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Weekly Update

Spring Elections Coming Soon

Photo credit: Harald Kleims

This weekly is a relatively slow one on the bike events-and-meetings front. It’s as good a week as any to do your research about candidates running in the primary elections on February 16 for alder. For the April general election, the Madison Bikes Board will send out biking-related questions to those candidates running that pass the primary and make these available to our biking community. We’re always happy to hear from you about what you think are the highest priorities for safe biking for all in the Madison community, and where you would like to see our efforts focused.

Looking for a way to help the biking community? Become a trail reporter for the Wisconsin Office of Outdoor Recreation! They need riders to report on the conditions of trails during the year. You can learn more here and sign up to be trail reporter here.

Additionally, as we get seemingly endless snowstorms, be sure to check out our second episode of Madison Bikes Winter TV: “Staying Warm”.

This Week

This week, several transportation-related commissions will meet. First, the Greater Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Policy Board has its monthly meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 pm (info here).

The Transportation Policy and Planning Board will also meet Wednesday, at 5 pm. (info here). The agenda is light on biking items, but several items are focused on safety (through the lens of Vision Zero) and Complete Streets; we’ll continue to discuss these projects throughout the year on this blog. Folks following the BRT project might be interested in a report on the left turns on Mineral Point Road, which recommends keeping all turns with center-running buses due to potential delay for motorists.

On Thursday at 6 pm, there is another input meeting for the Vilas Park Master Plan. You can learn more about it here.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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Weekly Update

Weekly Update: MB Community Meeting, TC

Photo by Harald Kliems. Follow @Cyclists_of_MSN on Twitter for more.

This Week

On Monday two monthly meetings will take place. First is the Madison Bikes Community Meeting at 6:00 PM. Then, Bike Fitchburg is having its monthly meeting starting at 6:30 PM.

On Wednesday, the Transportation Commission is meeting at 5:00 PM. One item on the agenda might be worth watching. There is a presentation on the high injury network that seeks to identify corridors and intersections with high injury rates to target for vision zero improvements. Vision zero is an approach to infrastructure that seeks to prevent traffic deaths by creating infrastructure that accounts for human failings into its design. Here is a link to the presentation that will be given.

Also Wednesday, Madison Bike Center is running a Beginner Mechanic Session from 3-5 PM. Their Beginner Mechanic Sessions are free open-house-style workshops where people can go work on their bikes and learn how to fix them. No experience necessary. The topic for this session is how to check a secondhand or post-crash bike for safety.

On Thursday, there’s an opportunity to volunteer with Free Bikes 4 Kids from 6-9 PM. No experience is needed and volunteers will be cleaning and prepping bikes. For more information email volunteer@fb4kmadison.org.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
Weekly Update

Odana Area Plan, Winter Rides Again

A Winter Bike Week snapshot from a winter’s past [Liz Jesse]

So far this winter we’ve had some pretty nice weather for cycling: dribs and drabs of snow, but enough warm days to let the streets clear up. That changed towards the end of last week, and seems to be continuing with persistent small amounts of snowfall coupled with colder temperatures.

You might appreciate the ongoing efforts to keep the shared use paths clear. It makes a particularly big difference on long weekends like this, where the cleanup previously would have had to wait until Tuesday after 2-3 days of traffic, leaving an icy mess. For a great discussion of these efforts and more, check out the City of Madison’s Everyday Engineeering podcast episode titled “I Want to Ride My Bicycle”. The guest is our own Grant Foster, who dual-wields his Alder hat and his Madison Bikes Buff.

With residential streets ice and snow-covered from the 1-2 punch of the melting/refreeze cycle and these continual dustings of snow, we also take the opportunity to highlight the importance of safe cycling infrastructure on city salt routes. For the typical rider without studs, these routes may be the best way to get around safely on bike until another thaw. This is one of the reasons why we advocate for improvements to busier roads like Whitney Way, Winnebago Street, and East Washington Ave. It’s also worth mentioning that riding on sidewalks is usually an option as well; see our FAQ on the subject!

Finally, if you haven’t already, check out our second episode of Madison Bikes Winter TV: “Staying Warm”. It’s just under five minutes and has plenty of useful tips and lots of guest stars!

This Week

While it’s likely to be a big news week in many ways, it’s a relatively slow week for cycling-related meetings and events.

