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Bike News

On Thanksgiving, thanks for supporting us!

Cranksgiving at the Capitol

As many of us gather with family and reflect on the things for which we give thanks, we want to take a moment to thank YOU for supporting us. We are an all-volunteer organization, so we depend on your members and friends to do the work we do: contact elected officials, write blog posts and on Facebook, help us with events, show up at meetings, and yes, donate to us as well. We couldn’t do it without you!

The past week

The Cap City Trail is back open after some upgrades and repair work. Flooding took a toll on the trail, especially where it crosses streams and passes through storm water areas. You will notice some dramatic changes in a couple of places, but the trail should hold up better in the future.

The Cranksgiving ride collected tons of food to donate the Goodman Community Center for the Thanksgiving baskets they make for families that can’t afford a good dinner. I ran into the ride up at the Capitol, and I was very proud of our dedicated bike community. But the Goodman Center is still taking additional donations through Monday, so it you can help, I’m sure they would be grateful.

The BCycles have gone into hibernation for the winter. They will be back March 15.

Correction: BCycles will still be around until December 14. They will then return March 15. Apologies for the mistake.

E-bikes are officially legal in Wisconsin, although municipalities can ban them from paths. If you have strong feelings, feel free to contact your alder.

This week

There isn’t much going on this week, given Thanksgiving on Thursday and all. We had a little reprieve from our early winter this past week, and lots of people were out biking. But true winter is on the way, and while we still don’t know what the predicted winter storm will bring, but it looks like it will be messy and nasty. If you are biking to a yummy dinner (or driving, walking, or taking the bus), be careful out there.

Monday

The Madison Bikes Community Meeting will meet at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. This is the meeting where we invite all our volunteers, or those who are just interested in helping, to meet with us and discuss upcoming projects. We will be talking about what types of activities we want to hold this winter and various advocacy issues.

Also on Monday, Bike Fitchburg hold its monthly meeting, 6:30 pm at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd.

You can learn more about Madison Freewheel on the WORT Access Hour at 7:00 pm. Tune in to the Access Hour in the Madison area on 89.9 FM, or livestream anywhere in the world via http://www.wortfm.org. Learn more about the Madison Bike Center soon to open in the Judge Doyle Square Building downtown. You can also learn about Freewheel’s charitable work and how to use their facilities and support their mission of free bike access for everyone.

Saturday

Celebrate the release of the Trek Midwest Beer. Joy the fun with a 24 mile bike ride around Madison to celebrate the great Cross season. Bring your friends! Ride will LEAVE Cafe Domestique at 9 am, ending at Working Draft for the tapping of Trek Midwest Beer. Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/22276945 (Seminole Trails will not happen if the trails are closed). Cafe Domestique will graciously be providing pre-ride coffee and doughnuts!

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Bike News

Detours, wheel tax, and Winter Bike Fashion Show, oh my

This past week

The county has been repaving the Cap City Trail from Seminole Highway to Fish Hatchery Rd, and one of the more dramatic changes will be smoothing out the S-curve just west of Fish Hatchery. The steep hill and S-curve at the bottom has caught more than one bicyclist off guard. There is a lot of tree loss, but the path should be safer for everyone.

In case you missed our post on Saturday, we went through some of the frequently asked questions about the wheel tax. Check it out here.

Even though the Council will not formally take up the city budget until Nov 12, there are other meetings and decisions that precede the Council meeting(s). The Finance Committee met this past week to decide which alder amendments to the budget should be forwarded to the full council. There were three besides the wheel tax that we were watching. Funding for weekend maintenance of the paths during the winter passed. Additional funding for crosswalk painting also passed. However, funding to make improvements at several intersections with high crash rates did not get the OK from the Finance Committee.

The week ahead

Plenty of detours to keep track of. The Campus Dr Path east of the Vet School is supposed to close soon and stay closed until March, although it was still open as of Friday. A part of the SW Path northeast of Midvale is supposed to be closed starting Monday morning. Also, work on the Yahara River Path under Johnson is supposed to start on Oct 30. East Mifflin by Lapham school is closed, but should be open on Tuesday. There are more outside of downtown.

