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Bike News

Action Alert: Blair Street/John Nolen Meeting this Wednesday

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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:

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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 cpetykowski@cityofmadison.com and jeff.held@strand.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.

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Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (8/7/17)

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Soon to be illegal: Moped parking on the sidewalk terrace

Last Week

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.

This Week

On Monday the first Mondays Around Monona of the year is going to take place. These are weekly bike rides around Lake Monona, organized by We Are All Mechanics and open to beginners and others alike.

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!

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to info@madisonbikes.org.

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Bike News

Bike Fed Asks: Should They Support a Bike Tax?

As part of the Wisconsin state budget negotiations, a tax on bikes has repeatedly come up. The Bike Fed is conducting a survey whether you think they should oppose that tax or consider it a symbolic compromise that may (or may not…) placate some legislators who have the stubborn-but-false belief that “cyclists don’t pay their way.” The survey is open to members and non-members.

With Wisconsin facing a transportation funding shortfall of between $500 million and $939 million over the next two years, and Governor Walker pledging to veto any increase in the state gas tax or vehicle registration fees, could legislators look to Wisconsin cyclists to pay more? We want to know how you would like to see bicycle infrastructure funded, and have embedded a very short survey at the bottom of this longish blog post. Feel free skip reading this and take the survey if you already know how you feel about bike taxes, registration fees, and the gas tax.

Consider weighing in on this important topic.

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Bike News

Action Alert: Wilson Street at the Common Council tomorrow (6.6)

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Once more we need your help with the Wilson Street reconstruction project. We have written a lot about this important downtown project, and now the decision point has come. At their Tuesday (6/6) meeting, the Common Council will approve the project. The resolution that the council is going to decide on will not have any bike facilities in it. However, as the result of pressure by citizen advocates like you, the resolution will contain a clause that calls for bike facilities on the whole of Wilson Street, to be built once the Judge Doyle Square redevelopment is complete.

This is a clear step forward. But we need to make that the language to be adopted will actually be strong enough to ensure that we’re not just kicking the can down the road. As we have seen with other projects, despite previous resolutions, planning documents, and so on, once it comes to calling the shots, the interests of those biking and walking are often pushed aside.

Therefore I encourage you to write to your alder and ask them to firmly commit to safe and convenient biking on Wilson Street. Many of you have already written in before, and I can assure it has made a difference. Please take another five minutes to submit another comment (or, if you can: give testimony in person at the meeting tomorrow). The email address to reach all alders is allalders@cityofmadison.com and you can find your own alder’s contact info here.

Here is what I am going to write:

Dear Alder Bidar-Sielaff, dear members of the Common Council:

I would like to submit a public comment on your agenda item 46640, regarding the reconstruction of West Wilson Street. I am disappointed that the resolution in front of you does not include any facilities for people wanting a safe and convenient way to ride a bike on Wilson Street, an important downtown corridor. However, it was encouraging to see that the Board of Public Works at their last meeting recognized this problem and added a provision for it to be fixed eventually. I am encouraging you to include in your resolution a strong commitment to:

– bike facilities that allow travel in both eastbound and westbound directions

– on all of Wilson Street, from East Wilson at King/Butler to West Wilson at Hamilton Henry

– that allow safe and comfortable biking for people of all ages and abilities

– to be built by the time the Judge Doyle Square redevelopment is complete in 2020.

Thank for your consideration.

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Bike News

This is just a test

Is it working yet?

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Bike News

Action Alert: Safe Biking on Highway M

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The loop around Lake Monona is a popular ride among many Madison cyclists. It’s scenic and much of it is on trails or low-volume streets. Lake Mendota is a different story. While the Mendota loop scores high on the scenic scale, large stretches are uncomfortable and unsafe to ride. This is especially true for the stretch on Highway M. Lots of cars, a 55 mph speed limit, and only an unprotected shoulder for people riding bikes.

We have received word that the Dane County Board environment committee is considering holding a committee hearing in Waunakee on the topic of bicycle routes in northern Dane County, especially along the Highway M corridor. A bike path has been proposed there to provide a safer alternative to Highway M. A committee hearing would be an important step forward to making this a reality. Please take three minutes and email the following committee members:

Downing@countyofdane.com;

Jones.Nikole@countyofdane.com;

Ritt.Michele@countyofdane.com;

Salov@countyofdane.com;

Kiefer.timothy@countyofdane.com

And please tell them that you support holding a public hearing in Waunakee of the County Board’s Environment Committee regarding county funding for bicycle routes and off-road bike paths, especially along the Highway M corridor.

Thanks for making your voice heard.

