Bike Week 2023 is fast approaching! Madison Bikes is looking for volunteers to help with a few activities. We’re hosting a volunteer open house at Working Draft Brewery on Monday, May 22nd from 6-7:30PM. Come hang out and eat pizza on us. Link here for more details and to volunteer during Bike Week. If you use Facebook, RSVP so we know how much pizza to bring. Make sure to check out the Bike Week page as new events continue to roll in!
Volunteering for 2 hours will also get you a “good deed” stamp for Bike BINGO. You can buy a BINGO card at local Bike Benefits locations.
Madison Freewheel Bicycle Co is a local nonprofit bike shop focused on transportation justice. Donations and sales help provide free and low-cost bicycles to individuals in need, while also subsidizing bike building, repair, and maintenance classes. Freewheel was not able to cover operating expenses after the pandemic squeezed their ability to safely keep their doors open and offer in-person classes. They recently had to move out of the Madison Bike Center and are fundraising to find a new physical space. For more information and donation options, you can find their GoFundMe here.
Lately we noticed a few conversations on our Facebook community page discussing path closures. It can be very frustrating to find what is sometimes the only low-stress route to wherever you are riding is closed (although who doesn’t love a freshly resurfaced path)! It part of our mission to work towards a city where there are multiple safe, low-stress bike routes to any destination. For now though, you can check the city’s path resurfacing schedule to be aware of resurfacing schedules (updated regularly as resurfacing progresses).
Youth MTB Informational
Monday from 5:30-7PM, the Madison East / Lafollette Mountain Bike Team is hosting an informational meeting at East High for students in grades 6-12 interested in joining the team, as well as adults interested in becoming a coach.
Schwinn Bike Drive
Saturday from 12-4PM, Schwinn is hosting a bike drive at their HQ to support FreeBikes4 Kidz. Your donations help give bikes to kids in need! More info here.
Saturday evening, don’t miss Black Saddle Bike Shop’s bike ride and overnight campout! Ride leaves from the shop (601 N Sherman Ave) by 5:15pm on a 9.1 mile leisurely ‘no drop’ ride to McCarthy Youth & Conservation County Park. More info and RSVP here!
Thank you to everyone who voted last Tuesday. Local elections determine how invested cities are in safe infrastructure and supportive policies for people walking, biking, or using mobility devices. Your vote is very impactful in these races, as evidenced District 14’s alder race being decided by one vote!
Voters also gave Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway a second four-year term, elected a number of new alderpersons, and approved a referendum to stagger two-year alderperson terms. Take a look at the full results from Tuesday and look back to responses from our February candidate questionnaire.
The Transportation Commission is meeting on Wednesday. The agenda includes a discussion of survey results for the John Nolen Drive reconstruction project scheduled to break ground in a few years. Polling from last month showed support for narrowing the roadway as much as possible, widening the path, and improving intersections.
In case you missed it, MadisonForAll has a very well-made video describing the North Shore Dr. part of this project, including frustrations over the city’s reluctance to make any substantial safety and accessibility improvements if they impact driver convenience. The most ambitious option offered by the city for this intersection would increase peak hour vehicle travel time by 35-80 seconds. In the video, city engineering describes this delay as “a pretty significant [negative] impact to the traveling public.” Madison recently committed to prioritizing safety for people walking and biking over driver convenience as part of Complete Green Streets, yet the possibility of a delay lasting less than half of a pop song on a driver’s commute is still described as “significant” in a way that fixing a deadly, heavily utilized pedestrian and bicyclist crossing with no grade-separated alternatives is not.
Recently a new alternative design was included by city engineering that is remarkably similar to the idea proposed by MadisonForAll. The city does not have public feedback for this option (Alt 4b) currently, but you can give it in their survey here. You can also use the comment box to voice opinions about improvements you would like to see presented as alternatives going forward.
It’s Spring! Monday evening you can join the Monday 40 social ride for its second ride of 2023. Tuesday evening is looking great for the Madison Women’s Cycling Club or the Slow Roll Ride. Wednesday evening features the Madison Queer Bike Ride, reach out to their instagram page for details. Saturday is looking nice for Brazen Dropouts’ morning Row Ride. Bombay Bicycle Club is hosting a Spring Member Meeting on Sunday, details here.
It’s looking relatively warm this week, but keep the studs on and watch out for freeze/thaw ice patches. For more pictures of people enjoying biking in Madison, visit our Mastodon page.
Tuesday: Madison had a very strong turnout for the Spring primary election, a reflection of the critical importance of this year’s WI supreme court race. That said, kudos to all of you making your voice heard in local aldermanic and mayoral elections as well. Strong local political leadership is a key part of successful of bike safety and accessibility projects in Madison.
