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.

Categories
Weekly Update

Happy Bikesgiving

With the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been enjoying, I hope everyone has gotten a chance to take a joyful ride through the city or surrounding farms. Maybe this is a little gift for the horrible year we’ve had to endure. We all know that riding all winter is not only possible, but can even be fun. And we are here to help you with that via more upcoming Winter Bike videos. But isn’t it nice to not need fenders, extra sweaters, and big gloves in late November?

The coming week

Monday, Madison Bikes will host their monthly community meeting at 6:00 pm. This month’s topic is “BRT and Bikes and Madison, Oh My.” As the city continues to plan for Bus Rapid Transit, there are opportunities to better integrate bicycling and transit use. For instance, bikes will be able to roll onto the BRT vehicles, so you won’t have to use an outside rack.

But there could be conflicts as well. The city is trying to balance speed for the BRT via exclusive lanes, parking, and bike facilities. The discussions have been good, and keeping bike facilities on the major BRT corridors looks more likely than a year ago. But we should be aware of these issues. So join us to hear how to get involved.

Other things on the horizon

With Thanksgiving later this week, the city calendar is quite empty. But there are some pending issues we should keep an eye on as well as some decisions that will affect bicycling.

Gorham Street resurfacing is scheduled for spring 2021. At present, there are bike lanes only from Brearly westward. However, there are no bike lanes from Baldwin to Brearly. There was a neighborhood meeting last week, and you can view the slides from the meeting here. The option presented to the Transportation Commission after the neighborhood meeting has continuous bikes lanes from Baldwin the way to University Ave. But this will require removing some parking, so there will likely be opposition from surrounding residences.

The Bassett Street parking-protected bike lane has been in place for a year now. At the Transportation Commission, the consensus was that it has been a success, so it will become permanent. Eventually it will be extended past W Washington. If you are interested in looking at the presentation from the meeting, you can find it here.

The city survey on shared streets ends on December 1, so if you haven’t filled it out, you still have time to voice your opinion. The city experimented with limiting access on some streets to only one-way, local traffic, or only non-motoritzed users during COVID. Examples include E Mifflin, West Shore Dr, South Shore Dr, and Sherman Ave. Atwood next to Olbrich Park also had a lane rearrangement to try a physically-separated bike lane. If you liked these trials and want to see more, or see them become permanent, speak up!

One of the roads that was closed to motor vehicle traffic during the summer was Vilas Park Drive through Vilas Park. The city plans to reopen the road to drivers as winter approaches, but the petition to keep it closed already has over 370 signatures. If you want to add your name, here’s the link.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, joyful, safe, and bike-tastic Thanksgiving. In these tough times, I’m thankful that Madison is such a great place to get outside by bike, because that’s kept me sane this year.

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

Off-road trails, city budget, and… Vote

Hope everyone had a chance to get out on these amazing, last, warm days of fall. Soon we will be talking about how to keep warm as the temperatures drop, and then it will be winter biking season. We have plans for those conversations as well, but for the moment, let’s take one more ride in the sun and short sleeves!

The past week

On Monday we had a great open house for folks interested in learning more about both our current board members and what being on the board means. Even if you couldn’t make the open house, you can still apply to be on the board by filling out the application. Deadline is this Friday, October 16. 

The week ahead

Monday

At 6:00 pm, we will host a discussion of the city budget. The budget will be passed in November, but decisions and meetings are happening now. Hear what we are likely to see, and how you can influence what’s in there. Always wondered how the Mayor and Council decide where your tax dollars go? This is your chance to hear a short presentation and then ask questions and talk about what it means to the biking environment. 

Tuesday and Thursday

Public meetings about the proposed Madison Bike Adventure Trail (MadBAT) will happen both nights 6:00-7:30 pm. (There will be a third meeting on Oct 28 as well.) The meetings will present the same information, but this is your chance to hear more about what the plan means and provide comment. Registration is required and can be found on the community engagement page

If you aren’t sure what MadBAT is about, here’s a recent article that lays it out. The idea is to connect parks and neighborhoods with off-road trails and add pump tracks, mountain bike facilities, and other activities so everyone — including kids — can bike to a fun off-road activity.  

Wednesday

Transportation Committee meeting at 5:00 pm. As with all city meetings, you can watch the meeting online and/or comment by clicking the link.

