forward.

Paul Soglin: A couple of years ago, the League of American Bicyclists did name us as the fifth city being designated with Platinum status – the highest regard they’ve ever given in regards to bicycling. And it was in recognition of the bicycle lanes, the bicycle paths, all the networks of using rail lines that were abandoned. But we’ve got a challenge, which is what happens when you’re off of those paths, when you’re off of those old trails, and you want to get right onto a city street. And we have a dilemma. Part of it is our design in terms of the widths of our streets. And the second part of it is winter. Now, well, that’s a reality. And so the challenge is how can we provide protection for the bicycle from the automobile traffic. And we’re working on that right now. We’re looking at how other cities with wider streets are managing it. We’re looking at the types of dividers available. I was out at Saris just a couple of months ago, and they build the bike racks and they’re now working on these kinds of protective devices. The key critical element for us is how you get the snow off of it with the divider right there. Collapsible ones are one of the possibilities that they’re working on. You can collapse it, plow, and then raise it. But I would say that in the next couple of years we will see some of these protected dividing devices on Madison’s streets, particularly most likely starting with East Washington. Thank you.

Raj Shukla: So I’m a year-round cyclist. Which I can do because I do have access to protected lanes nearby me. I do ride on the road sometimes too. And there are four reasons that I think we have to focus on different modes of transportation than just driving or just transit. The first is environmental. The second is our health and safety. The third is economic. And the fourth is equity. When it comes to the environmental side of this — I think Satya spoke to it – part of our challenge here is reducing emissions as fast as we can if we’re going to tackle climate change. Cycling is one path to get there. So that alone is a good reason to prioritize it. The benefits that we get by reducing traffic, by reducing the air pollution that results from traffic are also well known. Now I want to talk about some other elements of this that aren’t always brought up. Here is some of the research that I’ve seen. If you have a storefront that has easy access for cyclists or pedestrians, that store actually in aggregate makes more money than stores that rely on car traffic. When you think about cycling and who has access to those networks and who doesn’t, it’s typically – let me rephrase this: When you look at who is riding a bike to commute most often, it’s two groups of people: It’s people who have money and who have access to cycling infrastructure, or it’s people who can’t afford a car. There’s a real equity dimension to giving people as many opportunities and many ways to travel as they possibly can. And as mayor I would like to make a goal for the city to expand protected bike lanes by about five miles, at least. I’d love to go a lot farther. But that should be our goal: Rapidly expanding the infrastructure for cyclists to use safely in our city.

Nick Hart: What was the question again? [moderator reads question again] I feel that’s self-evident. I mean you just build safer bike lanes. I live on the Tenney neighborhood. You got East Mifflin that’s wide open that no one ever uses – I never see anyone on that. But I think we continue to cultivate a robust and support culture for bicyclists, with the exception of unicyclists. And – you guys are laughing – it’s coming. I’m sorry to hear, you’re right. But yeah, I think we just continue cultivating a robust support culture for cyclists. Stay in your lane.

Toriana Pettaway: There are several points that I want to point out. To make things safer in the community, one of the points that I want to talk about is transit-dependent – the last mile. In our city we need to think about those residents who need to commute in the city and don’t have the transportation accessibility on the bus. So that’s one element. There’s the concept of the “last mile” in the community. One of the things that we can definitely do is make sure that safety is available in the last mile, is also a solution for the residents who don’t have access for buses that come every 30 minutes or every hour in the community, that bike transportation is available for them. We can make sure that there are bike stations available for them and also for commuters who are coming from outside of the city, who work into the city, that those stations are provided to them. Also addressing the environmental issues and lowering emissions. If we can also convince residents who are also commuting into the city and parking on our residential streets to not do that, we can also improve safety in the city, that our streets would be clear so that our city employees can clean streets more efficiently, so that the bikers that are already in the city, using streets in the city would feel more safe commuting with bikes in the city. That’s a very real solution. Those are things that are very easily accessible, we can address these things very easily if we are really tapping solutions that could work, like tomorrow. If we’re providing networks that have real viable solutions for bikers to be transformed over night. Those are things that we can do right now. But we have to build the network with the bike paths and with other transit solutions that we don’t have existing right now. Simple fix.

