Are you tired of the snow yet? I sure am, but nonetheless I made the best of it today: Snowshoes on the back of my fat bike, I rode the Southwest Path and Military Ridge to the Quarry Ridge trails. It was a bit of a slog on the way, but the snowshoeing was great. And on the way back I was very happy to see that the city had already brushed clear much of the SW Path! In the past, snow clearing on the weekend has always been an issue, but it seems like things are getting better. Thanks to the city staff who were out there on the trail today!
Before we get started with the events for the week, a quick reminder that we have a survey about Winter Bike Week out there. If you haven't taken it already, we'd appreciate your response. Your feedback will help us plan for future events and make improvements. Survey link.
Monday starts with a public input meeting on the Wilson St corridor study. This meeting was originally scheduled during the worst of the polar vortex and had to be rescheduled. Making Wilson Street a bike-friendly place, with protected infrastructure that works for people of all ages and abilities, has been a key advocacy priority for Madison Bikes. Please consider coming to the meeting to see what the city has on offer. Madison Municipal Building, Room 215, 7pm.
On Tuesday, it's election day. Primaries are taking place for Madison mayor and for several common council and school board seats. If you want to know what the mayoral candidates have to say about biking and transportation, read their answers to our candidate questionnaire. Information on how and where to vote is on the City Clerk's website: https://www.cityofmadison.com/clerk/elections-voting
On Wednesday evening, the Madison Bikes advocacy committee is scheduled to meet. We're having to meet at a different location this month, and so if you're interested in attending, please send an email to email@example.com.
On Thursday, Middleton's Pedestrian, Bike, and Transit Committee is meeting. The most exciting on the agenda is an update on the Northeast Mendota Trail, slated to provide a safe alternative to Century Ave. An engineering firm has created preliminary plans, and Middleton City Planner Mark Opitz will provide updates on this. Middleton Council Chambers, 6:30pm.
As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes.
Phew, what a week! Winter Bike Week this year had a total of 29 different events -- and what felt like 29 different kinds of challenging winter weather. Thanks to everyone who participated anyway, and of course a big thanks to all Madison Bikes board members and volunteers, and to our partners in making this happen. We'd appreciate it if you could take 5 minutes and complete our Winter Bike Week survey.
With Winter Bike Week over, the Madison Bikes events committee is meeting on Monday to plan our the rest of the year. If you're interested in being involved, join us at Rockhound Brewing Company on Park Street at 6pm.
The primary elections for mayor and common council in Madison are on February 19, and early voting has started already. Young, Gifted and Black are hosting the "People's Mayoral Forum: Getting Past the Politics" at the Central Library at 6:30pm on Monday. As a reminder, you can also learn more about the candidates' positions on transportation and biking through the Madison Bikes candidate questionnaire.
And of course winter and Monday means that the MEATHead ride is happening. Meet at 7pm at Ford's Gym for a social loop around Lake Monona.
On Wednesday, the city's Transportation Commission will meet. The most exciting item on the agenda: The approval of plans for Bassett Street between Dayton St and West Washington Ave. Bassett Street is one of the few locations where we have built a physically protected bike lane in the past few years. However, it only extends for a very short stretch for now. As far as we know, the proposal in front of the commission now extends the protected lane for another two blocks. The meeting is at the Madison Municipal Building and starts at 5pm.
On Saturday, you'll have the opportunity to test ride some Surly mountain bikes at "The Farm," a trail system west of town. And in the evening you have the chance to attend another mayoral candidate forum, at the First Unitarian Society starting at 6pm
As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at email@example.com to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and our work, consider donating to Madison Bikes.
Early voting for the primary elections for Madison mayor has already started. To help voters inform their decisions, we have sent all candidates four questions related to biking and transportation:
- Concerns about car parking have been a major obstacle when it comes to a shift in our transportation system. Removing on-street parking is often necessary to build dedicated bus lanes, protected bike lanes, or safer pedestrian crossings. As mayor, what would your policy be toward trading on-street parking for safer and better active transportation options?
- As many other cities, Madison has many inequities when it comes to transportation. Poorer neighborhoods and neighborhoods with a higher proportion of people of color often lack access to good transit, safe walking and biking, or to green space. On the other hand, these are often the neighborhoods were people are least able to afford a car. How are you going to address these inequities in transportation access?
