As of Friday, the bike roundabout that links the Capitol City, Military Ridge, and Cannonball trails, commonly known as the Velo Underround, has been officially reopened! The roundabout had been closed for several months this summer to improve storm water drainage from the site. According to the MMSD, this project finished two months ahead of schedule.
On Monday, the City’s Transportation Policy is meeting online at 5:00 PM. Much of the agenda will be focused on transit planning. There will be at least two semi-bike related items. The first is a discussion item on the lowering of speed limits on East Washington. The second is about the Draft Vision Zero Action Plan.
On Wednesday, the more region-focused Greater Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization is meeting at 6:30 PM. On the agenda is adopting the five year 2022-2026 Transportation Improvement Program. This is a planning document that goes into detail about projects that should be considered over the next five years in Madison and Dane County. There will also be an update on the Connect Greater Madison Regional Transportation Plan 2050. This is a more forward thinking plan about where we would like to see Dane County’s transportation network by 2050.
This Monday there are two area bike organizations having meetings. First up is the Madison Bikes Community Meeting at 6:00 PM. You can join the meeting by following the directions in the Google Calendar entry.
The next meeting on Monday is the Bike Fitchburg monthly meeting. This meeting starts at 6:30 PM and takes place at the Fitchburg Public Library.
On Wednesday, Madison’s Transportation Commission is meeting at 5 PM. On the agenda is a fairly important item related to Madison’s bike network. Specifically, the TC is considering a new alternate to the previously adopted route through Olbrich Park as part of the Atwood Avenue Project. This path not only helps improve commuting from the near east side to Monona, but it is also a critical piece of Madison’s extremely popular Lake Loop recreational route.
The public is encouraged to give feedback on this proposed change, so I encourage you to look through this and provide feedback on the changes proposed. The next public meeting after Wednesday’s TC meeting will be the Sept. 22 Board of Park Commissioners.
Option 1, shown above, was the routing in the documents approved by the Common Council on July 24, 2018. This option was arrived at after nearly a year of public input. However, this option did see opposition from some people who did not want the future multi-use path to use the existing multi-use path in the park.
Some time after the passage of the Atwood Avenue plan, Option 2 was shown as part of the 30% design plans. This option took the proposed path off of the existing path, but also created a conflict point at the bottom of the very popular Olbrich Park sledding hill. For that reason, this option fails to meet the city’s goals of providing safe, equitable, year-round bicycle access. This is why we’re now seeing Option 3.
Option 3 routes the Option 2 path around a significant curve to the southwest to move the path’s route away from the runout on the sledding hill while maintaining still keeping the new path off the existing path along the lake shore.
Bike Week is now three weeks away. Be sure to check out Madison Bike’s Bike Week page to learn about what exciting events are in store! Last Friday, Madison Bikes Board Member Robbie Webber had an interview on WORT’s Friday 8 O’Clock Buzz about Bike Week. You can listen to it here.
If you haven’t yet, take the City of Madison’s Lets Talk Streets Community Survey. This survey seeks to gather your community values and concerns about streets in Madison. The goal is to help the City of Madison create a process to design and construct streets based on equity and shared community values. This is your opportunity to provide direct feedback to the city about your experiences with Madison streets.
Last week the Capital City State Trail reopened along Fish Hatchery Rd between Glacier Valley Rd to the Fish Hatchery Rd overpass. This represents an important milestone in the Fish Hatchery Rd project as this section had been closed since spring to accommodate the major construction project.
Governor Tony Evers on Thursday signed Wisconsin’s 2022-2023 biennial state budget into law. While the state budget covers many items, the Wisconsin Bike Fed posted a summary of the budget items likely to impact bicycling in Wisconsin. In short, the budget maintains funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship and the Transportation Alternatives Funding Programs. While the Governor’s proposed increases in funding for these programs were shut down by the state’s Republican legislature, funding levels were maintained.
Construction on the West Washington Ave project begins Monday. The primary goal of this project is to rehabilitate deteriorating pavement conditions. However, there are several improvements along this stretch that will benefit biking. The most impactful improvement for biking is what will change on Bassett St. I’ll try to cover the major changes from the perspective of a person on a bike traveling south on Bassett.
The first change you’ll notice once this project is complete is the elimination of the exclusive right turn lane from Bassett. In its place will be a concrete median and staging area for bicyclists waiting to cross West Washington. This configuration will stage bicyclists well in front of right turning drivers in a newly shared straight-right lane. This should eliminate the stressful crossing of through riding bicyclists with right turning drivers that exists presently.
