Categories
Weekly Update

Slow season for biking

Winter cyclist in Crazylegs Plaza

With the chilly temperatures and no big city meetings this week, it’s a little slow for the Monday update. So most of this is a recap or the past week and some posts from our Facebook discussions.

The past week in review:

Several projects came before the Transportation Commission last week. We received a briefing on the results of surveys and meetings with community groups about a future reconstruction of John Nolen Dr from Olin Ave to North Shore Dr (the city portion of that road.) There was strong support for improvements to the path, with near unanimous support for more space for non-motorized traffic and separation of pedestrians and bicyclists. Improved crossings, a slower speed limit, and more green space were also widely supported.

We also heard about plans for reconstruction of Lake Mendota Dr within the city and Hammersly Rd both east and west of Whitney Way. And on a bright note, there was strong support for improved walking and bicycling infrastructure, even if that means loss of parking or adding curb and gutter where there are none now. 

As a long-time watcher of and participant in city meetings, this is a real change from past years, when any discussion of losing parking on a residential street would rile neighbors, even in areas where houses have ample driveway parking. In past years adding curb and gutter also seemed controversial because residents claimed it would, “change the character of the neighborhood.” In truth, many worry about the assessments that come with adding sidewalks and the responsibility of shoveling them in the winter. 

However, the project on Hammersley Rd will feature an 8-10 foot wide multi-use path on the north side of the road, but no sidewalk on the south side. The multi-use path was warmly supported by residents who said they needed a place to walk and bike, especially with children. The fact that the city will pay to construct and maintain the path surely helped ease concerns about cost and maintenance. 

The week ahead

There aren’t any city meetings affecting bicycle interests this week, so no need to prepare comments for anything. And we have nothing on the Madison Bikes calendar for the week as well. But this might be a good time to remind people that any events you’d like to see on the calendar can be sent to Info@MadisonBikes.org with the subject like “Madison Bikes Calendar.” 

What we’re talking about

A few items from other groups and what we are talking about on our Madison Bikes Community Facebook group:

Bicycle mechanics are sick of seeing bikes come in that are made to fail and cannot be repaired. We’ve all seen sad “bicycle shaped objects” that look like transportation, fun, or recreation, but are just cheap junk that will break a child’s (or novice adult’s) heart and steal their money. Vice and Bicycle Retailer, as well as other outlets ran stories. 

Wisconsin Bike Fed sends a reminder that you can be included in their annual Ride Guide if you get your submission in by February 7. Rides, fundraisers, club events, races, classes, and other events are listed for free. Advocacy groups, businesses, clubs, and other organizations can also request a listing.

On Facebook community members engaged in a debate about, “What’s up with the flashing red light that means it’s “safe” for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross Highland on the Campus Dr Path?” (And is it actually safe to cross when that light is flashing?)

And a national economic media site suggests Baraboo for a letter writer who asks, “Can you suggest some walkable small towns (3,000-10,000 population) that are county seats and/or college towns, politically liberal, and have easy access to rivers and bike trails?” 

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
Weekly Update

December brings flurry of activity

We don’t have any snow yet, but it’s coming!

After a slow couple of weeks, what with Thanksgiving and then few meetings afterward, we are going to see a bunch of activity before the end of the year. We are also seeing the first snowfall/freezing temperatures, so I hope everyone has figured out their winter biking options. If not, swing on by the Madison Bikes Community Facebook group, where there will be plenty of discussions of how to cope with/enjoy winter on a bike.

The week ahead

Monday

A reminder that a portion of the Blackhawk Path through Shorewood Hills will be closed starting today. The portion that will be closed runs from Tomahawk Trail to about where the path crosses under University Ave. The closure is expected to last six weeks. More information on the project, as well as maps of detours, can be found here

The Transportation Planning and Policy Board meeting was cancelled, so nothing to report for that. 

Tuesday

The University Bicycle Resource Center will have an in-person class from noon-1:30 pm: Bike Through Winter. The UBRC is located in the parking garage under Helen C White Library, across Park St from Memorial Union. You can also check out recordingings of all their past classes on YouTube.  

Wednesday

The Transportation Commission will virtually meet at 5 pm. You can view the agenda, watch online, or comment by email or during the meeting here. On the agenda are a few items of interest to bicyclists. 

