Weekly Update: New Facebook groups; Urban Design Commission; Bookclub

Car-free Arboretum Drive - a safe place for kids to bike

This Week

No surprise - the week of Memorial Day is light in biking content, especially in the time of COVID. Get out on the trails, give distance, and enjoy the weather. If you've been able to enjoy one of the car-free streets like Arboretum Drive, send us a pic to share on our social media. (And don't forget to tell your alder that you love that the city has opened streets to people!)

We're sad to learn that DreamBikes West is closing. DreamBikes provides opportunities for teens to learn professional and bike skills, and its loss will be felt in that area. 

We have two new Facebook groups for you to join: Haul it by Bike and Car-Free Madison. Join if you're car-free-curious - as someone who sold my car a bit over a year ago, I can only recommend it. 

The Urban Design Commission meets Wednesday, May 27 at 4:30 pm. The agenda, at first glance, is not bike-heavy; however, a number of the proposals on this list include massive increases in parking structures in downtown attached to offices, retail, and more. Consider speaking in favor of a more balanced approach to the transportation needs of who will use these future buildings, such as bike parking, bike lanes, safe crossings at intersections for cyclists and pedestrians, buses, and more. 

Learn to Ride webinar, el 28 de mayo: Este seminario web está destinado a padres, madres, tutores, maestros u otros cuidadores que apoyan a los niños que aprenden a andar en bicicleta. También para adultos que deseen aprender a andar en bicicleta. 

Coming up: Virtual Book Club: Join Us June 12 at 7 pm!

We moved the date of our virtual bookclub back a few weeks so more of you could join us. We are reading How Cycling Can Save the World by Peter Walker and will meet (virtually) on June 12, 7pm. Reach out to marybeth@madisonbikes.org for more info, or RSVP to the Facebook event.

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.


Monday Update: Virtual Bike Month continues

Atwood Ave. with a lane closed for people on bikes

A few virtual events happening this week, but there are some ongoing items we’d like to mention.

We already mentioned it last week: The City of Madison Parks Division has entered Phase II in the plan to make some major improvements to Vilas Park, several of which directly impact cycling through and around the park. There are three separate proposals detailed, but a well-designed survey does a great job of helping you identify which elements from each of the proposals you liked and disliked, so we can presume that the resulting plan may incorporate elements from each of them. In addition to important cycling changes, you can also comment on ice skating, parking, shelter placement and wetland planning. Something for everyone!

As part of Virtual Bike Month, Madison Bikes has a Love to Ride Group where people can log their miles and help Madison Bikes reach a goal of burning 1000 tacos by the end of the month.  

Madison Bikes has also started a Virtual Bookclub where we’re reading bike-themed books to get through social distancing. The first book: How Cycling Can Change the World by Peter Walker. The book can be found online including in e-reader format. We recommend purchasing ASAP as some delivery times are impacted. Consider purchasing from a local bookstore. Additionally, the library does have some copies and is now doing pick ups. The book club will meet virtually on Friday, June 12. If you're not on Facebook and would like to participate, send an email to marybeth@madisonbikes.org.

Starting Monday, the UW will be closing down sections of Arboretum Drive to car traffic to enable social distancing among walkers and cyclists. This follows Madison restricting car traffic several streets or lanes to enable better social distancing on popular bike routes. Most recently Madison has shut down Sherman Ave. near Tenney Park.

Arboretum Drive

Monday, May 18 is the monthly meeting of the Madison Bikes Board. The meeting will be held virtually at 6 PM. We're currently working on identifying and prioritizing gaps in Madison's low-stress bike network.

On Thursday, May 21 at 12 PM there is a free Learn to Ride Webinar in English and Spanis. This webinar is intended for parents, guardians, teachers or other caregivers that are there supporting children learning how to ride a bicycle. Also for adults that would like to learn how to ride a bicycle. Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/learn-to-ride-online-aprende-a-montar-la-bici-en-linea-tickets-104150342478

BCycle is continuing it’s Virtual Bike Week celebration this week with a Lake Loop Challenge. Take a picture on your ride around the lake (Monona or Mendota) and submit it to BCycle’s social media for a chance to win prizes!