The good news on campus is that the work near Limnology — between the Lakeshore Path and Memorial Union is done! Less conflict with pedestrians now.

The best way to keep up with what’s going on is to subscribe to the city’s Friday update from Bike Madison.

Monday

Madison Bikes Community Meeting for all committees at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. In case you haven’t noticed, we are no longer posting individual committee meetings. Instead, we are having a “community board meeting” on the fourth Monday of each month. Everyone is welcome, and this is where we will talk about what we need to do in the areas of advocacy, communications, events, and volunteer opportunities. If you want to be involved, but don’t know exactly what area you want to help, this is a great opportunity to find out where you can fit in.

This Monday, we will probably be talking about all the things we need to do — and for which we need help — to out on the Winter Bike Fashion Show on Saturday, Nov 2. If you can help out on Saturday, we still need some volunteers, from demonstrating the bike racks on the bus parked outside to greeting people at the door. Email Liz if you can help out.

Also on Monday is the monthly Bike Fitchburg meeting, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Fitchburg library, 5530 Lacy Rd, Fitchburg.

Tuesday

The city council will hold a special meeting to discuss and vote on the above-mentioned wheel tax. The meeting will be early — 4:30 pm in Room 201 of the City County Building — to allow alders to also attend other committee meetings that evening. A reminder that your voice is important, and you can contact the entire council or just your alder to voice your opinion. Don’t know who your alder is or need contact information? Go to the Council webpage to find that information. You can also attend any council or committee meeting in person to speak or just to fill out a comment card (if you don’t want to stay.) Yes, they do pay attention to constituent comments!

If you are interested in what’s going on with BRT, you can hear about the options for the downtown portion of the routes. City staff are trying to decide whether the BRT should go around the Square, the outer loop, or some other route. The BRT public information session is 6:30-8:00 pm at the Madison Senior Center, 330 W Mifflin.

Thursday

Although there aren’t any big issues of interest to bicyclists on the Transportation Commission agenda, it’s always a good idea to keep track of what is up with the overall transportation discussion. You can watch the meeting or check out the agenda here. Or attend in person: 5:00 pm in Room 215 of the Madison Municipal Bldg.

Saturday

As you must know by now, if you’ve been reading any of our communication, is the Winter Bike Fashion Show at the High Noon Saloon from 1:00-4:00 pm. It’s free, family-friendly, very fun, and very informative.

Before the WBFS, you can also drop by the Mayor’s Neighborhood Roundtable at the Central Library from 9:00 am-Noon. This is a great place to find out what’s going on across the city, meet up with neighborhood organizers, and find out more about what resources are available to improve your part of the city.

Sunday

Bombay Bicycle Club Fall Meeting and Potluck at the Lussier Center at 5:00 pm. You must be a member of Bombay and RSVP to attend. More information can be found here.

2019 Battle of Waterloo cyclocross races at Waterloo Fireman’s Park 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Bring your bike and join in on the fun, or come out to cheer on the riders as they compete in the fast and furious sport known as cyclocross! Food and beverage available for purchase – Cowbells encouraged!

Categories
Bike News

FAQ on the Vehicle Registration Fee (also known as the “Wheel Tax”)

There has been a lot of discussion, as well as confusion, about the “Wheel Tax” that the mayor has proposed as part of the upcoming budget. So we thought we’d try to answer some of the questions that have popped up as well as explain why we think that bicyclists should care about it.

What is a wheel tax?

Simply put, it is a local registration fee for your car. Each year you have to renew the registration on your car with the state of Wisconsin, and this is just the same as that registration fee, except this additional fee goes to the city of Madison if your car is registered to an address in the city. You will pay it at the same time as you pay for state registration, and the state will send the money back to the city.

Why is the city doing this now?

The city has a deficit for the upcoming budget year. This means that we either have to reduce spending or raise more revenue.

