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Bike News

Weekly Update: New rider panel video, Cedar St, MPO meeting

It’s the first week of June. In a normal year, yesterday you would have enjoyed Ride the Drive, and this morning you’d have visited your first Bike Station to start into Madison Bike Week. But this year is anything but normal. There is still a little hope that we’ll be able to do Madison Bike Week in some form or shape in September this, but it’s hard to make predictions. We’ll keep you posted.

Last week City Engineering hosted a public meeting about Cedar, South, High Streets and W Wingra Drive. This area will be redeveloped, with new housing, a SSM Health clinic, and a new grocery store. You can find the meeting presentation here. From a bike perspective, there were questions about the proposed bike facilities on the new portion of Cedar Street: There will be painted bike lanes, but on one side of the street they will be next to on-street parking, creating a “door zone bike lane.” Another question raised was about the median island on Park Street, meant to prevent through traffic on Cedar Street. One resident pointed out that this would make it more difficult for people walking and biking to get across Park St.

On Friday, the City of Madison hosted a virtual panel discussion, “When I started biking.” The pandemic has motivated a lot of people to either get back on the bike or start biking for the first time. If you missed the video (or know a new rider who may be interested), a recording is available on our Facebook page. Thanks to Pepe Barros, one of our former board members and now a City employee, for organizing the panel:

On Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (also known as “the MPO”) is meeting virtually. One agenda item is a presentation of the recently adopted Dane County Climate Action Plan. Transportation is one important topic in the report, as emissions from that sector account for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in our county. A lot of the report talks about electric vehicles, but there is also an acknowledgment that vehicle miles traveled need to be reduced as well. It’s good see mention of phenomena like induced demand (where building new or expanded highways leads to more driving, not congestion relief), and the need for regional transit, better land use, and active transportation. Full meeting agenda and materials here.


Screenshot from the Climate Action Plan

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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Bike News

A difficult post to write

Madison Bikes is a bike advocacy organization, and I was scheduled to write one of our weekly posts “about all things bike in Madison.” But on a day like today, I find it difficult to care and write much about this city meeting or that “open street.” (we’ll still have a weekly update tomorrow). I’m full of grief and anger. The following is a personal post and not a Madison Bikes position statement.

In Minneapolis, a city not far from Madison, police officers killed a black man, George Floyd. And George Floyd’s death is only one in an unbearably long list of Black people killed by police. And let’s not pretend this doesn’t happen in Madison. In 2015 a Madison Police Department officer killed Tony Robinson, an unarmed black teenager.

What does this have to do with bikes? Madison Bikes has a vision of a city where anyone can bike conveniently and comfortably to any place in the city. But who is that “anyone”? “Convenient and comfortable” for whom? Is a “protected bike lane” or an “open street” truly protected or open for people for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) — like Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed while out for a run? Is Vision Zero, the idea to eliminate all serious injuries and fatalities in the transportation system, worthwhile if it relies on police enforcement, which has been shown again and again to be racially biased, and too often ends up with a BIPOC person dead or arrested?

I grapple with these and similar questions a lot, in my personal activism, my role as a member of the city’s Transportation Commission, and of course in my role as president of Madison Bikes. And part of finding answers is to try to listen to and learn from those for whom these questions are less abstract than me. No matter how uncomfortable that may be. In that spirit, I will share some recent writings.

Our Streets Minneapolis (formerly the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition) issued this “Statement on George Floyd, white supremacy, and our work.”

Confronting Power and Privilege” by Tamika Butler (Director of Equity and Inclusion at Toole Design)

How do we make sure open streets are truly open for everyone” by Courtney Cobbs of Streetsblog Chicago

A Tale of Two Truths: Transportation and in the Time of COVID-19” by Ariel Ward

Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights” by Professor Gretchen Sorin (there’s also podcast episode about the book)

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Bike News

Weekly Update: The streets are open; Garver Path

Happy Earth Day! This year marks the 50th anniversary of the worldwide day to celebrate environmental protection. The Nelson Institute at the UW (named after Gaylord Nelson, the Wisconsin Senator who created Earth Day) is hosting a virtual conference to mark the occasion today: https://earthday.nelson.wisc.edu/

Another thing to celebrate: As of last Friday, the City has started opening up some of our city streets to people walking, rolling, and biking! By restricting motor vehicle traffic to only local traffic, people now have the space they need to maintain physical distancing. More projects, including Atwood Ave, are in the pipeline already, and the City is asking for suggestions which streets would make good additional candidates. Send your suggestions by email! Another improvement in this area is the creation of new gravel shoulders on the Cap City Trail in Law Park. Work on these is starting today (April 20) and will last about three days. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this happen! If you live outside the City of Madison and would like to convince your local officials to do something similar, consider signing the Bike Fed’s statewide petition.