- Forty years ago, over sixty percent of school children in the US walked or rode a bicycle to school. Today, that figure is less than ten percent. This decline in bicycling and walking and physical activity in general) has been mirrored by dramatic increases in negative health impacts for kids. What would you do to reverse this trend?
- The percentage of people biking in Madison has been stagnating at around five percent for the past ten years. Where would you like that number to be in 2025 and how are you going to get us there? How many miles of protected bike lanes will the city have built by the end of your first term?
Read the candidates' answers on our website: https://www.madisonbikes.org/candidate_questionnaires
Madison Bikes is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and does not endorse or oppose any candidate for political office.
We made it through the cold snap! The weather this week looks to return to more normal winter conditions, which is perfect because this week is Winter Bike Week! Madison Bikes is organizing Winter Bike Week as an event to encourage and celebrate riding throughout the winter. Events include group rides, bike stations for winter riders, bike maintenance/skills classes, a winter bike photo contest, bike happy hours and more! Since there are so many Winter Bike Week events going on this week, I will not be covering them all in this post but mention a few highlights. For up-to-date and complete information regarding winter bike week events, please refer to the Madison Bikes Winter Bike Week web page: https://www.madisonbikes.org/winterbikeweek
Mayoral Candidate Questionnaires
As Madison’s mayoral primary is coming up fast, we’ve sent out a questionnaire to each candidate asking about a variety of bike-related topics. You can expect the responses to be published Tuesday morning.
Madison saw a new record low temperature for January 31st Thursday morning at -26°F, but even the cold weather did not keep people from biking. Unfortunately, due to lake conditions, the Frozen Assets Bike Race and Sled Pull were canceled, but Winter Bike Week is just beginning, so there are lots more events to attend.
The Wilson Street Public Input Meeting #3 that was scheduled for this past Thursday was rescheduled due to the cold weather to Monday February 18. We feel improving this street is crucial to our mission to make Madison a city where anyone can bike conveniently and comfortably to anyplace year round. You can read the action alert that was sent out before the meeting to familiarize yourself with this important gap in Madison’s bike network.
It’s Winter Bike Week! As mentioned earlier, I will not be covering all of the events here. You can find out what’s happening over at the Winter Bike Week web page: https://www.madisonbikes.org/winterbikeweek
All week long there will be a photo contest where you can participate at the following Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/791108974555609/ The theme is: Show us how you Winter Bike!
Today, Monday, February 4, kick off Winter Bike Week with Madison Bikes at the Law Park Bike Station from 7-9 AM which will be near Machinery Row. There will be coffee by EVP and treats from the Willy Street Co-op.
Also today there will be a meeting of Madison’s Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) at 5:00 PM in room 201 of the City County Building. There are a few important bicycle-related agenda items worth mentioning. First, there will be a discussion about bicycle facility planning, which will help guide transportation engineering on best practice treatments when constructing bicycle facilities that will allow people to feel safer biking on our bike network. Improving our bike network to improve the feeling of safety is a crucial step to encouraging the “interested but concerned” segment of the population, over half, to start biking more. Another important agenda item is the Wilson Street Corridor Study and the Bassett Street Corridor Study. These corridor studies will guide the long-term development of these crucial corridors here in Madison, both of which need significant improvements to make more bike friendly. Finally, there will be a discussion of next steps to take regarding Madison’s winter bikeway maintenance policies. This ongoing discussion is focused on crafting and adopting best practices for winter bikeway maintenance, which includes path and bike lane clearing. Here is the full agenda for this meeting.
At 6:30 PM, there will be a forum for mayoral candidates on the west side of town at Oakwood Village Center at 6205 Mineral Point Road. This will be a more casual format of mayoral forum and will provide the public an opportunity to talk with the candidates after the forum. See the Facebook event for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/289570018570045/
Tonight is also a MEAThead ride. This ride starts every Monday at 7:00 PM November through March regardless of the weather. The ride starts at Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St in Madison. Read more about the group on their Facebook page.
Tuesday, February 5, Winter Bike Week continues with Bike Fitchburg hosting a Commuter Station from 7-9 AM at the Velo UnderRound (i.e. the bicycle roundabout where the Capital City Trail, Badger State Trail, Cannonball Trail, and Military Ridge State Trial all meet). They will have hot drinks, bagels, free maps, and (empty) water bottles.