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.


Monday Update: Vilas Park Plan, Farmer's Markets and Virtual Everything Else

We’re a third of the way through May already and let’s hope that we’re done with the snow until November. Go ahead and take those studded tires off -- you heard it here firstlast! There's a lot going on this week so we'll dive right in.

The City of Madison Parks Division has entered Phase II in the plan to make some major improvements to Vilas Park, several of which directly impact cycling through and around the park. There are three separate proposals detailed, but a well-designed survey does a great job of helping you identify which elements from each of the proposals you liked and disliked, so we can presume that the resulting plan may incorporate elements from each of them. In addition to important cycling changes, you can also comment on ice skating, parking, shelter placement and wetland planning. Something for everyone!

Vilas Park Master Plan Concept B Drawing

Vilas Park Master Plan Concept B Drawing. Source: VPMP

Just gotta’ give another shout-out to the Bike Madison team who are delivering comprehensive email updates on cycling in Madison every Friday. With construction season in full-swing, this is an important way to stay on top of things and plan your safe routes. A few highlights from last week’s blast:

  • It’s chip sealing and crack sealing season again and it will affect roads all over the city throughout the summer.
  • Trying to reduce the load on the heavily-used SW Commuter Path? Don’t plan to use Gregory St. as your alternate route because it’s under construction until October. 

The Dane County Farmer’s Market is pickup-only for now at an alternative site near the Colosseum (aka The Alliant Energy Center). On both Wednesdays and Saturdays there are dedicated windows for bicycle and pedestrians. Many of the smaller farmer’s markets in town are taking similar precautions, so do your research before you head out to pick up your chard.

This Week

On Monday at 4pm there is a free Health-Oriented Transportation (HOT) webinar titled Reducing Car Use: Project by Project. You can RSVP here.

On Wednesday at 5pm there is a virtual Transportation Commission meeting and you can read the full agenda here. You might take the opportunity to hit the subscribe button on the City of Madison Youtube Channel if that's your thing, or there are several other ways to participate.

On Thursday at 12pm there is a free Spanish-language Learn to Ride Webinar with Q&A that is “intended for parents, guardians, teachers or other caregivers that are there supporting children learning how to ride a bicycle. Also for adults that would like to learn how to ride a bicycle.” This is happening every Thursday in May, alternating between Spanish and English.

B-Cycle bikes are out and about and maybe you’ve seen an uptick in riding this month due to their Virtual Bike Month Challenges? This week’s prizes will be given for longest individual trip and most total miles for the week. Click through the link to read more about how to use B-Cycles safely today and for the the month-long challenges.

a cyclist on a b-cycle

Contented B-Cyclist Last Weekend. Source: Harald Kliems @ Cyclists of Madison.

Last Week

The Isthmus posted an in-depth article about how our local bike shops are adjusting to our new ways of life.

There was a lively discussion on the Madison Bikes Facebook community about plans to accelerate existing plans to reallocate space on the roadways due to decreased automobile traffic. This will be on the June Transportation Commission agenda, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted an article about how Milwaukee is testing out the Saris Wave dividers with some of their bike lanes. You might have seen these in use at various events around Madison, including last year's Bratcakes on the Bike Path as part of Bike Week.

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.

 


Weekly Update: Bike Month 2020

Like many others my daily routine has changed in the last month and I spend a lot more time at home. My switch to telecommuting has disrupted my daily bike commute routine, so I need to plan extra activities on the weekend to stay healthy and make up for my weekday largess. Thus I was very happy to learn Governor Evers reopened many state parks starting this last weekend including all of the state rail trails. I took advantage of the excellent weather this weekend and went for a ride with my family. The warm temperatures and limited car traffic just beg us to go out and explore the world. Of course, please remember to follow social distancing requirements and minimize contact with others in public places.

Young kids on bikes in the streets

Bike Month!

May is National Bike Month and Madison Bikes usually has major events planned to celebrate biking welcome in the summer, however this year Madison Bike Week is delayed until September due to COVID-19 and the Ride-the-Drive is cancelled. However, with the wonderful weather and reduced car traffic there has never been a better time to encourage others to try and realize the benefits of biking. Here are a few Bike Week activities you can do this week:

Bike to School Anywhere Week 2020 – The annual bike to school week put on by the City of Madison, Healthy Kids Collaborative had to be modified this year because kids are attending school virtually. Bike Anywhere Week: From a Distance has a family bike activity or two planned every day this week.