Question: This next question, question on transportation, we’ll start with Satya. This question was submitted by the Madison Area Bus Advocates, and they ask: “Madison’s mayor oversees a city department of transportation that is responsible for a multi-modal mobility and parking system. How would you expand on our current transportation system? What is your vision for making it more environmentally and economically sustainable, socially just, safer, socially just, healthier, socially just, and affordable? Please give an example.

Satya Rhodes Conway: Thanks MABA. I have been a bus commuter ever since I moved to Madison because my first employer subsidized my bus pass for me. And my current employer does that as well. I think that our bus system is a critical component of our full transportation system. But our transportation system has to be about creating access for people regardless of mode. Right? We shouldn’t be building a transportation system for vehicles; we should be building a transportation system for people. And part of that is for people that are transit-dependent. And I think my top transportation priority would be to bring rapid transit to Madison. It’s something that we have talked about for somewhere between 30 and 40 years, and yet we don’t have a rapid transit system yet here in Madison. And I have to ask: Why? What is that about? I will provide the leadership it takes to get that happening, to get rapid buses on our streets, and to build out a bus rapid transit system as soon as possible. It’s a critical improvement that we need to make. And that needs to be a climate-friendly system. So we need to be buying electric buses so that we can reduce the emissions. And it needs to be a system that is regional, not just for the city of Madison. Until the legislature in its infinite lack of wisdom returns to us the ability to form a regional transportation system, we’re going to have to build those collaborations with the county and surrounding municipalities ourselves. But I cannot emphasize how much of a priority this is for me. We need rapid transit in the city of Madison, and I will work to make that happen.

Paul Soglin: I hope I can do this in less than three hours. My apologies. Bus rapid transit is our most immediate goals, and I think it’s one of the top and most critical needs for our community at this time. If you look at rapid transit systems throughout the country, the evidence is clear: They not only work, but they also need state and federal participation. We simply cannot come up with hundreds of millions of dollars that’s needed. What we have been doing is fashioning our design for the future on the assumption that we will get bus rapid transit. Now there are several things that need to happen along the way. The first is we need the state’s authority not just to create a regional transit authority, an RTA, but we have to have its taxing authority. There must be the revenue to establish such an authority, so we can pay for the buses and what is turning out to be one of our biggest obstructions: a garage to take care of them. We’re talking about 40, 50, 60 million dollars not for the fleet itself but for the building. One of the key objectives – I’m going to repeat it – is to work with the Evers administration and getting the authority to set up an RTA that would cover about 75% of the population of Dane County. We have already ordered four electric buses. And we are envisioning that the system will become all electric, with solar. We are talking about collaboration not only with the other communities that would make up the RTA, but MG&E has been a very healthy partner in this design. In addition we’ve got to get federal participation. The federal government has to assist us as it has so many other cities throughout the United States. But we will get there.

Raj Shukla: So everyone that’s spoken so far has talked about the need for bus rapid transit and the obstacles to getting it. Which are largely financial. And largely a function of a state legislature that isn’t very nice to places like Madison and places all over the state. I actually began my career working in Milwaukee on building a regional transit authority in southeastern Wisconsin. The business community wanted it, the local elected wanted it, the county executives wanted it, the state legislature was in the way. So there is the question that all of us have to have: We can institute a wheel tax or something like that to fund transit more robustly. That seems like a hard political lift too. Or we can have leadership – and we can have leadership that can actually build coalitions of elected around the state to try and sway some of the Republican votes that we’re going to need to sway in order to get a regional transit authority. So here is what I’d say I do right now in my role at River Alliance of Wisconsin: I work with local groups and local elected officials in rural Wisconsin and in urban Wisconsin, from places like Green Bay, to Wasau, to Eau Claire, to Racine. And we fight for hard compromises that protect water quality in those locations. We’ve built relationships with people across the aisle, we motivate them to take aggressive environmental stands in a difficult environment for them, and we do it by being absolutely committed to demonstrating the economic benefits of clean water. But I would say that I can do the same on regional transit as well. From our perspective here as a rapidly growing city that needs a regional system if we’re going to continue to grow. And if we’re going to continue to grow equitably and in a way that’s environmentally responsible.

