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Weekly Update

Shared streets, Vilas Park Dr up for consideration

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

Wednesday

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. 

Thursday

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. 

Saturday

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

All month

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 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.