Monday Update: SW Path closure, public market preview, volunteer open house

Last Week

Road construction woes continue. As discussed at length, the big construction projects at the "hairball intersection" (John Nolen/Blount/Williamson) and at First Street have posed challenges to people biking through areas. But as Karla on our Facebook community pointed out: "Even though it's a cluster right now, at least I can get thru there faster by bike than car. That makes me smile everyday I commute by bike."


Photo credit: Rick Leib

A group of high school students from Oshkosh came on a field trip to Madison. It wasn't an ordinary field trip, though: The students were on bikes, and the theme was bike-friendly communities. Our board member Pete Wilson, Steve Arnold from Bike Fitchburg, and a number of other Madison volunteers took the students around town and showed off our city's bike infrastructure.

This week

SW Path detour signage

Did I mention construction? Well, I have another one for you: From Monday through Friday, between 9am and 3:30pm, the Southwest Path will be closed between Crazylegs Plaza and Commonwealth. MGE is working on the power poles in that stretch. Fortunately there will be a good marked detour in place: "The sections of the detour that will use Regent (eastbound) and Monroe (westbound) will have a lane marked off for cyclists to use."

The bike week starts on Wednesday this week. You can pick between two options. The Madison Public Market project is moving along, and you can get a sneak peek of their building and provide feedback at an open house. The goal for the market is to be a very bike-friendly destination, and at the open house you can offer input on how to best achieve that. Bonus: There will be free food and samples from future market vendors. 5-7pm, 200 N First St (City of Madison Fleet Services Building). RSVP appreciated but not necessary.

Also on Wednesday is the Transportation Commission's regular meeting. Some items of interest on the agenda:

  • Approval of a million-dollar upgrade to the traffic signals on East Wash. The goal is to "improve travel times and lessen traffic congestion along the entire USH-151/East Washington Ave corridor including 21 signalized intersections." Color me skeptical about the promise of less congestion -- ultimately the improvements in capacity most likely will be eaten up by induced demand (i.e. more people opting to drive). There is no mention of buses specifically. But hopefully the new system will be capable of things that can speed up buses on this future BRT corridor, such as extending the green phase for an approaching bus.
  • Also up for approval is the new bus route to Sun Prairie. While its service will be limited to the morning and evening rush hour only, it's great to see more transit connections to our neighboring communities.
  • Other proposed changes to Metro service will also be discussed.
  • Most relevant for biking, the commission will receive an update on the "Criteria to Evaluate the Success of the Pilot" of new bike infrastructure on Bassett. In case you missed it previously, the city plans on installing parking-protected bike lanes on a stretch of Bassett, but only on a trial basis for now.

Route 23 proposed map 

Proposed Route 23 between Sun Prairie and downtown Madison

Want to test ride a fancy road bike? Come to Neff Cycle Service on Friday afternoon for a BMC demo event, followed by a group ride.

And if you're interested in supporting Madison Bikes and Madison Bike Week through volunteering, come to the Volunteer Open House at Cafe Domestique. You can help us by distributing posters, chalking the bike paths, helping with our party at the end of week, and more. We know that volunteering for the first time can be daunting, and so we're hosting a Volunteer Open House where you can ask questions, meet our board members and fellow volunteers. Drop by any time between 5-7 pm at Cafe Domestique, 1408 Williamson Street. Please RSVP by email or on Facebook.

Madison Bike Week is less than a month away!

 

Speaking of volunteering, on Saturday you can help the Capital City Offroad Pathfinders get our local trails in shape at three different workdays, at Quarry Park, Sheehan Park, and the Farm. Or you join the Bike & Brew Ride. Registration is $25, and the proceeds go to Freewheel Bikes.