And if you’re a healthcare worker, you can get a free Madison BCycle membership. With reduced Metro Service, the BCycle system is an even more important part of our transportation system, and the stations are regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Interested in reading books about biking and talking about them? Madison Bikes is hosting a virtual book club! Sign up here by April 27 and vote for which book you’d like to read. Candidates are:

Common Council Meeting

All transportation-relevant city committee meetings have been cancelled this week with the exception of the Common Council meeting on Tuesday. There are three transportation topics on the agenda: The Council will vote on the final design for the Garver Path. This new path will connect the Cap City Trail near Olbrich Gardens with Milwaukee Street — and at some point in the future maybe with a new trail to Sun Prairie. Path construction will probably take place next year.

Also on the agenda for approval is the University Ave reconstruction between Shorewood Blvd and University Bay Dr. From a bike perspective, there is little to be excited about with the project: By and large the reconstruction won’t change the character of the car-centric street: All three travel lanes will remain general travel lanes, with no bike or bus lanes. There are some improvements for people walking, i.e. a new sidewalk on the north side, a slightly widened sidewalk on the south side, and a few small improvements to the crossings. One piece of the project that could be good for people on bikes: A planned overpass of University Bay Drive, connecting the Campus Dr bike path with the Blackhawk Path. This is currently a busy at-grade crossing. Additional turn lanes from University Ave and a parking ramp that the VA Hospital is going to build will make crossing even more difficult. Therefore an overpass is proposed as part of the project (see image below). Because of space constraints (part of the land is owned by the VA), the current design includes sharp turns and a lack of good connections between the path and University Bay Dr. And even the current design isn’t guaranteed to be built as part of the current project.

The third transportation item on the agenda is the confirmation of the new Metro Transit General Manager, Justin Stuehrenberg. Stuehrenberg was heavily involved in Indianapolis’s bus network redesign and creation of their Bus Rapid Transit System. In a profile article, he cites a trip to Germany in 2007 as his inspirational moment: “Seeing cities in rural Germany with much lower density than Indianapolis operating robust transit systems struck a chord for me. I saw young kids able to navigate their cities, older adults not reliant on others, and everyone, regardless of economic status, with the ability to get to work. I knew that I wanted that for Indy.”

If you want to provide public comment to the Common Council, register here. Full meeting agenda here.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
Bike News

Creating space for people during COVID-19

Walking, rolling, and biking remain important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Madisonians need to have enough space to stay mobile while being able to maintain physical distancing. This has become increasingly difficult. Yesterday, Madison Bikes submitted a letter to the City, requesting the creation of more space for people by re-allocating underused space from cars. Motor vehicle traffic volumes have been way down, and this provides an opportunity to restrict motor vehicle access and open up room for those walking, rolling, and biking. Of course, City resources are strained, and so we also offered our help. We can leverage the power of our community to mobilize volunteers, connect to local businesses who can provide barriers, gather feedback from and get messages out to the community. And we have already heard back that “Mayor Satya has directed staff look into these opportunities and we are working on some potential projects. Some top locations suggested by you coincide with our recommendations as well. We hope to share more information and potentially implement some of these very soon.” Read our letter below:

To: Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
Tom Lynch, Director of Transportation
Yang Tao, City Traffic Engineer

Subject: Creating Space for Rolling, Walking, and Biking During COVID-19

Dear Madam Mayor, dear Tom, dear Yang:
The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges for our city that impact almost every aspect of daily life, including transportation. Governor Evers’s Safer at Home orders and current recommendations from our public health authorities allow people to use the many shared use paths in our city while practicing physical distancing. Madison has many people who already commute and travel to essential businesses by bicycle, and reduced Metro service has further increased the number of people who rely on bikes for transportation. The warmer weather has also increased the number of people using these paths and trails for walking and other activities to the point that it is becoming difficult to impossible to use these facilities while maintaining the required physical distance.

