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Bike News

June 28: Cap Times Podium Discussion About Biking in Madison

The Cap Times has over the past years regularly hosted discussion panels on locally relevant hot topics, such as housing affordability or criminal justice reform. Now it is time to talk bikes, and one of Madison Bikes’ own, Robbie Webber, will be part of the panel of experts. “How can Madison make room for the bicycling boom?” will take place at the High Noon Saloon on June 28, starting at 6:30pm.

Screenshot from Cap Times website

The discussion will be moderated by Cap Times editor Chris Murphy, and aside from Robbie (who will be representing herself), panelists include:

This promises to be an exciting opportunity to discuss ways of improving the bicycle network in Madison, attract a broader demographic to cycling, and bring our city to the next level of bike-friendliness. We are looking forward to discussing topics such as trade-offs between on-street car parking, ease of driving and bike/ped infrastructure, creating a complete network of bike infrastructure that works for people of all ages and abilities, or the question of equity in local and regional transportation. See you there!

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Bike News

Madison Bikes Launches – Press Release

SW_path_sunrise.jpg

Madison Bikes officially launched this week. Below the fold you can read our whole press release, or you can download it as a pdf.

Madison Bikes launches: Focus on improving bicycling for all

MADISON- Madison is a “Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community,” according to the League of American Bicyclists. But Madison Bikes—a new group that “envisions a city where everyone can bicycle conveniently and comfortably to any place in the city and neighboring communities year round”—thinks there is still a lot of work to do.

“Madison is a great city for getting around by bike. It’s great for confident riders in particular, but many people who are interested in riding their bikes don’t feel comfortable on busy streets with nothing separating themselves from fast-moving cars except a stripe of paint. We can double the number of people who ride their bikes for transportation just by closing some key gaps in our bike network,” said one of the founders, Grant Foster.

“Madison has done a great job over the last several decades in building out an extensive network of paths and in installing some innovative bike treatments” said Foster.  “But most people can’t get from where they are to where they want to go only on paths. We have to make our streets feel as comfortable as those off-street paths to people on bikes. The measure for all new and rebuilt streets should be, ‘Would you let your child ride on that street?’”

Madison Bikes says that a major focus will be on working to close the gaps in Madison’s existing bicycle network, ensuring equitable access to high-quality bike infrastructure in all parts of the city. Intersections and busy roads that leave people on bikes feeling exposed can make trips to work, shopping, school, or social events difficult or intimidating for many people who would like to have an alternative to driving.

Madison Bikes Steering Committee members also pointed out that improved bicycling options benefit everyone, even those who don’t bike.

Former Alder Robbie Webber, who now works with a number of states on transportation sustainability issues, explained: “Every person who bikes is one less person vying for a parking spot. And we can’t build our way out of congestion. Bicycling also supports transit use because it gives people options for the ‘last mile’—the gap between bus stops and their home, job, or other destination. With BCycle downtown and racks to carry bikes on the bus, better bicycling options make using the bus easier. If we can get more people using bikes, transit, or walking, our roads will last longer. That’s good for everyone paying taxes.”

Harald Kliems, a researcher in pediatrics at the UW, pointed out another benefit of active transportation: “It is now widely accepted that high rates of active transportation are related to improved health, both for individuals and for the population as a whole. And to enable people to use active transportation, you need good infrastructure and an empowered community.”

“The Bike Fed believes that the best progress can be made at the local level,” said Wisconsin Bicycle Federation Executive Director and former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. “As a statewide organization we can’t be at every meeting or know every player in each community. So these kinds of local advocacy organizations are really important. We want to help Madison Bikes grow and be successful in any way we can.”

More information about Madison Bikes can be found on their website, madisonbikes.org, on Facebook, or Twitter.

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Bike News

Wisconsin Bike Fed is Hiring

Want to work in bike advocacy? Our friends from the Wisconsin Bike Fed are hiring for some cool (paid) positions, including a membership director and a membership coordinator. More details here.

2016-05-18_09_07_08-Jobs___Wisconsin_Bike_Fed.png

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Bike News

May 18: Monona Sustainable Transportation Meeting

I just received word that there is an ongoing effort in Monona to improve cycling and walking. Tomorrow (May 18) at 5:30pm there will be a kick-off meeting at Monona City Hall.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Monona+City+Hall/@43.0633561,-89.3416618,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x880653b616867f17:0x848a557221558c4a!8m2!3d43.0633561!4d-89.3394731?hl=en

For more information, contact Brad Bruun (bbruun@ci.monona.wi.us, 222.2525×7402).