And finally, on Saturday REI is hosting their second Big Backyard Bike Bash. Madison Bikes will be tabling at the event, and you can donate used bike and parts to Dreambikes. REI "will have our bike techs on site from 10am - 4pm to perform safety checks on your bicycles and advise you on any repairs or fixes that might be needed to be road worthy. Plus, there will be a bike wash station to keep all the bikes in your quiver clean and looking fresh for a new year. To satisfy your desire to learn new things, we will have classes and presentations running throughout the day on bicycle touring, bikepacking, roadside repair, bicycle shoes and pedal selection and tube and tire selections."

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.


Biking with Steph: Pay-Oh-Lie YOLO

Hi Madison Bikes Community, I'm Steph! I am a new member of the Madison Bikes Board, an avid cyclist and coffee drinker. I will be contributing to the Madison Bikes blog on a weekly basis to provide a voice of bike-related encouragement, insight, and amusement. While I am not a bike expert by any means, I am obsessed with all things bike-related and look forward to sharing my thoughts on a new topic with you each week!

Happy National Bike Month! I have personally declared this month to be “YOLO (You Only Live Once) May”. For me, this means saying yes to new opportunities and trying to make everyday memorable. Today, I decided to take the advice of a bike friend and ventured off to Paoli (pronounced pay-oh-lie) for a roughly 33 mile ride. I have wanted to make this jaunt happen since I learned that it would incorporate a part of the Badger State Trail that I have never been on before.

I wasn’t confident how to get from my home to Paoli, so I used the directions for bikes in Google Maps to get me there. I am very grateful to have had the directions flowing through my earbuds, as I surely would have gotten lost near The Velo UnderRound. Even with my five years of being a Madison resident and very user-friendly maps at the Velo UnderRound, I manage to get lost around there more often than not.

(The Velo UnderRound)

Despite my directional impairments, I highly enjoyed my little adventure. The weather was perfectly cool, the route is not very hilly, I saw red barns and spotted cows, and even got to ride on a bit of crushed stone.


(Sun Valley Pkwy)

I decided to stop in Paoli for a quick lunch before heading back home. So, I set my eyes on Paoli Schoolhouse because of the great reviews and cute name. As it turns out, I was a bit under-dressed (Rev Cycles chamois speckled with gravel bits), so I left and I made a note to come back another day. There are alternative places to grab a bite in Paoli including The Hop Garden (lunch is served on the weekends) and Cafe Domestique’s satellite location (open weekends only).

(I kinda wish I had noticed the word “FINE” on their signage before entering the restaurant dressed as I was.)

Without alternatives, I ate a snack I had packed just in case, I mooed at some cows and I headed back home. I hope to do another day trip out to Mount Horeb and possibly bikepack to Governor Dodge State Park this month too. Both are accessible using the regional bike trails.

If you are waiting for a nudge to take this ride, consider this your nudge!

Happy riding and tailwinds!

(YOLO grin)

P.S: Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS) begins this week with the Englewood Open! If you’d like some local advice on mountain biking (MTB), look no further than Frank Hassler’s blog with new posts on MTB racing.


Monday Update: Spring Rides and Cleanups

We were able to steer clear of the worst of the snow over the weekend, so the roads should be in pretty good condition. The city had warned about the possibility of needing to bust out the salt trucks again, but it doesn’t seem to have been a major salt event. So you have the go-ahead to keep tuning up and starting to ride your summer bikes! No need to worry about this happening:

Rusty chain on a turquoise frame

Photo credit: J. Michel (aka: Mitch) Carriere, CC BY-NC-ND

This Week

Tuesday

At 6:30 PM the Common Council is meeting in 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Room 201 (City-County Building). The full agenda is available. There are two items of note:

  1. The council will vote to accept the permanent easement granted to city for a pedestrian/bike path on the east side near the Highway 30/US 151 interchange. In effect, enables the creation of a small section of trail cutting through from Rethke Ave to Burke Ave, a nice alternative to Commercial and probably formalizing a defacto path anyways.
  2. The council will vote on up to $10,000 in cooperative in development funds for Madison Freewheel Bicycle Company, to be used to improve and expand the co-op. In addition, these funds will be used to help in the planning for their work as the bicycle concessionaire for the Judge Doyle Square project.

