On Tuesday, Jim Wolfe from Engineering presented two options under consideration for this summer’s Winnebago Street reconstruction to the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission. If you haven’t been following along, you can get more background on the project on the city’sproject page or by reading this Madison Bikes article from February. For those that couldn’t be there in person or catch the live stream, you can watch a recording of the discussion here thanks to City Channel.
Public comment at the meeting was split between those that worried about the impact of lost parking on adjacent residents and businesses (supporting Option #1) and those that supported Option #2 for its positive impact on our urban canopy and the improved bike access for people of all ages and abilities. Commission members received 27 emails in support of Option #2 and 0 emails in support of Option #1 in advance of the meeting.
After close to an hour and a half of comment and discussion, the commission voted 5-1 in favor of Option #2. The project is expected to be in front of the Board of Public Works on April 18th and a final decision will be made by the Common Council on May 1st. Watch for additional action alerts for both of these meetings and please consider adding your voice to this important discussion.
Tuesday: Remember to ride your bike to your polling place and vote in the spring elections! The Madison Bikes Communications Committee will also meet up at the Memorial Union at 6pm. Check out the About Us section of our webpage for more info on any of the Madison Bikes Committees.
Thursday: The Wisconsin Film Festival kicks off on Thursday and runs through April 12th. Two movies that feature biking this year include Makala and Not Without Us. You can read a brief summary and watch the trailers after the fold. Just remember to save yourself the headache of car parking and ride your bike!
Saturday: Cafe Domestique Spring Rides continues on Saturday with this rain or shine series. Coffee at 8:30 and roll out at 9:00a. And if you’d rather ride inside, come to the season finale of the Capital Goldsprint Series at Octopi Brewing at 7pm.
Sunday: And on Sunday, Bombay Bicycle Club hosts its annual Spring Member Meeting. RSVP required by Monday, April 2nd.
This coming Tuesday (02/13/18), the city’s engineering department will host a second neighborhood meeting on the Winnebago Street (2nd Street to Bashford) reconstruction project. The first meeting was held on 01/10/18 and this earlier blog post provides most of the background on the project. At Tuesday’s meeting, Engineering staff is expected to put forward two refined alternatives for consideration.
Alternative #1 considers narrowing the existing roadway by 2′ by skinnying up the main travel lanes and keeping the bike lanes and on-street parking as is. For people biking on Winnebago this would take what is already an uncomfortably tight environment for biking and make it even less practical.
And here’s the current bike lane up against on-street car parking.
Best practice roadway design calls for 26′ of space to accommodate a bus, bike, and parked car lane. The current street only provides 24′, and this proposed Alternative #1 would take away another foot, leaving only 23′. This will make an already stressful bike facility much more stressful, particularly in winter conditions.
Alternative #2 would repurpose one side of on-street car parking. With this design, appropriate shy space or buffer is included between the bike lane and travel lane, as well as between the bike lane and parked cars. This design results in a biking environment that is considered Low-Stress and appropriate for riders of All Ages and Abilities. Another significant benefit of this design is that it will allow for widened street terraces that can accommodate street trees. (Alternative #1 keeps the existing street terraces, which are too narrow to support street tree plantings.)
Madison Bikes works to make Madisona city where anyone can ride a bicycle conveniently and comfortably to any place in the city and neighboring communities year round. At the heart of that commitment is a commitment to equity. “Anyone” means people of all ages and abilities. A Winnebago Street that only works for 10% of people that would like to bike is a Winnebago Street that doesn’t work.
Please consider coming to the public meeting on Tuesday and voicing your support for Alternative #2. For anyone unable to attend, please send an email of support for the all ages and abilities design alternative to the following:
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.
The key space considerations fall into the following categories:
Space for people walking and rolling (sidewalk)- 5’ is the standard outside of downtown
Terrace space – 4’ is required to plant ornamental trees, 5’ for shade trees. This space also accommodates streetlights and signs and street furniture and is where we store snow that’s removed from the roadway and from sidewalks. It also creates a horizontal buffer between cars and people on the sidewalk.
Space for biking – With over 4000 cars per day, bike and car traffic needs separation. 5’ is the standard width for a bike lane.
Space for parking cars – Parking lanes are generally 7-8’ wide, not including the ‘door zone’.
Space for moving cars and buses – The current unrestricted travel lanes are 11’ wide. Reducing the travel lanes to 10’ wide in a section like this has some positive influence on lowering motor vehicle speeds. For larger vehicles like trucks and buses, 10’ can be a little narrow and requires careful consideration of the immediately adjacent space.
