As the days grow longer in the new year, it’s time for Madison Bikes to look back on everything that happened in 2022. In 2021, we were responding to traffic violence, strategic planning, and adapting to the challenges Covid continued to present for getting together. This year saw similar challenges, and lots of encouraging signs for the future.
Bike Events and News
Madison Bikes hosted and participated in a number of events in 2022. In February, we were out on the Capital City Trail with a coffee and pastry station for International Winter Bike to Work Day. Thanks again to our generous local partners for providing coffee, treats, and discounts to keep commuters warm.
Ride the Drive was canceled for only the second time since 2009 (2020 being the first). Madison Parks hosts this event and chose to prioritize other programming this year, citing challenging staffing shortages that had contributed to an understaffed and poorly executed event in 2021.
In July, we were excited to check in with Dr. Dirk von Schneidemesser at the Memorial Union Terrace for our first in-person social since 2020. Dirk visited us in 2019 to talk about his key organizing work that helped pass the first bike law in Germany, and shared some good tips for keeping a community focused on bike safety, including ensuring language used when covering crashes does not blame victims or use euphemisms like “accident” that can make traffic deaths feel mundane and unpreventable
We worked with the WI Bike Fed for their Healthy Communities Summit event in September and had fun leading summit attendees on an afternoon tour of local bike infrastructure. On Halloween, Madison Bikes board members Harald Kliems, Robbie Webber, and Caitlin Hussey joined city Pedestrian and Bicycle Outreach Coordinator Colleen Hayes on the WORT Access Hour to talk about biking and walking in the winter. We talked about how to get started if cold-weather biking is new to you. If you’d like to listen to the program, you can find it in the WORT archives (Monday, Oct 31 at 7:00 pm.).
Healthy Communities Summit. Photo: Madison Bikes
We organized a packed Madison Bike Week from June 5-11 with dozens of local organizations hosting events throughout the week, along with a ridealong with the mayor and a Madison Bikes party outside to cap things off. We also gave out $1500 to local organizations hosting bike week events for the first time in our first series of small grants. Sadly, we cannot mention 2022’s bike week without remembering Taylor Dunn’s death. On June 7th he was riding his bicycle to work around 4am when he was struck and killed by an intoxicated motorist at the intersection of Mineral Point Road and High Point Road. A vigil was held, and a ghost bike was placed to create a memorial for Taylor.
While data show overall reductions in crashes causing serious injury as Vision Zero projects are implemented, the number of driver vs bicyclist crashes causing serious injury has not significantly changed. TOPS data show 2022 was the deadliest year for Madison bicyclists on record (going back to 2001), with 3 riders killed by drivers. Predictably, all crashes involved roads and intersections designed for high vehicle speed with minimal separation of drivers and bicyclists. Will Cummings was killed in August while riding his bike on Pflaum Rd. A ghost bike placement and dedication was held on August 17th with Will’s family and friends. MPD blamed Will’s death on a poorly designed bike lane. In October, a man was killed after being struck by a driver while crossing John Nolen Dr. at the N. Shore Drive crossing of the Capital City Trail. An investigation into this crash is ongoing.
Madison Bikes Participated in the city’s World Day of Remembrance talk on November 15th, where Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway gave a moving speech in remembrance of her grandfather and brother, who were killed in a car crash, and reaffirmed her commitment to fulfilling the city’s Vision Zero goals.
Later in November, Madison Bikes board member Aaron Levine gave a presentation to the Lake Monona Waterfront Ad Hoc Committee to convey the huge opportunity for bike safety and capital accessibility presented as the John Nolen and Lake Monona Waterfront are slated for a massive design and rebuild project that intends to transform the parkway in the coming years.
The Monday after the new year, we hosted Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park without cars! The Sheraton graciously hosted a pre-party from 4pm-5pm with hot chocolate, snacks, and swag. A very large turnout, and relatively mild weather made for a great event.
Big Safety & Efficiency Plans
A number of consequential city plans and programs relevant to our mission were funded/approved this year. The city’s Vision Zero Action Plan was approved. This lengthy document outlines where crashes causing severe injury and death are occurring, who is affected by them, steps the city will take to eliminate these crashes completely by 2035, and how progress will be measured. Madison Bikes has been a stakeholder in the engagement group providing input on this plan. Unfortunately the city did not get a multi-million dollar federal Safe Streets For All grant it applied for to help jumpstart this program, but can reapply again for FY23. This program gives out $1 billion per year of grants over 5 years to local governments for safe streets projects as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Complete Green Streets guide was finalized in late 2022 and complements the Vision Zero Action plan in reframing the goals of street design to be focused first on safety and accessibility for users of all modes of transportation, rather than moving traffic first and squeezing any other priorities afterwards.