From 2pm to 6pm, Moots will be at Machinery Row Bicycles to demo new gravel bikes and more.

Wednesday

It’s your day off from bicycling-related news, nothing of note. Enjoy a chance of AM thunderstorms and afternoon sun? Make your own news!

Thursday

Bombay Bicycle Club has a social ride at 5:30 pm, starting in Cottage Grove at Fireman’s Park (~25 miles). See their ride guide for their entire schedule of rides.

Friday

At 6:30pm, help celebrate the grand opening of Slow Roll Cycles on Monona Drive with free food and music along with a silent auction to benefit Capital Off Road Pathfinders (CORP) and a presentation from Liv Cycling.

Saturday

All day Saturday, continue the Slow Roll Cycles grand opening with a raffle, free bike tuneups, a no drop ride at 10am and free giveaways for kids.

Too muddy to ride? From 8am to 3pm, there’s a CORP workday at the Quarry Ridge trails in Fitchburg.

Middleton more your style? From 9am to 12pm there’s another CORP workday at the Pleasant View MTB trails.

Sunday

Bombay Bicycle Club has a ride leaving from Middleton’s Lakeview Park at 9am (54 mile) and heading north as far as Gibraltar Rock near the Merrimac Ferry. See their ride guide for their entire schedule of rides and details about the alternate start for the shorter 30 mile loop.

You Might Have Missed It

Madison Bikes has a very active Facebook community so sometimes some discussions slip through the cracks. Here are some interesting ones you might want to check out from this week:

Upcoming

Wheel and Sprocket is looking for a few ride leaders to help out at their first annual Ride of Silence on May 15. This is a nationwide event that honors and remembers cyclists we've lost on the road.

Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) is looking for volunteers to help at Learn 2 Ride events on Sunday, May 5 and Sunday, May 19. Do you remember where and how you learned 2 ride and who taught you? Sign up to help right here!

And of course, Madison Bike Week will be here in just a few weeks. Mark your calendars for June 1 through June 8!

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.


Biking with Steph: East Side Pride

Hi Madison Bikes Community, I'm Steph! I am a new member of the Madison Bikes Board, an avid cyclist and coffee drinker. I will be contributing to the Madison Bikes blog on a weekly basis to provide a voice of bike-related encouragement, insight, and amusement. While I am not a bike expert by any means, I am obsessed with all things bike-related and look forward to sharing my thoughts on a new topic with you each week!

Earlier today, I found myself grumbling the old saying “Wisconsin has two seasons: winter and construction season” while biking from Madison’s east side through the hairball intersection.

https://i.imgur.com/VbZegrFl.jpg

 

While it is easy to whine about the exponential growth of orange construction barrels in the past few weeks on Madison’s east side, I’d like to focus on something more positive. Recently, I recalled an acquaintance referring to my SASY-area home being located in “biker’s paradise”. It’s true. Even with the construction, I am so lucky to live in a neighborhood that is as bike-friendly as it is.

 

Here are seven reasons why I live in a biker’s paradise:

1. There are so, so many bike groups that start their rides from this part of town including ones held by Spoke Haven, Cargo Bike Shop, Brazen Dropouts, and Revolution Cycles.

https://i.imgur.com/Reo1qB5l.jpg

(Brazen Dropouts Saturday ride)

2. Lots of local businesses care show they ❤ bikers with lots of bike parking outside their establishments and/or by participating in the Bicycle Benefits program.

https://i.imgur.com/0pJJKEgl.jpg

(Bike parking by Mint Mark)

 

3. There are a lot of bike trails/paths on this side of town, including: Capital City, Yahara River, Sherman Flyer, and Starkweather Creek.

https://i.imgur.com/jotj5g7l.jpg

(Biking on the Cap City Bike Trail)

4. Some of our residential streets have sharrows in the middle of the travel lane. This symbol provides cyclists with extra validation that we can take the full lane, instead of smooshing to the side and hoping for the best.

https://i.imgur.com/bx8jLh9l.jpg

5. The near east side has wayfinding signage for places like Middle Earth and the Space Station.

https://i.imgur.com/CAMqxikl.jpg

 

6. The Monona Lake Loop meanders through residential segments of the neighborhood.

https://i.imgur.com/3T2s0wXl.jpg

7. There are TWO bike-friendly intersections with biker-focused stoplights and green lane markings.

https://i.imgur.com/PsmsNaJl.jpg

(Intersection at Dunning and Atwood. How many bikes do YOU see in the photo!?)

