Bike projects in Fitchburg: Paved shoulders on Whalen Road and a bike hub on the Badger State Trail
The power of advocacy: Our friends from Bike Fitchburg had sent out an action alert. The Fitchburg Common Council was deciding on two important bike projects, and the comments that you and others sent in made a difference. Matthew Jones, president of Bike Fitchburg, reports:
HUGE THANK YOUS go out to Alders Aaron Richardson, Tony Hartmann, Tom Clauder, Dorothy Krause, and Anne Scott for voting in favor of these crucial items to be included in the city’s 2018 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
As the clock neared midnight last night, the Fitchburg Common Council took up and voted 5-3 on two bike-related proposals:
#4 approved the proposal of shouldering Whalen Road, a route heavily used by cyclists traveling between Fitchburg and Verona and used as a route for the annual Ironman competition. Under the CIP the city has committed to spend $897,990 for paved shoulders on Whalen from Fish Hatchery Road to Fitchrona Road.
#14 was approved to reconstruct the 1890s depot at “Old Fitchburg” as a facility serving users of Badger State Trail and as the centerpiece of an historical city park. Area planning ($15,000) in 2018 and construction ($300,000) beginning in 2019.
Thank you to everyone who testified in favor of these items and for all the folks who took the time to write a quick note of support---it made all the difference!!!
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi at the opening ceremony (Photo credit: Kevin Hikes)
Just yesterday, the Lower Yahara River Trail opened! A project many years in the making, you can now ride from McFarland to Madison and Fitchburg on a beautiful trail instead of busy roads. Also to note: This is the first project in which the new Dane County bicycle wayfinding guidelines have been implemented. You can see the signs all along the trail. The next phases of the trail will continue it from McFarland to Lake Kegonsa State Park and eventually Stoughton.
Related, Dane County Parks has a survey about their 2018-23 Parks and Open Space Plan. The survey only takes 5 minutes to complete and is great opportunity to voice your support for biking facilities like the Lower Yahara River Trail. (h/t to Joe Schubert)
Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission
There was a good discussion about the planned public market at East Washington Avenue and First Street. With a projected volume of 500,000 visitors a year, it will be crucial to make the market conveniently accessible for people biking and walking. Two key connections will be the Mifflin Bike Boulevard and also First Street, which currently is being planned for reconstruction.
Blair Street and John Nolen Corridor
City Engineering presented the plans that were previously shared at the public input meeting, with a special focus on the intersection at Machinery Row. Getting this intersection finalized is the main priority at this point, as it will be the one where construction will begin soonest. As we have previously reported, there is a lot to like about the plan: Moving the driveway to the Machinery Row parking lot; a widened and better separated space for people walking and biking in from of Machinery Row and the Fauerbach; a diagonal bike crossing at Blount Street; and a better alignment of the Cap City path in front of the Gateway Mall. All these will make the intersection work better for those on foot and bike. Of course, the devil is in the details, as some of the public comments and questions from members of the Commission showed. But hopefully those can be sorted out in the near future.
In contrast, the plans for the rest of the corridor, specifically the intersections of John Nolen with Broom Street and with North Shore Drive, seemed less well developed, lacking significant short term improvements and mostly leaving everything as is.
We will keep you updated.
On Monday, come to the Bicycle Mixer at HotelRED. The hotel, which has supported many bike-related events in the past has partnered with Madison BCycle and Bicycle Benefits Madison to for a party. First drink is free if you bring your helmet, and there will be prizes.
A public meeting about Vilas Park is happening on Tuesday. Two "pedestrian bridges" over Vilas Lagoon are slated for replacement, and it would probably be a good idea to remind the Parks department that these bridges are also used by people on bikes.
Two bridges in Vilas Park (© OpenStreetMap)
The Madison Bikes Communications Committee is also meeting on Tuesday for the final push in preparation of our Annual Party and Fundraiser on September 12.
Wednesday will see the Middleton Bike Group meeting (rescheduled from last week).
And on Sunday, join Bombay Bicycle Club for the their Wright Stuff Century, this year run as a limited-support event with ride options from 32 to 125 miles. The longer routes will take you all the way to famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin complex near Spring Green.
