Its a great time a year to get out bike! There are tons of great gravel rail trails in Dane county which can be comfortably enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. This family is enjoying a ride near Cambridge on the Glacial Drummlin Trail and possibly the adjacent CamRock mountain biking area.
Madison was recently Awarded Gold status as a walk friendly community, which is just another reminder that we live in one of the most awesome cities in the US! I think this award shows we are making progress towards a more walkable city, but of course there is always more work to be done 😉
City alders and transportation engineering took another step in the right direction when they choose two neighborhoods (Tenney-Lapham and Hammersley-Theresa) to pilot the new 20 is Plenty initiative to reduce car/ped crashes in residential neighborhoods by reducing the speed limit to 20mph. I’m very excited about this because my kids bike to Lapham School and slower cars means more kids will feel comfortable biking or walking to school.
Madison’s Ride the Drive event is quickly approaching on Jun 6th from 9am to 1pm and they are still looking for volunteers (2-hr shifts). This is a great city wide event to encourage biking particularly those who don’t often bike. The event will be held at 4 different city parks:
Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) is meeting at 5pm and their agenda includes an update on the Complete Green Streets initiative. If you are unfamiliar this initiative, I recommend you take a look at the presentation to view map overlays of the city focused on identifying how out transportation system serves our community and where we should focus efforts to improve. Its really great to see how our city leaders are taking steps to dramatically change how transportation projects and users are prioritized.
Another item on the TPPB agenda is the Parking Research and Policy Overview, which is a short overview of how Madison ordinances currently encourage car ownership by subsidizing free parking. This is part of the broader topic of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and changing our local laws so that some of the hidden costs of car parking is supported more by drivers.
Although we’ve had some ups and downs in temperature, there are clearly more people moving around by bike. Whether it’s seasonal riders hauling the bike out of the garage and pumping up the tires, newly-vaccinated people being out and about more, or just friends and families being more visible on bikes, the two-wheeled traffic is obvious.
I always love to see people of all shapes, sizes, ages, clothing styles, abilities, family types, economic backgrounds, and destinations traveling by bike. It makes me happy to see people on bikes going by, chatting with each other, clearly just using their bikes to go about their daily lives. No big deal, except that it is a big deal that it is so normalized in Madison.
Lots going on this week that will affect how we move through the city and what types of transportation we prioritize. Your participation and voice is why we’ve made the progress we have, but we still have a long way to go until everyone feels comfortable using a bike all year and everywhere.
The week ahead
The Transportation Commission will consider reviving the Shared Streets program for the summer. last year the city limited motorized use of some residential streets to local users in order to open up the street to people walking, biking, using other non-motorized transportation, as well as activities like socializing, playing, and just enjoying the public right of way in ways that are difficult or impossible when one has to “watch out for traffic.”
This program also includes creating a dedicated, protected bike lane on Atwood in front of Oblich Park. The justification is that the shared sidewalk is too narrow to be shared with pedestrians. Very true, but probably true all year, and not just in summer. This section is a big gap in the bike network, since the bike lanes on Monona Dr end at Cottage Grove Rd when you are headed north.
Currently, the following streets are proposed to be part of the program: Atwood, West Shore and South Shore, Sherman, Darbo, E Mifflin, Darbo, and Fisher.
As always, some letters, emails, or testimony in favor of this program would be helpful. And maybe some encouragement to make some of the street changes permanent.
Also on the TC agenda:
Discussions of the “20 is Plenty” program to pilot lowering the speed limit on some residential streets to 20 MPH. This is a test program, and the city hasn’t decided where and how many streets will have the lowered speed limit.
Consideration of traffic calming for Wheeler Rd
Ped/bike enhancements (projects) for 2021
Updates from a subcommittee on whether the traffic calming program should be modified or changed.
As always, you can watch the meeting online, register to speak on any item, and/or send comments. Go here to find out how and when to access the meeting (and see the full agenda and all the details on the items above.)
Also Wednesday, Parks Commission will consider of an interim traffic management plan for Vilas Park Dr until the new master plan can be implemented in a few years.