Nick Hart: Again, to reiterate what I said opening is that the most marginalized and underrepresented people are affected the most by this. So in terms of public transportation I think to continue to develop city transportation options that evolve with the growing needs of our community. It’s another complicated area requiring interlocking strategies. We need to improve and expand on the bus service provided throughout the city, especially the higher-need areas and neighborhoods with people who rely heavily, are more dependent on transportation and should be able to work, run errands and travel around the city in a way that is reliable and as painless as possible. And continually to engineer traffic solutions for all the areas of the city.

Toriana Pettaway: Thank you. This is a very tough issue. And to get straight to the point: Regional mass rapid transit will happen in the city of Madison. When will it happen? I would say soon. One of the things that we need to do as solutions to manifest this is definitely have real partnership with our surrounding communities. There are many ways that we can bring about this happening without state legislature support. One of the things that we can start doing right away and some of the conversations that have actually already started happening is looking at our community stakeholders: There are many funders that we can start talking to right now in our cities. Other communities have looked at clergy to start rattling behind mass rapid transit. They’ve looked at corporate sponsors to look at supporting mass rapid transit. Now looking at what Nick talked about and our most marginalized community: Once this happens in our community and as your mayor, some of the things that I want to make sure that don’t happen when it comes – because it will come and we will find ways to fund this in our community and make sure that our most marginalized and our low-income who are transit dependent in our community and are disabled – who are oftentimes the ones who are put out first, because paratransit is one of those things that our most challenged and the [inaudible] in our community. Most of our services areas who have two transfers or two to three transfers and travel times in our community. Some of these areas, when you go up and down University Avenue, Mineral Point, don’t even have to look at a service schedule. When we have solutions like where should these transit delivery areas go, those are the types of things that our community partners and our regional communities and our municipalities, those are the things that we should work with. But my solution is that when we talk to municipalities and the stakeholders that they’re working with – our clergymen, our churches, and our developers – we can come up with real solutions that don’t necessarily have to come from the state legislature. Let’s get innovative, y’all!

Mo Cheeks: So to be clear: Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to be able to get around our city, to have access to jobs, access to school, access to food. One of the first experiences I had when I was elected to the city council in 2013, was I had a parent call me and say, “Hey, with this Verona Road reconstruction, I’m being informed that one of the bus routes that goes past our house is going to be removed for a period of time.” This parent was extremely concerned – in fact, several members of the neighborhood were upset at the thought because this was one of the routes that allowed their child to be able to come home from school, from after-school activities and things like that. And so through that experience, I remember being brand new to the city council, and I went to one of my first committee meetings, I sat down and advocated on their behalf, and the committee ended up going with the neighborhood instead of the original recommendation to remove that route. I called that parent afterward and she’s literally crying, she’s in tears. She said, “You don’t understand how much of a threat this was to my life, to what I believed that my child would be able to have access to after-school activities.” And so I think it’s really important that we bring this back to a conversation about people. As mayor, one of the things that’s going to be critical – not in addition to advocating for bus rapid transit – I’m going to be advocating for a comprehensive transportation plan. Right, so bus rapid transit, it’s super important. Increasing access to transit on the bus is important – I’m a bus rider myself, and that’s the primary way that I get to work. But we need to be thinking about – from a justice perspective we need to be prioritizing other solutions – things like access to the bus during the late hours for late-night shift workers. We need to be working with the private sector to make sure that they’re investing in not only subsidizing rides but creating a rideshare program because there are plenty of places right now that you can’t get access to on the bus in a convenient fashion. So it’s comprehensive.

Bike News

Changing Cities: How Berlin Got Its Bicycle Law

Nicole Nelson is a professor in Medical History and Bioethics at UW-Madison and a year-round bike commuter from Madison’s west side. Thanks for writing this great summary of our event “From Madison to Berlin and Back: Civic Activism for a More Livable City,” in cooperation with Downtown Madison Inc.