The state legislature has made it very difficult for cities to raise additional funds for their budgets. There is a cap on how much they can raise property taxes each year. But Madison is growing, and many people would like to have a better transit system. This money will allow the city to both fund basic services (police, fire, parks, garbage pick-up, social services) as well as maintain or expand transit.

Without additional revenue or cuts in other areas, current Metro service would need to be cut. This would mean less frequent buses, shorter service hours, or the elimination of whole routes. Part of the wheel tax revenue would also be used to provide more summer bus passes to youth or bus passes for people with low incomes.

One big project the city wants to undertake is bus rapid transit (BRT), which has been discussed extensively for the last couple of years. BRT is a special type of transit that is faster than regular buses, but cheaper than rail. There’s a lot of details that we can’t cover here, but suffice it to say that transportation planners, elected officials, and other decision makers in the city have decided that this is the best way to improve transit in Madison. You may or may not agree, but if you want more information, go to http://www.madisonbrt.com/

Having a dedicated source of funding to support transit will also help the city get federal funding. We’ve applied for federal funding before, but haven’t gotten it. The federal government likes to see some assurance that a project will go through, and one way to show that is to have a pot of money. We have to compete with other communities that have dedicated funding for transit from a regional transit authority (RTA), a local sales tax, or other dedicated funding.

So, I’ve heard that a wheel tax has to be used only for transportation. But I’ve also heard the mayor and others talk about how this new fee will be used for other city services.

Yes, that is a bit confusing. By state law, local registration fees or wheel taxes can only be used for transportation costs. But right now, we are using property taxes to support transit, walking, biking, as well as driving operations and infrastructure — everything from snow plowing to patching roads and paths, as well as actually running Metro, buying gas for the buses, and paying the drivers. So what we are really doing is moving some of those expenses off the property taxes and moving them to the wheel tax. But ultimately all the money ends up in the same pot, so now we have additional property taxes to pay for those non-transportation things. If we don’t pass the wheel tax, we are going to have to make cuts somewhere else.

So for people that like transit, you can think of this as taxes car owners to pay for transit. If you think transit is not useful to you or the city shouldn’t be spending more money on it — and there are plenty of people out there who feel that way — it’s easier to swallow that the wheel tax will fund things they want to fund.

Isn’t a wheel tax regressive? If you have a junker car you pay the same as someone with a new luxury car.

Yes, that is true. No matter your income or wealth, no matter what car you drive: If you have a car, you will pay the same fee. But we don’t have many choices, given the constraints that the state has put on cities. We can’t use many of the tools that are used in other states, like local gas taxes, an RTA, local sales taxes, or other revenue sources (many of which are regressive as well). This is pretty much all we have. And low-income residents are less likely to have a car or multiple cars in their family than those with more money. And low-income residents are also more likely to be dependent on transit. Improvements to transit will benefit low-income residents (and cuts in Metro service would hit them especially hard). The city is also planning on using some of the revenue to provide support to low-income residents to offset the cost of the fee. We are prohibited by state law from refunding the fee or prorating it by income.

I ride my bike almost everywhere. Why should I care about transit?

Madison needs to move away from depending on cars and get more people using other modes. Fewer cars on the road both directly benefits bicyclists by making the roads safer and more pleasant, and it will free up space for better bike infrastructure, bike parking corrals, and other things we want. But that is only going to happen if we give people alternatives to driving their private cars. Transit is a key piece of that.

And a lot of people who bike also use transit, when they don’t want to ride because of weather, illness, carrying a bunch of stuff, traveling with people who don’t bike, or even just because they are tired. Transit allows us to throw our bike on the bus if we have a flat tire or the weather turns nasty. Transit lets less committed bicyclists or new bike commuters know that they have a back up. It allows more people to bike because they know they won’t be stuck if something happens. Bicyclists should all be out there pushing for more and better transit, because it just makes it easier to bike, even if you never use it.

Categories
Bike News

We need YOU. Speak up, volunteer, be a model

Once more, we just want to remind you that YOU are important in making the city a better place to bike and to help others feel comfortable on the city streets and paths. Speak up about what you care about; talk to city staff, your alder, your employer, the management of the places you shop, or other decision makers. Help us out by volunteering and donating. And be an example to others, like maybe being a model of how to get around by bike. (See below for an upcoming chance.)