  • An update on the buffered bike lanes that were passed at the last TC meeting. Not sure what the update is about, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a few comments in support. I think staff were surprised how easily it went after the difficulties getting the lanes on Whitney Way. 
  • Update on reconstruction of St Paul Ave on the east side. This project will include raised crossings for the Cap City Trail at Ohio Ave and Jackson St, so fewer bumps riding that section of path!
  • If you are interested in how the new system to allocate funding for traffic calming, Vision Zero, bike/ped improvements, and school zone safety is coming along, there will be a discussion and a review of a list of projects under the title of Safe Streets Madison. 
  • The committee will also review the signal priority list, deciding where new traffic signals should be placed. 
  • Finally, the committee will review the crash report from 2020 and discuss what it shows us. The report shows the most common crash types and locations for motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, and mopeds. There’s a lot to learn in this report. 

Thursday

The Plan Commission will hold a special session to discuss a proposed Transit-Oriented Development overlay zoning for the BRT route and surrounding areas. TOD zoning specifically calls out improvements in bicycling and walking connections to facilitate both access to high capacity transit and to discourage auto-oriented land use. Although this is not bicycle-specific, it will be an interesting discussion to hear and will give us some insights into future non-auto development that is likely to happen along the BRT routes. The meeting starts at 5:00 pm, and you can stream it or watch it later here.

Saturday

Finally, it’s time for the Santa Rampage! Starting at 9:00 am at various locations to converge on Library Mall at 11:00 am, make sure to wear your holiday finest — don’t show up without a costume, but it doesn’t have to be Santa — and ride the streets of Madison spreading cheer and raising funds for Bike Fed’s efforts across the state. This is a slow roll, family-friendly event, so bring everyone.

This year, there will also be a clothing drive for kids that may not have warm stuff for winter. More details, timing, routes, and registration can be found at the event page or by contacting Caitlin Hussey at Caitlin@wisconsinbikefed.org.


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
Weekly Update

As cool weather approaches… Monday updates

Yes, we finally have real fall weather, and a reminder that we will soon have winter as well. We’re all digging out the layers that we haven’t used since April and trying to remember what is appropriate for 45 degrees and breezy. We’ve got you! 

Mark your calendar

Although we won’t have an indoor Winter Bike Fashion Show this year, we will have some events and opportunities to learn from others who already bike all winter. Mark your calendars, because Saturday, November 13, from noon-2 pm at the Tenney Park Shelter, we’ll have a meet-and-greet, lunch-and-learn, share-your knowledge event to get you excited about biking in colder weather. More details to follow, but we do know that Metro will be bringing a bus by, so you can try out those bike racks. 

It’s nice to have the bus as a back-up plan for nasty weather, and too many people have told me they are worried about trying to get their bike on the bus when the driver and a bunch of people are waiting. If you come to our event, you can see how easy it is to use the rack, and you’ll be ready to rack-and-roll in no time.

The week ahead

We have extended the deadline to apply to be on the board until Oct 29. We have several vacancies, and we just know there are great people out there who can bring ideas, energy, and a new perspective to our board. If not you, then maybe you know someone that would be perfect. Here’s the form to fill out (or forward to someone else.)

Monday

At 6:00 pm we will hold our monthly Community Meeting on line. It will be devoted to hearing about, discussing, and asking questions about Bus Rapid Transit and bikes. You’ve heard that the city will have a new BRT line with larger buses, all-door boarding, level-boarding off a raised platform, pre-boardinging ticketing, fewer stops, and dedicated lanes. All this will make this line — planned to run down E Washington, then University, south on Whitney Way, and then out Mineral Point Rd. — able to travel faster along its route and carry more people. 

But what does this mean for us as bicyclists? Transit and bicycling compliment each other, and adding bike facilities at transit stops makes it easier to transition between the two. But they can also compete for space on the road. This is a special session just to address these questions and give input to the city staff and consultants working on this project. 

