On Wednesday, January 10th at 6:00pm, staff from the City of Madison Engineering department will host a public informational meeting on the proposed reconstruction of Winnebago Street from Second Street to Bashford Avenue.
At the time of writing, there is no information available for this project on Engineering’s projects webpage. Instead, notice of the public meeting seems to be limited to a letter sent to adjacent residents and shared via Alder Rummel’s blog/weekly update.
Staff describe the current conditions as: “48 ft. wide, with a travel lane, bike lane, and parking lane in both directions, and approximately a 3 ft. terrace on both sides. Due to significant grade differences, a portion of the southeasterly side terrace has walls and railings adjacent to the sidewalk.”
Staff call out the following three alternatives for consideration:
- Narrowing the travel lanes by 1 ft. each, making the total street width 46 ft., while maintaining all of the existing lanes. Terraces would widen by approximately 1 ft. on each side.
- Remove parking on one side, but maintain all travel and bike lanes. This option could narrow the street to 40 ft., which would widen the terraces further and improve the grade challenges more.
- Can also consider an option that combines both of the first options: a portion of the street with all existing lanes, and another portion that has parking removed on one side.
Option #1 reflects a slight change from the proposal that was originally presented to the Ped/Bike/MV Commission in November. At that meeting, project engineer Jim Wolfe described a concept that would reduce the street width from 48’ to 44’ by reducing the unrestricted travel lanes by 1’ each and by reducing the recently painted bike lanes by 1’ in both directions. This would accommodate a widening of the terraces from three to five foot on both sides.
In addition to the grade challenges that result in the need for a railing on the southeastern sidewalk and that prevent comfortable access for people in wheelchairs, the current 3’ terraces do not accommodate tree plantings. Additionally, nearby neighbors have voiced concern over the difficult pedestrian crossing of Winnebago at Fourth Street (an important walking route for many students to East High School).
The southwestern end of this project at Second Street also abuts the long-discussed Schenks Corners area. This was one area of focus for the SASY Committee that was organized around improving the Winnebago-Atwood corridor. That work was put on hold when many of the corresponding street reconstruction projects were pushed out, but there was significant public engagement at that time to identify a future vision of this corridor that improved conditions for people outside of cars.
At the heart of this project is the question of space. There’s no suggestion of increasing the public right of way, so any increase of space allocation on the one hand will require a decrease in space allocation on the other.Read more
Things have been pretty quiet on the calendar update front as we’ve all taken some much needed R&R. I spent a lot of time indoors with family and friends: cooking, eating, and playing games and I feel pretty excited to put energy back into improving biking in Madison in 2018. The frigid temperatures have been pretty intense, but also mean that the frozen lakes have instantly expanded our winter bike playground.
And while things have been mostly quiet around the city in terms of meetings and events, there have been a number of interesting articles shared via the Madison Bikes Facebook Group. For those that don’t frequent that page, you can check out some of those articles via the links below:
Monday: The Madison Bikes Events Committee will hold its first meeting of the year to continue planning of Winter Bike Week (2/2-2/9). We’re always looking for more people to join in with this group; check the calendar for details. And of course, the MEAThead ride should be rolling again. Maybe the lights are still up at Olin-Turville?
Tuesday: On Tuesday, the Madison Bikes Communications Committee will meet up and also work on a number of topics including Winter Bike Week preparations. Check out the About Us section of our webpage for more info on any of the Madison Bikes Committees.
Wednesday: There will be a first Public Meeting for another Winnebago Street project. This one will be for the section from 2nd-Bashford. There’s a limited amount of space here and some unique challenges that will require some hard decisions. Watch for a blog post tomorrow with more details on this important project.
Saturday: And on Saturday, it’s the annual Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap at the Alliant Energy Center. And if you'd rather get rid of bikes instead of buying new ones: Free Bikes 4 Kids is having a big bike collection at various Dean Medical Group locations in an around Madison.
Happy New Year everyone! On behalf of our board of directors, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported Madison Bikes and biking in Madison in 2017 -- be it through donations, doing volunteer work, coming to our events or public meetings, asking a business to install bike parking, encouraging a friend to try riding a bike, submitting a Report-A-Problem, ...
Because of your awesomeness, our end-of-year fundraising drive was a huge success! We were blown away by your generosity! Within little over a week, Madison Bikes supporters gave over $3000 -- well beyond our initial target of $1000. Together with the matching pledge from our board members, we raised well over $4500! This puts us on a very stable financial footing for 2018 and also allows us to consider additional activities to further our mission.