We greatly appreciate the measures you have already taken, such as changing signal cycles, deactivating “beg buttons,” and public outreach campaigns to promote safe and healthy behavior. However, there are limits to what those measures can achieve. We encourage the City of Madison to identify select streets and lanes where motor vehicle traffic can be restricted in order to alleviate crowding on sidewalks and multi-use paths.

Madison Bikes, on behalf of our hundreds of members and thousands of people who use bikes for transportation or recreation in our City, request that you take bold steps to address the crowding on our paths and trails. Allowing crowding on our paths and trails is inconsistent with the recommendations of public health professionals, and closing or banning the use of the trails is inconsistent with our community’s values toward equity, sustainability, and the health benefits of walking and biking. Fortunately Madison has extensive experience closing streets and car lanes so that bikes and pedestrians can use this public space, from the annual Ride the Drive events to our frequent marathons, triathlons and other public events.

Some areas that we have received specific feedback about and that we think may be good candidates for temporary closures:

  • Cap City Trail from Williamson North Shore (and potentially Olin Park): To separate people on bikes and walking, repurpose a travel lane on John Nolen Drive, similar to what has been done during construction and flooding. Crowding is a huge issue here, it is an important transportation corridor, and there are no good alternative routes
  • Vilas Park Dr and Arboretum Dr: These low traffic routes would be easy to block off and increase the availability of park and recreation space
  • Atwood Avenue: Sidewalks are narrow, the parallel Cap City Trail is crowded, and adjacent park land reduces parking and driveway access issues
  • Outer Capitol Loop: Consider maintaining the time-restricted bike lane all day
  • Areas without a terrace between sidewalk and the roadway, or where sidewalks do not exist at all
  • Access routes to hospitals and medical facilities
  • Multi-lane roadways that have excess capacity for moving or parked vehicles
  • Areas of the city with a high proportion of transit-dependent residents

Madison Bikes is prepared to help in this effort. We understand that you face constraints in terms of staff time, availability of materials, and competing priorities. As an all-volunteer non-profit dedicated to making Madison a community where anyone can ride a bicycle conveniently and comfortably to any place year round, we want to do our part. In the past Madison Bikes and our strong community have been a part of many efforts to promote and encourage people to bike even during difficult times. Madison Bikes has helped to identify impacted bike facilities and alternate routes during the 2018 flooding as well as working with the City and our partners on community-wide events like Madison Bike Week. We offer our assistance in identifying the paths, trails, and routes most impacted by crowding and working with our partners to find local equipment and volunteers to deploy street and lane closures. We have already begun to identify potential partners who can provide barricades and traffic cones used for events such as the Madison Marathon and are ready to offer the same volunteer force we have used at previous events. We will continue to work closely with you to amplify public health messaging about safe and healthy behaviors. We look forward to helping Madison respond to COVID-19 and address our short and long-term needs for healthy and safe transportation options.

Respectfully,

Harald Kliems, on behalf of the Madison Bikes Board of Directors

Categories
Bike News

Is my local bike shop still open?

UPDATE 3/27: In collaboration with the Bike Fed, we’re now offering information for the whole state. Please go here for a map of all shops.

A bike parked in front of the Cargo Bike Shop

That’s a question that many Madisonians may have been asking themselves. With reduced Metro bus service, many of us are relying on our bikes for transportation or exercise. Bike shops are essential in keeping us going. San Francisco mayor London Breed just today clarified that bike shops are considered “essential services” just as much as car repair shops:

Screen cap of tweet by London Breed: "Clarification for those who have asked: just as auto repair shops are considered essential so people can conduct essential travel, so are bicycle repair shops and mobile bicycle repair companies..."

So what’s the situation in Madison? Our board member and VP Heather put together this handy spreadsheet about the current status of the many bike shops in Madison. As far as we know, most of them are open at least in some capacity and with certain public health safety restrictions in place. We will update the spreadsheet as we receive new information from shop staff, owners, or patrons. Shoot us an email at info@madisonbikes.org or put a comment in the spreadsheet if you have any updates.

https://www.madisonbikes.org/bike_shop_status

Be safe, and support your local bike shop!