Will we be able to roll our bike right onto the BRT vehicles? What are the plans for bike parking? How will current bike lanes on the BRT route change? What’s planned to make getting to BRT stops easier? The Zoom link is https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84007649429?pwd=Qys5YjdLUnFQRlJFTEo5cTZMcDk1QT09. If you have trouble getting in, it’s Meeting ID: 840 0764 9429 Passcode: 648703

Wednesday 

Madison Transportation Commission meets at 5 pm online, and they will receive and update on Public Works projects for 2022. A note on the agenda says they discuss Old Middleton Rd, the Cannonball Path, and Cedar St. There are some technical drawings attached to the item on the agenda, but not much detail. I guess we’ll have to tune in to see what these projects entail, but each one could be very important connections in the bike network. You can watch online or register to speak on any agenda item here

Thursday

Another BRT community meeting will take place on Thursday at 6:00 pm. This time the topic will be plans for the downtown portion of the route. The city and consultants have already held meetings about the east side and west side portions of the route. These meetings go into more details about where the stations will be located, what they will look like, what streets the BRT will run on, and what lane configurations will be. The Zoom link and more details about the downtown route can be found on the city’s BRT project page.

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
Weekly Update

It’s Bike Week 2021!

Just in case you haven’t heard yet — in which case we’ve been doing a terrible communications job — Madison Bike Week 2021 is already underway! While technically it doesn’t start until Sunday, there were a few prologue events on Saturday.

Starting Sunday, there will be commuter stations, movies, bike check-up opportunities, fundraisers, classes, happy hours, social rides, and so much more. 

There is simply too much to list individually, but we wanted to highlight a few major events. To see what is happening each day, head on over to the Madison Bike Week 2021 page. The events are neatly color-coded by type of event, and there is even a way to bookmark your favorite events and sync them with your phone or calendar. 

Oh, and if you’re subscribed to our newsletter but not actually in Madison: Of course it’s also the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s Bike Week all across the state. Find out more here.

There is more infrastructure news, but we are concentrating this week on the Bike Week events. A good place to find out about Madison projects is the city link at the end of this blog post.

Madison Bike Week activities

Monday-Friday 

There are multiple commuter stations, where you can pick up some eats and/or beverages, have your bike checked out, and just generally hang out with other bicyclists. Motorless Motion will have an afternoon commuter station every — for the less morning-oriented among us — while others will be doing the regular morning bike commute station with coffee and such. 

Also, discounts are available all week at Pasture and Plenty, BCycle, and Bicycle Benefits. Information on these discounts and all the events can be found on the Madison Bike Week 2021 page

Tuesday

The Mayor will hold a press conference at 8:30 am in front of the Municipal Building on MLK Blvd downtown, and then go on a short downtown bike ride at 9:00 am. All are welcome to join us. 

There are also a ton of other activities on Tuesday, including an open house at the Madison Bike Center to see the beautiful new facilities, a bike maintenance check up and neighborhood ride at the Lussier Center, and a couple of no-drop social rides. Also not to be missed is the morning Cheddar Bacon Waffles commuter stop on the Cap City Trail at Dickinson.

Wednesday

At Lodgic Everyday Kitchen, Forward Madison will hold a fundraiser for Dream Bikes. The event runs from 5:00-7:00 pm, and there is a suggested donation. In addition to food and beverages, there is valet bike parking at the event, a silent auction and raffle, and bike safety checks and a complimentary bike wash. More info and tickets at the link above. 

Thursday

If you or any family or friends need a little refresher on bicycling — maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve been on a bike? — MSCR will hold a series of classes to get folks feeling comfortable on a bike. They are held at several locations around the city, and there is a nominal fee, but you can attend one or all the sessions for the same cost. 

In the evening, make sure to head over to Capital Brewery to see “A Bikers Ballad”, hosted by the brewery and Capital Off-Road Pathfinders. This movie is an ode to mountain biking of all sorts. Tickets and more information at the link. 

Friday

Friday, the big event is the Final Bike Week Party at Brittingham Park from 5:00-8:00 pm. There will be music, beverages for all ages (yes, beer too), food trucks, community groups, a bicycle-based mini library, bike check ups, and general fun and celebration. Family-friendly, and all are welcome. 

By the way, we still need volunteers to help us set up, run the event, and clear everything afterward. We are an all-volunteer organization, so we rely on you to get this done. You can sign up and see the shifts here: https://forms.gle/Yj7aczSCTxyftKbk6

Saturday

We aren’t done yet! 

Free Bikes 4 Kidz will be holding a donation drive at multiple locations. If you or a neighbor have an unused or unloved bike in the garage or basement, you can give it to Free Bikes 4 Kidz and help families experience the joys of biking. Kids come in all sizes, so even though we often think of this as collecting “kids’” sizes, older kids can use your bigger bikes. (Free Bikes 4 Kidz also takes financial donations.)