 

(Intersection at Blair and Mifflin.)

 

Sure, not everything about any neighborhood is perfect. However, the near east side is pretty darn close though; you should bike on over for a visit and see for yourself.

Happy biking and tailwinds!

P.S. Haven’t gotten enough bike-related content yet? Check out a video clip from last week’s Amstel Gold Race. A veritable nail-biter (especially the final few minutes).


Monday Update: Transportation Commission, Cross Plains Workday, Bikes and Brews

The steady rise in temperatures this spring is starting to pay off with warmer weather and more people out on bikes! The bike counter on the Cap. City Path in Law Park saw its highest daily count so far this year at 2,783 bikes on Saturday, April 20! The counters at Law Park and on the Southwest Commuter Path both saw their highest weekly count of 2019 for the week starting on April 15 with 12,041 and 8,152 bikes counted respectively. The data for all of Madison’s “Eco-Counters” are available online at http://www.eco-public.com/ParcPublic/?id=4336

Just as a reminder, Madison Bike Week is coming in just over a month! Save the date!


Construction Updates

E Johnson St. - Construction will switch to Stage 2, the work zone for this stage is the north side of Johnson St. and the west side of First St. up to Mifflin St. so the side path on the south side of Johnson remain open. Click here to see the open pedestrian and bike facilities.

Williamson/Wilson St. - Starting Tuesday, April 23 the path on the south side of Williamson St. in front of Machinery Row will be closed for approximately two weeks. A signed detour is provided on the Capital City Path from the Lake Loop on Paterson St.

This Week

Monday, April 22,

Bike Fitchburg is having its monthly meeting starting at 6:30 PM. The meeting takes place at the Fitcbhurg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd in Fitchburg.

Tuesday, April 23,

The Bike for Boys & Girls Club Kick-Off is starting at 5:30 PM at The Thirsty Goat, 3040 Cahill Main, in Fitchburg. The event’s Facebook description says, “This evening will include appetizers, light music, and even better company. This is a great opportunity to learn more about our annual Bike for Boys and Girls Club, as well as how to get involved.”

“Free prizes will be distributed to those who attend!”

The Bike for Boys & Girls Club ride is an annual fundraiser ride to benefit Dane County youth through the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. Read more about the ride on their website: https://www.bike4bgc.com

Wednesday, April 24,

At 5:00 PM, the Transportation Commission (TC) is meeting in the Common Council Chambers, Room 202, at the Madison Municipal Building in downtown Madison, 215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Click here to access the full agenda for the meeting.

At the meeting TC members will be voting to adopt the Interim Recommendation for the Wilson St. Corridor Study, which will include a pilot project for a protected cycle track on Broom St., and a reconstruction of the 300 block of W. Wilson St. that would not preclude a future cycle track on the south side of Wilson St. See the Legistar entry for this agenda item to read the full text of the legislation, and read the Interim Recommendation document for more information on what process the corridor study went through to arrive at the interim recommendation.

TC members will also be given a presentation on the Draft 2020-2025 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) by City Engineering staff. The TIP is a document that lays out a 5-year budget plan for transportation project priorities, including major streets and bikeways. The TIP generally gets reviewed by a series of committees before ending up in the city’s budget process for the next annual budget.