The next change you’ll notice is the presence of green crossing paint. This paint is intended to highlight to drivers where a person on a bike is likely to be in the event someone is about to cross the intersection. It does not provide physical protection, but it does create a visual cue for drivers to expect people on bikes to be using that space.
Finally, you’ll notice the parking protected bike lane continuing to Main St. This is the result of the overwhelming success and positive reception of the pilot parking protected bike lane on Bassett from Dayton to West Wash.
After a fairly contentious discussion at the Transportation Commission, the Commission voted to recommend the Cedar Street plan that implements buffered bike lanes along the entire stretch of the new street. Hopefully this plan is ultimately implemented by the council. The Cedar Street alternate plan involved adding only five (5) parking spaces at the expense of the buffered bike lanes. Those few additional parking spaces would create much worse conditions for people biking on the street. Both Cedar Street plans involve the exact same street profile, the only difference is the inclusion of five parking spaces at the expense of a year round all ages and abilities bike lane. If it is later determined that those five parking spaces are really necessary then the street can be restriped. It is much easier to add street parking than it is to remove it. This is likely not the last time we will hear about those five parking spots on Cedar Street, so be sure to look out for future advocacy opportunities!
After a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19, this Saturday June 5, Sunday, June 6, from 9AM to 12PM, Ride the Drive is back! This year’s Ride the Drive is, however, different than any other RtD to date. The biggest difference between this year’s Ride the Drive and previous years is the fact that it’s not going to be on John Nolen Drive. Instead, there will be four smaller Ride the Drive routes scattered across the city. I’ll briefly touch on what is at each location, so click here for complete details for what will be available at all locations!
The first route I’ll mention is the one closest to downtown. That route is near Wingra Park. This route starts in Wingra Park at the end of Knickerbocker St with free bike safety checks by Dream Bikes and Erik’s Bike Shop.
The second route I’ll mention is in Marlborough Park, on Madison’s south side. Marlborough Park is located just west of Seminole Hwy south of the beltline. There will be free safety checks by Wheels for Winners at the park. Bikes will also be available courtesy of Bike Equity for this ride.
The third ride I’ll mention is on Madison’s east side, just north of Cottage Grove Rd. Safety checks at this ride will be provided by Trek and Freewheel.
The fourth and final Ride the Drive Route this year will be at Warner Park in Madison’s north side. Bike safety checks at this location will be provided by Dream Bikes.
Regardless of which Ride the Drive ride piques your interest, we hope to see you there!
Spring is in full swing with trees budding and flowers blooming. To help emerge from the winter season, Madison Bikes is hosting a Spring Bike Wash and Safety Check. This event will take place Saturday, April 24, from 1 PM to 5 PM at Clark Ct, near Brittingham Park. Volunteers from Madison Bikes, Down With Bikes, Dream Bikes, BikEquity, and Wheels for Winners will be on site to assist with safety checks. Cleaning supplies, tools, and lube will also be available for use. Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/events/785154002417389/
Also this week, the Madison Vision Zero Initiative is bringing a presentation on the 20 is Plenty campaign to two city committees: the Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB), and the Board of Public Works (BPW). 20 is Plenty is a campaign to reduce the default speed limit on city streets from 25 mph to 20 mph. Injuries that result from a crash grow exponentially more severe with speed, so lowering speed limits should help save lives. The 20 is Plenty slides can be seen here. TPPB meets Monday at 5:00 PM, and BPW meets Wednesday at 4:30 PM. Both meetings are taking place virtually.
This Monday’s TPPB meeting also has a presentation on Complete Green Streets. Topics for this presentation include pre-design engagement and gap analysis approach. Pre-design engagement in projects is about reaching out to communities where a project is proposed to get a sense of what that community wants. The gap analysis approach is how to approach gaps in the low stress pedestrian and bicycle network.
As the days get longer the temperatures are starting to go up. We’re seeing that this week with at least one day with a high of 60 degrees. A stark contrast from the bitter cold we had but one month ago. As temperatures go up, so do the number of people on bikes. At the very least it’s looking like a good week for fair-weather riders! Remember to be kind to other path users and give plenty of room and warning when passing.
At 5:00 PM, there’s a meeting of the Transportation Commission. One item of interest is the issuance of requests for proposals for redevelopment of the Lake Street parking garage. This site has been of interest to transit advocates for a potential intercity bus terminal. The Draft RFP indeed calls this out as a project requirement, along with improvements to Lake St to benefit bicyclists and pedestrians.