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Bike News

This Friday: Bike to Work Day

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It’s a little confusing: There’s the League of American Bicyclists Bike to Work Day on May 19; there was Global Bike to Work Day on May 11; and of course there’s the Bike Fed’s Wisconsin Bike Week in June. All on different dates. But hey: The more days to celebrate biking to work and elsewhere, the better!

In that spirit, Madison Bikes and Cafe Domestique will be hosting a commuter station on the Cap City Trail at Dickinson this Friday, 7-9 am. We’ll have free coffee, Madison Bikes stickers, and some small snacks. Stop by and say hi! And thanks for riding your bike, on Friday or any other day!

RSVP on the Facebook event page or just stop by.

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Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (4/24/17)

Editorial note: This edition of the Calendar Highlights is brought to you by Harald. Your usual host Grant will return next week.

Last week

What diverter can look like: People walking and biking can pass; people driving cannot. Image: LADOT Bike Blog.

The Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association met last week to discuss the future of the East Mifflin bike boulevard. Many in the community perceive this important corridor to be a bike boulevard in-name-only, with no measures to divert or slow down motor vehicle traffic, for instance by installing diverters that allow local traffic while keeping out through-traffic. As discussed in this Facebook thread, the meeting also raised larger questions about how our transportation network is being planned and decided on.

Rendering of an improved sidewalk/cycle track in front of Machinery Row Bicycles

On the same night there was an open house about the John Nolen Drive/Blair Street Corridor. While we are still far away from any final decision let alone actual construction, things have moved forward since the previous meeting. For instance, an overpass connecting Law Park to Wilson Street for people walking and biking now is a real option, with the Common Council taking on a resolution that would establish an easement on the Wilson Street side for that connection. For the intersection of John Nolen/Blair/Williamson many of the initially proposed solutions, such as a tunnel, are off the table at this point. You can find more details in the State Journal, the City’s page for the project, or this discussion on Facebook.

The Common Council met on Tuesday. We had initially expected for this to be the meeting where a decision about the West Wilson Street reconstruction would be made. Thanks to those who responded to our action alert and wrote to the Board of Public Works and their Alders to ask for better accommodation for people on bikes, the process has slowed down and no final decision has been made yet. Stay tuned for a more detailed update on the status of the project.

This week

On Monday, the Madison Bikes Events Committee meets at 7pm at Cafe Domestique. Everybody is welcome to attend! Earlier tonight, our friends from Bike Fitchburg have their monthly meeting at the Fitchburg Public Library.

The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission will meet on Tuesday, in a joint meeting with the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee. On the agenda are a pilot project for the West Wilson Street reconstruction, the ongoing process of reorganizating Madison’s city agencies around transportation planning, a new ordinance that will legalize “sandwich boards” on sidewalks, and the new policy around moped parking downtown. In addition, a draft of the latest “Transportation Improvement Plan” will be discussed. This is one of the main documents that outlines funded transportation projects in the near future. You can find the full agenda and related documents here.

On Wednesday, the Madison Bike Advocacy Committee meets to talk about Wilson Street and a project to map and measure the connectivity of Madison’s “low-stress bike network.” If you’d like to attend, email Harald.

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to info@madisonbikes.org.

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Bike News

Five-minute action alert: Wilson Street

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Do you have five minutes to spare and want to improve the situation for people walking and biking on West Wilson Street? Here’s how:

The Board of Public Works will discuss the design proposed by City Engineering in their meeting on Wednesday. If you haven’t been following the project, you can catch up on a lot of background here, here, and here. Writing a quick email in opposition to putting people on bike bike onto the sidewalk and in favor of real bike accommodations on the street is going to be important. I know several of you already sent emails when the item was on the agenda for the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission last week, and you can just re-use that email. One new development is that doing a pilot study, where one side of on-street parking will be removed for a while is now on the table. If done well, we think that this is a good option, and we encourage you to mention the pilot.

Email addresses for the Board of Public Works members:

claudia.haack@yahoo.com; btrades@sbcglobal.net; pdahl@fpm.wisc.edu; jaclyn.lawton@charter.net; jclausius@charter.net; debkenjohnson@charter.net; district12@cityofmadison.com; district9@cityofmadison.com; szwalling@charter.net

I recommend also included these folks in the cc line, as well as your district’s alder:

MHacker@cityofmadison.com; RPhillips@cityofmadison.com; CPetykowski@cityofmadison.com; YTao@cityofmadison.com; district4@cityofmadison.com

Here’s what I’m going to write; you’re welcome to reuse the text:

Dear Members of the Board of Public Works, dear Alders:

Regarding the planned reconstruction of West Wilson street, please move forward with a street design that takes into account the needs of people biking and walking on this important connection to downtown, both going west to east, and east to west. I strongly oppose an option that mixes people walking and cycling on the sidewalk, as that is neither safe nor convenient for anyone. I support doing a well-designed and evaluated pilot project that would close one of the on-street parking lanes to put in a protected one-way or two-way bike lane.