There will also be a Bike Station near Revolution Cycles from 7-9 AM serving coffee and treats. In the afternoon, Machinery Row Cycles will have an Indoor Bike Station from 4-6 PM. Stop by for coffee from Café Domestique and a free bike safety check.
On Tuesday evening, come to Just Bikes and Free Bikes 4 Kids' indoor bike shenanigans, starting at 4:30 pm. Track stand contests, an obstacle course, and much more at the giant Free Bikes 4 Kids space on the west side.
Wednesday, February 6, there will be an Indoor Bike Station from 7-9 AM at both HotelRED and Canteen on the Square. Both locations will feature coffee and treats.
Starting at 6:30 PM there will be a Northside Mayoral Candidate Forum at the Warner Park Community Recreation Center. Before the forum, starting at 6 there will be a meet and greet with the candidates. This is an opportunity for residents of the north side to get to know their mayoral candidates and to discuss north side specific issues. Read more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/359133981546598/
Thursday, February 7, there will be an outdoor Bike Station from 7-9 AM hosted by Café Domestique and The Cargo Bike Shop where the Cap City Trail intersects with Dickinson St. There will be free coffee and breakfast sausage corn dogs by Underground Food Collective.
At 6:30 PM, there will be a Madison Common Council District 15 Candidate Forum at Lake Edge UCC on Buckeye Rd. The candidates are Grant Foster, Angela Jenkins, and Justin Williams. Read more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1934248313360495/ (Disclosure: Grant Foster is a board member of Madison Bikes. We do not endorse or oppose any candidate for political office.)
Friday, February 8, there will be two Bike Stations from 7-9 AM: One b Taqueria & Tequila Bar on the square where there will be free coffee and churros, and one Outdoor Bike Station hosted by Design Concepts at E Wilson and Ingersoll on the Capital City Path with coffee and breakfast kebabs. At the Design Concepts Outdoor Bike Station you will also have the opportunity to clean and lube your chain, and get your portrait taken.
This is also International Winter Bike to Work Day, so all day we are encouraging folks to “Mob the Bike Counters” by trying to ride past either one of Madison’s two bike counters (on the Southwest Path by Regent and Monroe and on the Capital City Trail along John Nolen near North Shore Drive). Although the display at the Capital City Trail counter is not working, it is still picking up data that is provided publicly here: http://www.eco-public.com/ParcPublic/?id=4336
Finally, there will be an End-of-Week Happy Hour Celebration hosted by Madison Bikes at the Nutty Bar/Bandung (600 Williamson St) from 5-7 PM. Here we will have the results of the Winter Bike Week Photo Contest and door prizes to give away provided by Planet Bike.
Saturday, February 9, there will be a Up To Snow Good Dual Salom event held at Tyrol Basin. This is a spectator friendly bike race will include costumes, music, rowdy crowds, klunkers and epic wipe-outs because this race is on snow! You can sign up to compete or just come to watch, either way this one sounds like it will be a lot of fun. You can learn more about the event at their website: http://www.uptosnowgood.com/ or on the event’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/273221906596692/
As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and our work, consider a donation to Madison Bikes.
UPDATE 1/31: The meeting has been canceled because of the weather. It will be rescheduled at a later time.
We need your support. This Thursday (1/31) at 7pm, the third public input meeting on the Wilson Street corridor study is going to be held at the Madison Municipal Building (Room 260). We're assuming the meeting is going ahead as planned, despite the weather. After the public input meeting, the project still has to wend its ways through the city's committees, but it will be helpful to have people speak up now.
Please express your support in creating a safe and convenient bike corridor on Wilson Street, from the Cap City path at Machinery Row to the Cap City path at Broom and continuing to the connection with the SW Commuter path. Wilson Street is a major connection to the Capitol Square, and it currently lacks accommodations for people biking. We now have the opportunity to change this and close a major gap in our city's low-stress bike network.
What can you do?
There are two ways to take action:
1. Attend the meeting and speak
You can go to the meeting in person and voice your support for safe and comfortable bike facilities on the Wilson Street corridor. Some tips:
- Mention why you care about the project -- do you live or work in the area? Do you want to ride to the government offices on Wilson or access the Square to reach businesses or restaurants? Have you tried riding on Wilson and had bad experiences?
- Ask if what is being proposed at the meeting will allow seniors, kids, or people new to biking to ride on Wilson Street.