Also at TC is a presentation on the 2021 Public Works Transportation Projects. These are usually smaller projects that are done on shorter time spans to improve transportation conditions in the city. A number of projects on this list will affect biking, so take a few minutes to check out the plans. One notable is the Gorham Street Resurfacing, which will give the city an opportunity to add bike lanes to the east end of the street where it branches off from Johnson. Another notable is West Washington, which has the opportunity to add bus/bike lanes. Wednesday’s TC meeting is an excellent opportunity for the public to provide feedback on any of these projects.
There’s an online meeting on the redesign of University Avenue at 6:00 PM. This project has been important to follow as the stretch of University under consideration is not the most bike or pedestrian friendly. One part of the plan is to construct a new bridge on the Blackhawk Path over University Bay Drive. This will help people cross U Bay without having to contend with traffic. While this part of the plan is good, it has been a struggle getting bike facilities along the south side of University. The current proposal includes a 7-8 foot sidewalk to help accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the south side of University, which is good, but there’s still time to ask for better, and this Thursday’s meeting is a perfect time to ask. Registration is required for the meeting, which can be done here.
On Monday two monthly meetings will take place. First is the Madison Bikes Community Meeting at 6:00 PM. Then, Bike Fitchburg is having its monthly meeting starting at 6:30 PM.
On Wednesday, the Transportation Commission is meeting at 5:00 PM. One item on the agenda might be worth watching. There is a presentation on the high injury network that seeks to identify corridors and intersections with high injury rates to target for vision zero improvements. Vision zero is an approach to infrastructure that seeks to prevent traffic deaths by creating infrastructure that accounts for human failings into its design. Here is a link to the presentation that will be given.
Also Wednesday, Madison Bike Center is running a Beginner Mechanic Session from 3-5 PM. Their Beginner Mechanic Sessions are free open-house-style workshops where people can go work on their bikes and learn how to fix them. No experience necessary. The topic for this session is how to check a secondhand or post-crash bike for safety.
On Thursday, there’s an opportunity to volunteer with Free Bikes 4 Kids from 6-9 PM. No experience is needed and volunteers will be cleaning and prepping bikes. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday, the Transportation Policy and Planning Board unanimously passed a resolution to end the City of Madison’s Bicycle Registration Program. The city is instead planning on encouraging registration through a national program that they will coordinate with. This change will not be official until passed by the Common Council.
On Wednesday, the Board of Parks Commissioners voted to reopen Vilas Park Drive to through car traffic. This is despite a petition with over 500 signatures and testimony that the Drive’s closure has been a net positive. The Board expressed openness to reconsidering interim Drive closure in April, noting that the Draft Master Plan recommends the Drive remain closed to through car traffic. This decision dealt a massive blow to people wanting Vilas Park Drive to continue being safe and comfortable to non-motorists using the park. Alder Tag Evers’ blog post from December 12 goes into more detail.
On Wednesday there are two bike-related meetings woth mentioning. The first is a regular meeting of the Board of Public Works. The second is a Public Involvement Meeting about Phase 2 of the Demetral Park Path.
First up on the Agenda is approving plans for the Garver Path between the Capital City Trail and Milwaukee St. This path is part of a larger planned network to connect the near east side to the north east side of Madison.
The next bike-related item is a report on the Bassett St Protected Bike Lanes. The report recommends continuing the parking protected bike lanes and extending it as planned in the Bassett St Corridor Plan.
Demetral Park Path – Phase 2
Also Wednesday, at 6:00 PM, there’s a Public Information Meeting about the Demetral Park Path Phase 2. Phase 2 completes an off-street connection between the path along Johnson St and the Demetral Park Path. Previously the City improved the Demetral Park Path and connected it to Commercial Ave in 2018. Property acquisition issues led to some delays, but the city is moving forward with this key connection.
Moving on to Thursday, there are two bike-related meetings happening at around the same time. The first at 6:00 PM is a BRT-related meeting. The second at 6:30 PM is related to the reconstruction of E Dean Ave on Madison’s east side.
The BRT Update meeting is primarily going to focus on Whitney Way and Sheboygan Ave. Whitney Way is notable because it currently lacks high quality all-ages and abilities bicycle infrastructure. Center running the BRT buses would improve bicycle infrastructure on Whitney Way. This would require sacrificing on-street parking, which was opposed to by many participants at the last meeting. If you are available please consider attending this meeting to show support for better bicycle infrastructure. Alder Arvina Martin has a blog post going into more detail.
E Dean Ave Reconstruction Meeting
Finally the meeting on E Dean Ave. Anyone with experience biking on the east side of Madison, especially from Monona, knows that E Dean Ave is in rough shape. The city is currently proposing three options.