Bicycle Benefits has motivated many to take their feet from the gas pedal to the bike pedal for everyday transportation by creating incentives for cyclists and partnering with local businesses. You may have seen the ubiquitous Bicycle Benefits sticker in a store window or on a fellow cyclist's helmet. The program is simple: You can buy a Bicycle Benefits sticker for $5 at participating locations and start reaping the sweet rewards right away.
In addition to the regular Bicycle Benefits, soon you'll be able to get even more: Madison Bikes and Bicycle Benefits have teamed up for Madison Bike! Bingo this year. Get your bingo card at the Madison Bikes Annual Party (included in the admission) on Sept. 12th (all sales at the event benefit Madison Bikes!) or at participating businesses. The challenge starts on the 12th and you’ll have until October 31st to play and test how bikeable the local businesses are for you! No purchase is required to have your card stamped.
3 Tips for Beginners
I did my first Bike! Bingo last year and learned some strategies to successfully completing the Bingo card. Here are my three top tips:
1) Gear up
To bike to these places you’ll of course need access to a bike. If you don't own a bike and are thinking about investing in one, Bike! Bingo is the perfect challenge to find out if biking would improve your life. You can rent a bike from one of the many bike shops and test a few styles out before committing, or you can familiarize yourself with the B-Cycle stations that are found in all the best places in town.
You will also need a helmet. To get a stamp on your bingo card you’ll need a Bicycle Benefits sticker attached to your helmet. Find a helmet that is comfortable and looks good on you (you may be wearing it a lot) and then get your sticker!
2) Plan all your stops
This may seem obvious, but I did not do well on this last year. There was one stop on the Bike! Bingo card that was an event, and I didn't plan my route out enough in advance and missed it. A row and a column, ruined suddenly and forever impossible to complete. Won't be making that mistake this year! I plan to get my special events stamp first thing on September 12th at 6pm at the Madison Bikes Annual Party at the High Noon Saloon! Bike! Bingo kicks off that night at the Madison Bikes Annual Party where a $20 suggested donation will you can get you:
- a bingo playing card
- a Bicycle Benefits sticker,
- membership to Madison Bikes,
- a ticket to a door prize drawing,
- a fabulous party!
Check out the Madison Bike! Bingo Facebook page or the Madison Bikes website for other opportunities to get your special events stamp.
One of my favorite aspects of the Bike! Bingo game is that it is convenient by design. You're playing a game, but you can also get a lot of errands done in the process. Is it your Mom's birthday? Take her out to the fancy restaurant on the playing card and get a stamp! Need doughnuts for work? Go to the doughnut shop on the card and get a stamp on your card! Going out for a beer with coworkers? Get a stamp! Need a "Congratulations" card for your sister? Get a stamp! Have to restock the toilet paper? Stamp it up!
3) Enjoy the Game
Even though many of the places on the card will be convenient to your life, inevitably some spaces will seem too far, or too out of the way. Finding the time to bike to these places can be difficult and stressful, especially for naturally competitive people. If at the end of the month you have completed the entire Bingo card, congratulations! You have won the Bingo and a fantastic prize! But if you find that you can't complete the Bingo card by the end of the month, don't beat yourself up about it. You stayed true to the spirit of the game: You rode your bike more, supported local businesses, and hopefully took some fun pictures. #madisonbikebingo
Thanks to all the local businesses participating in Bicycle Benefits and Bike! Bingo!
Richard Castelnuovo of Wheels for Winners introducing the project
We had a great ride last week with Bombay Bicycle Club that brought in a lot of donations for Wheels for Winners, a non-profit that refurbishes donated bikes and gives them out to local youth who have done community service. Check them out online and consider getting involved or donating!
Also last week, the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association Steering Team finalized recommendations for improvements on and along the Mifflin Street Bike Boulevard. These recommendations will be going to the TLNA board and then on to the city for review and implementation.
As the end of summer takes hold, Mondays mean Mondays Around Monona. And then at 7:00, the Madison Bikes Events Committee will meet at Cafe Domestique to finalize plans for our Annual Party on (Tuesday, September 12th). Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to attend.