Love to Ride – you can sign up for this challenge if you’re looking for encouragement to bike more!

Learn to Ride webinar for parents – Thursday 5/7 @12pm. This online event put on by the City of Madison is a great first step to teaching your kids to bike safely.

County Highway AB and US Highway 12/18 Interchange

A $37 million project to reconstruct the County Highway AB and US Highway 12/18 interchange east of the Interstate 90/94 will be presented for approval at the Transportation and Planning Board on Monday and the Common Council on Tuesday. This expensive project is proposed to improve one of the most dangerous intersections in the state but doesn’t include low stress bike and pedestrian accommodations. Please read the excellent action alert written by Robbie Webber to learn more.

Greater East Towne and Odana Area Plans

The City of Madison is gathering input to determine the future of the East Towne and Westgate/Odana area malls. The results of the first public input survey branded “Mall Madness” are available. “Comfortable and safe bike routes” and “walkable and pleasant streets” ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in the final round. This is an excellent opportunity to encourage new equitable and bikeable/walkable developments in Madison.

  • Week 1:  Issues facing malls and potential impacts from Covid19
    Monday May 4th 12:15-1 pm, and Thursday May 7th 5:15-6 pm
  • Week 2:  Case Studies - Mall & Office Redevelopment Examples
    Monday May 11th 12:15-1 pm, and Thursday May 14, 5:15- 6 pm
  • Week 3:  Odana Area Plan Focused Discussion
    Monday May 18th 12:15-1 pm, and Thursday May 21th 5:15-6 pm
  • Week 4:  Greater East Towne Area Plan Focused Discussion
    Monday June 1st 12:15-1 pm, and Thursday June 4th 5:15-6 pm

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.


Action alert: Interchange planned for SE side will create bike-ped barrier

 

A big, very expensive ($35 million) interchange is planned for the intersection of Hwy 12/18 and County Hwy AB, and it has the potential to create yet another barrier to walking and biking in an area already nearly impossible to reach without a car. It is up for approval on Tuesday at the Council, and a few well-placed letters to alders and our transportation officials might avert this horrible project, or at least delay it long enough to make it more multimodal.

The project will be at the Transportation Planning and Policy Board on Monday evening and the Common Council for final approval on Tuesday evening. Links will access documents, register to speak, submit comments, and/or watch the meetings.

Where is this intersection? Unless you frequent the Ho-Chunk Casino or regularly drive to Cambridge, it’s easy to overlook this corner of the city. A map below shows you where in the city the project is located: ESE of the intersection of Interstates 90/39 and Hwy 12/18 (aka the Beltine.) To the south of Hwy 12/18 is the Ho-Chunk Casino and the Yahara Hills golf course, and to the north is a lightly-developed area that will likely be filling in as the city expands.

The current surface crossings of Hwy 12/18 at Millpond Rd and Cty AB have been the site of several very bad crashes, including a pedestrian killed last fall. But a better solution might be to make Hwy 12/18 a better surface road instead of making it an extension of the Beltline.

Wisconsin DOT has stated that, "there would be [bicycle and pedestrian] accommodations through the interchange, potentially along CTH AB, and along the frontage road. There would be side paths through the roundabouts." In the future there is the possibility of a dedicated grade-separated bike/pedestrian crossing, and Meier Rd--west of Cty AB--will eventually also be an available crossing, but neither of those projects are part of this construction. It is unclear how low-stress the planned facilities will be on AB or through the interchange, and we know that “planned” projects often take years, or even decades to come to fruition. 

The Yahara Hills golf course sits just west of the proposed new interchange. It will likely be developed soon into residential or mixed-use development. The Ho-Chunk nation wants to expand their facilities and is contributing some funding for the interchange project. Both of these impending developments are just more reason to assure that there are appropriate active transportation facilities and access now rather than at some uncertain future date. Not to mention, crossing at Cty AB is quite a detour if one is trying to reach the current land uses that are closer to the interstate.