Finally, we want to give a big shoutout to a great organization and event — a chance to try out some adaptive bicycles for kids with special needs. Padres e Hijos en Acción will be holding Bicicletas y Jardinería event at Quann Community Garden, at the corner of Bram St and Koster St, 11:00am-1:00pm.

Phew. That’s a lot of celebrating bicycling. Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters, and to everyone who bikes every day, whether it’s to work, school, errands, meetings, the library, to see friends, or just because you love to go for a spin. This week is a celebration of you, too. 

Madison Bike Week sponsors: 

  • Trek/BCycle
  • MGE
  • Wheel and Sprocket
  • Black Saddle Bike Shop
  • Scwinn

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
Weekly Update

Take back the streets

Rally for Safe Streets sentiments in chalk

Probably the biggest event this past week was the rally that Madison Bikes held Saturday morning in partnership with three other organizations. The Take Back the Streets: Safe Streets Save Lives gathered people in front of the Madison Municipal Building to demand improvements to E. Washington Ave (and other large, fast roads in our city) to address the conditions that led to recent deaths. All three major local TV news services and the Wisconsin State Journal covered the rally the same day. Tone Madison will be running an article in the future. 

Although we wanted to have an event immediately to react to the deaths on E Washington in the last month, this is not the end. This is just the beginning of a coalition for safer streets. We will keep you up to date on future events, planning, and actions. If you are interested in volunteering for this coalition, drop Marybeth McGuiness — Madison Bikes new board Vice President — a note. 

Building a coalition
Grant at the mic

The week ahead

Monday

Transportation Planning and Policy Board meets Monday at 5:00 pm. On the agenda is the final report of the Traffic Calming Subcommittee and adoption of the new Safe Streets Madison program. This new program will replace the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program that required residents to collect signatures and petition for traffic islands, speed humps, or other traffic calming infrastructure. The new program’s scoresheet relies more heavily on whether a proposed project will improve the pedestrian network, all-ages-and-abilities bicycle network, or address a high-crash and serious-injury location. You can read the full report of the subcommittee here. If you want to watch the meeting, see what else is on the agenda, or comment on any item, follow this link

Wednesday

The Greater Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet at 6:30 pm. They will be hearing reports on a variety of regional transportation issues, including the following:

  • Regional Travel Forecast Model Project
  • Review of Connect Greater Madison Regional Transportation Plan 2050 — Update public survey results
  • Initial scoring of projects to receive federal STP-Urban funding

Documents related to these topics are not linked from the MPO agenda (unlike other city committees), but you can poke around on their website if you want to delve into the info, The MPO does transportation planning and finances projects in the Greater Madison metropolitan area, so many major projects go through the MPO to get the funding go ahead. You can also watch the meeting or comment on agenda items at the.  agenda link.

Save the date, and think about events

Although Madison Bike Week 2021 isn’t until September 12-18, it isn’t too soon to think about events. So if you are a member of a business or organization that wants to put on an event or offer a deal or discount during Bike Week, or even if you want to host an event yourself or with a small group, you can find the form to fill out on the Madison Bike Week page.

We are excited to have the opportunity to have a wide variety of activities and events throughout the city. So if you have an idea, we can work with you to flesh it out.

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
Weekly Update

Weekly update: Why so slow?

Alicia Ashman repair warning sign. Photo credit: Harald Kliems

Not a lot on the calendar this week, which is surprising, since it’s summer and all. See the bottom of this blog post to find out how to make sure your event or meeting is included in the Madison Bikes weekly update.

If you use the Alicia Ashman bridge to cross Campus Dr, it’s closed for repair from June 23 – July 9. If you aren’t sure where this is, the north side is just west of the Stock Pavilion, and the south side is the 1700 block of old University Ave. 

Common Council approves buffered bike lanes on Whitney Way

At their Tuesday meeting, the Madison Common Council unanimously approved buffered bike lanes on Whitney Way, together with a slew of safety improvements around the city. Despite the unanimous vote, several alders appeared to be skeptical of project, raising questions about whether there had been sufficient opportunity for public input (there had been three public meetings, in addition to the Transportation Commission meeting). The district’s alder, Arvina Martin, did a great job describing the engagement process and the purpose of the project:

“The accidents that had been happening on Whitney Way last summer — a motorcyclist was actually killed during one of our meetings because he was speeding.-The number of complaints that we get from people who try to cross Whitney Way and have trouble with that because of the speeding. This was a way that Traffic Engineering thought would not only provide better and safer access for more modes of transportation besides single rider vehicles. But this also was going to help with speed control. […] I mean people in this neighborhood — and this is my neighborhood! I live here — it’s referred to as the “Whitney Way Racetrack”. And these are some of the ways we can slow down traffic and make it safer not only for cars but make space for the BRT to take cars off this street, but also to provide space for bikes and bike traffic as well as making it safer for pedestrians that walk down there all the time. You know, we have a lot of people from my neighborhood that walk across on South Hill and walk to Garner Park. It’s a huge park and it gets used quite a bit by neighbors. And a lot of people — there are people who will drive across because they don’t want to cross that street [on foot]. So this is a whole big package of ways to make Whitney Way safer as well as bring it into alignment with Complete Streets and Vision Zero.

When Alder Wehelie asked whether Martin’s constituents supported the project, she responded:

“Like with any project, we get mixed results. There are a lot of people that like it, there are a lot of people that don’t. Not surprisingly, the folks that don’t like it are the ones that either live on Whitney Way or within a block in that section. The further you get out, the more support there is for this project. And I very much understand the concerns of losing parking in front of one’s home. I live next to a school, and there is a no-parking zone in front of my house. So I understand: it can be difficult. But at the same time, being an Alder means taking into consideration not only my constituents and their concerns but the needs and the impact that this decision has city-wide. And due to the support that I got from many other constituents and understanding that those that don’t want it are the ones that unfortunately are directly affected. But I felt in my decision to help move this forward was that this is something the city is going to need as we gain more residents and as we will need more transportation options other than people just taking their cars to work. That’s why I’m supporting this.”

Thanks, Alder Martin, and thanks to everyone in the community who expressed their support for this key piece in our city’s low-stress bike network!

From our Facebook Community: In May, one of our wonderful friends started a Google map to track construction projects that might affect those going out for a ride. The map extends far outside the city of Madison, so it’s really useful if you plan to stretch your legs farther afield. Pea gravel, new asphalt, and unexpected construction projects really can kill your rhythm when you go for a ride, so check out the map and help keep it updated here.  

Also, Wisconsin Public Radio ran a nice piece on how much a bike meant to a local guy when he was a kid and how biking with his daughter now has kept them close. I think we all remember the feeling of a bike as a kid: freedom to explore the world. Hopefully we all still have that feeling now. 

And the big question for the Facebook Community this week seems to be, “Why are the redwing black birds so aggressive recently, and does the color of your helmet make a difference?”

The week ahead

Tuesday

The Women Cycling Club will have their weekly women’s social ride from Black Saddle Bike Shop at 6:00 pm. This is a great ride for those who are just getting into cycling, getting their strength back, or just want a casual/social ride for all ages, body types, and styles of riding. The ride typically goes about 12 miles. They also have a longer, hillier ride leaving at the same time. First Tuesday of the month they do a Taco Tuesday ride that starts in a different location. (I showed up at the wrong place on June 1, but found them at the taco location.) More info and Facebook sign up for more news can be found here

Wednesday

Also Wednesday, the city Transportation Commission will meet at 5:00 pm (virtually.) There aren’t any burning issues on the agenda, but there will be the annual BCycle update to the city as well as updates from the Traffic Calming subcommittee. If you want to tune in or look at the transit items on the agenda — mostly accepting federal grants — you can find all the details here.

Saturday

MB board member Marybeth McGinnis will host an advocacy meet-up. I’ve copied her announcement below.

Madison Bikes will host a biking advocacy meet up Saturday June 26 at 10:30 am – noon at Memorial Terrace (with yours truly facilitating). This is meant to be welcoming to those new to biking advocacy – for the seasoned veterans, you are more than welcome to join us, just please keep in mind that this is a relaxed space where all levels of knowledge are expected. We’re intending to create a space that is as productive as it is focused on community-building. We also already had great ideas for discussion, including tactical urbanism; bike parking in residential areas; safety; bike shares; removing the trick riding ordinance; and more.

Please register in advance (please also feel free to register to mark your interest in the future, even if you can’t make that date). Registration helps me plan facilitation, coffee purchasing, and grabbing tables and chairs more easily. 

Our community meeting at 6 pm on June 28th will be something of a follow up to this event, so plan to hear more about that.