We have several new board members starting their term this year (stay tuned for an introduction), and a strategic planning session in February will help us setting our priorities for the year and beyond. I am excited about another year of making biking better in Madison for everyone! Thank you for your continued support.
Harald (VP of Madison Bikes)
PS Our Monday Update posts will return from their holiday break next week.
On Wednesday, December 20th, City of Madison Engineering staff presented information on the upcoming Winnebago (Riverside-Merry) project. My previous post on the project is here. A copy of the presentation and staff notes from the meeting are available on the project website. A second public meeting is planned for January or February and the project should be returning to the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission in a similar timeframe. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in June of 2018.
Of the 40+ people in attendance, there was broad interest to improve conditions for people walking, wheeling, and biking in this area. Many noted the challenges in crossing the street and raised concerns about high motor vehicle speed and red light running. There was also a fair amount of interest in reconsidering the Rogers and Thornton intersections as part of this project (including the concept of moving the signal from Rogers to Thornton and tuning the signal timing to align with the signal at Riverside).
The highlight of the project from staff’s perspective is the proposed diagonal bike crossing. This should be a nice improvement for people on bikes as it will smooth out the sharp turns that currently exist and will provide additional space and separation at this busy crossing for all path users. This proposal seemed to be broadly supported at the meeting and should find its way into the final design.
The other item of significant interest for people that move by bike is the missing eastbound connection from this intersection to the eastbound travel lane on Winnebago. I wrote in more detail here about how people on bikes tend to navigate this segment today.
It was encouraging to see that Engineering staff had done some initial evaluation of this gap prior to the public meeting and that they included a ‘widened sidewalk’ in the “Other Possible Improvements” section of the presentation. The concept would replace the existing 6’ wide sidewalk with a 10’ wide multi-use path and would require “altering the cross-slope of the roadway and narrowing travel lanes” in order to make it all fit.
While there was some concern expressed that better accommodating bicycle travel might lead to increased conflict between people traveling by foot and by bike, most people in attendance seemed to support the concept. As one attendee pointed out, people already bike on this narrow sidewalk all the time, so widening it should result in a benefit for all users.
If you have any thoughts or ideas you’d like to share with the city, you can send them to the project engineer, Chris Dawson. We’ll also keep you updated via the Madison Bikes blog. You can sign up here if you’re not already subscribed.
On Wednesday, December 20th, there will be a Public Information Meeting from 6:00-7:30pm at Bethany Evangelical Free Church. This meeting will be held to discuss the project known as “Winnebago St-Riverside Dr Diagonal Crossing“ and will be an opportunity for the public to provide input and ask questions regarding the project.
On November 28th, this project was presented at the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission (you can watch that presentation here). The plan below gives a good idea of what is being proposed to improve the Capital City path crossing at Winnebago/Riverside. This plan was generally well received by commission members and should prove to be a significant improvement over the current crossing. One of the more significant benefits of this new alignment will be improved snow removal. The existing perpendicular crossing is very difficult for our snow removal equipment to navigate and large portions of the crossing often go unplowed.
But what was not clear at the PBMVC meeting in November and what is not clear by the project title on Engineering’s website is that this project will also include replacement of the existing pavement from the north end of the Winnebago Street bridge over the Yahara River to the median at the intersection of Winnebago Street and Merry Street.
This is very significant and the fact that it has not been more clearly articulated by city staff is cause for concern. It’s significant because this stretch represents one of the worst gaps in our bike network in this part of the city. As most neighbors that spend any amount of time on bikes will immediately recognize, this short section of right of way currently fails to accommodate eastbound travel by bicycle from the Capital City path to First/Winnebago and to areas further east--including the major commercial area at Schenk’s Corners/Atwood as well as the areas of development along Winnebago and Union Corners.
There are currently three options to navigate this major connection by bike. The first two options both require crossing Winnebago/Eastwood twice, include several sharp, right angle (or worse) turns, and time spent riding on the sidewalk.
The third option is chosen by the overwhelming majority of people on bike:
This option reduces the crossing of Winnebago/Eastwood to only the inbound Winnebago lanes and has no sharp turns to navigate, but it does require riding on the narrow sidewalk between the Capital City path and Merry Street and also involves riding about 100’ in the wrong direction on Winnebago Street before picking up the eastbound travel lane.