Although Wisconsin no longer has a Complete Streets law, the city of Madison does, as does the Madison Area MPO. We must make sure that we uphold those policies, even when the project is difficult. The entire project is anticipated to cost $37 million. Why are we willing to spend that sort of money to facilitate faster motor vehicle access, but not the minimum facilities for those on foot and bike?

If you want more detailed information, here is a link to the presentation included as part of the city documents, including more detailed maps. And the text in this document—also part of the packet for the two city meetings—has justifications (if you can call them that) for both building the interchange and why better connections for active transportation are not part of the current project.

As always, you can find your alder and contact information on the Council website.


Weekly update: Lots of people biking, but not many city meetings

 

If anyone was out this weekend—by any mode—you probably saw a whole lot of people out biking. It is such a joy to see families and slow bicyclists on the streets, trails, and even the sidewalks. When a city has people of all ages and abilities using the public spaces, then it is a good clue that the city is bike friendly.

But how to accommodate all those people when we are supposed to be keeping farther apart? City staff have taken steps to give us more space, and some of the authorized temporary biking and walking spaces have been put in place. The new lane on Atwood near Olbrich Park, barricades to prevent all-but-local vehicular traffic on the Mifflin bike boulevard, and wider shoulders for runners or passing on the Lake Monona Path through Law Park are going to be a big relief to folks. But there are still so many pinch points where runners, strollers, dog walkers, and fast and slow bicyclists are forced into proximity.

The city is asking for your opinion about additional areas that need more space. Where are you seeing problems on your regular rides or in your neighborhood?

If you can—if you are a confident bicyclist—consider taking a different route via local streets rather than the paths as the weather warms and more people haul their bikes out of storage. The families and less-experienced bicyclists, as well as those on foot, will appreciate the consideration and additional space. 

Want to know when the paths are less crowded? Here's some data from the counters and the SW Path at Monroe and Regent and the Lake Monona Path at North Shore:


Is it possible some of these changes will stay after people go back to work, stores open up, and there is more car traffic on the roads? Hard to say. But there is already a plan--passed before the current situation--to improve the stretch of Atwood next to Olbrich Park. You can see the plans below, or take a look at all the city documents online.

 

 

The week ahead

In case you missed the memo, all city meetings are happening online, but you can still register to speak, listen in, and see all the documents. There aren’t any transportation-related meetings this week, as the Transportation Commission meeting has been cancelled. Just in case you want to watch a city meeting, you can find the schedule, agendas, and links on the city's website.

Our monthly Madison Bikes Community Meeting—which would normally happen on Monday, April 27—is being postponed two weeks. We will be rolling out more advocacy efforts, and we want you to participate. After all, it’s our members, followers, and volunteers that make us strong, and we can’t do it without you. So mark your calendar for Monday, May 11 for the advocacy-oriented Community Meeting. We’ll give you all the details about how to participate.

Now that construction season is upon us, we will have to contend with some detours. With construction on McKee Rd (Cty Hwy PD)--including a new bridge for the trail over the road--there will be a detour for the Badger Trail starting Monday from the Bicycle Underound (junction of Cap City, SW, Cannonball, and Badger Trails) to Subzero Parkway. The detour will utilize the Cannonball/Military Ridge Trail and local streets and will be signed. PDFs of the detour are available on our Facebook Community Group. Because the intersection of Seminole Hwy and McKee is also part of the project, Seminole might not be a great option in that area either. 

Also Monday, if you want to hear what cities around the country are doing to give people more space during the pandemic, the National Complete Streets Coalition will be holding a webinar at 12:30 pm CT.

For the future - virtual biking-themed bookclub!

Thank you to everyone who showed interest in our virtual bookclub! We will kick off the bookclub by reading How Cycling Can Change the World by Peter Walker. If you are interested in participating, contact Marybeth McGinnis (marybeth@madisonbikes.org). We will meet on Thursday, May 21 at 7pm. More info to come - please join us!

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.


