Bike News Newsletter Weekly Update

Volunteer Op; Group Rides; Best in the State

Welcome to this week’s newsletter! Summer is in full swing and it’s a great time to ride your bike to get where you need to go, or just ride for fun.

It’s a light week in terms of biking advocacy. Here’s what you should know.

Volunteer Opportunity: Ride the Drive

As we mentioned last week, Parks is looking for volunteers to help with Ride the Drive on August 11th. They need help with things from setup to photography to intersection guides and more. If you aren’t familiar, Ride the Drive is a form of Open Streets celebration where select major streets around town are closed to cars and open to walking or rolling. Vendors will be set up along the route for food and drinks and other exciting things. Volunteers will also get a free Ride the Drive T-shirt. You can read more about the various roles and sign up to help here.

The map of streets and hub locations for Ride the Drive

Machinery Row Rides

Are you interested in riding 100 miles? It sounds like a huge amount, but you may be capable of more than you think! Machinery Row is hosting a series of Century Training Club rides designed to help you train for a century ride by the end of the Summer. It’s not too late to join and get in some longer rides and make some cool new friends! They meet at Machinery Row every Sunday at 8 AM through September 1st. Join soon, since the longer you wait the longer the rides will be!

Riders line up to begin a Century Training Club ride

Are you an e-biker and want to meet other fellow electric bike enjoyers? Consider joining Machinery Row’s other option: Lunch Bunch E-Bike Rides, which go down every Friday from 12-2 PM. The rides are a casual pace and include a lunch stop! Rental options are available though the store or through Madison BCycle.

Best WI City for Biking?

If you didn’t catch PeopleForBike’s city ratings yet, here’s what they found. According to their latest rankings for 2024, the best city for biking in Wisconsin is Washburn, located in Chequamegon Bay, about 50 miles East of Duluth, MN. Washburn also ranked 5th out of the 2579 cities evaluated across the country. Madison is rated 13th in Wisconsin and 86th in the country.

Why is a town of 2,025 people a better place to bike than Madison with all of our paths and great bike infrastructure? Well, to understand that, we have to understand how it’s scored. The score is a “Bicycle Network Analysis” and it is intended to measure how well the bike network gets people to where they need to go. In further detail:

A low score (0-20) indicates a weak bike network, meaning the city lacks safe bikeways or there are gaps in the network. A high score (80-100) indicates that most common destinations are accessible by safe, comfortable bike routes that serve people of all ages and abilities.

So my interpretation is Washburn is highly rated because it’s easier to get all your basic needs by bicycle for most of the people living there. The town is about two miles end-to-end and almost all residents live in safe biking distance from school, groceries, the doctor, or any of their other basic needs. Most importantly, the safe, bikeable areas are well connected so more people feel comfortable getting to their destination by bike.

Washburn, WI’s Bicycle Network Analysis score map.

Compared to Madison, Washburn is much more connected. Madison, especially farther on the outskirts (like West/South of the Beltline or East of Stoughton Rd.) would be really tough places to live without a car. While we have some great trails for commuting and recreational riding, there are still lots of areas where it’s very uncomfortable to ride due to high traffic speeds. Furthermore, due to the design of some suburban neighborhoods, traveling only by residential or slow traffic streets is mostly impossible. Washburn, on the other hand, while admittedly much smaller, is a grid of mostly low speed streets.

The grid system also makes a city more walkable. No winding, sprawling suburban streets that take you nowhere (except around the block). Yes, I realize there are some large lakes in Madison that prevent it from being a perfect grid. No, a grid is not impossible in Madison and more grid-based design would make the city better for biking, assuming it were combined with some hefty rezoning, but that’s another story.

Madison’s Bicycle Network Analysis score map.

It’s not all bad for Madison, though. PeopleForBikes recognized it as a “2024 City on the Rise” due to the city staff’s recognition and participation in bicycling and bike-related projects. The total score rose from a 50 in 2020 to a 60 in 2024, which is a really great improvement considering the average score across all US cities measured is only 28.

What are your thoughts on the PeopleForBikes city ratings? Are there any areas of Madison you bike in that you wish were better connected?

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at 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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