What would biking in Madison look like if we had a law that required the city to mitigate dangerous intersections, install safe cycling infrastructure on main roads, and even build bicycle “highways”? How would such a law come to pass? Dirk von Schneidemesser, a board member for the German nonprofit Changing Cities, spoke about Berlin’s experience with passing a bicycle law to a packed audience at HotelRED on January 4th.

Berlin is Germany’s capital, with a population of about 3.5 million and about 13% of all trips being done by bike. Bicycle laws are a new phenomenon in Germany. Berlin’s bicycle law, passed in June 2018, was the first of its kind in the country. Now activists in cities across Germany are organizing to put similar laws in place. The Berlin law outlines the types of infrastructure that the city is either required or strongly encouraged to build. Some of these types of infrastructure will be familiar to many cyclists, such as the requirement that the city build 2m/6.5ft wide bike lanes on major streets. Others are more innovative—one provision requires the city to build 100km/60miles of bicycle “highways,” paths with relatively few intersections that allow cyclists to cover more distance in less time. Even though the law is quite recent, it has already resulted in policy change. The city budget for cycling infrastructure increased from approximately 15 million euros in 2015 to 50 million euros in 2019, and the city now employs two bicycle planners for each district, compared to two planners for the entire city before.

The 10 Goals of the Berlin Bicycle Bill
(1) 200 miles of new cycle streets that work for people of all ages
(2) 6.5ft-wide safe cycling infrastructure on every arterial
(3) 75 dangerous intersections ‚Äòneutralized’ per year
(4) Transparent and efficient infrastructure repair
(5) 200,000 bicycle parking spots at transit stations and streets
(6) 50 “Green Waves” for buses, cyclists, and pedestrians
(7) 60 miles of Bicycle Highways for commuters
(8) Bicycle police units and special unit for bike theft
(9) Planners in city/district administration; create Central Cycle Administrative Office
(10) Awareness campaign for accommodating higher modal share of cycling

A ballot initiative organized by the nonprofit Changing Cities was an important step in making the law a reality. “Citizen’s initiatives,” as they are called in Germany, require that organizers first collect 20,000 signatures in a six-month period. The Changing Cities team set up 250 collection stations around Berlin, and in only three and a half weeks they collected more than 100,000 signatures. This caught the attention of city officials, particularly since the signature drive coincided with the beginning of election season for the city. Rather than continuing the “citizen’s initiative” process through to get a question on the ballot, Changing Cities opted instead to work directly with (and sometimes against) elected officials to get the bicycle law passed.

Counting signatures (Photo courtesy Volksentscheid Fahrrad/Norbert Michalke)

One of the most striking aspects of this story was the huge network of volunteers that Changing Cities assembled. Dirk estimated that by the time the law had passed, volunteers had put in more than 40,000 hours of work, equivalent to a single person working full time for approximately 26 years (!). Similarly impressive was the fact that this was all done on a shoestring budget. At the time Changing Cities had no staff and relied primarily on donations to fund basics such as the photocopying needed for the signature drive.

There’s a lot to be learned from the tactics that Changing Cities used to lower barriers to participation and grow their network of volunteers. During the signature drive, for example, Changing Cities asked local businesses to volunteer as “collection stations” where citizens could stop in and sign the petition. Not only did this get local businesses more involved in the initiative, it reduced the need to have volunteers staffing booths at fixed locations around the city. Volunteers could roam Berlin (by bike!), distributing information and encouraging citizens to stop in at a collection station when they were ready to sign.

“Taking a Dive” (Photo courtesy Michael Truckenbrodt/Volksentscheid Fahrrad)

I was also impressed by the variety of techniques the organization used to keep up the pressure on the city to get the law passed. When the city senate was obstructing progress, volunteers rode their bikes into the river to illustrate how bicycle transport and climate protection were “taking a dive.” These humorous and visually engaging protests made for great newspaper photos and headlines. When local merchants complained that the loss of parking spots on major roads would hurt business, Changing Cities worked with merchants to conduct a study of how shoppers arrived at their stores. The survey data showed that merchants tended to overestimate the number of people who arrived by car and underestimate those who arrived by bike, and these data were key to changing merchants’ opinions on the proposed bicycle law. While I’ve tended to think of showy media tactics and evidence-based policy reform as being in tension with each other, this story showed how one organization could do both successfully.