The Safe Streets Madison program approved its first two batches of smaller-scale projects designed to increase traffic safety, and improve bikeability and walkability. These projects range in estimated cost from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, with total approval of about $1,000,000 in projects. The High Injury Network created as part of the Vision Zero process guides project selection, with most projects focusing on intersection modifications and vehicle speed reduction strategies.
An updated Transportation Demand Management program will help ensure large residential or commercial developments, employers, and institutions are incentivized to accommodate modes of transportation other than driving alone when applying for new building or parking permits. This effort works in tandem with the new Transit-Oriented Development Overlay Zoning District encouraging higher-density development within ¼ mile of high-frequency transit and BRT. A big Transit Network Redesign centered around BRT was approved in June, and the project broke ground in December.
While these ambitious new programs align with our mission in a number of ways, there will inevitably be many bumps in the road as individual projects are designed and implemented. We look forward to many new opportunities to advocate alongside all of you in the coming years.
New Infrastructure, Planned and Built
Overall, it was a slow year for new bike infrastructure with projects postponed due to staffing shortages, contractor availability, and design conflicts. A handful of exciting projects were approved in 2022 to be constructed in 2023. Highlights include a number of significant bike/ped safety and usability improvements slated for the Atwood Ave. rebuild from Fair Oaks to Cottage Grove Rd. A compromise plan endorsed by Madison Bikes was approved for this project after extensive advocacy efforts and strong alder support. A plan for the Hammersley Road project from the Southwest Path to just west of Whitney Way will create a new multi-use path and eliminate turn lanes to make crossing Whitney Way safer. Community and alder support for on-street parking removal were key to making this project happen. Remember to talk to and thank your alders!
A handful of projects were completed this year. A stretch of Tokay Boulevard was upgraded from unbuffered to buffered bike lanes. Buffered bike lanes were also installed on Old Middleton Road from Eau Claire to Capitol Ave. Previously, there was an unbuffered bike lane between N. Eau Claire Ave. and Old Sauk Road, and no bike infrastructure further West. Getting buffered bike lanes required removal of on-street parking from almost 2.8 miles of road!
Resurfacing of the notorious “hairball” intersection (John Nolen Dr., Williamson St., S Blair St., and E. Wilson St.) was also completed. Making this intersection safe for all ages and abilities would require accepting a reduction in motor vehicle throughput. While Madison residents are generally willing to make this tradeoff, the Wisconsin DOT often is not. That said, we did win some safety improvements. Crossings of John Nolen/Blair from the North and South are better separated from traffic, and the slip lane onto Willy St. is narrowed. A vehicle lane on E. Wilson up to S. Franklin St. was replaced with a buffered bike lane and significantly more pedestrian space.
The Cap City Path intersections at Ohio Ave., Jackson St., and Russell St. were all upgraded to at-grade crossings when surrounding streets were resurfaced, while Ohio Ave. and Jackson St. were both narrowed to one lane. We are excited to see more of these raised intersection crossings and intersection narrowing planned for a few 2023 bike projects!
The Aldo Leopold Pump Track project that began in 2021 completed an awesome Skills Loop in 2022, and plans to add a “shred to school” trail in the future to allow kids to easily ride between Leopold Elementary and all of the fun at the park. The collaborative work between the city’s MadBAT program and local residents, businesses, and nonprofits that allowed this project to happen is truly inspiring. After much debate, the western end of Vilas Park from Edgewood Avenue to the shelter was finally closed to motor vehicle traffic in June, with plans for more bike/ped improvements to come.
2023: Good Things to Come
Persistence from elected officials, nonprofits, and our large community of advocates is essential to ensuring the many ambitious plans enacted this year can eventually create a city any person of any age or ability can comfortably navigate without a car. We are grateful for the many individuals and organizations that have taken time to join us this last year in organizing for bike events and projects, reaching out to elected officials, and partaking in so many other impactful actions. Happy New Year.