Although we still have warm weather coming up this week, we can all feel the chill creeping into the air. But not only is it not time to put your bike away, it’s actually time to start thinking about how to equip yourself and your bike to ride all winter.

We are busy planning the Winter Bike Fashion Show, and just in case all our blog posts and Facebook messages have escaped your notice, remember to mark your calendar for Saturday, Nov 2 at the High Noon from 1:00-4:00 pm. Invite your friends, especially the ones who think you are nuts for biking in the winter. Or maybe you are winter-bike curious? This is just the event for you. And it’s family friendly.

BUT‚Ķ. We will need models! Would you be willing to share your wisdom? Show off your favorite cold weather clothing trick? Talk about fat vs studded vs skinny tires? Explain how your route changes –⁠ or doesn’t –⁠ when there’s ice and snow to deal with? No experience needed. Just fill out this form, and we’ll contact you. (It says the deadline is Sept 30, but if you are interested, just let us know.)

And if you want to help us with the event, your input and time would be quite welcome. We are an all-volunteer organization, so drop us a note if you want to help with this event or any other aspect of the organization.

Last week

Have you ever seen that velomobile cruising around town? The State Journal ran a story about Nick Hein, the owner, so now you can read all about the vehicle and the man who pedals it.

Another bicyclist was severely injured by a hit-and-run driver, this time on the 900 block of South Park St. Unfortunately, this part of the road does not have bike lanes, despite what the article says. There are sharrows in the right lane, but that treatment is completely inadequate for such a high-volume road, where drivers often far exceed the 30 mph speed limit.

This past Saturday, the city sponsored a Bike and Talk Action Workshop to discuss how to more safely get around the south side and what improvements need to be made to make the area safer. Maybe they talked about the lack of bike lanes on Park St?

The week ahead

Monday

Another open house to gather ideas for a plan for Law Park will be held 6:00-7:30 pm at Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, 501 East Badger Rd. Since this is an important walking and biking corridor for all of us, your input is important. There have been five open houses, and this is the last one, so if you can’t make this one and still want to provide input, email city staff at LawPark@cityofmadison.com.

Wednesday

Two miles of the Cap City Trail will be closed for resurfacing. The section that will be closed is between Fish Hatchery Road and Seminole Highway. Work is expected to be completed sometime in November. More information is available in this State Journal article.

If you are curious about cyclocross or want to practice, stop by Badger Prairie County Park, 4654 Maple Grove Dr, Verona, from 5:30-7:00 pm. A series of practices are happening now through the end of October. There is always a beginner and intermediate option. More information about what to expect and the groups putting it on is available on the Madison Bikes Community Calendar.

Also Wednesday is the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MPO) meeting at the Water Utility Building, 119 E Olin Ave, from 6:30-8:30 pm. The MPO allocates all the federal transportation money for the entire metro region, and this month they will be approving the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), that’s all the projects that might get funding for the next five years. This is done every year with a new TIP, but it’s an incite into where your money is being spent. The MPO will also have a presentation on the bus rapid transit planning study. Want to see the materials for any of this? You can find them here as a PDF.

For more information….

More information on road projects and upcoming events are available from the city via the Bike Madison weekly update put out by the city Pedestrian-Bicycle Coordinator. This weekly email s much more detailed information about specific construction, detours, and official city business. Thanks for Renee Callaway for keeping up informed.

And if you have a anything to add to the Madison Bikes Community Calendar, send us an email.

Do you appreciate the weekly updates and work that Madison Bikes is doing to improve the city for all ages and abilities? You can donate to support our work.

Categories
Bike News

The last days of summer are busy!

While everyone is trying to squeeze in a few more summer rides, parents are thinking about sending the kids back to school, college students are planning their classes, and days are getting shorter, we are still hard at work on a number of issues.

We’ll be releasing a request Soon we’ll be asking for people who might want to be on our board of directors. No formal process or link yet, but think about if you might want to be one of those people.