Last year Vilas Park Dr was closed to through motor vehicle traffic as part of the Shared Streets program. This was very popular with pedestrians, bicyclists, and many other park users, as the current configuration of the road means all users either have to share the paved roadway or walk/bike on makeshift gravel areas along the side of the road.
It looks like they are considering two options, but both require bicyclists to share the road with motorized traffic. Tjhey would also remove some parking spots.
The Plan Commission will have a special meeting to begin the process of passing a citywide change to how transportation impacts are considered in development review. This is something that I worked on for other cities before I retired (as did Mayor Satya before she was elected), and I’m very excited that Madison is finally moving forward on this initiative.
I’ll write more about this concept at a later date, but this will mean facilitating biking, walking, and transit — as well as simply encouraging fewer and shorter motor vehicle trips — will be required as part of the city development review for all new developments over a certain size. The city will better link transportation and land use in city policy. Land use and transportation have always been linked, but not always explicitly considered as we reviewed new developments. You can tune in to hear the discussion and access the documents for the meeting here.
Bike Rodeo in the Allied Neighborhood. These events help kids learn to ride safely and also help them get their bikes in good shape for the summer. There is also an option to connect families with free bikes if they need one. As of this writing (Monday morning), there are still a few volunteer slots that need to be filled. You can go here to sign up to help.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Madison Love to Ride May Bike Month Challenge. You can sign up to be part of the Madison Bikes group/club. Or, sign up with your friends or workplace group. Why sign up and log your rides? It helps city, state, and national officials see how important bicycling is to you and the whole region. It’s an incentive for those who might need a little push to get out and bike — no one on this list, I’m sure. Help your friends get on their bikes by signing up and riding with them — or maybe competing. And you might win a prize in the drawing.
As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.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.
The Transportation Policy and Planning Board is meeting tonight. On the agenda are a proposal for the City to build a new parking garage at Villager Mall to support the Urban League’s new Black Business Hub, a presentation on Metro’s future fare collection system (spoiler: staff doesn’t recommend going fare free), and a presentation by City Engineering on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which lays out mayor road and path projects for the next 5 years. One new addition to the TIP is the plan for a new bike path connecting Old Sauk Rd across the Beltline to the employment and commercial centers in the Deming Way area.
Buffered Bike Lanes on Whitney Way
At their meeting last week, the Transportation Commission approved a slew of Vision Zero projects, including a new buffered bike lane on Whitney Way. Currently people on bikes have to share the curb lane with parked cars, and this new design will create a new low-stress bike connection on this important north-south corridor.
Mountain Biking for High Schoolers
Do you live on the west side of Madison or in Verona and have kids in 6th-12th grade? Are they riding mountain bikes, or are curious about riding? The Madison West Area MTB Teams are holding a virtual meeting on Tuesday, May 4 at 7pm. A Zoom link is available on the Facebook event page.
Come and discover the lifelong joy of mountain biking! Our co-ed teams serve 6th-12th grade students, beginner to advanced, casual riders to racers, in the west Madison and Verona area. Join us for an introductory meeting for parents and potential athletes and learn more about the fun, confidence and community that mountain biking can provide. We work with girls and boys riding at all levels. Some of our athletes ride only at practices and maybe an adventure outing or two. Others find that they love racing with their team. We welcome all interest and ability levels!
Repaving County Highway B north of Oregon (very commonly used on rustic road loops through Oregon, connecting from Cap City Trail)
Repaving County Highway A SW of Oregon between D and MM (pretty useful road connecting some alternate quieter N/S roads)
Repaving and widening County Highway G, adding 3ft paved shoulders, between Mt. Vernon and US 151
Repaving KP between Kross [sic] Plains @ US 14 to WI 19, slightly widened to include 1ft paved shoulder
Both F and J S/SW of Black Earth are going to be closed to through traffic due to bridge replacements. This will be annoying, particularly as they will be concurrent closures. Detours are long and everything is hilly out there.
I can personally vouch for the dire state of pavement on many of these repaving roads so overall I’m pretty happy to see the work being done!”
Thanks, Ben! Click on the map link above to get an overview of where the projects are located.