Weekly Update: The streets are open; Garver Path

Happy Earth Day! This year marks the 50th anniversary of the worldwide day to celebrate environmental protection. The Nelson Institute at the UW (named after Gaylord Nelson, the Wisconsin Senator who created Earth Day) is hosting a virtual conference to mark the occasion today: https://earthday.nelson.wisc.edu/

Another thing to celebrate: As of last Friday, the City has started opening up some of our city streets to people walking, rolling, and biking! By restricting motor vehicle traffic to only local traffic, people now have the space they need to maintain physical distancing. More projects, including Atwood Ave, are in the pipeline already, and the City is asking for suggestions which streets would make good additional candidates. Send your suggestions by email! Another improvement in this area is the creation of new gravel shoulders on the Cap City Trail in Law Park. Work on these is starting today (April 20) and will last about three days. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this happen! If you live outside the City of Madison and would like to convince your local officials to do something similar, consider signing the Bike Fed's statewide petition.

And if you're a healthcare worker, you can get a free Madison BCycle membership. With reduced Metro Service, the BCycle system is an even more important part of our transportation system, and the stations are regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Interested in reading books about biking and talking about them? Madison Bikes is hosting a virtual book club! Sign up here by April 27 and vote for which book you'd like to read. Candidates are:

Common Council Meeting

All transportation-relevant city committee meetings have been cancelled this week with the exception of the Common Council meeting on Tuesday. There are three transportation topics on the agenda: The Council will vote on the final design for the Garver Path. This new path will connect the Cap City Trail near Olbrich Gardens with Milwaukee Street -- and at some point in the future maybe with a new trail to Sun Prairie. Path construction will probably take place next year.

Also on the agenda for approval is the University Ave reconstruction between Shorewood Blvd and University Bay Dr. From a bike perspective, there is little to be excited about with the project: By and large the reconstruction won't change the character of the car-centric street: All three travel lanes will remain general travel lanes, with no bike or bus lanes. There are some improvements for people walking, i.e. a new sidewalk on the north side, a slightly widened sidewalk on the south side, and a few small improvements to the crossings. One piece of the project that could be good for people on bikes: A planned overpass of University Bay Drive, connecting the Campus Dr bike path with the Blackhawk Path. This is currently a busy at-grade crossing. Additional turn lanes from University Ave and a parking ramp that the VA Hospital is going to build will make crossing even more difficult. Therefore an overpass is proposed as part of the project (see image below). Because of space constraints (part of the land is owned by the VA), the current design includes sharp turns and a lack of good connections between the path and University Bay Dr. And even the current design isn't guaranteed to be built as part of the current project.

The third transportation item on the agenda is the confirmation of the new Metro Transit General Manager, Justin Stuehrenberg. Stuehrenberg was heavily involved in Indianapolis's bus network redesign and creation of their Bus Rapid Transit System. In a profile article, he cites a trip to Germany in 2007 as his inspirational moment: "Seeing cities in rural Germany with much lower density than Indianapolis operating robust transit systems struck a chord for me. I saw young kids able to navigate their cities, older adults not reliant on others, and everyone, regardless of economic status, with the ability to get to work. I knew that I wanted that for Indy."

If you want to provide public comment to the Common Council, register here. Full meeting agenda here.

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.


Weekly update: our letter to the City and of course, more COVID-19

Person riding family cargo bike in front of Wisconsin State Capitol

We might be social distancing, but Jake Foley sent us this photo of his family enjoying an Easter ride downtown.

COVID-19 and social distancing continue. Because I worked at the polls, I'm currently completely quarantined in my apartment. My biking activity is limited to sadly looking at my locked-up bike from my fire escape - but for those of you allowed to leave the house, stay safe out there and read our updates below!

Madison Bikes letter to the City of Madison on creating space for people during COVID-19

Madison Bikes sent a letter to the City of Madison supporting the idea of opening some lanes and roads to pedestrians and bicycles during the pandemic. These proposals are not meant to encourage group rides or group walks. Across the city, there are severely reduced traffic volumes and a need for folks to be able to safely exercise, as well as for essential workers to get to work across the city, especially with restrictions placed on buses. We believe the City should follow in lead of other cities like Oakland in opening roads to people. Consider, for example, that the average sidewalk is less than 6 feet wide; without opening streets to people, it is impossible for folks to walk to work, the grocery store, or walk their dog without passing close to others. 