On Tuesday, Madison’s Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission holds its monthly meeting. On the agenda are some major road projects including: Blair/Nolen, the Public Market and E. Johnson/First Streets, and Buckeye Road. You can attend in person at the City County Building or watch online on Madison’s City Channel. Also on Tuesday, is an important public hearing on some major projects in Fitchburg that need support. Check out Bike Fitchburg’s action alert for all the details.
On Wednesday, Middleton takes it’s turn and will hold it’s monthly bike infrastructure meeting at city hall. Edit: The Middleton bike meeting has been moved to next week.
Thursday through Sunday would be a great time to grab your friends and family and pedal down to the Orton Park Fest for music and food in support of the Marquette Neighborhood Association.
Last week we had two public meetings about plans affecting major bike corridors in Madison. Crazylegs
John Nolen Drive/Blair Street
The second-to-last public involvement meeting about the study to finalize plans for the John Nolen Drive and Blair Street corridor happened last Wednesday. Our Action Alert has some background reading. The meeting was well attended, and I saw many Madison Bikes board members and supporters in the audience. I will report in more depth on this in a separate post, but for now let's say that the meeting was mostly encouraging. Strand Associates, the planning firm in charge of the project, and city engineering had clearly taken to heart some of the feedback they received at previous meetings. The plan that they presented as their final recommendation contains significant improvements for people walking and biking. Some aspects that need further work remain, and there is the larger issue that some of the biking and walking improvements such as an underpass under John Nolen Drive at North Shore will only happen many years down the road. But compared to many other major street reconstruction projects that we have seen in Madison in the recent past, I was quite happy with the outcome. Stay tuned for a more detailed analysis. In the meantime you can look at the presentation and exhibits from the meeting here.
Speaking of other street reconstruction projects, our board member Robbie has this to report from last week's Crazylegs meeting:
Urban Assets, a consulting company running the public involvement process for the Monroe Street reconstruction, held the first open house to gather ideas for the triangle of Breese Terrace, Monroe, and Regent Streets. The small street that cuts through the triangle – currently named Crazylegs Lane and an extension of Oakland that continues south towards Vilas Park – will be going away as part of the redesign. This will mean one less street to cross on the Southwest Path and less fragmentation of the remaining plaza. Most people riding bikes probably currently experience this area by biking past it or across it, especially if you use the Southwest Path. But it is also a crossroads of several neighborhoods as well as a transition between campus and neighborhood, commercial to residential, and downtown to west side.
Fortunately, everyone agreed that the path needed to be maintained or even improved, and various ideas to build on the existing use primarily as a bicycle corridors were offered. Another connection that was deemed important to maintain was the connection between the SW Path and Oakland, as this is a critical link for those living to the south of the Camp Randall area.
We went out and walked around the triangle and discussed what we liked, what we didn’t, and what we might like to see there. More green space, seating, a bike repair station, vending during football games and other events, a place for gathering or performances, artwork? Any and all are under consideration. Based on the discussion and input during the workshop on Tuesday, Ken Saiki Designs will come up with some suggested improvements and present them on September 14 at Wingra School. There will also be ideas for the entrance to Wingra Park, which we considered during a previous meeting.
If you are interested in what stays the same or changes in either of these locations, mark your calendar to attend. The link above is a sign up, but that’s just so they can plan for how many people to expect. Alder Sara Eskrich’s webpage is a good place to keep track of all the meetings, designs, and discussions.
Mondays Around Monona started last week (picture on the top) and will continue into the fall. Join We Are All Mechanics for a loop around Lake Monona, open to beginners and more advanced riders alike.
On Tuesday join Bombay Bicycle Club and Madison Bikes for the Wheels for Winners Ride & Social. Support Wheels for Winners by donating bike parts and tools before and after the ride. Any donations are welcome, but they particularly need seats, cable cutters and mountain bike parts. The ride starts at the Olbrich biergarten at 5:30pm, loops around the lake with a stop at Wheels for Winners, and then ends with a social at the beer garden.
The Monroe Street Reconstruction Final Corridor Design Open House will take place on Wednesday. This will be the final public meeting about the general design of the corridor before construction actually starts. Our Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee has its meeting that day as well.