Dirk closed his presentation with a map of Germany showing cities that were currently working on bicycle law initiatives, and asked us—could Madison be next? Before Dirk’s presentation I would have answered that a bicycling law for Madison was a lovely, idealistic idea, but an impossible one. After talking us through the process, it now seems difficult but not impossible. As I write this, Cambridge MA (where I am living for the year), is taking its first steps towards passing an ordinance that would require the city to build protected bike infrastructure as described in the city’s own Bicycle Plan. A law that simply forces a city to follow through with its own plans may not seem as sweeping and ambitious as what Berlin achieved, but if successful it would transform the experience of biking in Cambridge. Pushing for legal reforms might not be the best path to success in all cities, but it’s certainly an option worth putting on the table.

Bike News

Monday Update: Mayoral forum, North Mendota Trail, Advocacy

Last Week

Our Events and Communication Committees had a very productive meeting last week, all under the auspices of Winter Bike Week. We have a great schedule of events lined up already for February 1-8. Check them out here (and keep checking back for possible additions).

Saturday was a good day to acquire bikes or get rid of them: Madison Bikes had a table at the Brazen Dropouts bike swap at the Alliant Center, while Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison was collecting used bikes for their annual giveaway. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table, and congratulations to FB4K for collecting over 1000 used bikes!

This Week

Let’s start our update with some internal Madison Bikes news: Tonight, we’re having our first board meeting of the year—and also the first board meeting with our newly elected members. Welcome, Elysha Jones, Jake Foley, Steph Shelton, Peter Taglia, and Jim Wilson! We’ll introduce our new members here on the blog shortly. Also a big thanks to our outgoing board members: Becky Jollay, Kevin Mulcahy, India Viola, and Hank Weiss.

And while we’re having our board meeting, you can join the weekly Monday MEATHead ride. As always, it’s a no-drop ride around Lake Monona. 7pm sharp, Ford’s Gym on Winnebago.

On Tuesday night, it’s time for another mayoral candidate forum. At last week’s Cap Times forum, transportation and biking hardly featured in the discussion. For Tuesday, Madison Bikes has joined a wide coalition of groups to co-host this forum at the Central Library. Tickets for the main room sold out quickly, but there will be overflow space that you don’t need a ticket for. So come and see what the candidates for mayor have to say about transportation and other issues. 6pm, Central Library on Mifflin.

On Wednesday, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee has their monthly meeting. On the agenda are the continuation of our work on Wilson Street and winter bike facility maintenance. We’ll also take some time to talk about our 2019 priorities and goals. Everybody is welcome to join us at Bendyworks, 106 E Doty St #200, 6pm.

Could Wilson Street look like this?

Consider biking out to Middleton on Thursday: There is a public meeting about the long-awaited path along Century Avenue. Century Avenue and its lack of bike facilities has long been identified as an issue, but now Middleton is moving forward in building a “shared-use path planned along the north side of Century Avenue connecting northeast Middleton with Branch Street and the Pheasant Branch Trail.” Eventually that path will connect to the new trail along Highway M, providing access to Governor Nelson State Park and Northwest Madison. 6pm Middleton City Hall.

Bike News

Monday Update: Winter maintenance, trail closures, mayoral forum

Madison recently had its most heavy snowfall this winter on New Year’s Eve. As a result, the comments Madison Bikes received on our Facebook discussion page about the conditions after the storm were numerous. There was even a discussion among the bikies email group. Some of the comments were positive, especially of the workers who were out clearing the paths. However, several comments showed that more can and should be done to keep the paths safe for winter riders.