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
Weekly Update

Shared streets, Vilas Park Dr up for consideration

Although we’ve had some ups and downs in temperature, there are clearly more people moving around by bike. Whether it’s seasonal riders hauling the bike out of the garage and pumping up the tires, newly-vaccinated people being out and about more, or just friends and families being more visible on bikes, the two-wheeled traffic is obvious. 

I always love to see people of all shapes, sizes, ages, clothing styles, abilities, family types, economic backgrounds, and destinations traveling by bike. It makes me happy to see people on bikes going by, chatting with each other, clearly just using their bikes to go about their daily lives. No big deal, except that it is a big deal that it is so normalized in Madison. 

Lots going on this week that will affect how we move through the city and what types of transportation we prioritize. Your participation and voice is why we’ve made the progress we have, but we still have a long way to go until everyone feels comfortable using a bike all year and everywhere. 

The week ahead

Wednesday

The Transportation Commission will consider reviving the Shared Streets program for the summer. last year the city limited motorized use of some residential streets to local users in order to open up the street to people walking, biking, using other non-motorized transportation, as well as activities like socializing, playing, and just enjoying the public right of way in ways that are difficult or impossible when one has to “watch out for traffic.” 

This program also includes creating a dedicated, protected bike lane on Atwood in front of Oblich Park. The justification is that the shared sidewalk is too narrow to be shared with pedestrians. Very true, but probably true all year, and not just in summer. This section is a big gap in the bike network, since the bike lanes on Monona Dr end at Cottage Grove Rd when you are headed north. 

Currently, the following streets are proposed to be part of the program: Atwood, West Shore and South Shore, Sherman, Darbo, E Mifflin, Darbo, and Fisher.

As always, some letters, emails, or testimony in favor of this program would be helpful. And maybe some encouragement to make some of the street changes permanent. 

Also on the TC agenda:

  • Discussions of the “20 is Plenty” program to pilot lowering the speed limit on some residential streets to 20 MPH. This is a test program, and the city hasn’t decided where and how many streets will have the lowered speed limit. 
  • Consideration of traffic calming for Wheeler Rd
  • Ped/bike enhancements (projects) for 2021
  • Updates from a subcommittee on whether the traffic calming program should be modified or changed. 

As always, you can watch the meeting online, register to speak on any item, and/or send comments. Go here to find out how and when to access the meeting (and see the full agenda and all the details on the items above.)  

Also Wednesday, Parks Commission will consider of an interim traffic management plan for Vilas Park Dr until the new master plan can be implemented in a few years.

Last year Vilas Park Dr was closed to through motor vehicle traffic as part of the Shared Streets program. This was very popular with pedestrians, bicyclists, and many other park users, as the current configuration of the road means all users either have to share the paved roadway or walk/bike on makeshift gravel areas along the side of the road. 

It looks like they are considering two options, but both require bicyclists to share the road with motorized traffic. Tjhey would also remove some parking spots. 

Thursday

The Plan Commission will have a special meeting to begin the process of passing a citywide change to how transportation impacts are considered in development review. This is something that I worked on for other cities before I retired (as did Mayor Satya before she was elected), and I’m very excited that Madison is finally moving forward on this initiative. 

I’ll write more about this concept at a later date, but this will mean facilitating biking, walking, and transit — as well as simply encouraging fewer and shorter motor vehicle trips — will be required as part of the city development review for all new developments over a certain size. The city will better link transportation and land use in city policy. Land use and transportation have always been linked, but not always explicitly considered as we reviewed new developments. You can tune in to hear the discussion and access the documents for the meeting here. 

Saturday

Bike Rodeo in the Allied Neighborhood. These events help kids learn to ride safely and also help them get their bikes in good shape for the summer. There is also an option to connect families with free bikes if they need one. As of this writing (Monday morning), there are still a few volunteer slots that need to be filled. You can go here to sign up to help

All month

Don’t forget to sign up for the Madison Love to Ride May Bike Month Challenge. You can sign up to be part of the Madison Bikes group/club. Or, sign up with your friends or workplace group. Why sign up and log your rides? It helps city, state, and national officials see how important bicycling is to you and the whole region. It’s an incentive for those who might need a little push to get out and bike — no one on this list, I’m sure. Help your friends get on their bikes by signing up and riding with them — or maybe competing. And you might win a prize in the drawing.  