Friday: In case you missed it, Madison Bikes provided comments on the city’s Reconnecting Communities federal grant application. The city hopes to build an overpass connecting N. and S. Perry St. on the South Side. Currently, the Beltline cuts these two streets in half. Hopefully, this project could increase bicyclist and pedestrian access across the Beltline.
Monday:Join us on Zoom from 6:00 – 7:30 PM to discuss the three final proposals for the Monona Lakefront Design Project. We plan to assess how each proposal contributes to an all ages and abilities bike network, especially in relation to safe connections from the Cap City across John Nolen to access the Capitol. We’d love to hear what you like about the proposals, what you don’t, and any other ideas you have about the John Nolen Drive project. If you aren’t familiar, feel free to explore the links and join us to learn more.
Wednesday: Madison MPO meets at 6:30 PM this week. TAP project scoring for applications from February is on the agenda. Scores will be used to prioritize distribution of $3.5 million in TAP funds. Link here to the draft project scores plus a link to join the meeting.
In case you missed it, the WI Bike Fed recently discussed Governor Evers’ pledge to leverage more federal and state funds to support TAP projects, along with other important bike policies, in his biennial budget. Governor Evers acknowledged the state has a $7 billion budget surplus, and with Wisconsin ranking 49/50 in per-capita pedestrian and bicyclist spending, spending some of that surplus is long overdue.
Thursday: The city is hosting a public information meeting on the Autumn Ridge Path project. Plans include an enhanced crossing of Milwaukee St. east of HW51 and a bike/ped overpass for HW30 just west of Thomson Dr. The HW30 overpass would be the only low-stress crossing east of HW51, would link nicely with the HW51 overpass, and would serve as an important connection between residential and commercial areas on either side of HW30. Info and meeting registration here.
As the days grow longer in the new year, it’s time for Madison Bikes to look back on everything that happened in 2022. In 2021, we were responding to traffic violence, strategic planning, and adapting to the challenges Covid continued to present for getting together. This year saw similar challenges, and lots of encouraging signs for the future.
Bike Events and News
Madison Bikes hosted and participated in a number of events in 2022. In February, we were out on the Capital City Trail with a coffee and pastry station for International Winter Bike to Work Day. Thanks again to our generous local partners for providing coffee, treats, and discounts to keep commuters warm.
Ride the Drive was canceled for only the second time since 2009 (2020 being the first). Madison Parks hosts this event and chose to prioritize other programming this year, citing challenging staffing shortages that had contributed to an understaffed and poorly executed event in 2021.
In July, we were excited to check in with Dr. Dirk von Schneidemesser at the Memorial Union Terrace for our first in-person social since 2020. Dirk visited us in 2019 to talk about his key organizing work that helped pass the first bike law in Germany, and shared some good tips for keeping a community focused on bike safety, including ensuring language used when covering crashes does not blame victims or use euphemisms like “accident” that can make traffic deaths feel mundane and unpreventable
We worked with the WI Bike Fed for their Healthy Communities Summit event in September and had fun leading summit attendees on an afternoon tour of local bike infrastructure. On Halloween, Madison Bikes board members Harald Kliems, Robbie Webber, and Caitlin Hussey joined city Pedestrian and Bicycle Outreach Coordinator Colleen Hayes on the WORT Access Hour to talk about biking and walking in the winter. We talked about how to get started if cold-weather biking is new to you. If you’d like to listen to the program, you can find it in the WORT archives (Monday, Oct 31 at 7:00 pm.).
Healthy Communities Summit. Photo: Madison Bikes
We organized a packed Madison Bike Week from June 5-11 with dozens of local organizations hosting events throughout the week, along with a ridealong with the mayor and a Madison Bikes party outside to cap things off. We also gave out $1500 to local organizations hosting bike week events for the first time in our first series of small grants. Sadly, we cannot mention 2022’s bike week without remembering Taylor Dunn’s death. On June 7th he was riding his bicycle to work around 4am when he was struck and killed by an intoxicated motorist at the intersection of Mineral Point Road and High Point Road. A vigil was held, and a ghost bike was placed to create a memorial for Taylor.