Madison is undergoing an update to its winter bike-way maintenance policies. This discussion is currently in the hand’s of the City’s Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB). Tonight at 5:00 PM in room 201 in the City County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the TPPB is again going to take up the discussion on winter bike-way maintenance in Madison. We would like to strongly encourage anyone who rode during or after the snow event to come to the TPPB meeting to share their experience, good or bad. You can read the presentation by the Bicycle Facility Maintenance Workgroup to familiarize yourself with the main issues and recommendations the workgroup came up with. Click here for more information about the agenda item.

Another announcement: This week, a portion of the Badger State Trail is expected to close for vegetation management for about 4 days. The detour is shown in Figure 2. Click on the image to get a higher resolution version. Future closures from this project are expected on portions of the Cannonball Trail starting next Monday, January 14. Read more about the closures and find detour information here at ATC’s project website.

Last Week:

I hope everybody had a good first week of 2019! As mentioned earlier, Madison had a fairly substantial snowfall on New Year’s Eve, but a week of warm weather has mostly melted it.

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On Friday, there was a talk by former Madisonian Dirk von Schneidemesser about how his and fellow activist’s efforts managed to collect 100,000 signatures for a bike referendum in Berlin and what can be applied from those efforts to activism in Madison. Look for slides and a post soon summarizing that meeting.

This Week:

Today, Monday, January 7, there is the meeting of the TPPB mentioned at the top of this post. Other than the continuing discussion about winter bike-way maintenance policy, the board will be looking at bike infrastructure types, a Metro facility report, and BRT funding options. Additionally, they will be looking at adopting the Oscar Mayer Special Area Report. Here is the full agenda for this meeting. The meeting starts at 5:00 PM in room 201 of the City County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Madison.

At 5:30 PM, the Madison Bikes Communications Committee is meeting at Rockhound Brewing Company, 444 S Park St in Madison.

Tonight is also a MEAThead ride. This ride starts every Monday at 7:00 PM November through March regardless of the weather. The ride starts at Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St in Madison. Read more about the group on their Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 8, will be the first Common Council meeting of 2019. One agenda item is Approving Roadway Geometry for the Pleasant View Road Reconstruction, which currently features a sidepath and bike lanes as part of the project. You can see the overhead map here, and the current proposed sections here. The full Common Council agenda can be found here.

Wednesday, January 9, Madison’s Transportation Commission (TC) would normally meet, but this meeting has been canceled. However, there will be a meeting of the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MATPB). This meeting will start at 6:30 PM at the Madison Water Utility Building at 119 E. Olin Avenue, Room A-B. Read the full agenda packet for this meeting here. After this meeting, in the same room at 6:45 PM, there is a joint meeting between the MATPB and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC). Here is the full agenda packet for this joint meeting.

Also this Wednesday, the Capital Times will be hosting the first mayoral debate. The debate starts at 7 PM at The Barrymore Theatre at 2020 Atwood Ave. Read more about the event here. If you can’t make it to this debate, Madison Bikes is co-sponsoring another forum on January 15. More details here.

Saturday, January 12, is the annual Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap. The bike swap is in the New Holland Pavilion on the Alliant Energy Center Campus. At this event you can find great deals on a variety of bike stuff including parts, accessories, clothing, and more from a wide variety of vendors. Madison Bikes will have a table at the event, so feel free to stop by and say hi! Read more about the Bike Swap here. And if instead of acquiring new bikes, you want to get rid of them, Saturday is also the day for the Free Bikes 4 Kids annual bike collection.

Please consider donating your extra bikes to help us meet the community’s need for 2,500 bikes each year so ALL kids have access to the feeling of pride and joy that comes with getting your first bike! BIKES CAN BE DROPPED OFF AT THE FOLLOWING UnityPoint Health –⁠ Meriter Clinic locations between 9am and 1pm: Stoughton –⁠ 100 Silverado Dr., Stoughton, WIMonona –⁠ 6408 Copps Ave. Monona, WI Deforest-Windsor –⁠ 4200 Savannah Dr. Deforest, WI Deming Way –⁠ 2275 Deming Way, Middleton, WI McKee –⁠ 3102 McKee Rd, Madison, WI Fitchburg –⁠ 2690 Research Park Dr., Fitchburg, WI