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Bike News

Bike commute share in Madison

Bike to Work: Cycling Commuters[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

May is National Bike to Work Week, and May 16-20 is National Bike to Work Week (not to be confused with Madison Bike Week…). To celebrate that occasion, the Census Bureau released a nice visualization of the 20 cities with the highest proportion of people riding their bikes to work. With 5.3 percent, Madison makes seventh place overall and first in the Midwest!

This is certainly cause for celebration. It is also important to keep in mind, however, that the bike commute share in Madison has pretty much stagnated over the past couple of years. Much more work is required to get to the next level and create an environment that empowers anyone to ride to work and other places in a convenient and comfortable manner.

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Bike News

Building the Lower Yahara River Trail

As several news outlets have reported, construction has begun on the new segment of the Lower Yahara River Trail. This trail will connect Madison to McFarland and, in a later stage, Stoughton. Once completed, the trail will provide a convenient, safe, and scenic link between those communities, likely attracting a lot of recreational as well as transportation cycling. Dane County Parks published two aerial videos of the location of the trail, one before construction started and one after. Definitely worth watching.

[edit: they’ve since been removed from YouTube — enjoy the trail!]

March video:

April video:

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Bike News

Public Meeting: East Johnson Street Reconstruction, 4/28

A stretch of East Johnson Street, between Baldwin and First St, is going to be reconstructed in 2018. The first public involvement meeting is tonight (4/28), 6-8pm at Lapham Elementary School, 1045 E. Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53703

Stretch of Johnson Street to be reconstructed

Despite it’s relatively short length, this stretch is an important piece towards a complete network of high-quality bike facilities.  Please attend the public meeting and make your voice heard. The current plan provides only for unprotected on-street bike lanes, and even those will disappear in some places:

“On-street bicycle accommodations in both directions will be provided as part of the project. The exception being between Marston Avenue and the Yahara River (adjacent to Tenney Park), where an outbound on-street bike lane will be provided but an inbound bike-lane will not. Inbound bicyclists and pedestrians will utilize the existing multi-use path within Tenney Park.”

More information on the project can be found from the City of Madison: https://www.cityofmadison.com/news/public-involvement-meeting-for-east-johnson-street-reconstruction

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Bike News

New Traffic Incident Reporting Tool for near west side neighborhoods

If you’re riding a bike or walking your neighborhood, every once in a while you’ll have an encounter with another road user that is less than pleasant. In a few cases, there will be an actual collision and a police report will be filed. But many, more minor incidents, near misses, or rude behavior will go unreported. The Regent Neighborhood Association has created a tool to keep track of these incidents in order to collect data that might pinpoint trouble spots or bad infrastructure.

Screen shot of traffic incident reporting tool

Writes Charlie Peters, chair of the Streets and Transportation Committee:

“There has been a rash of accidents involving pedestrians and automobiles in the neighborhood recently. Between February 11th and March 15th there were 5 reported cases of pedestrians being hit by automobiles. These were at several locations and due to a variety of circumstances, but in general reflect a serious problem. As you may have read in recent Regent Neighborhood Association newsletters we have formed a streets and transportation committee that has been meeting to develop plans for improved pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

One tool that we have developed is an on-line Traffic Incident Report which provides an opportunity for Regent neighbors to note concerns involving negative, or potentially negative, interactions between pedestrians and/or bicyclists and automobiles. These concerns may include close calls witnessed, infrastructure issues, speed violations, accidents witnessed, etc. In short, if there is anything regarding transportation in the neighborhood that you regard as troubling, please report it using this tool. Results of this tool will be a database that can be used to support improved safety.

This is meant to provide information in addition to, not instead of, concerns reported through more formal means – 911 calls, Alder communication, and use of on-line city of Madison reporting tools.

The tool can be accessed on-line at:
http://goo.gl/forms/R5c5NOK5ww
or you can email me at capeters53@gmail.com and I will provide you an email copy.

If you would like to work more closely with the Streets and Transportation Committee please email me.
Thanks for helping us make our neighborhood safer.

While this tool was developed for The Regent Neighborhood Association Members, I’d be happy to work with other local neighborhood associations on this effort and have included Dudgeon Monroe and Vilas neighborhood selections at this time.”