We made our goal for fundraising to sponsor a rack at the new Pinney LIbrary, so when it opens, look for the rack with our name. Thanks to all who donated!

And the city’s Bike Madison updates are now available in PDF form each week. Here’s the Aug 23 edition. We try to keep you up to date on construction, plans, meetings, detours, official city events, and other news, but if you want to get the latest directly from the city, you can subscribe to their updates. There are links to a number of upcoming projects as well as some updates and detours for current construction going on around the city.

The week ahead

Monday

Both Bike Fitchburg and Madison Bikes will be holding meetings.

This is the regular monthly meeting of Bike Fitchburg from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd.

Madison Bikes is trying something new. Instead of having our committees meet separately, we are going to have the entire board — and any interested volunteers — meet as a group and work on the events and issues we have before us. This month we will be meeting at 6:00 pm Bendy Works, 2nd floor of 106 E Doty St. If you are interested in getting involved or helping us with advocacy, events, or communications, come on by.

Tuesday

The two city transportation committees — the Transportation Planning and Policy Board and the Transportation Commission — will hold a joint meeting at 5:00 pm in Room 215 of the Madison Municipal Building. The only topic is to review the transportation ordinances and the responsibilities of each committee. I.e. they’ll be talking about who is supposed to be doing what.

Slow Roll Cycles — 4118 Monona Dr — will host a no-drop ride and art party 5:30-9:30 pm.I’ll let them explain:

“For this edition we have a special guest – Morgan McArthur – who will sharing some of this work and will be pin-striping a bike while we ride. Morgan does contract work for Waterford here in Wisco, has been doing this for years and knows his craft very well. We are riding at 5:30, strolling to the Lower Yahara River Trail and back (15 miles). After we will have beers (BYOB), snacks and talk art and bicycles. We will be joined by the Madison Rotary Bike Fellowship – they are arranging this special night. Share, tell your friends to come – NO Drop casual ride as always.” More information at the Facebook event page.

Wednesday

Cyclocross practice at Reindahl Park. If you are interested in trying out cyclocross, or want to sharpen your skills, there is a long list of practice opportunities. More info, the calendar, and more links can be found on the Madison Bikes Community Calendar.

Thursday

How will bus rapid transit affect bicycling in Madison? Maybe it won’t, but if you have any questions about this coming transit option, or just want to weigh in, come to the third public meeting for the planning study at the Madison Senior Center, 330 W Mifflin St, 6:00-7:30 pm.

Sunday

One of the best known rides of the summer will be held as a fundraiser for Free Bikes For Kids. The Wright Stuff Century, put on by Bombay Bicycle Club, will start and end at Capital Brewery in Middleton. Routes options of 30, 60, and 100 miles will give almost everyone a ride they can enjoy. More information can be found here.

What were we talking about on Facebook?

There are always lively discussions on our Madison Bikes Community group. Here’s a sample from the last week:

After one of our members had a nasty crash when a driver ran a red light at John Nolen Dr and North Shore Dr, a lot of people had opinions about what should be done at the intersection and what the law is regarding using a crosswalk on a bike.

Photos of new bike paths at Machinery Row and in Shorewood Hills were posted, and people commented. The new link in Shorewood Hills isn’t ready for traffic yet, so please stay off for a while longer.

Photos of the crazy combination bike lane/sidewalk on Winnequah in Monona — with trash bins blocking it — sparked discussions about Monona’s plans for better walking and biking facilities and the history of the weird arrangement that is on the ground now.

And unfortunately, last week started with news of two more bike crashes on the far west side, one involving a hit-and-run on Gammon.

Remember, if you have an event for our community calendar, please send it to us.

Categories
Bike News

Slow meeting schedule as August is upon us

This past week

August in Madison, when everyone is out on bikes, and city meetings slow down. We did have one great event this past weekend. Adonia Lugo came to Madison to talk about her work on race and bicycling. We helped to organize a nice community ride n Saturday. She then did a reading from her book and took questions. If you missed it, but are interested in this subject, you can either buy the book or get in line to check it out from the library.