The images above are from NACTO’s Transit Street Design Guide. They show the typical dimensions of different vehicles and the area required to safely operate those vehicles. Buses, for example, are typically 8.5’ wide–10.5’ wide including the side mirrors. (Metro routes 4 and 10 run on this stretch of Winnebago.) The width needed to safely operate a bus in normal conditions is listed as 11.5’. In general terms, this means that a bus operating in a 10’ wide lane requires another 1.5’ of clear space.
Because the operating envelopes can overlap depending on conditions, the NACTO guide provides additional guidance regarding the needed width for different uses. Taking into consideration both the vehicle’s size and the room needed to operate, it recommends the following:
In these diagrams, the “minimum” distances cited are based on legal standards that do not provide for good performance in real world situations. The “desired minimum”, on the other hand, provides a good starting point for street design.
You can see that the desired minimum for a bus adjacent to a person on a bike is 17’. Another way of understanding this is: a 10’ unrestricted travel lane plus a 2’ buffer plus a 5’ bike lane. Similarly, the recommended minimum of a parking lane and adjacent bike lane is 14’. This can be understood as a 7’ parking lane plus a 2’ buffer plus a 5’ bike lane. This allows for an actual clear zone of 3’ between the parked car and the cyclist, which is critical to prevent crashes in the ‘door zone’.
The need for a ‘buffered’ bike lane in this context is also supported by the recently published All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Facility guide. It calls for a buffered or protected lane when motor vehicle volumes exceed 3000/day.
Engineering’s proposed alternative #1 would reduce the space available for parking, biking, and driving to 23’ on each side. That’s 3’ less than the recommended 26’ described above. It’s not hard to understand that those 3’ come out of the needed buffer between people on bikes and parked cars on the one side, and people on bikes and motor vehicles on the other. It effectively shrinks the safe, usable portion of the bike lane to 2’ wide. It also doesn’t take into account the effective shrinking of available road space that happens as a result of snow and ice accumulations over the course of the winter in Wisconsin. As snow and ice build up, cars are parked further towards the center of the roadway and often into the bike lane itself. Snow and ice removal in the unbuffered bike lane is also problematic as city plows can’t get close enough to parked cars without risking damage to side mirrors. This leaves the unbuffered bike lane in poor conditions and often completely unusable. Providing a 2’ buffer along the parked cars largely resolves this issue.
Considering all of the above, we have a great opportunity to significantly improve this important public right of way. We can: 1) widen the street terraces to allow for street trees and improved comfort for people walking, 2) eliminate the need for the guardrail on the southeastern sidewalk and provide comfortable access for people in wheelchairs, and 3) provide safe and comfortable conditions for people of all ages and abilities to move through the corridor by bike. The cost of those improvements is a reduction in the available on-street car parking. While it’s likely that this tradeoff could provoke a strong reaction from some neighbors that benefit from the convenience of the existing, free on-street parking, there’s a compelling case that it’s a worthwhile tradeoff that would provide significant community benefit and that is most consistent with the goals outlined in our city’s recently approved Sustainable Master Transportation Plan.
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.
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 ‚Äòwidened 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 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.
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.
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!
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.
On Tuesday, the Bike Facility Maintenance Subcommittee of the Pedestrian Bicycle Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) met to review a draft of an updated city-wide Bike Facility Maintenance Policy. This should be presented to PBMVC in November or December. Stay tuned for more details!
Winter maintenance of the kind we don’t want to see
Monday: The Madison Bikes Board of Directors will kick the week off with our monthly meeting at the Central Library. Did you see that we have a few openings for passionate bike advocates to join us? Also on Monday, join the hearty and fearless MEAThead riders for their weekly ride around Lake Monona starting at 7pm.
Tuesday: On Tuesday, the Fitchburg Common Council will take up a budget amendment (#12) that would reinstate funding for paved shoulders on Whalen Road between Fish Hatchery to Fitchburg Road. Whalen Road is the primary east-west corridor connecting Fitchburg to Verona, and serves as a major commuting route between these two cities, as well as Madison. Read more at Bike Fitchburg.