For local information about COVID-19, go to the Dane County Public Health website: https://www.publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus

Categories
Bike News

Madison Bikes Mural Ride Cancelled

Just a quick note that we’re cancelling the Madison Bikes Mural Ride that was planned for Sunday (3/15). We’re sad that we have to make this announcement, but given the COVID-19 situation, we’ve decided that it would be best to cancel the event. Public Health Madison & Dane County have recommend cancelling or postponing events and large gatherings, and that’s what we’ll do. For more information and local updates about COVID-19, please visit https://www.publichealthmdc.com/‚Ķ/resources-by-‚Ķ/coronavirus

Categories
Bike News

Weekly Update: Art on paths, walls; bus hearing; BCycle returns

Did you have an opportunity to get out and enjoy the warm (and windy…) weekend on your bike? Well, lots of people did: The bike counters on the the Cap City Trail and SW Path had by far their highest counts of 2020 yesterday:

If you’re a 3-season rider, now may be a great time to dust off that bike of yours and get into the habit of riding again.

This Week

On Wednesday, the Transportation Commission is meeting. One exciting agenda item:

The City is planning to have rainbow pride flags, celebrating the LGTBQ+ community, painted on the pavement at two locations. One location will be up at the top of State Street; the other crosswalks will be on the Cap City Trail at Monona Terrace. Funding will come from donations and grants. The hope is that the crosswalks will be installed in June, ready for Pride Month and Madison Bike Week.

Other items on the agenda:

  • The City is applying for funding from WisDOT for four ped/bike projects. It’s uncertain how many (if any) will be funded, but all would be a nice addition to our low-stress network.
    • Autumn Ridge Path – shared use path between Stein Ave. and STH 30 (east of Stoughton Rd. and west of Swanton Rd.)
    • Tancho Dr. Path – shared use path between Tancho Dr. and STH 151, where there is an existing path and underpass of the highway
    • West Towne Path – extension of shared use path between Commerce Dr. and S. Junction Rd.
    • W. Main St. bike boulevard improvements and E. Main St. and S. Blount St. bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
  • The Commission is also asked to approve routes for the delivery robots that UW Dining is using. The vehicles are generally banned from bike paths, and on sidewalks they’re only allowed on the permitted routes (as well as on the UW campus). Map below.
  • A public hearing about Metro’s proposed changes to their bus routes and stops will start at 6pm. You can find the proposed changes, meant to reduce delays, missed transfer and to speed up service here.

If you want to provide input on any of these items, please submit your comments to Patrick McGuigan.

Sidewalk delivery robot routes

Want to learn how to build bike wheels? It’s a cool skill to have, and not as difficult as you may imagine. The Cargo Bike Shop is hosting a workshop on the topic on Thursday. More information on the Facebook event page.

Looking for a new bike? Bike-O-Rama, “Southern Wisconsin’s Largest Bicycle Sale,” is happening from Friday to Sunday, and there will be lots and lots of bike on display and available for test rides. Free admission at the Alliant Center.

On Sunday, the Madison Bikes Mural Ride is happening! Explore Madison’s many murals on the east side by bike, on a 12-mile or a 5-mile route. Meet at Ian’s Pizza at Garver Feed Mill at 12:30pm.

Coinciding with the mural ride is the return of BCycle on March 15! It’ll be good to have the bike share system back online for the season — and maybe this year we’ll see some more new stations added.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
Bike News

Monday Update: Winter Bike Day, Andersen St, Transpo Commission

Phew, that was more snow than expected! I only went on a short ride earlier on Sunday, and on the fat bike it was slow-but-fun. Be prepared for possibly challenging conditions on Monday, especially on side streets. Once again, I’m really happy that the City has allocated funds to clear the paths on weekends. Our Facebook Community group is a good place to get and discuss the latest info on path conditions.

Last Week

On Monday I had the opportunity to meet with the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s new executive director, Kirsten Finn. We had a good talk about the Bike Feds priorities and how the Bike Fed and Madison Bikes can work together to make biking better for everyone. Stay tuned: We may be hosting a joint event later this spring.

The Transportation Policy and Planning Board approved a resolution that would prohibit personal delivery devices (a.k.a. delivery robots) from operating on city sidewalks except where specifically approved. You may have seen these devices on the UW campus, making food deliveries to residence halls. State law allows the operation of the devices but gives cities the ability to restrict them on sidewalks or bike paths. The ordinance approved at the TPPB meeting only addressed sidewalks.