This 300’ gap (from the end of the Capital City path to the beginning of the eastbound travel lane on Winnebago) has been consistently identified as needing improvement by community members over the years. It has been called out at in 2007, 2010, and 2016 as part of the PBMVC public hearings for Pedestrian/Bicycle improvement projects; during the city sponsored 2014 Ideascale Ped/Bike idea solicitation; as well as during numerous map and dot exercises over the years, including for the recently approved Madison in Motion plan.
And so the fact that this key connection is conspicuously missing from this major reconstruction project causes real concern that city Engineering staff may not have been tracking on this at all.
Following the PBMVC meeting in November, and once it became clear that this project did indeed include the reconstruction of the roadway between the river and Merry Street, I sent these observations to our Engineering Department and asked that they work to address this missing link and to update the project plan to include a safe, comfortable, and direct connection for people on bikes that also ensures comfortable access for people walking and wheeling through this constrained and heavily travelled right of way.
I also acknowledged the challenge in doing so, given the grade and retaining wall on the west side and the inability to exercise our powers of condemnation for bike and walkways recently passed by our state legislature. But as challenging as it may be, it would be unacceptable to continue to accommodate four-lanes of motor vehicle traffic while people outside of cars--those moving on foot and on bike and in wheelchairs--fight over the scraps that are left over once peak hour car traffic demand has been satisfied.
In that same sustainable master transportation plan (Madison in Motion), we have committed to a future that increasingly prioritizes transit, biking, and walking over individual motor vehicle travel. And this is exactly the kind of project where, as a community, we will need to follow through with that commitment by allocating the space needed to promote and encourage active transportation.
I’m hopeful that Engineering staff will come prepared to the 12/20 meeting with a new alternative that addresses this in a meaningful way and I’m resolved to work towards ensuring that it’s addressed if that isn’t the case.
Please join the meeting in person if you can and stay tuned for more updates on this important project.
Madison Bikes had their annual meeting last Monday. We approved our 2018 budget and had elections for our board of directors. We're excited to have several awesome new board members -- stay tuned for an official introduction when they take office in January. And thanks to everyone who applied but wasn't elected this time, as well as our outgoing board members.
On Friday, Revolution Cycles once again hosted Art Pedaler, showcasing various kinds of bike-related art from local artists and makers. Thanks for organizing!
Winter Bike Fashion Show is over -- time to start planning Winter Bike Week! The Madison Bikes Events Committee is going to meet on Monday to make plans for Winter Bike Week. Join them at Cafe Domestique at 6pm. Winter Bike Week is going to take place from February 2-9 2018.
Also on Monday, is the weekly MEATHead ride, a casual loop around Lake Monona. Looks like the temperatures will be unseasonably warm that night. Depart at 7pm at Ford's Gym.
Another opportunity for a social ride comes Tuesday: Bike Benefits, Down With Bikes, and DreamBikes are teaming up for a holiday ride/potluck/open shop night. Meet at Colectivo on the Square at 6pm.
If you're a regular user of the Cap City Trail on the east side, on Wednesday you should attend a public meeting. The city has plans to improve the crossing of the trail and Atwood Avenue, near Winnebago and Riverside. Instead of the sharp angles of the current crossing, the city is proposing to shift the alignment of the path and create a diagonal crossing. Unclear so far is if they're also planning to address the missing connection from the path to Winnebago. At the moment your options are either to ride on a narrow sidewalk or to cross Atwood twice. 6pm, Bethany Evangelical Free Church.
On Thursday, it's winter solstice -- and the annual tradition of the Fantasy in Lights Ride. Madison Bike Winter invites you to come to Rockhound Brewing on Park Street at 5:30 and then ride together to the Fantasy in Lights display at Olin Park.
Photo credit: Madison Bike Winter
A Brief Webinar Review
A tremendous amount of media coverage and a lot of hyperbole surrounds the emerging issues around autonomous (i.e., driverless) vehicles. Supposedly, they are about to engulf our streets and cities and change everything. Cutting through some of the hype, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) recently held a two-part webinar well worth a view. In addition, PBIC has developed a very informative companion Discussion Guide* to help advocates when talking to planners and policy makers about autonomous vehicles (AV) and vulnerable road user (VRU) issues.