On Thursday at 12pm, the city will hold the first virtual meeting for public participation for the Odana Area Plan (registration required). This west-side area is a bit larger than it sounds — bounded by Mineral Point Rd to the north, Segoe Rd/Presidential Lane to the east and then following the West Beltline on the south and west. One specific item to check out is a map of the draft bicycle network plan, which reads like a long-term wishlist for bicycling facilities. You can see a lot of ideas for new both on-street and shared-use paths plus a few overpasses/underpasses for the Beltline. Look for the dashed lines on the map and lighter pink dots on the map.

Image: City of Madison Planning Division, December 2019

If you can’t make this one or prefer an evening session, there is a second meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 27 at 5:30pm.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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Weekly Update

Transportation report summary and bike registration repeal

2020 Transportation Report Summary

The City of Madison Department of Transportation released their 2020 Annual Operation Report. The report includes transportation accomplishments from last year and some very exciting initiatives planned for 2021. A video discussion of this report in the Transportation Policy & Planning Board: Meeting of January 4, 2021 is also available.

2020 Transportation Trends Trends

  • Motor vehicle traffic dropped significantly early this year, but has recovered to 90% of pre-COVID levels.
  • Overall monthly bicycle volumes on the Southwest Path are consistent, however there is a notable shift in volume to the weekends.
  • The average city wide motor vehicle speed has decreased, but the number of extremely high (100mph) speed related crashes have increased transportation fatalities.
  • Metro transit recorded a 27% reduction in revenue hours last year, however the department remains on stable financial footing. The city is expecting transit ridership to recover in 2021 and views transit as a “key transportation mode”.
  • Parking revenue is down over 50% and which resulted in a $6 million dollar operating loss.
  • The city made deliberate efforts to minimize the impact of traffic and transit change to communities of color and low income households. For example, metro fares were suspended from March to August.

Traffic Engineering COVID-19 Response

  • Added signage to encourage and inform people of physical distancing guidelines.
  • Modify signal timing to eliminate the need to press walk buttons and reduce pedestrian wait times.
  • Implement 4 miles of temporary shared streets to expand low stress bike and pedestrian facilities.
  • Temporarily closed streets, created dedicated curbside pick-up spaces and converted parking to outdoor restaurant seating, to aid local businesses.

2020 Traffic Accomplishments

  • Madison adopted Vision Zero with the goal of eliminating all traffic related deaths. Adopting Vision Zero is a substantial achievement that encourages the city to use data driven methods to review and address hazardous roads and intersections. See figure below is a data driven example of how 2020 vision zero projects were distributed with a focus on equity.
  • Complete Green Streets initiative will consider how to use our precious roadway space more equitably, by considering all transportation modes in addition to motor vehicles.
  • Improved and expanded bike facilities. I have seen a lot of new green and white paint at city intersections and I hope you have has well. You can view the report to see the full list of improvements.

2021 Traffic Engineering Initiatives

  • Vision Zero. This was adopted in 2020 and you should expect to see this every year. Getting to 0 traffic deaths is a big deal and will take a lot of work.
  • School Crossing Guards
  • Shared Streets – this was one of the positive outcomes of the COVID pandemic and there maybe ways to make some changes semi-permanent.
  • Green Complete Streets. A long list of projects to make our city more equitable to all methods or transportation. Lots of exciting projects on this list.
  • Twenty is Plenty is an initiative to reduce residential street speed limits from 25mph to 20mph. Lower urban speed limits reduce pedestrian fatalities and don’t significantly impact average vehicle speed.
  • Change how traffic calming funds are allocated to make the process more equitable.
  • On-street parking ordinance review to consider changes to Madison’s parking permit structure and incentivize real estate developers to incorporate facilities for alternative transportation modes.
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Conclusion

I am impressed by the significant achievements made by the Mayor, Director of Transportation, city alders, traffic engineers and others to make transportation in our city more equitable for all Madison residents. In particular, I applaud city leadership in their clear prioritization of all modes of transportation, not just cars, and look forward to the numerous initiatives planned for 2021. I am proud to join the effort to shift of our great city to an environmentally sustainable, livable and equitable example of what is possible. You can help too, by attending public input meetings, voting for candidates who support all modes of transportation and encouraging others to bike.