The week ahead

Monday

The Transportation Planning and Policy Board will meet at 5:00 pm in Room 215 of the Municipal Building. On the agenda is:

  • Update on the Wilson St project
  • Nelson Neighborhood Development Plan (with some new pedestrian-bike connections)
  • Oscar Meyer Special Area Plan (there are no documents available, but additional bike-ped connections are needed in this area.)
  • Projects that will be submitted for Transportation Alternatives Program funding (federal bike-ped funding). These include path connections, over/underpasses, and paths along roadways. Not all of these will necessarily be funded, but this is what the city is requesting.

Tuesday

The Madison Bikes Communications Committee will meet at Memorial Union Terrace at 6:00 pm. If you are interested in attending or helping with communications, drop us a line at Media@madisonbikes.org/. We always love to have new volunteers, and helping on one of the committees is a great way to see what we are all about and help out the biking community.

Wednesday

The Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MPO) meets at 6:30 pm at the Water Utility Building at 119 E. Olin Ave. There isn’t anything specifically about bicycling on the agenda, but they will be discussing a couple of items that could affect biking. One item is plans for Hwy M between Hwys Q and 113 –⁠ across the top of Lake Mendota. They will also be discussing the Transportation Improvement Plan –⁠ the five-year plan for transportation for the region. Documents on these items are not available as of this writing, but they should be uploaded here before the meeting.

Send us your events

Reminder that we have a Community Bike Calendar on our website. If you would like to add something, send it to us. We can’t guarantee it will be featured in the weekly update, but at least it will be available for people to see.

What are we talking about on online?

The photo at the top of the post was prompted by a discussion on a different Facebook group about bad bicycle parking. I have an entire file on my computer labeled “Bike Parking Fail.” What made me think of this is that there was a long discussion on our Facebook group about signs outside Monroe St businesses asking bicyclists to please walk their bikes (on the sidewalk.) When Monroe St was being reconstructed, we pointed out the need for safe and comfortable bike facilities ON the street where destinations are located (as opposed to the SW Path, which does not connect directly to Monroe)– one way to keep bicyclists from using the sidewalk. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, so people coming from and going to businesses sometimes bike on the sidewalk.

There was also a very long discussion about passing pedestrians on shared paths. I hear a lot of grumbling from pedestrians about being passed too closely or by bicyclists going too fast. As our paths get more popular and more people use them for transportation, we all have to remember that the paths are shared, not just for bicyclists. And maybe we need more space so there will be fewer conflicts. After all, that’s what happens when highways get crowded — they get expanded.

One of our regular FB contributors had a nasty experience with the driver van belonging to a local business while riding on the Mifflin bike boulevard. When he stopped there to complain, it turns out the driver was also the manager and co-owner. This business is in a very bike/ped friendly neighborhood and frequently has full bike racks out front. If we can’t rely on these folks to be our allies and treat us well, what’s the world coming to?

Categories
Bike News

Beat the heat, come participate in a city or MB meeting!

We have an important city meeting coming up with week as well as a number of Madison Bikes committees. A reminder that all Madison Bikes meetings are open to the public, and you are welcome to attend. We are always looking for people to help on our committees, so stop by if something looks interesting.

Monday

The Madison Bikes Events Committee will meet at 6:00 pm at Rockhound Brewing, 444 S Park St.

Tuesday

The Madison Bikes Communications Committee will meet online at 6:00 pm. We normally meeting in person, but we moved July’s meeting because of the July 4th holiday. If you would like to participate in the meeting, drop an email to Heather Pape: heather@madisonbikes.org

Wednesday

The Transportation Commission will be meeting and considering the final plans for the S Broom St and W Wilson St project that is scheduled for next year. This will be an important project with the potential to improve bicycle connections on the south side of downtown. More on that project in last week’s Monday Update.

The commission will also be looking at the initial geometrics for the University Ave project that will be built in 2021. This project will run from Campus Dr to Shorewood Blvd. Note that bicycle facilities on the south side of the road are NOT included at this time, despite a number of people mentioning the need at the June public information meeting. More on this project later this week.