On the agenda is a renewal of the BCycle contract with the city for ten years. 

Also on the agenda are approving plans for the following roads sections 

  • E Johnson from North St to Third
  • E Gorham from Baldwin to Blair
  • Odana from Whitney Way to Gammon. This last converts Odana Rd from a four-lane road to two through lanes, a center left-turn lane, and adds bike lanes. This brings the road back to what is had in the 1980s before a conversion to four lanes was done without public input in the middle of the night. (Yes, really.) Bike lanes on Odana Rd is a big deal and will provie access to many destinations on the corridor. 

And one more thing: VOTE! You can register on-line until October 14; in-person absentee voting starts across the city on October 20, and it’s not too late to request an absentee ballot. Make a plan to vote, because it’s important. Have questions or need information? Start 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

New bridge, new city position, and new BCycle station

New Badger State Trail bridge over McKee Rd
The new Badger State Trail bridge over McKee Rd. Photo: Harald Kliems

Well, the students are back in town, and as usual, there is a steep learning curve for them as to how to behave on the streets, trails, sidewalks, and other public spaces. But this year there is the added adventure of social distancing. We all need to be patient as the new residents learn our ways. Try to slow down a bit, announce your passing movements way early, and expect the unexpected as you ride through the downtown and campus. It happens every year, but we all need a little extra space and kindness this year. Try to be generous and gentle.

The past week

The new Badger Trail bridge over McKee Road  is up, but it’s not open yet. In a couple of weeks, we’ll let you know when there is a grand opening. This will make crossing the road so much more comfortable for everyone — no stopping at the intersection, no confusion with the flashing lights, and no wondering if the drivers are going to yield. 

And after many years of work and some obstruction by a few local communities, the first official US Bike Route in Wisconsin has been approved by Wisconsin DOT and Adventure Cycling. Madison Bikes Board member Robbie Webber worked on mapping this route over a decade ago, but there were a few bumps along the way before it was official. Although many Wisconsinites may already know many of these links, it’s great to have a route from the Mississippi River (at Winona, MN) to Lake Michigan (the ferry dock in Milwaukee) officially published. This is part of USBR 30, which will run coast to coast, but each state needs to approve the exact route in their state.

map of US Bike Route 30 in Wisconsin

The city is stepping up their game when it comes to outreach and education for not just bicycling and walking, but also driving. The previous position was principally devoted to doing bike and pedestrian safety presentations at schools and community meetings when someone specifically requested it, and the job has been vacant for a few years. The new person will have a different title and the job will be more proactive in its focus. You can read the memo explaining the changes here, but in general this looks like a positive development. No job posting yet, since this is just the authorization to create a new position.

And we have a new BCycle station! It’s at Breese Stevens Field, and sure to be popular when we can go back to gatherings, concerts, and Flamingos games. This location has been requested by a lot of people, and will fill a critical gap in the station network, since it’s close to so much of the new development and destinations. You can also check out a new type of station — one without kiosks! Check out their Twitter announcement

The week ahead

Monday

Monday at 5 pm, the Transportation Planning and Policy Board will meet. There are a few changes to neighborhood plans, a discussion of the Residential Parking Permit Program and Resident-only Parking Program (discussion only), and some possible modifications to the BRT Local Prefered Alternative involving possible center-running sections (as opposed to using the right lane). This last item could affect bike facilities on some sections of the route. 

Wednesday

On Wednesday at 6:30 pm, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MPO) will meet. They will be holding a public hearing on the Transportation Implementation Plan, which governs the projects that the MPO might fund for the next five years. This plan is updated every year, but it gives us a good idea what their plans are for major projects throughout the metropolitan area. The TIP won’t be approved until the October 7 meeting, but there doesn’t appear to be a link to the document itself. (Not great public access, IMHO.)

Don’t forget….

And of course, don’t forget that Bike Week will be starting up on Sept 12. We’ll have more information on that in a separate post, but we WILL have activities, even though not the kind we all love where we get to socialize and hang out. If your business, club, organization, or work place would like to host an event, discount, promotion, or other activity, you can submit it now to get it on our Bike Week calendar (which will be up soon.)

