It’s city budget season in Madison, and we want to alert you of a budget amendment that would greatly improve winter maintenance on our major shared use paths.
What’s the current situation? On primary paths, such as the Cap City or the Southwest Path, snow will usually be cleared by 7am from Monday on Friday. Smaller paths and trails will be cleared by 4:30pm, also only Monday to Friday. On the weekend and on holidays, snow and ice clearing depend on staff availability, which often means no clearing happens.
Why is this a problem? Those of us walk, roll, and bike on the paths during the winter know all too well what the consequence of not clearing the path 7 days a week can be. The immediate impact is that if you have to rely on paths on the weekend to get to work, run errands, or reach your nearest Metro stop, you’re often out of luck. What’s worse: Not clearing the snow for more than 48 hours (or 72 hours if it’s a long holiday weekend) means that snow will be compacted, rutted, or have turned into ice by the time the plows and sweepers come around. This greatly reduces the effectiveness of the clearing operations and can have negative impacts for many days or even weeks to come. If we want bicycles to be a viable transportation option in Madison, we can’t focus only on weekday 9-5 commuters.
What is proposed? The amendment to the city’s operating budget, sponsored by Alder Kemble and co-sponsored by Alder Foster, would allocate additional funding for snow clearing. This would allow Engineering and Parks staff to increase service on weekends and holidays so that clearing on arterial paths can occur within 12 hours after a winter event, weekday, weekend and holiday alike.
What you can do? If you think clearing the path 7 days a week is a good idea, consider sending an email to the Finance Committee, supporting budget amendment 4 (“Snow & Ice Control on Arterial Shared Use Paths”). The Committee meets tomorrow (Monday, 10/21), and so submit your comments ASAP. To help members of the committee understand the importance of keeping the paths clear and accessible 7 days a week, it can be helpful to share your own experience, whether you’re walking or riding on the paths in winter. Do you rely on biking and walking as your primary means of transportation? Have you had a crash because of snow and ice on our paths? Is it difficult for you to get to your job because have to work on weekends? Are there specific problem spots that you regularly encounter on the primary and secondary paths? After all, if you own a home in Madison, you are expected to keep your sidewalks clear of snow and ice all week. It’s hard to argue that different rules should apply to the City.
Who to send your email to? Below are the members of the Finance Committee. It’s also a good idea to include your district’s alder, as ultimately the whole Common Council will vote on the budget. You can find out who your alder is here.