What are we talking about on Facebook?

The Madison Bikes Community group always has some interesting discussions going on. In the last week, people have posted about unexpected construction on their commuting routes, why bicyclists sometimes avoid paths, and common myths about bike lanes. Check out the discussion and join in.

Categories
Bike News

Bike Week is a wrap, but more work to do!

Bike Week is a wrap!

Wow. We can’t even begin to recap everything that happened. We got some great press coverage. The weather was fantastic last all week, and there were events all over Madison –⁠ and beyond –⁠ put on by many, many partners and venues. Even after the week started, people were sending us additional events, and we ended up with over 75 events on the calendar. You can see photos of all the fun on our Instagram account.

We wrapped up with a rockin’ party at Brittingham Park with music by DJ Robin Davies, tables from bike groups and nonprofits, food carts, Klarbrunn donated by Willy St Co-op, and beer donated by Hop Garden, Ale Asylum, Working Draft, Karben4, and Funk Factory.

From Ride the Drive through all the commuter stations, Bacon on the Bike Path, Bratcakes, Cheddar-Bacon Waffles, and so many more, we would like to once again thank our sponsors: Trek/Bicycle, Unity Point Health/Meriter/UW Health, Pacific Cycle/Schwinn, Planet Bike, Slow Roll/Giant, MG&E, and the City of Madison. We also couldn’t have done it without our volunteers and all the people who showed up. Whether you tried biking just once last week or it’s a regular habit for you, thank you all!

The week ahead

We’re sort of glad to have a slow week coming up after all the fun and activity of Bike Week. But there are still important meetings happening that will shape our city and bike routes for years to come. Both the West Wilson/Broom project and the University Ave reconstruction are incredibly critical links in our bicycle network. Your input is important.

Wednesday

The Transportation Commission will meet at 5:00 pm in room 215 of the Madison Municipal Bldg. On the agenda is final approval of the W Wilson St–⁠Broom Street project that we have written about in the past. On Wilson St, there will be buffered bike lanes from Broom to Hamilton, but buffered lanes will disappear at Hamilton to accommodate turning traffic. On Broom a multi-use path will be built in place of the east side sidewalk from John Nolen Dr to Wilson, and a cycle track will be built from Wilson to Doty.

Thursday

Public input session for the planned University Ave reconstruction in 2021 will be held at the UW Credit Union building at 3500 University Ave. The meeting will start at 6:00 pm, and there will be a presentation by City of Madison Engineering at 6:30 pm. The project will rebuild the road from Shorewood Blvd to University Bay Dr/Farley. This will be a project that could transform a major arterial for decades. Or it could be a business-as-usual rebuild of a dangerous and car-oriented roadway that separates neighborhoods and makes it unpleasant to walk, bike, or take the bus.

As part of this project, sidewalks will be constructed on the north side of University Ave and either an underpass or overpass of University Bay Dr will be built for the Campus Dr Path, we hope. Shorewood Hills will be constructing the last segment of the path –⁠ to the west of University Bay Dr –⁠ as soon as construction of the buildings currently underway on Marshall Ct are finished. With the improved crossing, this would allow connections to either path or quiet streets all the way to the west end of the Blackhawk Path at Eau Claire Ave.

Crossings of University Ave are difficult and often scary, even when there is a traffic light. A child was killed at the intersection of University Ave and Ridge a couple of years ago. He was trying to cross at a light to reach the Shorewood Hills pool, a favorite summer destination for families and kids on both sides of the road. A ghost bike was present at the intersection until construction started on a new building on the corner.

Although the road itself is wide, busy, and fast, the neighborhoods on both the north and south sides are generally transit-, walking-, and biking-friendly and many people move around without driving. But University Ave presents a serious barrier to this easy movement.