While data show overall reductions in crashes causing serious injury as Vision Zero projects are implemented, the number of driver vs bicyclist crashes causing serious injury has not significantly changed. TOPS data show 2022 was the deadliest year for Madison bicyclists on record (going back to 2001), with 3 riders killed by drivers. Predictably, all crashes involved roads and intersections designed for high vehicle speed with minimal separation of drivers and bicyclists. Will Cummings was killed in August while riding his bike on Pflaum Rd. A ghost bike placement and dedication was held on August 17th with Will’s family and friends. MPD blamed Will’s death on a poorly designed bike lane. In October, a man was killed after being struck by a driver while crossing John Nolen Dr. at the N. Shore Drive crossing of the Capital City Trail. An investigation into this crash is ongoing.
Madison Bikes Participated in the city’s World Day of Remembrance talk on November 15th, where Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway gave a moving speech in remembrance of her grandfather and brother, who were killed in a car crash, and reaffirmed her commitment to fulfilling the city’s Vision Zero goals.
Later in November, Madison Bikes board member Aaron Levine gave a presentation to the Lake Monona Waterfront Ad Hoc Committee to convey the huge opportunity for bike safety and capital accessibility presented as the John Nolen and Lake Monona Waterfront are slated for a massive design and rebuild project that intends to transform the parkway in the coming years.
The Monday after the new year, we hosted Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park without cars! The Sheraton graciously hosted a pre-party from 4pm-5pm with hot chocolate, snacks, and swag. A very large turnout, and relatively mild weather made for a great event.
Big Safety & Efficiency Plans
A number of consequential city plans and programs relevant to our mission were funded/approved this year. The city’s Vision Zero Action Plan was approved. This lengthy document outlines where crashes causing severe injury and death are occurring, who is affected by them, steps the city will take to eliminate these crashes completely by 2035, and how progress will be measured. Madison Bikes has been a stakeholder in the engagement group providing input on this plan. Unfortunately the city did not get a multi-million dollar federal Safe Streets For All grant it applied for to help jumpstart this program, but can reapply again for FY23. This program gives out $1 billion per year of grants over 5 years to local governments for safe streets projects as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Complete Green Streets guide was finalized in late 2022 and complements the Vision Zero Action plan in reframing the goals of street design to be focused first on safety and accessibility for users of all modes of transportation, rather than moving traffic first and squeezing any other priorities afterwards.
The Safe Streets Madison program approved its first two batches of smaller-scale projects designed to increase traffic safety, and improve bikeability and walkability. These projects range in estimated cost from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, with total approval of about $1,000,000 in projects. The High Injury Network created as part of the Vision Zero process guides project selection, with most projects focusing on intersection modifications and vehicle speed reduction strategies.
An updated Transportation Demand Management program will help ensure large residential or commercial developments, employers, and institutions are incentivized to accommodate modes of transportation other than driving alone when applying for new building or parking permits. This effort works in tandem with the new Transit-Oriented Development Overlay Zoning District encouraging higher-density development within ¼ mile of high-frequency transit and BRT. A big Transit Network Redesign centered around BRT was approved in June, and the project broke ground in December.
While these ambitious new programs align with our mission in a number of ways, there will inevitably be many bumps in the road as individual projects are designed and implemented. We look forward to many new opportunities to advocate alongside all of you in the coming years.
New Infrastructure, Planned and Built
Overall, it was a slow year for new bike infrastructure with projects postponed due to staffing shortages, contractor availability, and design conflicts. A handful of exciting projects were approved in 2022 to be constructed in 2023. Highlights include a number of significant bike/ped safety and usability improvements slated for the Atwood Ave. rebuild from Fair Oaks to Cottage Grove Rd. A compromise plan endorsed by Madison Bikes was approved for this project after extensive advocacy efforts and strong alder support. A plan for the Hammersley Road project from the Southwest Path to just west of Whitney Way will create a new multi-use path and eliminate turn lanes to make crossing Whitney Way safer. Community and alder support for on-street parking removal were key to making this project happen. Remember to talk to and thank your alders!
A handful of projects were completed this year. A stretch of Tokay Boulevard was upgraded from unbuffered to buffered bike lanes. Buffered bike lanes were also installed on Old Middleton Road from Eau Claire to Capitol Ave. Previously, there was an unbuffered bike lane between N. Eau Claire Ave. and Old Sauk Road, and no bike infrastructure further West. Getting buffered bike lanes required removal of on-street parking from almost 2.8 miles of road!
Resurfacing of the notorious “hairball” intersection (John Nolen Dr., Williamson St., S Blair St., and E. Wilson St.) was also completed. Making this intersection safe for all ages and abilities would require accepting a reduction in motor vehicle throughput. While Madison residents are generally willing to make this tradeoff, the Wisconsin DOT often is not. That said, we did win some safety improvements. Crossings of John Nolen/Blair from the North and South are better separated from traffic, and the slip lane onto Willy St. is narrowed. A vehicle lane on E. Wilson up to S. Franklin St. was replaced with a buffered bike lane and significantly more pedestrian space.
