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.

Categories
Bike News

Weekly update: Biking, urban design, and social upheaval

This image just feels like the last ten days

The protests and other upheavals of the last ten days may seem to have little to do with bicycling, or transportation in general, but as Harald pointed out last week, racial politics and equity is core to our organization as we try to build a city where everyone can bike everywhere. It’s not just about infrastructure; it’s also about personal comfort and safety for those who may be at risk regardless of what mode of travel they are using. But better infrastructure and urban design can create spaces where traffic enforcement is less needed. When slow speeds and sharing of the public spaces—including our transportation spaces—is more natural and easy, we need fewer police to tell people to yield or slow down. This means fewer interactions between road users and the police.

In my day job working on transportation issues, my project at the UW partners with Smart Growth America, an organization that works with communities across the country to build communities where everyone can “enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient.” They care about the same issues as we do at Madison Bikes, and the president put out a statement you might want to check out.

What’s happening this week?

Back here in Madison, the week ahead is pretty quiet in regards to city meetings that might impact bicycling or transportation in general.

A Transportation Commission meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, but it has been cancelled. The next scheduled meeting is 6/24.

If you are out on a longer ride, Bombay Bicycle Club has been crowd sourcing locations for water and bathroom stops. It’s been hard to find a place to either get hydration or take a “bio break” now that lots of places are closed or only available for take-out. Check out the map and add information, if you have it.

The Dane County Bike Map has been updated and is now available (or will be soon) in bike shops and other outlets. You can view it on the Madison Area MPO’s website or look for a copy in stores (and libraries, visitor’s centers, etc. when they open again.)

As per usual, there were some interesting conversations over on our Facebook Community. Also, there’s still time to read the current book club selection, How Cycling Can Save the World by Peter Walker as part of our virtual book club. The discussion will be this Friday from 7pm to 9pm with more details to come on exactly how to participate.

In case you didn’t catch the article in the paper or posted on Facebook, Free Bikes 4 Kids has shifted its focus this year to providing bikes to frontline workers. They are still getting bikes into the hands or kids as well, but couldn’t do the big mass give away because of the pandemic and the need to social distance. They are working with community groups to distribute the kids bikes. I think it’s great that they are trying to get bikes into the hands of those who need transportation or just a way to blow off steam.

Our Facebook group has seen a lot of new people asking questions about how and where to ride. We are very excited to see new people asking for advice. I hope everyone who reads this can be a mentor to someone just getting back on their bike or trying to bike more and to more places, whether they want to ride for transportation, fun, exercise, stress relief, recreation, tourism, or sport. I also love this video that assures new riders that there is no “right” way to ride and tells experienced bicyclists to “not screw this up” by making newbies feel they aren’t good enough. Bike sales are up all over the country, and having more people pedaling is great news.

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

Categories
Bike News

Action alert: Interchange planned for SE side will create bike-ped barrier

A big, very expensive ($35 million) interchange is planned for the intersection of Hwy 12/18 and County Hwy AB, and it has the potential to create yet another barrier to walking and biking in an area already nearly impossible to reach without a car. It is up for approval on Tuesday at the Council, and a few well-placed letters to alders and our transportation officials might avert this horrible project, or at least delay it long enough to make it more multimodal.

The project will be at the Transportation Planning and Policy Board on Monday evening and the Common Council for final approval on Tuesday evening. Links will access documents, register to speak, submit comments, and/or watch the meetings.

Where is this intersection? Unless you frequent the Ho-Chunk Casino or regularly drive to Cambridge, it’s easy to overlook this corner of the city. A map below shows you where in the city the project is located: ESE of the intersection of Interstates 90/39 and Hwy 12/18 (aka the Beltine.) To the south of Hwy 12/18 is the Ho-Chunk Casino and the Yahara Hills golf course, and to the north is a lightly-developed area that will likely be filling in as the city expands.

The current surface crossings of Hwy 12/18 at Millpond Rd and Cty AB have been the site of several very bad crashes, including a pedestrian killed last fall. But a better solution might be to make Hwy 12/18 a better surface road instead of making it an extension of the Beltline.

Wisconsin DOT has stated that, “there would be [bicycle and pedestrian] accommodations through the interchange, potentially along CTH AB, and along the frontage road. There would be side paths through the roundabouts.” In the future there is the possibility of a dedicated grade-separated bike/pedestrian crossing, and Meier Rd–west of Cty AB–will eventually also be an available crossing, but neither of those projects are part of this construction. It is unclear how low-stress the planned facilities will be on AB or through the interchange, and we know that “planned” projects often take years, or even decades to come to fruition.