- Ask for protected bike lanes -- even if you personally feel fine riding in an unbuffered bike lane or even sharing the lane with cars.
- Don't get lost in the details. Details matter when it comes to great bike infrastructure. But at this point we need to focus on the big picture: Bike access on Wilson Street that works for people of all ages and all abilities.
2. Submit your comments by email
If you don't feel comfortable speaking at the meeting or would rather submit written comments, you can send them to the project lead Dave Trowbridge, Director of Transportation Tom Lynch, and Alder Mike Verveer. Also consider cc'ing us <email@example.com>
Dave Trowbridge <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Tom Lynch <email@example.com>;
Mike Verveer <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Here is some more background on the project:
Why Wilson Street? Why now?
Wilson Street has long been identified as a significant gap in Madison's bike network. Policy documents and plans such as Madison in Motion, the Downtown Plan, or the Judge Doyle Square Master Plan all have called for improving bike access to the areas east of the Capitol. Most recently, the Common Council adopted a resolution "to develop a plan for a bike friendly corridor on Wilson St, by the time the Judge Doyle Square Project is complete."
Wilson Street provides access to the cultural, political, and economic heart of our city. Over 27,000 jobs are in the area bounded by Bassett, Johnson, Blount, and John Nolen. State and municipal agencies and offices are on and near Wilson Street. The neighborhood also has dozens of retail businesses, restaurants and cultural institutions, and it hosts major cultural events such as Concerts on the Square. And soon Wilson Street will be the main access route for the Judge Doyle Square Bicycle Center.
However, the access that Wilson Street currently provides is mostly limited to those who drive. With no protected bike facilities, only the small group of strong and fearless cyclists is comfortable "sharing the lane" with motor vehicle traffic on Wilson. The much bigger proportion of people who is riding majority of people already biking or potentially biking either avoid the area or are forced onto the sidewalk---where they have to share limited space with people walking. The issue is made worse by the fact that there are no reasonable alternatives to Wilson Street from both the east and the west. Parallel streets are steeper, discontinuous, take people too far out of the way---or they fail to offer safe bike facilities just like Wilson St.
The City and its Department of Transportation have acknowledged these problems and are proactively working on multiple corridor studies in the area, including one on Wilson Street. We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close this gap and vastly improve transportation options to and from downtown.
What do we need to close the gap?
The city needs to create a plan for the whole Wilson Street corridor that creates safe and low-stress bike access for people of all ages and abilities, following established guidance on bike facilities such as NACTO. Cross-sections and traffic volumes vary along the different sections of Wilson Street, and therefore the specific treatment may vary as well.
But it is clear that from Blair to Bassett a protected bike lane or cycletrack are the only options for an all-ages, all-abilities facility. The research on the topic is clear: Sharrows, pushing cyclists onto the sidewalk, one-way bike access, or steep and convoluted bike routes don’t work if we want to make biking an option for a significant proportion of the population.
Our city and its downtown are growing, and so it is essential that we create transportation options beyond the car. Doing so will improve population health, sustainability, and the livability of the heart of Madison. Let us act now and create safe and comfortable bike access on Wilson St: Let's close the Wilson Street Gap now.
As you may know, Winter Bike Week starts this Friday! With the frigid temps this week, hopefully we will all be ready to get out there into the balmy above 0° weather.
For a complete list of events, check out madisonbikes.org/winterbikeweek.
Bike Fitchburg has confirmed that their monthly meeting will be held tonight at Fitchburg Public Library on Lacy Road from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
Basset Street Corridor Study Meeting #3 will be tonight from 7 pm to 8:30 at the Madison Senior Center at 330 W Mifflin St.
MEAThead ride is also still on at 7pm from Ford's gym.
Bombay Bicycle Club is hosting a special one-time screening of the film Le Ride, Tuesday January 29th at AMC Madison 6 at 6:30 pm. Beverages and socializing at Great Dane Hilldale afterwards.
LE RIDE follows Phil Keoghan and his friend Ben Cornell as they attempt to recreate the original route of the 1928 Tour de france. Averaging 240 kilometres a day for 26 days, Phil and Ben traverse both the unforgiving mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, on original vintage steel racing bikes with no gears and marginal brakes.
Wilson Street Corridor Study Meeting #3 7:00 – 8:30 pm Room 260, Madison Municipal Building. Stay tuned for an action alert!