At 7:00 PM, there will be a Ladies Night celebration hosted by Machinery Row Bicycles in coordination with Erica DeAnda of Wisconsin Pink Boots Society at their location on the corner of Williamson St. and John Nolen Dr. The celebration is for all women and female-identifying cyclists in the Madison area, and will feature a beer tasting, treats, and door prizes! Admission is free! Read more about it on their Facebook events page.

Saturday, April 27,

The Capital Off Road Pathfinders are looking for volunteers for two spring projects. Both projects start at 9 AM and go until noon.

The first is a Cross Plains Spring Workday for the off road mountain bike course. This project is for general cleanup after winter and perhaps a few building projects. No special skills or tools are required to participate. Read more about it at their Facebook events page.

The second is a Garlic Mustard Removal and Trash Clean-Up project at Quarry Park, 3302 Stevens St. on Madison’s west side. This project is co-hosted by the Rocky Bluff Neighborhood Association. Read more about this volunteer opportunity at its Facebook events page.

At 11:30 AM, join Freewheel Community Bike Shop and ALT Brew for a Bike and Brew Tour. The tour starts at ALT Brew, 1808 Wright St. in Madison. Same-day registration is $25, tickets are available in advance for $20 from Alt Brew. Proceeds will benefit Freewheel Community Bike Shop. All registered participants will receive an ALT Brew pint glass and a “free beer” card to use at a brewery, mini tire levers, a $10 freewheel coupon, and stickers. Stops include ALT Brew, Rockhound Brewing, Working Draft Beer, Parched Eagle, and Karben 4 Brewing and all breweries on this tour have Bicycle Benefits discounts available. To learn more about this event check out their 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.


With a Roubaix Here and a Roubaix There

Hi Madison Bikes Community, I'm Steph! I am a new member of the Madison Bikes Board, an avid cyclist and coffee drinker. I will be contributing to the Madison Bikes blog on a weekly basis to provide a voice of bike-related encouragement, insight, and amusement. While I am not a bike expert by any means, I am obsessed with all things bike-related and look forward to sharing my thoughts on a new topic with you each week!

Last week, I learned about a new bike event called Paris-Roubaix. To be honest, I had no idea what the heck a "roubaix" was, where it was, or even how to pronounce it (ROO-bay, FYI). What I did deduce was that the Paris-Roubaix was a BIG deal in certain segments of the bike world because there were heaps of references to the event in the popping up on my Facebook feed.

Here were just a few events in the area that Facebook thought I should know about:

Regardless whether spring has truly sprung in Wisconsin or not, the rip-roaring biking community is ready to go and there are events galore. Most of these events do not require advanced registration and most event organizers would be glad to see you come out at all! There are bike events for people from all backgrounds and abilities. There are no-drop rides for women, scavenger hunt rides, hardcore training rides and SO many more. In addition to bike events advertised on social media, you can find a plethora of bike events on our Madison Bikes "Community Bike Calendar". One of our biggest events this year will be Madison Bike Week! We will be organizing the week of events and plan on it being the best Bike Week ever. Please consider having your place of work get involved by hosting an event or sign up to be a volunteer!

Oh, and for those still wondering, Roubaix is a city in Northern France and Paris-Roubaix is the name of a one-day, boneshaking bike race that has been held in France since the 1800s. The previously-mentioned iterations of the Roubaix involve races on grueling terrain (including gravel) at very challenging speeds.

Happy riding!

P.S.: Want to know more about Paris-Roubaix? Take it from the perspective of the race itself and watch this video:


New mayor and alders and new/continuing road projects

 

Every two years we have elections for the city council, and every four years we elect a mayor. This year there are a LOT of changes, and all the new people take office Tuesday, just two weeks after the election. What will that mean for bicycling or transportation overall? We’ll see.

Wilson Street update

On Tuesday of this past week, a number of MB board members, volunteers, and supporters attended the public hearing on Wilson St. In last week’s update, Harald linked to the final study, so you can see all the options. What we heard on Tuesday was that: 1. No decision has been made about what will be built; 2. The first section of the road – between Broom and Hamilton -- will be rebuilt this year, principally due to deteriorating storm sewer pipes that cannot wait any longer; 3. The next immediate decision will be where to place the curbs during that project; and 4. The preferred option will allow bike two-way facilities to be placed on the street in one of three configurations, however, the bike facilities will not be built yet – until a decision is made on how to add facilities through the entire corridor from Blair to Broom.