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
Weekly Update

Spring is (almost) here and that means local elections

A man riding a bicycle on the Southwest Path, towing a child trailer
@cyclists_of_msn

If you missed our Advocacy 101 event, you can catch a recording on Facebook. Thanks to all the folks that joined us, asked questions, and added to a great conversation about how decisions are made in Madison and how you can influence those decisions.

And speaking of advocacy, with the spring elections set for April 6 (note that we had a typo about the date in last week’s update), in-person absentee voting is now available around the city. Although far fewer people vote in local elections and the non-partisan statewide elections than big November elections, your vote actually counts more. For alder – your representation on the Madison City Council – your vote might be one of less than 2000. And we will also elect a new Superintendent of Public Instruction for Wisconsin. If you want to know how the alder candidates view bicycling issues, check out the answers to the Madison Bikes questions on our website. Need to know how and where to vote? The Madison City Clerk’s website has you covered.

The week ahead

It’s a pretty quiet this week. There are no city meetings of note. But there are a couple of opportunities to learn more about transportation issues in the county and trails outside of Madison.

Monday evening at 7:00 pm, the Madison Area Bus Advocates will host a Facebook meeting to discuss Vehicle Miles Traveled, transit, and the link to the Dane County Sustainability Plan. Although this will focus on transit, the idea of reducing VMT is one that bicyclists and anyone interested in sustainability and better transportation policy will find of interest. Sign up here.

Thursday there will be a Zoom meeting hosted by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) about the Southwest Savanna master plan, an area that covers the Sugar River and Badger Trails south of Madison. They are also taking comments on the master plan.

Although the master plan does not recommend allowing ATVs or other motorized uses to the trail, there is a vocal group that has been pushing for motorized access. It’s always useful to provide comment that you do NOT want to share the trail with motorized users. On the positive side of things, the plan does show a detour for the currently-closed Stewart Tunnel and mountain bike trails in New Glarus Woods.

“The DNR will host a public meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2021 via Zoom video conferencing. Pre-register for the meeting here. For those unable to attend, the meeting will be recorded and posted to the Southwest Savanna Draft Regional Master Plan webpage for viewing after the event.

“The meeting will include a brief presentation by DNR staff, followed by a public comment period. Those wishing to speak at the meeting are required to register online here by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.”

More info, including the full master plan can be found here.

If you are looking for a job, the Wisconsin Bike Fed is hiring here in Madison. They have three positions posted: A Government Affairs Manager; an Education and Engagement Program Manager, who will spend 80 percent of the job working on a newly-revived Safe Routes to School program; and an Education and Engagement Program Assistant. More information, job descriptions, and deadlines to apply (April 15) can be found 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
Weekly Update

Spring primary, electric buses, and how to keep your route rideable

Well, in addition to the bitter cold, we now have some fresh snow. And because of the cold temperatures, salt won’t work to melt the snow and ice. Some roads are clear because they have been plowed and then exposed to sunlight, but many smaller streets are just one slippery mess. Ditto with the paths. So if you aren’t running studded tires and extra layers, it’s been pretty challenging the last week. But I still see people out on their bikes, and that makes me proud that Madison is the type of place that people ride in all weather, and the city and drivers expect it.

But if you are having trouble in a particular area – maybe a windrow at a path intersection or a street where all the snow has been pushed into the bike lane – you can use the Report A Problem link on the city’s website. Winter is challenging for everyone, especially when snow starts making the streets even narrower, and drivers park farther out into the street. But we do have a way to report especially bad spots.

If you missed the discussion on WORT on diversity (or lack thereof) in the Madison biking scene — with Baltazar De Anda-Santana (now leading the Latino Academy of Workforce Development) and Kristie Goforth, executive director of Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison – you can listen to a recording here.

The week ahead

Tuesday

Probably the biggest thing happening this week is the spring non-partisan primary. Depending on where you live, this might be a snooze or a big deal. Turnout is expected to be very, very low, so your vote is especially important. Fewer votes = each one counts more strongly than in high-turnout elections.

For everyone across the state, Tuesday will narrow the field for State Superintendent of Schools. There are seven people running, and the top two will go on to the April general election. You may also have a primary for alder (Districts 9, 16, and 18) and/or school board. (There are no primaries for Madison School Board, but if you live in a different school district, there may be one. I haven’t checked.)