Winter Bike Week starts!
Frozen Assets Fat Bike Ride will take place instead of the race due to lake conditions. More info about the event can be found here. It will start at the east end of Law park at 6:30 pm.
More festivities for Winter Bike Week. Check out out madisonbikes.org/winterbikeweek for more details about all of the events.
Fat Bike Sled Pull was canceled.
Mark your calendars for Winter Bike Week
We hope everyone has been enjoying the snow and cold weather (yes, it’s really cold, but you all have lots of warm clothes, right?) Many people don’t think about bicycling in weather like this, but between planning for our upcoming Winter Bike Week – Feb 1-8 -- and the city planning for construction season, there is plenty on the calendar. If you are looking for the Winter Bike Week events, make sure to head over to the Madison Bikes Facebook PAGE instead of the group where discussions happen.
Upcoming elections and last week’s mayoral forum
There will also be a primary for alder and mayor on February 19. Everyone in the city will be able to vote for mayor, and there will be a primary for alder in your area if three or more candidates are running. Then, the two candidates with the most votes will run in the main election on April 2. Madison Bikes is a 501(c)3 organization, so we can’t endorse candidates, but we did co-sponsor a mayoral forum on January 15 at the Central Library. Two transportation-related questions were asked, and you can check out the candidates’ answers here. Thanks to Harald for transcribing the answers! If you’d like to hear all the questions and answers, there is a link to a recording as well.
We urge everyone to vote an ask questions of the candidates, if you get a chance. Madison Bikes has sent a longer set of questions – ones we didn’t get a chance to ask at the forum – to the mayoral candidates. We will post the answers when after the January 31 deadline to respond. Early voting starts January 29, so if you aren’t sure who you are supporting, we hope the answers can help you make a decision.
Meathead Ride. Starting at 7:00 pm at Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St, join the group for the weekly no-drop social loop around Lake Monona. Bring your extra layers!
The Common Council has two items of interest to bicyclists. They meet at 6:30 pm in Room 210 of the City-County Building, the Council will be passing plans for rebuilding parts of E Wilson, Williamson St, and Blount. This is the project that has been under discussion for quite some time, has been through a bunch of public meetings, and shouldn’t be particularly controversial. It will involve some changes to the streets between Franklin St and Blount that should make biking this stretch and connecting with the Cap City Trail and Lake Monona Path easier. You can take a look at the documents here.
Also on the Council agenda is the final lease between Freewheel Bicycle Co and the city for the bike center that will be part of the Judge Doyle Square development. While the lease isn’t all that exciting, you can also see plans for what is going to be inside. Cool. A bike wash, showers, indoor bike storage of various sorts, a small bike shop, public repair station, lockers, and lots more.
You can also watch the meeting on your computer from home, and maybe you’ll hear a few other things at the meeting that interest you. Everyone should try to attend a city meeting or council meeting at least once to learn how decisions are made, but it sure if more comfortable on the couch. (Says the former alder, who sat through three Council meetings that lasted until 5:00 am!)
The Transportation Commission will meet in Room 206 of the Municipal Building, to consider the list of Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP, also known as traffic calming) projects. If you are interested to see which projects accumulated enough points to receive traffic calming measures, or whether your streets has ever been studied, you can find the list here. A studied location must receive 30 points to be considered for traffic calming.
Also on the TC agenda is an update on “Bicycle Facility Planning,” however there are no specific items under consideration, and no further information on line. This appears to be a standing item that will appear on each agenda, along with other transportation updates. However, if you are interested in this meeting on anything else on it, you can either attend the meeting or watch the meeting on line.
Also Wednesday, there is a meeting about planning for Burr Jones Field. City Parks will be holding a public input session at 6:00-8:00 pm at Festival Foods - Community Room, 810 East Washington Ave. If you aren’t familiar with Burr Jones Field, think about the big green space that is bounded by the Yahara River, E. Johnson St, E Washington, and the RR tracks behind the strip mall and city fleet services on First St. That’s it.
From the city: “You are invited to attend and provide comments on the project. If you have questions or comments but are unable to attend the meeting, please contact Mike Sturm at (608) 267-4921 or email@example.com. More information visit Parks Projects: https://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/projects.“
Grant, outgoing Madison Bikes Board President, provides this comment: “There are some paths through the park today, but it's really important that we think about improving the connection from the Yahara bridge to connect with MIfflin/First. A new ped/bike RR crossing is needed there (there is none technically, but there very much is a well-worn desire path). Dealing with the RR is tricky business, but the park planning should include a good connection to this future RR crossing. There should also be a path along the east side of the river.”
