As we mentioned in this week’s update, we’ve been helping to organize a rally to demand safe streets with an emphasis on East Washington Ave. Check out the facebook event here and we hope to see you on Saturday! The press release follows after the break.
MADISON— On Saturday, July 31, Madison Bikes along with Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America, UW Madison BIPOC Coalition, Freewheel Community Bike Shop and other advocacy groups will hold a rally to demand immediate infrastructure action by the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to make Vision Zero more than a commitment but a reality. Nearly 20 people have been killed in traffic on East Washington Avenue since 2010, many of them losing their lives while walking or biking on and across E Washington Ave. Madison residents and visitors deserve infrastructure changes to stop speeding and crashes.
What: Rally for Safe Streets. Stop the Killing on East Washington Ave
Where: In front of Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Madison, WI 53703
Marybeth covered the deaths that have recently happened on East Washington Ave last week. We’ve been working with other organizations on a protest action calling for an end to the traffic violence. If all goes as planned it will take place next Saturday (July 2731), starting at 10 am. We’ll send out a separate email once we have more detail. Stay tuned, save the date. The only acceptable number of traffic deaths and severe injuries is 0.
Madison bike ecosystem in the news
Madison has an amazing ecosystem of biking. Madison Bikes is part of it, but there are many other people and organizations out there that do really important work. Some of them recently got some media coverage. The Know your Madisonian series has a portrait of Alan Crossley, a “retired wildlife biologist who finds purpose in giving bikes new life.” Alan has long been part of Wheels of Winners, and more recently he joined the board of BikEquity. BikEquity, founded by Francisco Sayu, and Madison Adaptive Cycling, which launched only a few weeks ago, were covered in a segment by NBC15, covering their work to make cycling more inclusive in Madison.
Gorham Street, now with bike lane
Until very recently, Gorham Street, one of the few corridors through the isthmus, was a busy, bumpy street, with a narrow combined parking/bike lane on some part and no bike infrastructure at all farther east. Repaving the street was just completed, and now there are bike lanes all the way from Baldwin (where the Tenney Park multi-use path ends) to Butler! The bike lanes required the removal of some on-street parking spots — something that we need to be willing to do in more places to make space for safe bike infrastructure. Well done.
Wednesday’s Transportation Commission meeting has an update from bike share system Madison Bcycle on the agenda. The slides are already available, and it looks like we’ll be getting some new stations!
Another item on the agenda is a discussion about how racial equity and social justice can be incorporated in the Commission’s work.
New bike trail in Cambridge
Cambridge is close to the Glacial Drumlin Trail, but getting from the trail into town currently requires riding on a state highway. That is going to change: A new multi-use trail will soon connect Cambridge to State Farm Rd, bypassing the highway. The trail will be named after long-time bike advocate and adventurer Phil Van Valkenberg. A trail dedication ceremony will take place at Cambridge Winery on Sunday, starting at 2:30 pm.
Cannonball and Military Ridge reopening in October
We just received word that the Cannonball and Military Ridge Trails near the “Velo Underround” bike roundabout are scheduled to reopen October 1. This is well ahead of schedule: Construction was originally slated to continue until December. Until the trail reopens, please use the detours.
The Nine Springs Valley Interceptor Improvements – McKee Road to Dunn’s Marsh project anticipates reopening the Military Ridge and Cannonball trails by October 1, 2021. Remaining work left includes manhole lining, testing, fine grading, and various restoration work (signage, plantings, paving etc). This date is subject to change depending on progress and weather.
I planned to go bike camping this past Friday. Between the rain this summer and a big move to a new neighborhood, I haven’t had the chance to load the bike with gear. My plans were delayed again, this time by a semi-impromptu meeting with a mix of folks discussing how we can respond to the unacceptable deaths on our streets. These deaths aren’t inevitable tragedies, and the City’s commitment to Vision Zero – no deaths or serious injuries on our streets by 2030 – cannot just be a heartwarming resolution. It is unacceptable to approach Vision Zero and safe streets with an unstated asterisk: Vision Zero, unless we need a high vehicle throughput; Vision Zero, unless we know this neighborhood won’t put up a fight at Council and committee meetings; Vision Zero, unless, unless, unless. Our lives, and the lives of those wonderful people who make up our city, are more important than street parking or a few seconds shaved off of commutes. We need real Vision Zero, we need it now, and we cannot tolerate anything less.
If you find yourself frustrated, sad, angry, and bitter at a city that likes to wield its “Platinum Biking Community” designation like a shield, I can offer two balms. Most important is coming together with other people, outside of social media. There is no greater relief to frustration than organizing with others and resolving to wield whatever collective power you have to make our streets safer. See my note about Tuesday below, and let us know what organizing and advocacy work you’re already doing.
The second balm? Throwing your tent on your bike and pitching it near or far. Hopefully we’ll run into each other on the trail soon.
At 5 pm, there will be a joint meeting of the Transportation Policy and Planning Board and the Transportation Commission. This is a pretty packed agenda, with a number of items that impact our transportation system. First is a preview of the Metro Transit Redesign. For those who haven’t been following The Discourse, the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit has led to some continuing discussions about the best possible route for the new system, with current focus on the downtown. Due to downtown’s geometry, there are some tradeoffs for locating BRT stops on or off State Street. Receiving less attention is the city’s redesign of the entire bus network. The network is outdated for a number of reasons including limited storage in the bus barn and a transfer point system that leads to enormously inequitable commute times for people of color and lower-income residents. I recommend reading through the presentation here. Your voice does matter!