To find out what will on your ballot, as well as where to vote and what you need to bring to re-register if you have moved (aka “changing your registration”), go to MyVote.WI.gov

Now if also a good time to think about talking to the alder candidates about what’s important to you, including both city and district transportation issues. Even if there is an uncontested race or the incumbent is running unopposed, your voice is important. Just a call or email to let them know that biking, transit, pedestrian safety, and/or other issues are important to you is a way to remind them that people are paying attention and holding them accountable.  

Thursday

If you are interested in the future of electric buses, WISPIRG will host a discussion from 5:00-6:00 pm. You can register (free) here.

Stay warm out there, and keep the rubber side down while riding. Later this week the temperatures will be in the teens, and it’s going to feel like spring!

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
Weekly Update

Welcome to 2021!

@cyclists_of_msn Photo: Harald Kliems

If you haven’t read Harald’s wrap up of 2020, it’s worth checking out. (what, you don’t read it as soon as it’s published every Monday?) It’s easy to forget how much we’ve done and where we’ve had wins. We couldn’t do it without you, the biking community. Your voices are what give Madison Bikes strength and influence.

And although everyone has said it already, “Whew! I sure hope 2021 is better than 2020.” The only good thing in biking news was that a lot of people who hadn’t been biking discovered the joys of two wheels, and our local bike shops did a bang-up business, often selling out of… everything.

Although you might have to watch out for a few icy patches, the snow and recent hoar frost have made Madison a true winter wonderland. It’s a great time to take your bike out and enjoy the quiet that a snow blanket provides.  

Aldermanic elections this spring

Looking ahead to the new year, we will soon be moving into yet another election, although nothing quite as dramatic as the November (and continuing) presidential rugby scrum. I don’t think my heart can take more than one of those every decade. 

But Tuesday (Jan 5) is the deadline for candidates for city council to file paperwork to run. If there are more than two candidates in a district, there will be a primary on February 16. Then the final election for aldermanic seats is April 6. All 20 seats are up for election, with many current alders not running again, so this is a good opportunity to ask the candidates (even if there is only one) where they stand on bicycling and other transportation issues. If they seem unsure why these issues are important or what the barriers are to biking in your district, you can be both an advocate and a source of information for them. 

Not sure what district you are in? You can look it up here

And maybe some on this list might think about running in the future. Alder elections are every two years, and many seats go uncontested. We have two board members with experience running and serving, so we can answer a lot of your questions.

Madison Bikes is planning on sending questions to all the candidates, and we’ll publish the answers. But having a personal conversation with your representative probably has much more influence than our handful of questions.

The week ahead

Monday, the Transportation Commission meets, but there isn’t anything significant on the agenda. They will be adopting the recommendations for the locally preferred alternative for the east-west BRT line. They will also be reviewing and approving the Traffic Calming Subcommittee summary report, but it looks like that work will continue, since they are also asking for an extension. 

Tuesday, on the Council agenda is a proposal to repeal the mandatory bicycle registration ordinance. Why? It costs more to run the program than it takes in each year; compliance with the current ordinance is low; the current program is not an effective way to return recovered bikes or use staff resources to improve bicycling across the city; and free national online bicycle registration services have made recovery of bicycles across jurisdictions much easier. 

Wednesday, the Board of Public Works will approve plans for phase 2 of the Demetral Bike Path. This is the last section needed to complete a link from the Yahara River Path to Commercial Ave. This is just a pro forma vote, but it’s nice to see an important link moving forward. Every little bit helps.

Madison Bikes is here for you, but you can be here for us as well

In the year ahead, there will be many important decisions made that will affect bicycling in the city.

Some are big: 

  • a complete reconstruction of a road, which provides opportunities to add or improve bicycle facilities; 
  • decisions about prioritizing one transportation mode over another in a corridor; 
  • how Bus Rapid Transit will integrate with bicycling or possibly displace current bike facilities on the route; 
  • removing parking in order to provide buffered or physically protected bike lanes. 

Other decisions are small: 

  • new or better paint to delineate bike facilities; 
  • a curb cut moved that allows easier transition to a path; 
  • repaving a bumpy path or filling a bunch of potholes; 
  • making sure a traffic signal detector picks up bicyclists using a road and not just motor vehicles. 

We will do our best to keep you informed of these decisions and how you can have an influence. But if you see an issue in your neighborhood, on your rides, or near where you work or shop, you can both let us know and talk to your city representatives or city staff. Sometimes all it takes is pointing out an issue to get it fixed, or at least get it on the radar to be fixed in the future.

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.