Transportation Commission

The Transportation Commission will meet virtually at 5 pm on Wednesday. If you have never been to a Transportation Commission meeting (or any other City meetings), this is a great opportunity. Expect to hear updates from the staff about the work that has been done thus far to address COVID-19 impacts. The Commission will also discuss the Garver Path and the proposed University Avenue reconstruction, which includes a multi-use overpass. We've written about this project before.

You can register to speak at this virtual meeting. 

If you enjoy being able to access these meetings from your home, consider letting the City know that you would appreciate this service after the pandemic. Virtual meetings are great for parents, folks who live far from the Capitol (especially those dependent on bikes and buses for transit), people with disabilities, and more. 

Staying safe while riding

More vulnerable riders, such as those with children, may feel more comfortable on the bike paths. If you are a more experienced rider, consider riding on streets when possible, as paths have at times been crowded. If you usually feel intimidated by riding on the road, we recommend giving it a try - lower car traffic means a lower-stress ride! If you're looking for tips and tricks, we recommend joining our Facebook group.

Governor Evers has closed 40 state parks, forests, and recreational areas due to "unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and the need to protect the health and safety of...visitors and staff." Trails and other areas that are maintained by Dane County and the City of Madison remain open, but your help is needed to keep these places available. When you ride or walk in these areas, give people at least 6 feet of space. Only pass when you can pass everyone near you with at least 6 feet of space. Wear a cloth mask, stay home if you or someone in your household feels sick, and remain patient. Remember that many of us are cooped up inside, including those with kids. If you are riding recreationally or for mental health, try to choose times that are less busy.

Need a bike or a tune up? 

As a reminder, bike shops are deemed essential businesses. Before turning to your local shop, refer to our map for more information. We appreciate any updates you may have about the status of bike shops. Please keep staff safe by washing your hands, disinfecting your bike before dropping it off, wearing a cloth mask, and keeping your distance. We encourage you to give your business to these shops.

 

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.


Creating space for people during COVID-19

Walking, rolling, and biking remain important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Madisonians need to have enough space to stay mobile while being able to maintain physical distancing. This has become increasingly difficult. Yesterday, Madison Bikes submitted a letter to the City, requesting the creation of more space for people by re-allocating underused space from cars. Motor vehicle traffic volumes have been way down, and this provides an opportunity to restrict motor vehicle access and open up room for those walking, rolling, and biking. Of course, City resources are strained, and so we also offered our help. We can leverage the power of our community to mobilize volunteers, connect to local businesses who can provide barriers, gather feedback from and get messages out to the community. And we have already heard back that "Mayor Satya has directed staff look into these opportunities and we are working on some potential projects. Some top locations suggested by you coincide with our recommendations as well. We hope to share more information and potentially implement some of these very soon." Read our letter below:

 

 

To: Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
Tom Lynch, Director of Transportation
Yang Tao, City Traffic Engineer

Subject: Creating Space for Rolling, Walking, and Biking During COVID-19


Dear Madam Mayor, dear Tom, dear Yang:
The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges for our city that impact almost every aspect of daily life, including transportation. Governor Evers's Safer at Home orders and current recommendations from our public health authorities allow people to use the many shared use paths in our city while practicing physical distancing. Madison has many people who already commute and travel to essential businesses by bicycle, and reduced Metro service has further increased the number of people who rely on bikes for transportation. The warmer weather has also increased the number of people using these paths and trails for walking and other activities to the point that it is becoming difficult to impossible to use these facilities while maintaining the required physical distance.

We greatly appreciate the measures you have already taken, such as changing signal cycles, deactivating “beg buttons,” and public outreach campaigns to promote safe and healthy behavior. However, there are limits to what those measures can achieve. We encourage the City of Madison to identify select streets and lanes where motor vehicle traffic can be restricted in order to alleviate crowding on sidewalks and multi-use paths.