So, you will see construction on W Wilson this year, but there won’t be any bike facilities on that section when the dust clears in the fall. There will be one more public information meeting before this project starts to wind its way through city committees and the Council. The next meeting will mostly be about assessments to adjacent landowners and the timing of work.

Traffic Engineering will also be building a two-way cycle track on Broom this year; it will run between John Nolen Dr and W Wilson. That should make getting between the lake path and local streets a little easier. They will be doing a test as to whether it is possible to extend the same treatment to W Main St. TE will test this out by closing off a portion of the right lane to see how this affects motor vehicle traffic flow.

We’ll keep you informed about any news on this project. 

Bike rack campaign at the library

The Madison Public Library Foundation is raising funds for the new Pinney Library. It's like a "brick campaign" -- where individuals can sponsor a brick in a building -- but with bike racks! Because so many Madisonians get to their library by bike, the Foundation wanted to provide an opportunity for sponsors to put their name on one of the 64 bike racks at the new library. 

"Become a part of history at the new Pinney Library! For a $1,000 gift, our community-based 'Rack Raising' fundraising program gives you naming rights that will appear on a sturdy metal U-shaped bike rack outside of the new Pinney Library.

From children and teens to adults, many Pinney Library visitors rely on bicycles as a primary form of transportation and use the adjacent Capital City Trail to get there. Providing lots of parking and security for their bikes promotes safety and protects their investment, as well as encourages an environmentally friendly way to travel around Madison."

Find more details on their campaign website.

Bike Week site up

If you, your employer, or a business would like to sponsor Bike Week or schedule an event, more information and forms to contact us are now available on the Madison Bikes website. There is now a dedicated page for Bike Week.

 

The week ahead

Monday at 6:00 pm is the monthly meeting of the Madison Bikes Board of Directors. As always, members are welcome to attend. We meet at the Central Library, 201 W Mifflin.

Tuesday, the new Mayor and members of the Common Council will be sworn in at noon. Not only is our new Mayor, Satya Rhodes-Conway a dedicated bike and bus commuter, but she is passionate about transportation as one of her highest priorities. Grant Foster, former President of the Madison Bikes Board of Directors will become the new alder (city council representative) for District 15.

Although these are two prominent examples, we are fortunate in Madison to live in a city where getting around by bike is considered fairly normal, and there are many elected officials, both current and former, who make this choice. In addition, many city staff, including our Traffic Engineer, Director of Transportation, and the head of the Metropolitan Planning Organization are all year-round bike commuters.

Good luck to all the returning and new elected officials. You’ll be hearing from us!

If you scroll through the Council agenda, there are pages and pages of mundane items: liquor licenses, contracts to build a sidewalk or sewer line, notices that a small street will be repaved. But sometimes you find some interesting tidbit. Here are a couple that are on the agenda Tuesday that are in some way bike related. You can click on the links if you want to see more.

Wednesday is the monthly meeting of the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee. If you interested in outreach to other members on advocacy issues, learning how to influence city decisions, or have issues that you would like to work on, please come by. We meet at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works, 106 E. Doty St, second floor.

 

What are we talking about on Facebook?

On the Madison Bikes Community group, here are a few discussions from the past week.

Would there be a market for a location where people could park their cars and then bike the rest of the way to their jobs?

Cambridge, Mass., becomes the first city in the U.S. to mandate protected bike lanes.


Madison Bike Week is coming!

Madison Bikes is excited to announce that we are organizing Madison Bike Week in 2019, in partnership with the City of Madison! Bike Week has a long history in Madison, going back at least twenty years to when it was a single "Bike to Work Day." For the past couple years, the Wisconsin Bike Fed has organized the local events as part of the statewide Wisconsin Bike Week. This year, the Bike Fed continues to organize the statewide event, but Madison Bikes is taking over in Madison!

