Action Alert: Closing the Wilson Street Gap

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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 <info@madisonbikes.org>

Dave Trowbridge <dtrowbridge@cityofmadison.com>;
Tom Lynch <tlynch@cityofmadison.com>;
Mike Verveer <district4@cityofmadison.com>;

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.

 

 

 

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