What have we been talking about?
Here are some of the lively discussion from the Madison Bikes Facebook group:
Now that we have snow, there have been a few discussions about winter maintenance. To brine or not brine. How to report a problem to the city.
If you want to see what the city says about their winter maintenance of bicycle facilities – in more detail than you probably want – check out this video from a meeting on that topic. The portion of the meeting on winter maintenance is about an hour long!
Lots of questions about how to keep warm and safe while riding in winter.
Ideas from other cities on reforming their transportation system.
And lots more.
Remember, if you have an event for our Madison Bikes Community Calendar, send it to us so others can find it. And all the details about all the events are up on, or linked from that same calendar, so make sure to visit often.
Nicole Nelson is a professor in Medical History and Bioethics at UW-Madison and a year-round bike commuter from Madison's west side. Thanks for writing this great summary of our event "From Madison to Berlin and Back: Civic Activism for a More Livable City," in cooperation with Downtown Madison Inc.
What would biking in Madison look like if we had a law that required the city to mitigate dangerous intersections, install safe cycling infrastructure on main roads, and even build bicycle “highways”? How would such a law come to pass? Dirk von Schneidemesser, a board member for the German nonprofit Changing Cities, spoke about Berlin’s experience with passing a bicycle law to a packed audience at HotelRED on January 4th.
Berlin is Germany's capital, with a population of about 3.5 million and about 13% of all trips being done by bike. Bicycle laws are a new phenomenon in Germany. Berlin’s bicycle law, passed in June 2018, was the first of its kind in the country. Now activists in cities across Germany are organizing to put similar laws in place. The Berlin law outlines the types of infrastructure that the city is either required or strongly encouraged to build. Some of these types of infrastructure will be familiar to many cyclists, such as the requirement that the city build 2m/6.5ft wide bike lanes on major streets. Others are more innovative—one provision requires the city to build 100km/60miles of bicycle “highways,” paths with relatively few intersections that allow cyclists to cover more distance in less time. Even though the law is quite recent, it has already resulted in policy change. The city budget for cycling infrastructure increased from approximately 15 million euros in 2015 to 50 million euros in 2019, and the city now employs two bicycle planners for each district, compared to two planners for the entire city before.
The 10 Goals of the Berlin Bicycle Bill
(1) 200 miles of new cycle streets that work for people of all ages
(2) 6.5ft-wide safe cycling infrastructure on every arterial
(3) 75 dangerous intersections ‘neutralized’ per year
(4) Transparent and efficient infrastructure repair
(5) 200,000 bicycle parking spots at transit stations and streets
(6) 50 "Green Waves" for buses, cyclists, and pedestrians
(7) 60 miles of Bicycle Highways for commuters
(8) Bicycle police units and special unit for bike theft
(9) Planners in city/district administration; create Central Cycle Administrative Office
(10) Awareness campaign for accommodating higher modal share of cycling
A ballot initiative organized by the nonprofit Changing Cities was an important step in making the law a reality. “Citizen’s initiatives,” as they are called in Germany, require that organizers first collect 20,000 signatures in a six-month period. The Changing Cities team set up 250 collection stations around Berlin, and in only three and a half weeks they collected more than 100,000 signatures. This caught the attention of city officials, particularly since the signature drive coincided with the beginning of election season for the city. Rather than continuing the “citizen’s initiative” process through to get a question on the ballot, Changing Cities opted instead to work directly with (and sometimes against) elected officials to get the bicycle law passed.
Counting signatures (Photo courtesy Volksentscheid Fahrrad/Norbert Michalke)
One of the most striking aspects of this story was the huge network of volunteers that Changing Cities assembled. Dirk estimated that by the time the law had passed, volunteers had put in more than 40,000 hours of work, equivalent to a single person working full time for approximately 26 years (!). Similarly impressive was the fact that this was all done on a shoestring budget. At the time Changing Cities had no staff and relied primarily on donations to fund basics such as the photocopying needed for the signature drive.