Mandatory Bike Registration Repeal

The mandatory bike registration ordnance was unanimously repealed this week by the city council. This might sound bad, but is is a good thing because this outdated law was a barrier to biking and wasn’t effective at deterring bike theft. If you would like to register your bike there are voluntary national registration services available.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
In The News

NBC15.com – How Madison keeps its bike paths clear through the winter

WMTV NBC15.com NEWS

By Colton MoleskyPublished: Jan. 7, 2021 at 8:31 AM CST

Categories
Weekly Update

Welcome to 2021!

@cyclists_of_msn Photo: Harald Kliems

If you haven’t read Harald’s wrap up of 2020, it’s worth checking out. (what, you don’t read it as soon as it’s published every Monday?) It’s easy to forget how much we’ve done and where we’ve had wins. We couldn’t do it without you, the biking community. Your voices are what give Madison Bikes strength and influence.

And although everyone has said it already, “Whew! I sure hope 2021 is better than 2020.” The only good thing in biking news was that a lot of people who hadn’t been biking discovered the joys of two wheels, and our local bike shops did a bang-up business, often selling out of… everything.

Although you might have to watch out for a few icy patches, the snow and recent hoar frost have made Madison a true winter wonderland. It’s a great time to take your bike out and enjoy the quiet that a snow blanket provides.  

Aldermanic elections this spring

Looking ahead to the new year, we will soon be moving into yet another election, although nothing quite as dramatic as the November (and continuing) presidential rugby scrum. I don’t think my heart can take more than one of those every decade. 

But Tuesday (Jan 5) is the deadline for candidates for city council to file paperwork to run. If there are more than two candidates in a district, there will be a primary on February 16. Then the final election for aldermanic seats is April 6. All 20 seats are up for election, with many current alders not running again, so this is a good opportunity to ask the candidates (even if there is only one) where they stand on bicycling and other transportation issues. If they seem unsure why these issues are important or what the barriers are to biking in your district, you can be both an advocate and a source of information for them. 

Not sure what district you are in? You can look it up here

And maybe some on this list might think about running in the future. Alder elections are every two years, and many seats go uncontested. We have two board members with experience running and serving, so we can answer a lot of your questions.

Madison Bikes is planning on sending questions to all the candidates, and we’ll publish the answers. But having a personal conversation with your representative probably has much more influence than our handful of questions.

The week ahead

Monday, the Transportation Commission meets, but there isn’t anything significant on the agenda. They will be adopting the recommendations for the locally preferred alternative for the east-west BRT line. They will also be reviewing and approving the Traffic Calming Subcommittee summary report, but it looks like that work will continue, since they are also asking for an extension. 

Tuesday, on the Council agenda is a proposal to repeal the mandatory bicycle registration ordinance. Why? It costs more to run the program than it takes in each year; compliance with the current ordinance is low; the current program is not an effective way to return recovered bikes or use staff resources to improve bicycling across the city; and free national online bicycle registration services have made recovery of bicycles across jurisdictions much easier. 

Wednesday, the Board of Public Works will approve plans for phase 2 of the Demetral Bike Path. This is the last section needed to complete a link from the Yahara River Path to Commercial Ave. This is just a pro forma vote, but it’s nice to see an important link moving forward. Every little bit helps.

Madison Bikes is here for you, but you can be here for us as well

In the year ahead, there will be many important decisions made that will affect bicycling in the city.

Some are big: 

  • a complete reconstruction of a road, which provides opportunities to add or improve bicycle facilities; 
  • decisions about prioritizing one transportation mode over another in a corridor; 
  • how Bus Rapid Transit will integrate with bicycling or possibly displace current bike facilities on the route; 
  • removing parking in order to provide buffered or physically protected bike lanes. 

Other decisions are small: 

  • new or better paint to delineate bike facilities; 
  • a curb cut moved that allows easier transition to a path; 
  • repaving a bumpy path or filling a bunch of potholes; 
  • making sure a traffic signal detector picks up bicyclists using a road and not just motor vehicles. 

We will do our best to keep you informed of these decisions and how you can have an influence. But if you see an issue in your neighborhood, on your rides, or near where you work or shop, you can both let us know and talk to your city representatives or city staff. Sometimes all it takes is pointing out an issue to get it fixed, or at least get it on the radar to be fixed in the future.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.