In the meantime, you can join the Madison Bikes group for Cycle September at the Love To Ride site. Even if you are on a team at work, you can join our group as a club/organization. We will have some special prizes awarded in a drawing for group members, so, yeah, that’s an incentive.

Categories
Bike News

Besides a great week to ride, what’s up this week?

With the heat temporarily behind us—it’s coming back this weekend—we have a great week to get out and ride. We rely on you, our followers and members, to help us know both what’s good about our biking network and what needs to be changed. Our Facebook Group Community is an invaluable resource for both you and us. Although we know that there are still many gaps in our network (we’re working on that) and many places where the infrastructure could be better—places where some may feel comfortable, but others don’t—we also know that more people are biking every day, and we love to see the success stories as well.

I just got back from a little getaway to give myself some relief from the same scenery. I drove to my destination in the UP, and passed through a number of Wisconsin communities that tout their great biking environment. Yet the infrastructure I saw would not be appropriate for families, timid riders, people just getting back on their bikes after decades away, or middle school students trying out their independence. (OK, the kids might be willing to ride on a busy road with just a painted bike lane, but their parents would probably veto the idea.) Whenever I go away, I come back appreciative of the wonderful bike environment we have and heartened by the number and variety of riders I see on the streets.

We know that there is still much to do—we want everyone to feel comfortable biking anywhere, at any time, all year—but sometimes I think we have to pause to appreciate the community we have built, both the human community and the physical community.

What’s up this week?

One of the reasons I thought I should wax on about Madison is that there isn’t much on the calendar, and the Monday update would be pretty short.

Tuesday

The Council will be considering the plan for the former Oscar Mayer site. The Plan Commission has recommended a development plan that went through a thorough vetting with many community groups (including low-income and communities of color, a process led by a wonderful community group) and provides an opportunity to build dense, walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly housing. Part of the property is being preserved as a park, but there are proposals to make this park much larger, an idea that has been opposed by the Parks Department. They do not think there is a need for a larger park, and do not have the funds to develop and maintain the larger site.

Why should bicyclists care? Because if the housing is not built here, it will be pushed out to the periphery, to less multimodal-friendly sites. More habitat will be destroyed on the edge of town, and our biking environment will suffer.

You can register to speak or submit a letter to the Council. Instructions are here.

Wednesday

The Transportation Committee will meet. They will be considering the Cedar Street intersection with Park St. If you can’t picture the location, it’s that weird one where Cargo Coffee is located. More importantly, it’s where the new grocery store for the area will be built, so it’s important that people be able to safely cross Park St. At present, Cedar does not continue across Park St, but it will when that parcel is redeveloped. The crossings proposed were not very good for either pedestrians or bicyclists, so we are hoping a better design is presented.

A proposal will be presented at the meeting to add buffered bike lanes to Cedar St, but there is the perennial conflict with on-street parking, in this case to serve the grocery store. (Personal aside: Aren’t they building parking when the store is built? Why should we sacrifice infrastructure for those walking and biking in order to provide parking for a commercial building?)

Also note that the committee is considering changes to the traffic calming program. A subcommittee has been meeting, and they aren’t ready to present a report, but we’ll be keeping an eye on that.

Down the Bikes—a program run by former MB board member Pepe Barros—will be doing free bike check up at 2613 Stevens St (my driveway) from 8-11 am. They’ll check your bike and see if repairs are needed. If there is time, you can have them do the repairs. We did this last week, and it was very popular. The program runs on a pay-what-you-can model. If you are able to pay for the repairs, or if you just want to make a contribution when they check out your bike, that will enable them to provide services across the community to people who aren’t able to pay.

Also on the horizon

Don’t forget that there is a state primary election coming up on August 11. For some areas, because of a heavily-Democratic electorate and/or a lack of a Republican candidate, this election will likely determine who will be your state representative or senator.

Absentee ballots can be requested and you can check to be sure your registration is up to date at MyVoteWI.gov. You can also get information on who’s running, where you polling place it located, and all sorts of other useful information.

Your vote is important. Ask questions. And make sure the candidates know you can about transportation issues and how our state money is spent. If you live in Madison, you can also find out about in-person absentee voting, drive-up absentee voting, and all the information you need to vote at the City Clerk’s website. (They always need poll workers too, so you can sign up for that on the Clerk’s website as well.)

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.