There’s a lot to be learned from the tactics that Changing Cities used to lower barriers to participation and grow their network of volunteers. During the signature drive, for example, Changing Cities asked local businesses to volunteer as “collection stations” where citizens could stop in and sign the petition. Not only did this get local businesses more involved in the initiative, it reduced the need to have volunteers staffing booths at fixed locations around the city. Volunteers could roam Berlin (by bike!), distributing information and encouraging citizens to stop in at a collection station when they were ready to sign.
"Taking a Dive" (Photo courtesy Michael Truckenbrodt/Volksentscheid Fahrrad)
I was also impressed by the variety of techniques the organization used to keep up the pressure on the city to get the law passed. When the city senate was obstructing progress, volunteers rode their bikes into the river to illustrate how bicycle transport and climate protection were “taking a dive.” These humorous and visually engaging protests made for great newspaper photos and headlines. When local merchants complained that the loss of parking spots on major roads would hurt business, Changing Cities worked with merchants to conduct a study of how shoppers arrived at their stores. The survey data showed that merchants tended to overestimate the number of people who arrived by car and underestimate those who arrived by bike, and these data were key to changing merchants’ opinions on the proposed bicycle law. While I’ve tended to think of showy media tactics and evidence-based policy reform as being in tension with each other, this story showed how one organization could do both successfully.
Dirk closed his presentation with a map of Germany showing cities that were currently working on bicycle law initiatives, and asked us—could Madison be next? Before Dirk’s presentation I would have answered that a bicycling law for Madison was a lovely, idealistic idea, but an impossible one. After talking us through the process, it now seems difficult but not impossible. As I write this, Cambridge MA (where I am living for the year), is taking its first steps towards passing an ordinance that would require the city to build protected bike infrastructure as described in the city’s own Bicycle Plan. A law that simply forces a city to follow through with its own plans may not seem as sweeping and ambitious as what Berlin achieved, but if successful it would transform the experience of biking in Cambridge. Pushing for legal reforms might not be the best path to success in all cities, but it’s certainly an option worth putting on the table.
Our Events and Communication Committees had a very productive meeting last week, all under the auspices of Winter Bike Week. We have a great schedule of events lined up already for February 1-8. Check them out here (and keep checking back for possible additions).
Saturday was a good day to acquire bikes or get rid of them: Madison Bikes had a table at the Brazen Dropouts bike swap at the Alliant Center, while Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison was collecting used bikes for their annual giveaway. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table, and congratulations to FB4K for collecting over 1000 used bikes!
Let's start our update with some internal Madison Bikes news: Tonight, we're having our first board meeting of the year---and also the first board meeting with our newly elected members. Welcome, Elysha Jones, Jake Foley, Steph Shelton, Peter Taglia, and Jim Wilson! We'll introduce our new members here on the blog shortly. Also a big thanks to our outgoing board members: Becky Jollay, Kevin Mulcahy, India Viola, and Hank Weiss.
And while we're having our board meeting, you can join the weekly Monday MEATHead ride. As always, it's a no-drop ride around Lake Monona. 7pm sharp, Ford's Gym on Winnebago.
On Tuesday night, it's time for another mayoral candidate forum. At last week's Cap Times forum, transportation and biking hardly featured in the discussion. For Tuesday, Madison Bikes has joined a wide coalition of groups to co-host this forum at the Central Library. Tickets for the main room sold out quickly, but there will be overflow space that you don't need a ticket for. So come and see what the candidates for mayor have to say about transportation and other issues. 6pm, Central Library on Mifflin.
On Wednesday, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee has their monthly meeting. On the agenda are the continuation of our work on Wilson Street and winter bike facility maintenance. We'll also take some time to talk about our 2019 priorities and goals. Everybody is welcome to join us at Bendyworks, 106 E Doty St #200, 6pm.
Could Wilson Street look like this?
Consider biking out to Middleton on Thursday: There is a public meeting about the long-awaited path along Century Avenue. Century Avenue and its lack of bike facilities has long been identified as an issue, but now Middleton is moving forward in building a "shared-use path planned along the north side of Century Avenue connecting northeast Middleton with Branch Street and the Pheasant Branch Trail." Eventually that path will connect to the new trail along Highway M, providing access to Governor Nelson State Park and Northwest Madison. 6pm Middleton City Hall.
Madison recently had its most heavy snowfall this winter on New Year’s Eve. As a result, the comments Madison Bikes received on our Facebook discussion page about the conditions after the storm were numerous. There was even a discussion among the bikies email group. Some of the comments were positive, especially of the workers who were out clearing the paths. However, several comments showed that more can and should be done to keep the paths safe for winter riders.