Madison Bikes, on behalf of our hundreds of members and thousands of people who use bikes for transportation or recreation in our City, request that you take bold steps to address the crowding on our paths and trails. Allowing crowding on our paths and trails is inconsistent with the recommendations of public health professionals, and closing or banning the use of the trails is inconsistent with our community's values toward equity, sustainability, and the health benefits of walking and biking. Fortunately Madison has extensive experience closing streets and car lanes so that bikes and pedestrians can use this public space, from the annual Ride the Drive events to our frequent marathons, triathlons and other public events.

Some areas that we have received specific feedback about and that we think may be good candidates for temporary closures:

  • Cap City Trail from Williamson North Shore (and potentially Olin Park): To separate people on bikes and walking, repurpose a travel lane on John Nolen Drive, similar to what has been done during construction and flooding. Crowding is a huge issue here, it is an important transportation corridor, and there are no good alternative routes
  • Vilas Park Dr and Arboretum Dr: These low traffic routes would be easy to block off and increase the availability of park and recreation space
  • Atwood Avenue: Sidewalks are narrow, the parallel Cap City Trail is crowded, and adjacent park land reduces parking and driveway access issues
  • Outer Capitol Loop: Consider maintaining the time-restricted bike lane all day
  • Areas without a terrace between sidewalk and the roadway, or where sidewalks do not exist at all
  • Access routes to hospitals and medical facilities
  • Multi-lane roadways that have excess capacity for moving or parked vehicles
  • Areas of the city with a high proportion of transit-dependent residents

Madison Bikes is prepared to help in this effort. We understand that you face constraints in terms of staff time, availability of materials, and competing priorities. As an all-volunteer non-profit dedicated to making Madison a community where anyone can ride a bicycle conveniently and comfortably to any place year round, we want to do our part. In the past Madison Bikes and our strong community have been a part of many efforts to promote and encourage people to bike even during difficult times. Madison Bikes has helped to identify impacted bike facilities and alternate routes during the 2018 flooding as well as working with the City and our partners on community-wide events like Madison Bike Week. We offer our assistance in identifying the paths, trails, and routes most impacted by crowding and working with our partners to find local equipment and volunteers to deploy street and lane closures. We have already begun to identify potential partners who can provide barricades and traffic cones used for events such as the Madison Marathon and are ready to offer the same volunteer force we have used at previous events. We will continue to work closely with you to amplify public health messaging about safe and healthy behaviors. We look forward to helping Madison respond to COVID-19 and address our short and long-term needs for healthy and safe transportation options.

Respectfully,

Harald Kliems, on behalf of the Madison Bikes Board of Directors

 


Weekly Update: Spring election, and (of course) COVID-19

Since everything is effectively canceled for the foreseeable future, this will be a bit of a short update. Bike shops are able to remain open under the Governor’s Safer At Home order, but they are all operating with precautions in place to protect public health and the health of their employees. Madison Bikes, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Bike Fed, has created a statewide visual map of bike shops dedicated to information about how your local bike shop is operating during these difficult times. The page is constantly updated as new information rolls in.

Speaking of the Bike Fed: They have just launched a new website! Looks pretty slick and has lot of content. Check it out.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin’s Spring Election and Presidential Preference Vote is set to go forward, with curbside voting available at all of Madison’s polling locations. Biking to the curbside voting station is an option. Voters are being encouraged to bring their own blue or black ballpoint pens. The election results are set to be announced April 13 to allow for people who requested absentee ballots by last Friday to fill them out and mail them in. Some voting locations have changed, so please check this map or enter your address here.

In addition, biking has been listed as an appropriate activity, when practiced alone or within a household, and adhering to appropriate social distancing, during this crisis. In order to make sure people stay safe, the city has posted signs by all its paths in an attempt to educate path users on proper distancing during this pandemic. Madison Bikes President Harald Kliems used himself to demonstrate what six feet means on a path, and the post was even retweeted by none other than Gary Fisher, the legendary bike maker!

On our Facebook Group there have been a lot of discussions on how to bike, roll, walk, and run safely and courteously. And the City has put together these  guidelines (en español).

Some tips:

  • stay single file
  • consider avoiding the paths and ride in the streets if you're comfortable doing so (much less car traffic than usual!)
  • ride the paths early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds
  • discover some less popular paths
  • slow down

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.



connect

get updates