On Saturday, as warm-up for the Tour de Fat Madison with Atlas Genius on August 23, benefiting the Bike Fed, you can join a "bike crawl," starting at the Tip Top Tavern.
Exciting news about the Lower Yahara Trail: September 1 is the official opening date for the new trail connecting Lake Farm Park with MacFarland. Hold the date, and watch out for "construction cranes"... (Photo courtesy of Jim Post)
And don't forget the Madison Bikes Annual Party on September 12 at the High Noon Saloon.
On Tuesday, the Common Council adopted new restrictions on moped parking. Mopeds used to be able to park for free on terraces (the space between sidewalk and roadway), which the public paid for. Effective January 2018, this will no longer be allowed. Instead, developers will have to provide moped parking themselves or strike an agreement with the city for moped parking in the public right-of-way. Especially in busy areas such as downtown, the new rules may help allocate more space for much-needed bike parking.
Also before the Common Council was the development plan for the High-Point/Raymond Road neighborhood in southwest Madison. The most contentious issue in the plan was an extension of Jeffy Trail to connect to Raymond Road. Currently a connection just for people walking and biking, the city had argued that building out the connection for motorized traffic would be important for improving emergency access and connectivity. Neighbors consistently spoke out against the extension, and against the recommendations from the city's Plan Commission, the Common Council agreed with the neighborhood advocates and voted to remove the Jeffy Trail expansion from the plan.
The one big bike advocacy item on the calendar this week is the public input meeting on the Blair Street/John Nolen Drive corridor on Wednesday. Improving conditions for people walking and biking has consistently featured on top of the list of concerns. But the options presented so far fall short of a significant improvement in several ways. This is the second-to-last public meeting on the topic, making it crucial to get good turn-out and making sure that our voices will be heard. Learn more in this blog post and RSVP on our Facebook event.
Mark the Date
Next week Tuesday, Bombay Bicycle Club, co-sponsored by Madison Bikes, are hosting the Wheels for Winners Ride & Social. Start saving your used bike parts and tools and donate them to Wheels for Winners before or after the ride.
And on September 12, we will have the Madison Bikes Annual Party at the High Noon Saloon. More information to come soon!
What the intersection looks like without cars. Ride the Drive 2016.
The John Nolen Drive/Blair Street corridor is arguable the most important bike corridor in Madison. Several thousand people ride their bikes on some part of it daily. And as it is, it has several problem spots, most prominently the intersection at Machinery Row and the crossing of John Nolen Drive at North Shore. Fixes to these and other problems in the corridors have been discussed for a long time. But now we're getting closer to actual decisions being made, and we need to make sure that the needs of people walking and biking will be adequately addressed. Next Wednesday, 7pm at Monona Terrace there will be a public involvement meeting, and I encourage all of you to attend.
At the previous public involvement meeting, several alternatives were presented. While most included important improvements for people biking and walking (e.g. reducing conflicts at the Machinery Row parking lot), at the same time they failed to take into account several important movements. Two of the most glaring omissions are a lack of improvements for the crossing at North Shore Drive and not taking into account the need for people to get from the westbound Cap City Trail toward the Capitol area. For the former, the option recommended for further study is to move sections of the path and building a ped/bike underpass:
This concept has much merit. But of course it is going to be complex and costly, with currently no budget or timeline when we might see it come to fruition. We need to also ask for improvements now.
For the Willy/Blair/John Nolen intersection at Machinery Row, all focus lies on the movement of people between the Cap City/Willy/Jenny St corridor and the Cap City Trail along Lake Monona. This is important, but what about people who ride on the Cap City Trail and want to continue toward the area around the Capitol and vice versa? What about people who want to walk from Machinery Row to Essen Haus? It appears that the idea there is that everybody would use the proposed overpass between Law Park and Wilson Street. Again, the overpass will only be built many years from now, and depending on where you want to go, this would be a significant detour requiring additional crossings. Again, we need improvements now.