Madison is undergoing an update to its winter bike-way maintenance policies. This discussion is currently in the hand’s of the City’s Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB). Tonight at 5:00 PM in room 201 in the City County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the TPPB is again going to take up the discussion on winter bike-way maintenance in Madison. We would like to strongly encourage anyone who rode during or after the snow event to come to the TPPB meeting to share their experience, good or bad. You can read the presentation by the Bicycle Facility Maintenance Workgroup to familiarize yourself with the main issues and recommendations the workgroup came up with. Click here for more information about the agenda item.
Another announcement: This week, a portion of the Badger State Trail is expected to close for vegetation management for about 4 days. The detour is shown in Figure 2. Click on the image to get a higher resolution version. Future closures from this project are expected on portions of the Cannonball Trail starting next Monday, January 14. Read more about the closures and find detour information here at ATC’s project website.
I hope everybody had a good first week of 2019! As mentioned earlier, Madison had a fairly substantial snowfall on New Year’s Eve, but a week of warm weather has mostly melted it.
On Friday, there was a talk by former Madisonian Dirk von Schneidemesser about how his and fellow activist’s efforts managed to collect 100,000 signatures for a bike referendum in Berlin and what can be applied from those efforts to activism in Madison. Look for slides and a post soon summarizing that meeting.
Today, Monday, January 7, there is the meeting of the TPPB mentioned at the top of this post. Other than the continuing discussion about winter bike-way maintenance policy, the board will be looking at bike infrastructure types, a Metro facility report, and BRT funding options. Additionally, they will be looking at adopting the Oscar Mayer Special Area Report. Here is the full agenda for this meeting. The meeting starts at 5:00 PM in room 201 of the City County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Madison.
At 5:30 PM, the Madison Bikes Communications Committee is meeting at Rockhound Brewing Company, 444 S Park St in Madison.
Tonight is also a MEAThead ride. This ride starts every Monday at 7:00 PM November through March regardless of the weather. The ride starts at Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St in Madison. Read more about the group on their Facebook page.
Tuesday, January 8, will be the first Common Council meeting of 2019. One agenda item is Approving Roadway Geometry for the Pleasant View Road Reconstruction, which currently features a sidepath and bike lanes as part of the project. You can see the overhead map here, and the current proposed sections here. The full Common Council agenda can be found here.
Wednesday, January 9, Madison’s Transportation Commission (TC) would normally meet, but this meeting has been canceled. However, there will be a meeting of the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MATPB). This meeting will start at 6:30 PM at the Madison Water Utility Building at 119 E. Olin Avenue, Room A-B. Read the full agenda packet for this meeting here. After this meeting, in the same room at 6:45 PM, there is a joint meeting between the MATPB and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC). Here is the full agenda packet for this joint meeting.
Also this Wednesday, the Capital Times will be hosting the first mayoral debate. The debate starts at 7 PM at The Barrymore Theatre at 2020 Atwood Ave. Read more about the event here. If you can't make it to this debate, Madison Bikes is co-sponsoring another forum on January 15. More details here.
Saturday, January 12, is the annual Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap. The bike swap is in the New Holland Pavilion on the Alliant Energy Center Campus. At this event you can find great deals on a variety of bike stuff including parts, accessories, clothing, and more from a wide variety of vendors. Madison Bikes will have a table at the event, so feel free to stop by and say hi! Read more about the Bike Swap here. And if instead of acquiring new bikes, you want to get rid of them, Saturday is also the day for the Free Bikes 4 Kids annual bike collection.
Please consider donating your extra bikes to help us meet the community’s need for 2,500 bikes each year so ALL kids have access to the feeling of pride and joy that comes with getting your first bike! BIKES CAN BE DROPPED OFF AT THE FOLLOWING UnityPoint Health – Meriter Clinic locations between 9am and 1pm: Stoughton – 100 Silverado Dr., Stoughton, WIMonona – 6408 Copps Ave. Monona, WI Deforest-Windsor – 4200 Savannah Dr. Deforest, WI Deming Way – 2275 Deming Way, Middleton, WI McKee – 3102 McKee Rd, Madison, WI Fitchburg – 2690 Research Park Dr., Fitchburg, WI