Wednesday: You’ll have to make some tough choices on Wednesday with four competing meetings to choose from. At 5:00pm, it’s the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board Citizen Advisory Committee meeting with a presentation on Dane County Crashes Involving Bicyclists and Pedestrians and a staff report on a Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress Analysis among other topics. At 5:30, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will meet at Bendyworks to begin its review of the People for Bikes Bicycle Network Analysis. At 7:00pm, you can attend a presentation by the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association’s Traffic Committee on the work they’ve done in trying to improve conditions for people walking and biking in the neighborhood (including the diversion test on Mifflin Bike Boulevard). Also at 7:00, is a public input meeting on the Glacial Drumlin extension from the interstate to Cottage Grove.
Saturday: On Saturday, the Tour de la Familia Latina will be back in force to show that Madison paths are spaces for everyone to enjoy. And then at 1:00pm, you can have fun and help out at the same time by participating in this year’s Cranksgiving event, an alley cat/food drive.
Sunday: Finish the weekend off with an Ibis Cycles Demo sponsored by Bell Joy Ride and Revolution Cycles. A special ladies group ride begins at 1pm.
Congratulations to Badger Rock Middle School on winning the “Riding for Focus” grant. The grant provides 20 bikes to incorporate into the school’s curriculum to get kids moving. You can read more in this Cap Times article.
Monday: Come to the Madison Bikes Events Committee meeting at 6:00 at Barriques on Atwood. Preparations for the Winter Bike Fashion Show will be on tap. Read more about how you can help out here.
Tuesday: The Common Council meeting will be very focused on budget deliberations. Among the items up for discussion is funding of the new Director of Transportation position. Mayor Soglin said that he thinks a Director could be in place sometime after July 1 of next year.
On Thursday, there will be a mock public meeting as part of a capstone course for UW Madison Engineering students. They’ve been working on a Park and Bike project. Stop in and help them with their project and perhaps some of your feedback can make its way back to city staff.
Saturday: Baltazar will be back in town and leading another run of El Tour de la Familia Latina – The Tour of the Latino Family.
Thanks to all that came out to support another year of Madison Bikes! Good to see faces old and new in celebration of all things biking in Madison. Thanks especially to our great hosts, the High Noon Saloon and for the amazing food served up by Jonny Hunter and Underground Food Collective. Door prizes and other support for the party came from Planet Bike, REI, Madrax, People for Bikes, Fiskars, and Revolution Cycles. A big thanks as well to all our other sponsors, donors, and supporters that contributed and helped support our work throughout the year.
Our party also marked the official beginning of Bike! Bingo. If you were at the party, you’ve already got your card and the Special Events stamp. You’ve got until October 31st to fill your card(s). Check our website for a map of all participating locations, and go to the Bike Bingo Facebook page for more special events.
All those in attendance also enjoyed the privilege of being the first official Madison Bikes members. If you couldn’t make the party, stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for details on how you can join as well.
Madison Bikes has a great group of people on its Events Committee, but could always use a couple more passionate and creative people to help. This month’s meeting will recap our Annual Party and switch gears to focus on the upcoming Winter Bike Fashion Show. As an added incentive, this month’s meeting will happen by bike, coinciding with the Mondays Around Monona ride. Meet up at Fair Oaks and the Cap City path at 6:00p on Monday for a beautiful lake loop rolling meeting!
On Tuesday, there are a couple items of interest on the Common Council agenda for those that bike. The big one will be the updated recommendation from the Transportation Ordinance Review Committee to restructure our city transportation commissions/committees and to hire a Director of Transportation. The resolution has a number of cosponsors and looks to have broad support by the council. Another item of note is a permit for a railroad crossing for the planned Capital City Path extension east of Buckeye Road. This is the next step in eventually connecting the route all the way to Cottage Grove.
On Wednesday, the Board of Public Works will vote to recommend approval of an ordinance change that will permit riding on the State Street/Library Mall section known as Philosopher’s Grove. The curb cut that allows for improved access through this important connection was completed last week.
One public comment critical of the proposal is on file with the Board at this time. The Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Commission voted to recommend adoption at its last meeting and hopefully the Board of Public Works will do the same. Consider sending a quick email in support to the members of the Board before Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will have its monthly meeting at 6:00p at Bendyworks and the Marquette Neighborhood Association will have a special meeting to review the recommended design coming from the Nolen/Blair corridor study.
On Saturday, bring the family out for the Tour de la Familia Latina at 10 am and then help support the Audubon Society with the Birds, Bikes, and Brews ride at 1 pm.
And finally on Sunday, there’s a action packed Bike the Art ride beginning at 1:30p. The ride will start at Promega’s BioPharmaceutical Technology Center and then head to Centro Hispano, the Edgewood College Gallery, and will end with Shakespeare in the Park at the Arboretum.