From June 1-8, we will celebrate biking in Madison. The Madison Bikes vision is a city where anyone can ride to any place comfortably and conveniently, and Madison Bike Week is an important part of making that vision a reality. Bike Week celebrates riding to work, to school, to a park, to the library -- or biking to feel the warm wind blowing through your hair. Bike Week also celebrates the diversity in biking in Madison: We aim to have events in all neighborhoods of the city and partner with community groups.

Madison Bike Week will feature big, well-established events such as Ride the Drive and Bacon on the Bike Path, as well as Bike Stations with free treats or bike checks, organized bike rides, or special Madison Bike Week offers from local businesses.

Get involved in Madison Bike Week and show your support for biking:

  • Host an event with your business or community group, or offer deals/discounts to people riding bikes. You can sign up here.
  • Sponsor Madison Bike Week: Show your commitment to biking and support us financially. Please get in touch with us by email.
  • Spread the word and volunteer: Ask your employer or favorite local business to participate in Bike Week, tell your friends about the event and motivate them to participate, or sign up to volunteer. We'll be hosting a volunteer session in early May.

Check madisonbikes.org/bikeweek often, or subscribe to our email newsletter.

 

 


Biking with Steph: Vroooom!

Hi Madison Bikes Community, I'm Steph! I am a new member of the Madison Bikes Board, an avid cyclist and coffee drinker. I will be contributing to the Madison Bikes blog on a weekly basis to provide a voice of bike-related encouragement, insight, and amusement. While I am not a bike expert by any means, I am obsessed with all things bike-related and look forward to sharing my thoughts on a new topic with you each week!

Like many cyclists (or should I say "people on bicycles"), I have mixed opinions on e-bikes. I'm not going to delve into these opinions here. Instead, I'd like to talk about e-bikes from the perspective of a non-cyclist- my mother. Last summer, my mother drove from Racine to Madison to visit me and take in the city. Naturally, I recommended that we do something bike-related while she was visiting. We visited the Trek store on Madison's west side as they were hosting a women's bike event and were allowing everyone to test ride their electric bikes (e-bikes). 

May I just say, it was an absolute delight for everyone. My mother is very active and outdoorsy but does she not care to hop on a bike for fun. After test riding an e-bike for the first time, the possibility of biking for fun became more enticing. Being that e-bikes are something of an investment, she decided to not purchase the bike but would mull it over. Last week, I texted her that the Bike Expo Sale Wisconsin would be held in Milwaukee over the weekend and that she could test ride the e-bikes again! It wasn't hard to convince her to meet me there.

What is an electric bike? Electric bikes amplify your own pedal power. Most e-bikes are pedal-assist bikes, which means there’s a motor that helps the pedals turn when you’re riding, but no throttle like a motorcycle or dirt bike. When you’re pedaling, the e-bike gives you a boost. When you stop pedaling, the bike stops assisting. At the Expo, I saw a lot of people trying out e-bikes for the first time and the staff did a great job educating the riders on how to adjust the pedal-assistance.

After a quick tutorial from the staff, she was tearing up the course! The expo had an indoor riding course including a small bridge and cute, painted backdrops. You can see that my mother was having an absolute blast.

After the test ride, we spoke with Trek's assistant product manager, David Studner about the pros and cons of various bike models. I had no idea that e-bikes were available as road and mountain bikes too, not just hybrids. There were a few models that I couldn't help but gawk at because they were really, really, really, ridiculously good looking. I was not surprised to learn that there is a backlog of e-bike orders because these bikes are flying out of the stores.