The Cap City Path intersections at Ohio Ave., Jackson St., and Russell St. were all upgraded to at-grade crossings when surrounding streets were resurfaced, while Ohio Ave. and Jackson St. were both narrowed to one lane. We are excited to see more of these raised intersection crossings and intersection narrowing planned for a few 2023 bike projects!
The Aldo Leopold Pump Track project that began in 2021 completed an awesome Skills Loop in 2022, and plans to add a “shred to school” trail in the future to allow kids to easily ride between Leopold Elementary and all of the fun at the park. The collaborative work between the city’s MadBAT program and local residents, businesses, and nonprofits that allowed this project to happen is truly inspiring. After much debate, the western end of Vilas Park from Edgewood Avenue to the shelter was finally closed to motor vehicle traffic in June, with plans for more bike/ped improvements to come.
2023: Good Things to Come
Persistence from elected officials, nonprofits, and our large community of advocates is essential to ensuring the many ambitious plans enacted this year can eventually create a city any person of any age or ability can comfortably navigate without a car. We are grateful for the many individuals and organizations that have taken time to join us this last year in organizing for bike events and projects, reaching out to elected officials, and partaking in so many other impactful actions. Happy New Year.
A member of our Madison Bikes Community Facebook group notched a win against the hairball intersection, and we are all grateful. She noticed the John Nolen Dr. crossing connecting the new E. Wilson path to the Cap City (along Willy) forced her to pause on an island in the new intersection, instead of smoothly crossing in one green light. She reached out to her alder and city staff explaining why crossing in one light cycle is much preferred to waiting for two lights, and the city realigned the timing to allow the quick crossing! Of course, the city is used to doing this kind of update in response to feedback. All of us users of bike infrastructure can be great resources for identifying and fixing problems. If you’re having a similar issue with light timing, snow, potholes, or other hazards impacting your bike route, you can use the city report a problem tool to let the city know. Reaching out to your alder and any elected officials representing you with your bike safety and access concerns is a great way to ensure your needs remain visible. Consistent local advocacy is essential to advancing our mission at Madison Bikes, and we commend anyone who gets involved. We plan on hosting a bike advocacy training event this year, details will be shared with you on this blog and on our social media.
Tuesday: City Council will vote on the Transportation Demand Management program that has been in the works on for a number of years. Its passage would be a big push for better biking, walking, and transit services for developments in the city. Your emails or testimony in support are strongly encouraged to help it pass!
Simply put, this program supports infrastructure for modes of transportation that reduce congestion (biking, walking, transit, etc.) when new developments are being approved, or when the use of an existing development changes.
Things the program could require include secure bicycle parking and showers/changing rooms, allowing those who don’t use a car parking space in a development to have the value of that space in other ways (reduced rent, extra storage, etc.), free or reduced transit passes, free BCycle memberships, and car sharing programs.
Plan Commission already requires TDM for some developments, but there are no guidelines or consistency to what is required. The plan up for approval on Tuesday would help implement TDM near networks of pedestrian, bicycle, and transit travel, rather than encouraging single occupancy vehicle use in these locations.
Wednesday: Madison’s Passenger Rail Station Study kickoff meeting is happening in person at 4:30 pm in room 215 of the Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, and virtually at 6:30pm. This study came from a recent influx of available rail funding from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, combined with recent US DOT guidance that passenger rail service to Madison should be “included on any mainline route alignment.” and is “critical to operational viability of the Core Express corridor between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul.”
Saturday: Celebrate the seasons in your favorite festive costume with the Santa Cycle Rampage. Groups will ride in from all over town, and converge on Library Mall at 11am for a 5 mile slow roll, ending back at Library Mall by noon. Registrations will help fund the Bike Fed’s Safe Routes to Schools programming in Dane County. New and lightly used winter clothing for MMSD schools can be donated at the event. For more info, click here.
Monday: Our monthly community meeting will not happen this week, as we have a board retreat. We will keep you posted with future community meeting plans. For anyone who still feels an urge to meet and talk about bike safety and accessibility, Bike Fitchburg is having their monthly meeting at Atomic Koi 6-7:30pm.
Wednesday: Transportation Commission, 5pm. This week’s agenda isn’t too noteworthy, especially compared to last week’s TC data showing fewer deaths and severe injuries since Vision Zero plans were put in place, plus exciting plans for transformational grant funding for future Vision Zero safety improvements.