The Yahara Hills golf course sits just west of the proposed new interchange. It will likely be developed soon into residential or mixed-use development. The Ho-Chunk nation wants to expand their facilities and is contributing some funding for the interchange project. Both of these impending developments are just more reason to assure that there are appropriate active transportation facilities and access now rather than at some uncertain future date. Not to mention, crossing at Cty AB is quite a detour if one is trying to reach the current land uses that are closer to the interstate.

Although Wisconsin no longer has a Complete Streets law, the city of Madison does, as does the Madison Area MPO. We must make sure that we uphold those policies, even when the project is difficult. The entire project is anticipated to cost $37 million. Why are we willing to spend that sort of money to facilitate faster motor vehicle access, but not the minimum facilities for those on foot and bike?

If you want more detailed information, here is a link to the presentation included as part of the city documents, including more detailed maps. And the text in this document—also part of the packet for the two city meetings—has justifications (if you can call them that) for both building the interchange and why better connections for active transportation are not part of the current project.

As always, you can find your alder and contact information on the Council website.

Categories
Bike News

Weekly update: Lots of people biking, but not many city meetings

If anyone was out this weekend—by any mode—you probably saw a whole lot of people out biking. It is such a joy to see families and slow bicyclists on the streets, trails, and even the sidewalks. When a city has people of all ages and abilities using the public spaces, then it is a good clue that the city is bike friendly.

But how to accommodate all those people when we are supposed to be keeping farther apart? City staff have taken steps to give us more space, and some of the authorized temporary biking and walking spaces have been put in place. The new lane on Atwood near Olbrich Park, barricades to prevent all-but-local vehicular traffic on the Mifflin bike boulevard, and wider shoulders for runners or passing on the Lake Monona Path through Law Park are going to be a big relief to folks. But there are still so many pinch points where runners, strollers, dog walkers, and fast and slow bicyclists are forced into proximity.

The city is asking for your opinion about additional areas that need more space. Where are you seeing problems on your regular rides or in your neighborhood?

If you can—if you are a confident bicyclist—consider taking a different route via local streets rather than the paths as the weather warms and more people haul their bikes out of storage. The families and less-experienced bicyclists, as well as those on foot, will appreciate the consideration and additional space.

Want to know when the paths are less crowded? Here’s some data from the counters and the SW Path at Monroe and Regent and the Lake Monona Path at North Shore:

Is it possible some of these changes will stay after people go back to work, stores open up, and there is more car traffic on the roads? Hard to say. But there is already a plan–passed before the current situation–to improve the stretch of Atwood next to Olbrich Park. You can see the plans below, or take a look at all the city documents online.

The week ahead

In case you missed the memo, all city meetings are happening online, but you can still register to speak, listen in, and see all the documents. There aren’t any transportation-related meetings this week, as the Transportation Commission meeting has been cancelled. Just in case you want to watch a city meeting, you can find the schedule, agendas, and links on the city’s website.

Our monthly Madison Bikes Community Meeting—which would normally happen on Monday, April 27—is being postponed two weeks. We will be rolling out more advocacy efforts, and we want you to participate. After all, it’s our members, followers, and volunteers that make us strong, and we can’t do it without you. So mark your calendar for Monday, May 11 for the advocacy-oriented Community Meeting. We’ll give you all the details about how to participate.

Now that construction season is upon us, we will have to contend with some detours. With construction on McKee Rd (Cty Hwy PD)–including a new bridge for the trail over the road–there will be a detour for the Badger Trail starting Monday from the Bicycle Underound (junction of Cap City, SW, Cannonball, and Badger Trails) to Subzero Parkway. The detour will utilize the Cannonball/Military Ridge Trail and local streets and will be signed. PDFs of the detour are available on our Facebook Community Group. Because the intersection of Seminole Hwy and McKee is also part of the project, Seminole might not be a great option in that area either.

Also Monday, if you want to hear what cities around the country are doing to give people more space during the pandemic, the National Complete Streets Coalition will be holding a webinar at 12:30 pm CT.

For the future – virtual biking-themed bookclub!

Thank you to everyone who showed interest in our virtual bookclub! We will kick off the bookclub by reading How Cycling Can Change the World by Peter Walker. If you are interested in participating, contact Marybeth McGinnis (marybeth@madisonbikes.org). We will meet on Thursday, May 21 at 7pm. More info to come – please join us!

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.