The TPPB also got the ball rolling on possibly reforming the city’s bike/ped enhancement and the neighborhood traffic management programs. These are pots of money that can be used for smaller infrastructure improvements for people walking and biking, such as speed humps or pavement markings. The current process for deciding which projects are and aren’t funded, and out of which pot of money could probably use some improvement, and the board will work on that for the next couple of months.

News also broke last week that the Judge Doyle Square project — and with that the new Bike Center there — will be delayed by several months. Instead of March, June is now the projected opening date. Big bummer for Freewheel Collective who will be operating the center.

And finally, Madison got a new bike shop: Black Saddle Bikes had their soft opening. They’re located on the north side at 601 N Sherman Ave. Congrats to Black Saddle owner Mitch, who has been around the Madison bike scene for a long time.

This Week

Start your Tuesday with Bike Fitchburg’s Winter Commuter Station. Friday is International Winter Bike to Work Day, and Bike Fitchburg is joining the celebration early. Between 7 and 9 am, come to the bike roundabout at the intersection of the Cannonball, Southwest Path, and Cap City Trail for bagels and coffee.

On Tuesday evening a public input meeting about Anderson St between Wright St and Stoughton Rd is taking place. The project includes sewer work and resurfacing the street, but also a new sidewalk and bike facilities on the south side of the street. This is great news, as currently this is a gap in our low-stress bike network between the Starkweather Creek Path and the Reindahl Path. 6 PM at East Madison Community Center, 8 Straubel Court.

The Transportation Commission is meeting on Wednesday. The agenda is focused mostly on transit matters, such as proposed Metro service changes and a study that will look into how we can reorganize our whole transit system from the ground up. 5 pm, Madison Municipal Building Rm 215. Full agenda here.

As mentioned above, Friday is International Winter Bike to Work Day. Madison Bikes like to emphasize that trips to work are only a small part of all trips that can be done by bike, and so we’ll be celebrating Winter Bike Anywhere Day. Join us at two bike stations from 7 to 9 am: At Law Park near Machinery Row we’ll be serving coffee from Just Coffee and baked goods from Madison Sourdough; and on the west side we’ll be at HotelRED for coffee and sweet treats.

You can also sign up and pledge to ride on Friday on the International Winter Bike to Work Day website. Let’s put Madison on the map!

On Saturday, you head out to the west side Trek Store for a chili cook-off. “Just bring a crockpot of your finest chili into the shop by 1pm, and we’ll all do a taste test and vote for our favorite. The winner will be announced at 2pm. All chili chefs will get a $20 coupon, and the all-time winner will get a $100 Trek gift card.”

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
Bike News

Monday Update: Two City meetings, bike swap, Free Bikes 4 Kidz

Happy New Year! 2020 is off to a great start for Madison Bikes: Last Saturday about 75 people of all ages met up at Lakeside Street Coffee House just before sunset. After some coffee and hot chocolate, we rolled over to Olin Park for the final day of Holiday Fantasy in Lights and did two loops before returning to the coffee shop. It was great to see many new faces and a lot of families with kids! Thanks to everyone who joined us. For more great pictures by Mark Renner, go here. And Channel 27 covered the event as well.

This Week

The Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) is meeting on Monday. The mayor will speak at the meeting about the Metro Forward Initiative, a plan to improve and expand our transit system. Bus Rapid Transit is one component of Metro Forward, but it will probably also include dedicated bus lanes and a reorganization of existing routes and stops. Another agenda item is a review of the Neighborhood Traffic Management & Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program. This program sets the process for how citizens or neighborhood groups can request traffic calming features. The way the program works has led to inequitable outcomes, where similar streets end up with very different levels of traffic calming, and there is no systematic process for prioritizing requests. The full agenda is available here. 5pm, Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Room 215. If you want to provide written comment, email the chair Tom Wilson: tlwilson1986@gmail.com

The capacity of a single 10-foot lane (or equivalent width) by mode at peak conditions with normal operations. (Source: NACTO)

On Wednesday, the Transportation Commission is meeting at 5pm. On the agenda:

  • The service road connecting the Olbrich Gardens parking lot and Garver Feed Mill will get gates to keep errant cars out. The road is open only to people walking and biking, as well as Olbrich service vehicles, but apparently people in cars have been using it as a shortcut. The proposed gates will have an opening in the middle to let bikes through.
  • The commission will receive an update on the University Ave reconstruction plans. Our board member Robbie has published two deep dives into the project, but from an active transportation perspective the main thing about the current plans is: There won’t be bus lanes; there won’t be bike lanes on this stretch of University Ave. If you have opinions on this, let the Commission know.
  • Full agenda here.
  • To provide written comment, email PMcGuigan@cityofmadison.com

Need a new-to-you bike? Or want to get rid of one? Saturday provides you with opportunities for both:

The big annual Brazen Dropouts bike swap is happening at the Alliant Center’s New Holland Pavilion from 9am to 2pm. It looks like you can still sign up for a vendor spot. Madison Bikes will have a table to talk bike advocacy in Madison — make sure to say hi! The swap is a great opportunity to buy a used bike or bike components and accessories.

If you want to get rid of bikes: Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison (FB4K) is having their big bike collection day. FB4K is a non-profit that collect unwanted bikes, refurbishes them, and then provides them for free to kids and families in our community. From 9am to 1pm you can drop off bikes at Unity Point Meriter clinic locations all around Madison. If you want to volunteer at the pick-up event or later, sign up here.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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Bike News

Madison Bike(s) Highlights 2019

By the time many of you will get to read this, it will already be 2020. On behalf of our board, I wish you a Happy New Year! And what better start into a new year than to reflect on what has happened in 2019. Here are my personal reflections on everything Madison, bikes, and Madison Bikes.

January

One may think that January is a quiet month for biking in Madison. But in 2019, it started out with a big Madison Bikes event: We had a visitor from Berlin (Germany), Dirk von Schneidemesser. Dirk grew up in Madison but moved to Europe and was one of the key people involved in Berlin’s bike referendum. In our event at HotelRED, “From Madison to Berlin and Back: Civic Activism for a More Livable City,” Dirk described how the non-profit Changing Cities was able to mobilize for a referendum that would have binding rules for safe and comfortable bike infrastructure, collecting over 100,000 signatures in less than a month! You can read a recap of the event here. I can only speak for myself, but I was really inspired by the Berlin story and have kept thinking about whether and how similar advances would be possible in Madison.

January also marked a significant change for the leadership of Madison Bikes. Grant Foster, the very person who instigated Madison Bikes and had been the organization’s president from the beginning, decided to step down and instead focus on running for the District 15 seat on the Common Council instead. I can’t say enough about how important Grant was for Madison Bikes, and I’m glad that he continues to be on our board! The new leadership of Madison Bikes: Yours truly, with Heather Pape as vice president.

February

Local elections were on many people’s minds in February, and Madison Bikes took part in education and informing voters about the mayoral race. (As a 501(c)(3) organization we are not endorsing or advocating for candidates.) In January we co-sponsored a candidate forum, and in February we sent out a questionnaire with bike- and transportation-related questions to all candidates for mayor. It was heartening to see that all but two candidates took the time to respond to our questions. In the February primary, Paul Soglin and Satya Rhodes-Conway received the most votes and made the ballot for the general election in April.

Our other main focus for the month was Winter Bike Week. From February 1 to 8, every day we and our partners hosted events to celebrate and promote year-round biking. Unfortunately (but perhaps unsurprisingly), the weather tried its best to sabotage our efforts. Yes, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing — until you have a week that has everything from freezing rain to days with wind chill temperatures of -25F. Still, we were out there, and some of you were out there too. Kudos to everyone who braved the conditions. This year we’re going to try something a little different to promote winter biking, starting with our Holiday Fantasy in Lights Family Ride on January 4.

March

Madison Bikes is only piece of the bike ecosystem of Madison. Two other orgs had an eventful March: Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison finished their third season and gave away 1400 free bikes. Our board and volunteers contributed to this in a tiny, tiny way by having a volunteer session to help clean and fix bikes. This year’s FB4K season has just started, and we plan on having another volunteer season in the coming weeks.

Freewheel Bicycle Collective had a big March as well: They were selected as the operator for the future Judge Doyle Square Bicycle Center. The center, which will likely open later in 2020, will feature secure bike parking, showers, repair space, and a new, more central location for Freewheel to host its classes.