Part I: The Promise and Challenges of Automated Technologies (August 16 Webinar)
The first (and for me the most interesting) session featured experts from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute (Bernardo Pires), Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety (Justin Owens), and Charles River Analytics (Michael Jenkins). They pointed out that current technologies have a very difficult time detecting cyclists. Not surprisingly, very little R&D has yet to focus on walking and biking issues. A list of all the challenges they outlined is shown below.
Part II: Policies to Prepare for an Automated Future (August 31 Webinar)
The second session discussed policy issues and tools. Presentations included the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), academics from UC-Davis’s National Center for Sustainable Transportation, practitioners from Sam Schwartz Engineering, and those leading the Portland, OR Smart Autonomous Vehicles Initiative (SAVI).
Bicycle advocates could and should play an important role in the ongoing public and institutional dialog. We should insist on prioritizing areas of AV/pedestrian and bicycle interaction that need addressing and improvement, but we need to be invited to the table (see Dave Cieslewicz’s post on the Bike Fed blog). I came away from the webinars (still) strongly convinced, like many others, that full scale, level 5 (full automation everywhere under all conditions) autonomous vehicle implementation is still at least a decade, probably much more away. However, we may very well see trial implementations on selected restricted access roads (freeways) and more controlled environments (like the University Campus) way before then.
Other Local and National Resources
- The University of Wisconsin–Madison has recently been named as host one of 10 proving grounds for driverless cars and trucks by the U.S. Department of Transportation. (A planned live demonstration of the autonomous shuttle was canceled in November.)
- The City of Madison has joined the Transportation for America’s Smart Cities Collaborative and will be involved in a number of projects including a Park Street transportation corridor which will explore the technology to allow signals to communicate with buses, autos and eventually pedestrians and bicyclists.
- The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) conference, have released a Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism encouraging cities to set a vision to make their cities safe and livable with autonomous vehicles.
- Lastly, the November 7th issue of the New York Times Magazine is chock full of articles (lighthearted and serious) devoted to issues surrounding autonomous vehicles.
What a great week it was for biking in Madison! First snow of the season, Rampaging Santas on bikes, and the Winter Bike Fashion Show!!
Thanks to everyone that came out in support and to everyone that helped make the Fashion Show a success. Special shout out to Emily Sonnemann and the Madison Bikes Events Committee for leading the charge, to Brian Anderson for being our mc, and to Pepe Barros and Down With Bikes for hooking us up with all the bike parking we needed. Pictures are courtesy of the talented Dan Stout! We'll publish more of them later!
Next up, Winter Bike Week coming in early February!
And this week we’ve got plenty to keep you busy:
Monday: It should be a beautiful night for the weekly MEAThead ride. Enjoy a lake loop through fresh snow and take in the holiday lights at Olin-Turville.
Wednesday: The Department of National Resources has been seeking input across the state to understand how people feel about opening more public land for motor sports. They’ll be in Fitchburg doing the same this Wednesday. Whether you can make the meeting or not, make sure and share your views on this short survey.
Friday: Bikes, Art, Beer, Friends. Come out Revolution Cycles on Friday for this year’s Art Pedaler.
Saturday: And on Saturday, Baltazar is back with a special Tour Navideño - Holiday Tour.
Of course, the big event coming up this week is the Winter Bike Fashion Show. We’ve been reminding you about it for weeks now, but we don’t want you to miss all the fun. Remember, it’s at the High Noon Salon on Saturday, December 9 at 1:00 pm. Bring your friends and family! We have a countdown on our Facebook event page, with one winter-cycling-related question a day.
Preview of today's question
But there are more winter cycling events this week, as well as some fun rides and of course, city and neighborhood meetings.
- It’s another casual ride around Lake Monona to keep your blood moving during the cold weather. Meet at Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St at 7:00 pm for the weekly MEAThead ride. This is a no drop, Lake Monona loop with optional loop through Arboretum.
- Madison Bikes Communications Committee meets from 5:30pm to 7:00pm at the Memorial Union - Sunset Lounge.
- Dream Bikes has open shop hours from 6pm to 8pm. Want to work on your bike but don’t have the tools or the mad skllz? Ride over to Madison Dream Bikes, 4245 W Beltline Hwy, for open shop hours.
- The University Bike Resource Center will offer some tips to keep you “Biking Through Winter” It’s a brown bag, so you can bring a lunch. Noon–1:00 pm, University Bicycle Resource Center in the Helen C White garage, 600 N Park St. Join veteran winter cyclist and Madison Bikes board member Chuck Strawser for tips on biking through the winter. Suggestions for clothing and other gear plus basic winter maintenance tips and available resources. Free Planet Bike blinky light set to the first five attendees.