Saturday: If you have been looking for a place to ride bikes competitively in a silly outfit, or to spectate while others do this, head to Angel Park Speedway on Saturday for some friendly Halloween-themed cyclocross racing. First time racers get free entry. The WI CX Series Crossfire race traditionally features costumes and a place for spectators to toss ball-pit balls at racers as they try to jump over hurdles while carrying their bikes. More info here.
Rain: Wet weather made for an excellent and very muddy kickoff race for Wisconsin’s cyclocross series on Sunday, and made the bike section for Ironman Wisconsin 2022 quite a slog. Sadly it was much too wet for BikEquity’s family-friendly community ride & free bike repair event, which was cancelled. We will keep an eye out for rain dates on their social media.
Social Rides: It may dry out enough by Monday evening for a quality Monday 40 social ride. Tuesday evening is looking great for the Madison Women’s Cycling Club Taco Ride, or the Slow Roll Ride. Wednesday evening features the Madison Queer Bike Ride, reach out to their instagram page for details. Saturday is looking nice for Brazen Dropouts’ morning Row Ride. Finally, you can still register day-of for Bike The Barns on Sunday!
Thursday: MPO Complete Streets Lunch & Learn Webinar The Greater Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization is hosting a webinar from 12-1pm defining Complete Streets, discussing how they help ensure the safety of people on bikes or on foot, and discussing how to overcome barriers that make building them a challenge for cities. While primarily aimed at local planners, transportation staff, and local officials, this webinar will surely provide great material for those interested in advocating to their local, state, and national elected officials in support of safety.
Funding for N Mendota Trail: Dane County announced it will award Middleton $1 million for construction of the next segment of the North Mendota Trail, from the Highland Way / Century Ave signal to just past city limits near Century Drive. This trail is a multi-year project to help regional bike routes like HWY M safer for bike riders and pedestrians.
New Legislative Advocacy Tool: People For Bikes released this year’s Bicycle Friendly States rankings, and they weren’t pretty. Wisconsin fell to #29 in overall bicycle friendliness, and down to #49 in spending per-capita on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. This week, the WI Bike Fed released this tool to help concerned citizens tell relevant state legislators to invest in bicyclist and pedestrian safety. Wisconsin can do better, and we will.
Bike the Barns: FairShare CSA Coalition’s Bike the Barns ride is open for registration, event link here. The event is FairShare’s largest fundraiser, and helps fund the Partner Share Program that supports low-income families in accessing locally grown produce. The event needs volunteers, if you are interested sign up here.
Monday: Transportation Policy and Planning Board is meeting virtually at 5pm, agenda here. Tuning in to TPPB meetings is a great way to learn more about how bike and pedestrian infrastructure is planned in Madison. One interesting agenda item this week is approval of Madison’s application to the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Discretionary Grant Program, designed to repair some of the harm caused by mid-20th century highway expansion and associated destruction of low-income urban communities.
Tuesday: The Aldo Leopold Park Pump Track is being dedicated with a big community party, from 1-7pm! See here for details, including the inspiring story of how local kids inspired a host of private and public investments that made this project possible.
Wednesday: At 6:o0pm, Greater Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is meeting virtually. Link to agenda and participation details here. Following the MPO is a great way to stay up-to-date on pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure affecting Dane County.
Vilas Park Drive: If you missed the event last week, Vilas Park Drive is officially closed to motor vehicle traffic between the bridge at Edgewood Ave and the entrance to the Vilas Park Shelter lot. This change is designed to better support the safety of pedestrians and bike riders using the park.
Monday: Madison’s casual, fun, and inclusive Monday 40 group rides are up and running again. This week’s ride is around 20 miles, leaving from Orton Park at 6:00pm. See details here.
Tuesday: Slow Roll Cycles will host their free casual weekly group ride, leaving from their shop (4118 Monona Dr, Madison, WI 53716) at 6:20pm, details here.
Wednesday: Transportation Commission meets at 5pm, see here for agenda and participation details. Agenda items include a review of the quarterly traffic safety report, which shows a modest reduction in reported severe injuries and fatal crashes compared to Q1 last year.
Saturday: Black Saddle Bike Shop is once again hosting a free night of bike camping for Swift Campout weekend! Ride out from Black Saddle Bike Shop (601 N Sherman Ave) at 11:00am, following a 31 mile route that mostly follows the Southwest and Military Ridge paths to arrive at the beautiful Brigham County Park group camp site near Blue Mounds. If you can’t make the group ride, you can also get to the campsite using whatever route you prefer! For more info on camping bags and the ride, contact Black Saddle. Full event details here.