For a city that says in all its planning documents that it is committed to increase the proportion of people biking and walking, we need to do better. I encourage everyone to attend the meeting in person and/or submit your written comments to city engineering and Strand Associates. Public input can make a difference: For instance, I have learned that one of the alternatives suggested for further study at the previous meeting, a couplet of one-way streets using Blair and Blount Streets to make it even easier for people in cars, was scrapped because citizens like you vocally opposed it.
We have set up a Facebook event that you can RSVP to if you plan on attending. If you cannot make the meeting, send your comments before or after the meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Background material from previous meetings can be found on http://www.cityofmadison.com/engineering/projects/blair-st-john-nolen-dr-corridor-study I especially recommend looking at the materials from the April 17 meeting, including the "Exhibit..." documents.
Image credit: Kidical Mass Madison
Last Friday's screening and discussion of "Citizen Jane: Battle for the City" that Madison Bikes co-organized was a great success. The UW Cinematheque was fully packed and some people even had to be turned away. Thanks everyone for coming!
A pretty quiet week is coming up, with two family events on the weekend.
On Saturday, it’s the last Fitchburg family bike ride of the summer. Meet at the Leopold Community School at 9:30am.
And on Sunday, join the Kidical Mass ride to the splash pad at Goodman Center. Starting point is The Cargo Bike Shop on Willy Street.
We invite you to join us this Friday for a movie about Jane Jacobs, an incredible woman who changed how we think about the city. After the movie, there will be a reception for discussion and socializing, including a chance to meet one of the Executive Producers, who is a Madison resident. The movie is at 7 PM at Cinematheque, Rm 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave. The reception will be following the movie – about 8:30 PM, at the University Club, 803 State St.
If you know about Jane Jacobs, you need read no further. If you don’t know of her, I’m going to link to a few Wikipedia pages below, in case you want to dive in just a bit deeper.Read more
There are a number of items of interest on this Tuesday’s Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission agenda.
First up on the agenda is the 2016 Crash Report. The good news is a significant reduction in reported crashes involving people on bikes (98, down from 118 in 2015 and 135 in 2012). The bad news is a continued increase in the overall number of crashes in Madison (5,731) resulting in an estimated $113 million in economic loss and the nine traffic related fatalities last year--five of which were pedestrians.
Adopting the Downtown Madison Bicycle & Moped Parking Study is also on the agenda. This is a study that was commissioned several years ago and is coming in front of PBMVC after going through the Plan Commission and Transit/Parking Commission. There are several recommendations from the study that Planning Division staff have taken issue with. You can review that difference of opinion in this Staff Report.
The final item on the agenda is Amending Section 12.167(2)(c) of the Madison General Ordinances to allow bicycles to be ridden within a portion of the West Mifflin Street section of the State Street Pedestrian Mall. This is an important precursor to moving forward with some infrastructure changes that will better facilitate bicycle travel from State/Mifflin/Carroll to Mifflin/Fairchild. This is another item that would benefit from emails/testimony in support.
You can attend this meeting in person and provide comment on any agenda item you wish or you can also watch the meeting online on the City Channel.
On Wednesday, the Middleton Pedestrian, Bike, Transit Committee will meet again after taking a break in June.
On Friday, consider attending Cinematheque’s screening of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. "a timely tale of what can happen when engaged citizens fight the power for the sake of a better world. Arguably no one did more to shape our understanding of the modern American city than Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist and writer who fought to preserve urban communities in the face of destructive development projects. Director Matt Tyranuer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) vividly brings to life Jacobs' 1960s showdown with ruthless construction kingpin Robert Moses over his plan to raze lower Manhattan to make way for a highway, a dramatic struggle over the very soul of the neighborhood." Madison Bikes is co-hosting the screening and a discussion with the executive producer of the movie, Juliet Page.
And on Saturday: Join the Clean Lakes Alliance on their Loop the Lake, their "annual bike ride around Lake Monona that highlights our community’s lakes and lakeshore bike paths."
Just after Tim Wong died on June 30, I posted an announcement and added a few words about what Tim meant to the bicycling movement in Madison. Several people asked me to put it up as a blog post. I’ve adapted the original a bit with comments that other people shared with me.
If you didn't know Tim, you really missed a true Madison character, and someone who you can thank for being one of the early leaders of the bike advocacy that continues today.Read more