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Bike News

Planning for 2050: Public meetings for the Regional Transportation Plan 2050

Three open houses will be held to discuss the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan for the Madison metro area.

Madison: Wednesday March 2, 4:30-7:00 pm, Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S Park St
Verona: Thursday, March 3, 2016 4:30-7:00 pm. City of Verona Fire Station, 101 Lincoln Street
Sun Prairie: Monday, March 7, 2016 4:30-7:00 pm. Sun Prairie Municipal Building (City Hall), 300 E Main St

Hopefully by 2050 I’ll still be riding my bike—maybe it will be one of those riderless bikes that everybody talks about so much these days. In any case, long-range transportation planning for the greater Madison area is important, and it’s important to make sure that getting around by bike conveniently and comfortably is part of that plan. In early March there will be three public meetings about the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, the “region’s blueprint for future transportation investments, strategies, and actions covering all modes [that] provides the policy direction and framework, which is refined through corridor, mode specific, and strategic studies and plans.” The meetings are organized by the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board, and they will both provide an overview of the issues related to the plan and also an opportunity for the public to provide input. More information about the Regional Transportation Plan can be found on this website.

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Bike News

State Board: No Contraflow Bike Lane on Mifflin

Getting across the Capitol Square on a bike can be a big hassle, and it’s not going to get better any time soon, given the decision by a rather obscure committee against a contraflow bike lane on Mifflin Street.
 The circuitous route across the Capitol Square (Image: Google Maps)
The circuitous route across the Capitol Square (Image: Google Maps)
To get across the Capitol Square on your bike is not that great. Probably the worst case scenario is going from West Mifflin Street to East Mifflin Street: If you want to obey all rules and ordinances, first you have to walk your bike through Philosopher’s Grove (it’s a sidewalk; no cycling allowed). Then you’ll wait at the light on State Street to turn right onto Carroll (which is all uphill). Six traffic lights later, you’ll finally be able to turn off onto Hamilton and then East Mifflin. In reality, of course, most people just ride on the sidewalk or, more dangerously, on the road against traffic to get to their destination.
To improve this situation, the City of Madison proposed a contraflow bike lane. IN a first stage, the lane would only be on Mifflin, with the potential of eventually going around the entire Capitol Square. Because the State has jurisdiction over the sidewalk, the parking lane, and the innermost traffic lane on the Square, the proposed solution already was a compromise: On-street parking would remain, and the contraflow lane would be squeezed in between a travel and the parking lane (with a painted buffer on both sides). Conflict with cars entering and exiting the parking lane or with opening car doors are certainly an issue. But at least as a short-term solution, the contraflow lane would still have been a marked improvement over the status quo. This position was also the canon of a number of local bike advocates who cautiously spoke in favor of the proposed configuration at a Board of Public Works meeting in December 2015. With the understanding that it was a compromise and further improvements would be not be prevented by it, the City decided to move forward.
Planned_contraflow_lane_on_Mifflin.png

Planned contraflow lane (Source: City of Madison)
Well, not so fast: As the Isthmus reports, the rather obscure “State Capitol and Executive Residence Board” unanimously vetoed the project, supposedly over safety concerns. Senator Risser, a member of the board is quoted asking, “Why do bikes have to go against traffic? […] I don’t see why we have to develop a procedure to exempt bikes from going with the traffic.” Statements such as these show a lack of understanding of the value of a complete grid of bicycle facilities that allows everyone to safely, conveniently, and comfortably get to their destination by bike. And it is hard to take safety concerns seriously when the State had made it very clear that a better solution such as a protected bike lane involving the loss of on-street parking was not in the books.

The way forward from here is unclear. Given the Capitol Board’s jurisdiction over much of the Square involved, the city’s options are limited. If you want to let the members of the board know how you think about the issue, here is their contact information:

Sen. Risser: sen.risser@legis.state.wi.us (608) 238-5008
Sen. Olsen: Sen.Olsen@legis.wisconsin.gov (608) 266-0751
Sen. Roth: Sen.Roth@legis.wisconsin.gov (608) 266-0718
Rep. Born: Rep.Born@legis.wisconsin.gov (608) 266-2540 (888) 534-0039
Rep. Loudenbeck: Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wisconsin.gov (888) 529-0031
Rep. Hesselbein: Rep.Hesselbein@legis.wisconsin.gov (608) 266-5340