And this very blog you’re reading also had an exciting moment in March: Our new board member Steph published her first “Biking with Steph” column!

And while all these things were happening in the open, behind the scenes maybe the most important thing for Madison Bikes in 2019 happened: After hosting Madison Bike Week for many years, the Bike Fed asked us whether we wanted to take over the event. Knowing how much went into organizing a week-long event and given that we had less than three months to pull it all off, it wasn’t an easy decision. But because Madison Bike Week is such an important part of biking in Madison, we said “yes”! More on Madison Bike Week below.

April

Did everything change in April? Probably not. But from the perspective of a bike advocate, certainly a lot of things did change in Madison on April 2, 2019. Madison elected a new mayor, and 9 out of the 20 seats on the Common Council were filled by new Alders — one of them being our board member Grant, representing District 15. I was cautiously optimistic back then that new leadership would be a good thing for active transportation in Madison, and I continue to be optimistic. Of course, we still have a long way to go to move away from car-focused planning, and we still need advocates to push, push, and push. But I think April was a start into the right direction.

Maybe one example from April that exemplifies how things are moving the right way but aren’t quite there yet is the Wilson Street corridor study. Wilson Street, which is a crucial downtown gap in our low-stress bike network, was a major advocacy focus for us in 2018. While we didn’t succeed in getting the city to commit to adding protected bike facilities on West Wilson, the Common Council tasked the Department of Transportation to conduct a corridor study. That corridor study looked at connections to the Capitol Square from a larger perspective, and in April 2019 the Department of Transportation published their interim recommendations. The recommendations included many improvements for people on bikes. But they also still included many compromises because of a hesitation to remove car parking or tolerate a couple more seconds of delay for people driving through the area. Nothing has been finalized yet and construction won’t start before 2020 or later. So it remains to be seen how far we as a city have come in prioritizing people walking and biking.

May

In my recollection, all we did in May was rushing to get ready for Madison Bike Week. But of course that’s not quite true. A group of high school students from Oshkosh came on a field trip to Madison. It wasn’t an ordinary field trip, though: The students were on bikes, and the theme was bike-friendly communities. Our board members Pete and Jim, Steve Arnold from Bike Fitchburg, and a number of other Madison volunteers took the students around town and showed off our city’s bike infrastructure.

Bikes and buses make for a great combination

May was also the month when planning for Madison’s future Bus Rapid Transit system really picked up. This clearly had been one of the big election topic, and with a mayor strongly committed to improving transit in Madison, the city put many resources into making BRT a reality. An integrated transportation system beyond cars is important for everyone, and bus rapid transit can work well in combination with biking and walking. This topic will be with us for years to come, and for 2020 Madison Bikes is going to make a push to drive a conversation about how BRT can best work together with biking.

June

What can I say? June was Bike Week, and it was great. Some of my personal highlights:

  • Working with all the amazing partners we had. Sponsors who contributed financially, bike station hosts, local non-profits that helped us spread the word or tabled at our events, all the volunteers, and of course Renee Callaway at the City!
  • Producing Madison Bike Week TV with Liz: All we had was an idea: Wouldn’t it be nice to have short videos about what is happening each day of Madison Bike Week? No script, no rehearsal, no experience, all shot in one afternoon in Liz’s backyard.
  • Speaking in front of the Common Council when they officially pronounced Madison Bike Week in a resolution
  • The Fetch the Keg ride: For our Friday party, one of the beer sponsors was the Hop Garden in Paoli. How would we get the beer from Paoli to Madison? Of course by bike!
  • Riding with the mayor: To kick off Madison Bike Week, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and several members of the Common Council joined us on a big group ride to city hall for a press conference.

Another June highlight was the launch of an all-electric BCycle bike share system. Madison BCycle replaced its entire fleet with e-assist bikes, and the launch was a big success. Some of our board members joined the launch ride around the Capitol, and our former board member Hank wrote a detailed review of the bikes and system.

July

It took us a little bit to recover from Bike Week. In July we ran a successful fundraising campaign in support of the new Pinney Library. We think books and bikes go together really well, and the new Pinney Library will be in a very bike-friendly location. For that reason the Madison Public Library Foundation ran a “Rack-Raising” campaign. Instead of the traditional model where you “buy” a brick for a new building, your donation was signified by a personalized bike rack. We were able to raise $1000 for the library — thanks to everyone who donated! We’ll have some news to share about this in the next week or two. Stay tuned.