In summary:

Some pros of e-bikes from the perspective of somebody like my mother:
  • You don't need to be a tech-wiz to use the bike.
  • You won't necessarily break a sweat and mess up your hair after going for a ride.
  • The batteries are now integrated into the frame, so it looks "sleek".
  • It is great fun to ride. 
  • The bike lights are already attached and are turned on when you ride.
  • E-bikes provide an opportunity to stay current and to grow as a person.
Some cons of e-bikes from the perspective of somebody like my mother:
  • Removing the integrated battery from the bike frame is a multi-step process and can be a bit cumbersome.
  • The bikes are pricey.
  • The pedals "look cheap".
  • Riding an e-bike take some mental adaptation.
  • The concern of public stigmatization that riding an e-bike means that she isn't in good shape.
  • Safety concerns if she hits a pothole and gets thrown off the speedy bike.
After much deliberation, she decided to not buy the bike at the expo. However, after doing a bit more research and maybe one more sweet test ride, I bet she'll make the leap and buy the bike. Perhaps, then, we can ride together and make some new memories. 

Happy riding and tailwinds (or well-charged e-bike)!

P.S.: Have extra time on your hands? Check out this video. It is not at all related to e-bikes but does make me very happy. I dare you to keep a straight face.


Monday Update: Wilson St, Transpo Committee, Seminole work day

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Last Week

Phew, local elections are over, and we have a new mayor and many new members on the Common Council. Congratulations to our mayor-elect Satya Rhodes-Conway and all the new Alders who got elected -- we're excited about working with you toward a better transportation system in Madison! The new council will be sworn in on April 16.

This Week

On Monday night, the Madison Bikes events committee is meeting. They have big plans (stay tuned for an official announcement!) and are always looking for new faces to help make events successful. 6 pm at Rockhound Brewing on Park St.

Also on Monday is a final Fish Hatchery reconstruction public meeting. As far as we know, at this point all the decisions have been made (there will be a new bike/ped path on one side of the street!), and the meeting is purely informational. 5:30 pm at the Wyndham Garden hotel in Fitchburg.

No decisions have been made on West Wilson Street. On Tuesday there is another (a final?) public meeting where the City Department of Transportation (DoT) will present it's draft corridor study report. You can read the 49-page document here. At previous public meetings there was very strong support for a protected two-way bike lane along Wilson. But the conclusion of the report kicks the can down the road because some people are concerned that on a street with thousands of off-street parking spots, a bike lane would require the removal of 16 on-street parking spots.

As of March 2019, there is not a full consensus on a Wilson Street corridor plan. Comments at PIM’s tend to favor Alternative 7 (Two‐way separated cycle track). While some residents express reservations about accommodating cyclists on Wilson Street (sic). Due to construction associated with Judge Doyle Square, as well as curb modifications that would need to occur in the 100 and 200 blocks of Wilson Street, it is not possible to implement a full corridor plan in 2019. [...] For these reasons, this section makes a recommendation that can be constructed in the near term, with the understanding that the full corridor planning process will continue.

Kudos to the DoT for putting the work into the corridor study and coming up with a feasible plan for safe bike facilities on Wilson. Now we need public support and political leadership to close the Wilson Street gap, and to close it soon! 7 pm, Room 215 (formerly Room 260), Madison Municipal Building.

On Wednesday, the Transportation Commission is meeting at 5 pm in Room 215 at the Madison Municipal Building. The most bike-relevant item on the agenda is the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) review. This is the document that lays out the major capital transportation spending priorities over the coming years. In general, if a project is not in the TIP, it is unlikely to be built. We haven't analyzed the document in detail yet, but this is the slide on bike projects:

On Thursday, you can join the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) for an "informal panel discussion about our statewide efforts to create a transportation system that works for everyone." On the panel are Emma Fisher, WISPIRG organizer,  Cassie Steiner of the Sierra Club, and Chris McCahill of the State Smart Transportation Initiative. 5 pm at the Black Locust Cafe.

On Saturday, bike out to the Seminole Trails and help getting the trails into shape for the season. Our awesome MTB trail systems around town rely on volunteer trail work, and so this is a great opportunity to get involved. Starts at 9 am, no special skills/tools required.

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.



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