The agenda also includes a substantial report from the Traffic Calming Subcommittee. Additionally, Madison’s larger project of reshaping the size and substance of its many city committees is coming into play with our very own TPPB and TC, which are proposed to combine into a single body, called the Transportation Commission. Finally, there will be a discussion on the budget. If you want to watch the meeting while you cook dinner, the link is here. Sounds like a good one if you’re interested in buses and how decisions around transportation are made in our fair city.
Several of us from different organizations met on Friday to discuss our response to the deaths on East Washington Avenue and the need for safe streets in our city. If you want to be involved in planning a response, we will meet Tuesday at 5. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Zoom link. If you want to participate, keep watching this newsletter and our Facebook – we will have more information once we have the details hammered out.
Also related to buses: on Wednesday, Metro staff will have a virtual public meeting to introduce and discuss how to collect fares on buses.
Where are our Slow Streets?
The City decided to implement several of the same Slow Streets as last summer. We’re hearing reports that almost none of them have been implemented other than Atwood, despite plans for barriers to be up for Mifflin, West Shore/South Shore, and Sherman by the end of June. Report back to the Madison Bikes Facebook page if you see barriers implemented, and contact your alder about this.
If you haven’t yet, take the City of Madison’s Lets Talk Streets Community Survey. This survey seeks to gather your community values and concerns about streets in Madison. The goal is to help the City of Madison create a process to design and construct streets based on equity and shared community values. This is your opportunity to provide direct feedback to the city about your experiences with Madison streets.
Last week the Capital City State Trail reopened along Fish Hatchery Rd between Glacier Valley Rd to the Fish Hatchery Rd overpass. This represents an important milestone in the Fish Hatchery Rd project as this section had been closed since spring to accommodate the major construction project.
Governor Tony Evers on Thursday signed Wisconsin’s 2022-2023 biennial state budget into law. While the state budget covers many items, the Wisconsin Bike Fed posted a summary of the budget items likely to impact bicycling in Wisconsin. In short, the budget maintains funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship and the Transportation Alternatives Funding Programs. While the Governor’s proposed increases in funding for these programs were shut down by the state’s Republican legislature, funding levels were maintained.
Construction on the West Washington Ave project begins Monday. The primary goal of this project is to rehabilitate deteriorating pavement conditions. However, there are several improvements along this stretch that will benefit biking. The most impactful improvement for biking is what will change on Bassett St. I’ll try to cover the major changes from the perspective of a person on a bike traveling south on Bassett.
The first change you’ll notice once this project is complete is the elimination of the exclusive right turn lane from Bassett. In its place will be a concrete median and staging area for bicyclists waiting to cross West Washington. This configuration will stage bicyclists well in front of right turning drivers in a newly shared straight-right lane. This should eliminate the stressful crossing of through riding bicyclists with right turning drivers that exists presently.
The next change you’ll notice is the presence of green crossing paint. This paint is intended to highlight to drivers where a person on a bike is likely to be in the event someone is about to cross the intersection. It does not provide physical protection, but it does create a visual cue for drivers to expect people on bikes to be using that space.
Finally, you’ll notice the parking protected bike lane continuing to Main St. This is the result of the overwhelming success and positive reception of the pilot parking protected bike lane on Bassett from Dayton to West Wash.
Another week, another death on East Washington Ave, one of the busiest roads in Madison. This time, a driver struck and killed a 57-year old cyclist who was crossing in a crosswalk at Pawling St. Needless to say, there’s a lot of sadness, frustration, and anger at the escalating situation on E. Washington Ave.
In fact, while recently it’s been in the spotlight, E. Washington Ave has been a problem for decades. For example, two of Madison’s four high schools are next to major arteries (E. Washington Ave and Mineral Point Rd) and both schools have lost students to these roads and drivers over the past thirty years. The city’s Vision Zero initiative is intended to reduce these sorts of deaths, but exactly how effective it will be or whether recent changes (such as reduced speed limits) will make any meaningful difference remains to be seen. Both of these roads are also part of the proposed BRT route, so there is at least some medium-term chance of changes to traffic patterns along these corridors driven by that project. Expect to see more coverage of this issue from us as we process these tragedies and try to figure out what we do next.
In brighter news, Odana Rd between Whitney Way and Gammon Rd has been restriped to add a mix of buffered and unbuffered bike lanes, a single travel lane each direction for cars and a center left turn lane.
This change has been long-rumored and is certainly long-overdue, as it reverses an infamous 1980’s era “midnight restripe” where bike lanes were quietly removed overnight (and apparently in direct opposition to the intention of the City Council!), in favor of two travel lanes in each direction. We were first tipped off to the imminent change by Jerry Schippa, who might just have an inside track on these things; he’s a Traffic Engineer for the City of Madison. In addition, these changes are paired with brand new smooooooth pavement extending from Research Park Blvd to Whitney Way.
More good news, albeit temporary: the Atwood protected bike lane in front of Olbrich Park is back for the season. Get your (clockwise) Lake Loop on and maybe stop off and enjoy the biergarten.
Not much in the way of calendar updates this week, which is sort of expected as it’s a short holiday week for some.