Thank you for your consideration.

Thanks for helping out! The final decision on this will be made at City Council. We’ll send out another update before that.

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Bike News

Wilson Street: Update and next steps

Last week a public input took place to discuss the reconstruction of West Wilson Street. Robbie’s previous post has more background about what is planned and why this is an important project for bike advocates. Here is a quick update on how the meeting went, what the next steps in the decision making process are, and how you can speak out in favor of a Wilson Street that works for people biking and walking.

To recap, the public input meeting was the second one about the project. But the first meeting had been only announced to immediate neighbors. This second meeting was scheduled at the request of the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Vehicle Commission, after they were presented with only one option for the project from Engineering, an 8′ widened sidewalk on the south side of the street that was supposed to mix travel on foot and bike. The Commission asked Engineering to develop additional concepts that would provide better accommodations for people travelling by bike and to present them at a new, publicly-noticed meeting for input.

The meeting was well attended, and I spotted many Madison Bikes stickers, t-shirts, or other other accessories that identified attendants as supporters of safe and convenient bike facilities. Alder Verveer also attended. A video recording of the whole meeting is available on Facebook. Engineering proposed three different designs:

  1. Keep all general travel lanes and both parking lanes. Narrow the terrace (the space between sidewalk and curb) to install a contra-flow bike lane (a bike lane going the opposite direction of the one-way traffic in the general travel lanes) right next to the sidewalk.
  2. Keep all general travel lanes and the current terraces. Convert one parking lane into a contra-flow bike lane, separated from oncoming traffic with a painted buffer but without physical protection.
  3. Keep travel lanes, parking, terraces. Widen the sidewalk on the south side to 8 ft. This was the recommendation of Engineering.

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Two of the proposed options. Apologies for the image quality — the slides from the meeting haven’t been made available yet by the city

An option for a two-way protected bike lane was not even on the table. A lively but civil discussion ensued about the impacts of each of the proposed solutions, such as on street trees, for people with reduced mobility, and of course for those who currently bike on Wilson or would do so if there were safe and convenient options available. One issue raised both by bike advocates and local residents was that putting people on bike and people walking together on the sidewalk seemed like a really bad idea. Residents pointed out that even just walking on the sidewalk right now at times felt dangerous, especially for those with impaired mobility. Adding more bikes to that mix was a no-go for many, widened sidewalk or not. If you want to see what riding on the sidewalk looks like right now, watch this video:

Another issue pointed out by bike advocates was the lack of bike accommodations for people going east to west in all of the proposed plans. Currently–and in the foreseeable future, if the proposed design goes forward–people biking have to ride in the general travel lane, next to parked cars. And at the bottom of the hill, at the intersection with Henry and Hamilton, people on bikes find themselves in a right-turn-only lane or have to merge to the left lane at high speed.

The point at which the meeting started to unravel was when the question of next steps came up. One would think that the point of a public input meeting would be to gather input and then use that input to modify your plans. That didn’t seem to be the case: City engineers were planning to just go forward with the same design that they came to the meeting with, the widened sidewalk option. City engineers rightly pointed out that there was no consensus in the audience that clearly favored one design over the other. But it was just as clear that a large majority of the audience (and not just people who regularly bike) did not like the idea of mixing people walking, biking, or using mobility devices on the sidewalk. I was probably not the only one leaving the meeting disheartened by what appeared to be a flawed process.

What are the next steps? What can you do?

The proposed design is going to be on the agenda of the Ped/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission this coming Tuesday. I encourage you to submit a brief public comment to the commission members, Alder Verveer, and your own alder. It can be as easy as pasting these recipients (plus your Alder’s email address) into an email and writing something like:

aaron.crandall@yahoo.com,
eclewandow@aol.com,
grantxyz@gmail.com,
district2@cityofmadison.com,
mail.markbennett@gmail.com,
hiwayman@chorus.net,
district9@cityofmadison.com,
district18@cityofmadison.com,
sa_lehner@hotmail.com,
kolarsmmj@gmail.com,
devos@ssc.wisc.edu,
district4@cityofmadison.com

Dear Members of the Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission, dear Alders:

Regarding the planned reconstruction of West Wilson street, please move forward with a street design that takes into account the needs of people biking and walking, both going west to east, and east to west. I oppose an option that mixes people walking and cycling on the sidewalk, as that is neither safe nor convenient for anyone.

Thank you for your consideration.

After that, the proposed design will go to the Common Council, which is the ultimate decision making body. We’ll keep you updated on when that’s going to happen and what the most effective way to advocate is going to be for that.