- If you are interested in hearing about the plans for the replacement of the Wingra Creek bridge just east of Fish Hatchery Rd, there will be a meeting about the plans 3:00–4:00 pm at Strand Associates, 910 W Wingra Dr. This bridge offers a nice alternative to cross Wingra Creek for those who want to avoid the turn lanes at Wingra Drive and Fish Hatchery, or those accessing Wright Middle School. If you are unable to attend, please direct questions or comments to Lisa Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-266-4093).
Location of the Wingra Creek Bridge
- If you want to hear about transportation plans for the entire metropolitan region, then check out the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board Meeting: 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Water Utility-Engineering, 119 E Olin Ave, Madison. Two items are of particular interest to Madison Bikes; a discussion of the autonomous vehicle testing corridor on Park Street and a discussion of the results of a bicycle level of stress analysis. The result of the Environmental Impact study WisDOT has completed for the terribly flawed and bike/pedestrian-unfriendly project it is proposing on Stoughton Road is also up for discussion. The full agenda is at the link above.
- To pregame for the Winter Bike Fashion Show, join the Santa Cycle Rampage, starting at 10:30 am at Paceline Indoor Cycling, 601 N Whitney Way. It runs about two hours, or until it’s time to go to the big event.
- Winter Bike Fashion Show: 1pm-4pm; High Noon Saloon, 701A E Washington Avenue. Do you love to ride your bike in winter? Have you discovered the secret to staying warm and dry? The Winter Bike Fashion Show will return to the High Noon Saloon for its 2017 edition on December 9 at 1pm. Whether you’ve been riding a bike in the winter for a long time or are just curious, come join us. Share your expertise, your excitement for winter riding, and celebrate the season with others at a family-friendly event. Free admissions, cool door prizes, and Madison Bikes winter t-shirts for sale! RSVP on Facebook or just stop by.
There are some things that most members and allies of Madison Bikes agree on: improving dangerous intersections, adding safe bike routes connecting the city, and building a strong community of support for those who bike. But there’s one important point that’s probably more contentious than any other: parking for cars. Most bike advocates are drivers, too, and often get frustrated by how difficult or expensive parking can be and we worry about how much worse it could get. Unfortunately, seeing things only from this angle could undermine a lot of great work that Madison Bikes does.
A little over a year ago, I led a study of parking use at apartment buildings throughout Madison (published recently by the Transportation Research Board). We found vast differences in how much parking people use, depending on where they live and what kind of apartment they live in. But one thing is constant. From downtown high rises to suburban duplexes, about one-third of the existing parking spaces sit empty every night. It doesn’t take a formal study to see that we’re surrounded by empty parking spaces—not just at home but wherever we work, shop, eat, and play.
198 bike parking spots in front of the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research, almost all full
184 car parking spots at Group Health Cooperative, many of which are empty
Extra parking takes up valuable space, it cuts into tax revenues, and it drives up building costs, which we then pay for in rents, wages, and the price of goods and services. More importantly, though, it encourages people to drive even when they could choose not to.
I’ve studied how parking affects people’s travel decisions for about a decade and one pattern is clear. If people have a guaranteed spot at home, they’re more likely to drive. If they have a guaranteed spot at work, they’re more likely to drive. To paraphrase one study, guaranteed parking means guaranteed driving, no matter what other options are available.
Underutilized car parking at Jenny Street Market
All that driving is a problem for the bicycle community and for the city in general. It means more traffic, more collisions, and more competition for road space. It also means people are less likely to think about biking as a viable travel option.
Fortunately, the City no longer dictates how much parking developers need to provide in many parts of Madison. In some rare cases, developers don’t build any at all, but only if they’re certain they can still lease the space (their lenders make sure of that). The more projects they build, often, the less parking they provide. Based on my research, that’s great for the city.
Unfortunately, we—the residents—are often the ones standing in the way. Even bicycle advocates can become nervous when a new project puts more pressure on limited on-street parking. Private parking can feel like the right solution, but adding more parking only guarantees one outcome: more cars. As Madison grows, it will benefit by welcoming those who want to trade four wheels for two and experience the city on foot. The more we invest in parking, the more we commit to the opposite.
Empty residential parking right off the Southwest Path