Option 1 is the narrowest option, and would best promote traffic calming. Option 1 proposes Madison’s first ever advisory bike lanes. What is an advisory bike lane? A video by the City of Ottowa best sums them up. Bicyclists have right-of-way in the cycling lanes, but cars may use them to pass oncoming car traffic as long as no bicyclists are present.
Options 2 and 3 propose more traditional bicycle infrastructure solutions. Option 2 would have no street markings and an 8 foot sidewalk on the south side of the street. Option 3 would feature a wider street with marked bike lanes for part of the street and pull out parking.
In summary, there are four bike-related public meetings this week. The best way to get comfortable, all-ages and abilities cycling infrastructure is for the cycling community to stay engaged with the public process. If any of the above meetings strike your interest, I encourage you to attend.
Traffic alert: Babcock Drive between University Ave and Lot 40 will be closed to motor vehicle and bicycle traffic on Wednesday 11/4 from 9 AM to 3 PM. The sidewalk will remain open.
Last Wednesday’s Transportation Commission featured a number of important topics relating to comfortable and safe bicycling in Madison.
First up was the discussion about Madison’s shared streets program. In order to facilitate comfortable spatial distancing during the pandemic, the city enacted a number of restrictions on several streets. Atwood Avenue, Mifflin Street, and Vilas Park Drive were some of the restricted streets. The city is planning on removing these restrictions for the winter, and will evaluate their effectiveness. Public comments strongly supported keeping the traffic restrictions on Vilas Park Drive throughout the winter.
During the discussion, Alder Grant Foster made a good suggestion to look at mid-term solutions to keep some of the shared streets restrictions that are planned in future projects. A mid-term solution is more permanent than barricades and traffic cones, but less permanent than a complete reconstruct. For example, a mid-term solution could include concrete planters.
Click here for more information on the shared streets item.
Also discussed at the meeting were the 2021 Public Works Transportation Projects. Bikeways in the 2021 projects include new bike lanes on Odana Rd, a path connection to Demetral Park from Johnson Street, and the Russell Street bike path crossing. Click here for more information.
Watch the meeting here on the City’s YouTube page, and review the Agenda here. The Shared Streets item (#7) was moved to the beginning of the meeting due to the large number of registrants.
Monday, the TPPB is meeting at 5:00 PM in a virtual meeting. Topics of discussion include possible branding for Bus Rapid Transit and the vision zero high injury network. For full details, here’s the Agenda.
Tuesday is election day. If you haven’t already voted absentee, make sure to have your voice heard by voting at your local polling place. Although the presidential election is dominating headlines, there are down-ballot races for the House of Representatives, State Senate, and State Assembly. These races are important because they can affect local transportation policies.
Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board is meeting virtually at 5:00 PM. Not much biking related, but here’s the agenda.
Saturday, November 7th, Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison is providing another chance to donate bikes! From 12pm-3pm, nine bike donation stations will be setup throughout the area where you can drop off your gently used bike donations.
The list of donation stations is below.
While the most important donation you can make is a gently used bike, the next best donation you can make is a financial donation! This allows FB4K to purchase all of the supplies to repair bikes and to hire mechanics and staff to get the work done. It costs us about $100 to give a bike away.
An online petition to keep Arboretum Drive closed to car traffic gathered over 1000 signatures. Arboretum Drive closed to car traffic earlier this year to allow walkers, joggers, and bicyclists space to maintain adequate physical distancing during the pandemic. The University reopened Arboretum Drive to car traffic on July 31 despite the worsening conditions of the pandemic. Read the guest post by Sally Lehner.
There will be a virtual meeting of the Transportation Commission on Wednesday at 5 PM. On the agenda is an opportunity comment on the future of the intersection of Cedar Street with Park Street. Currently there are four options on the table for the intersection and it is still open for public comment. We would like to make sure the intersection features good bicycle access along and across Park Street. Another item is the approval of the reconstruction plans for South Blair Street. These plans also include the final reconstruction of the Blair/John Nolen intersection. Of note, the city is apparently moving forward with plans to add a cycletrack to the south side of Wilson Street. Getting good bicycle facilities along Wilson Street has been a years-long push by Madison Bikes to improve bicycle access to the downtown area from the lake shore.
In other news, on Friday there will be another Virtual Book Club event. This month’s book is Cyclescapes of the Unequal City: Bicycle Infrastructure and Uneven Development by John G. Stehlin. This book has been chosen because it addresses biking, mobility and social inclusivity.