August

August started with a great event that Madison Bikes co-sponsored. Just Bikes!, Madison’s bike equity coalition, invited renowned mobility justice scholar and advocate Dr. Adonia Lugo to Madison. After a bike ride through Madison’s south side, Lugo gave a book talk about “Locating ourselves in Mobility Justice: Planning for multiracial and just future streets.” If you want to learn more about her work, I recommend reading her book “Bicycle/Race.”

Two exciting new bike infrastructure projects came online in August: In Shorewood Hills the Blackhawk Path opened. The path closes a gap of the University Ave/Campus Drive corridor, where previously bikes had to detour through Marshall Court. On the isthmus, the first stage of construction of the John Nolen/Williamson/Blair/Wilson (a.k.a. The Hairball) intersection was completed. While the intersection is still constructed in a way that prioritizes motor vehicle throughput over everything else, the project did bring some nice improvements for people on bikes, such as the much widened bike path in front of Machinery Row and a new protected two-way bike lane on Blount.

Blackhawk path video

September

I talked about change in the city earlier, and this fall we saw two more indicators of this change: Our board member Baltazar de Anda Santana was appointed to the city’s Transportation Policy and Planning Board, and yours truly was appointed to the Transportation Commission.

One of the jobs of a local bike advocate is to be critical of the status quo and to often focus on the negative. So it is nice every once in a while to be reminded of the good things we have in our city. In September a delegation from the Wasatch Front Range region in Utah came to town because from their perspective Madison is a biking success story. We were very happy to organize the event and show our visitors around on a bike tour and connect them with local planners, elected officials, and advocates.

October

The focus of October was the city budget. To paraphrase a well-known quote: What a city truly values is reflected in its budget. Yes, there are many other important levers that we need to pull on to improve active transportation, and most bike infrastructure is ridiculously cheap when compared to, say, expanding the Beltline. But this year’s budget had many important — and sometimes controversial — pieces that will help make transportation in Madison better. We contributed to the discussion by writing explainer blog posts about the wheel tax, encouraging you to write in about Vision Zero and 7-day-a-week clearing of our arterial multi-use paths.

November

The advocacy efforts of October came to fruition in November. The Common Council passed a budget that from my perspective was overwhelmingly good: Funding for bus rapid transit and a study to reorganize our existing Metro bus network, to improve our most dangerous intersections, and to keep our paths clear of ice and snow seven days a week. The path clearing project had been something that we had been working on for several years, and so it was a great success to see it finally come to fruition! Thanks to everyone who has supported us in this.

Photo: Dan Stout

Speaking of winter, November also saw us host another edition of the Winter Bike Fashion Show, an event to encourage and educate people to try riding in the cold season. We had great models and a record attendance! Lots of pictures in this post.

Another exciting thing in November: A new, parking-protected bike lane opened on Bassett Street. Instead of having parked cars on the curb and a bike lane between the parked cars and the regular travel lane, parked cars and a buffer create a protected bike lane on these two blocks of Bassett. This is the first parking-protected bike lane in Madison, and the city is conducting a year-long test, which hopefully will lead to a wider adoption around the city.

December

December is a time of reflection. One result of that reflection was that we decided to do a strategic planning exercise next year. Madison Bikes has been around since 2016, and we feel that it’s a good time to check in what we have achieved so far and where we’re going to go in the couple years. How do we prioritize what we work on? Is an all-volunteer model sustainable in the long term? (And if it isn’t: what are the alternatives?) What are some achievable, measurable goals for the next 1, 5, or 10 years for our organization? I’m excited to explore these questions and continue to build on the past four years of great work that we’ve been doing.

December is also the time of our board election. I’m sad to see some of our previous board members leave: A big thanks to Steph, Jake, Kate, and Pepe for your time with us! We will miss you! And I’m excited to welcome our new board members. We’ll introduce them on our blog in January.

Ah, and one last thing: There are many ways to support Madison Bikes, and one of them is by supporting us financially. If you appreciate what we’re doing, please consider making a donation to us. We appreciate any support you can offer, no matter how small. Thanks!