What I call “the hospitals, etc.” — UW Hospital, the VA Hospital, and the American Family Hospital, plus all the associated clinics and labs, and offices –⁠ as well as the beginning of the entire UW campus are also on the north side of the road. These are huge employment centers, and many people who live on the south side or in the Village want to walk or bike there. There are crowds of transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists that want to cross University Ave every day. Unfortunately, there are also huge crowds of people driving to these locations as well, making for tense and difficult interactions at the intersections.

On both the Madison side and the Village side, redevelopment is happening. That means both more walkable and bikeable destinations –⁠ stores, apartments, restaurants, and such –⁠ plus more people living in close proximity to this major road. University Ave is one of the heaviest transit corridors outside the campus and downtown, and more than a dozen bus routes use the stops. If bus rapid transit (BRT) is built, this will be an even heavier transit corridor. Each of those transit users needs to cross the road at least once a day. This road needs to be much more multi-modal.

This corridor is the perfect example of why we cannot forget the need to CROSS a road as well as move along it. There is a good bike corridor on the north side and the Kendall Ave bike boulevard to the south (although it is several blocks away and separated from University Ave by Quarry Park on the western end of the project), but people still need to cross the road to reach their homes, work, or other destinations. If you wait for a bus on the south side of University, you will often see bicyclists on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk by adults is almost always a sign that there is an unmet need for bike facilities.

This will be an important meeting to show support for bicycle facilities and other transportation options in the area.

Saturday

The Clean Lakes Alliance will hold a fundraising ride around Lake Monona starting at 10 am at Olbrich Park. Find out more about Loop The Lake.

Categories
Bike News

Busy week ahead!

This past week

We held a Volunteer Open House at Cafe Domestique. Although our immediate goal was to get people to put up Bike Week posters and hand out fliers, we also wanted a chance to meet some of the great people that have been supporting us and posting in our Facebook discussion. If you would like to help with any of our work, head over to our webpage and fill out the volunteer form. And thanks to everyone who came by, and thanks in advance for everyone who helps out in the future!

We also received a request from Open Doors for Refuges for any used bikes you might have. They help with resettlement in Madison and do wonderful work with people who may come to our community with nothing. They emailed us, “Transportation is almost always an issue for the folks who arrive here…. We’ve provided bikes to a lot of folks, but we’re short on bikes now and we’ve had recent requests for several more. If you have a used kids or adult bike that you’re actually no longer using and that’s in reasonably good condition, we’d love to find a great home for it. If you so, please write to OpenDoorsDonations@gmail.com.”

The week ahead

Although Wisconsin celebrates Bike Week in June — and make sure to visit our Madison Bike Week page to see the evolving list of events — May is Bike Month, and this week is Bike Week in much of the country. So don’t be surprised to see some events being promoted, such as the commuter station on Wednesday below. We just need a little extra time to warm up in Wisconsin, whereas it’s already blazing hot in Arizona. They’d rather have Bike Week in February.

It’s going to be a busy week for city meetings and topics of interest to bicyclists.

Monday

The Madison Bikes Events and Communications Committees will have a joint meeting at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works — 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor — to plan for Bike Week. If you would like to help plan the event or are willing to volunteer to get the word out, come by. All Madison Bikes committees and meetings are open to all.

Also on Monday is the Transportation Planning and Policy Board meeting, Room 201 of the City-County Building at 6:30 pm. On the agenda will be further discussion of the winter maintenance policy, something Madison Bikes has been working on since its founding. The TPPB will also receive a presentation about the concepts of Modal Hierarchy and Street Typology. Modal Hierarchy is the idea that a city decides which mode of travel to prioritize in its transportation planning and policy. Street Typology means that certain streets prioritize one mode over another. You can view the presentation materials online, attend the meeting, or watch the meeting streaming.

Tuesday

The Madison Common Council will receive a presentation on the Transportation Improvement Plan as part of its regular agenda. This presentation will detail all the projects coming up in the next five years, including pedestrian-bicycle infrastructure. These projects will be budgeted during the cty process in November. You can attend in person at 6:30 pm in Room 201 of the City-County Building or watch it streaming.

Also Tuesday, the city will hold its second public meeting about Bus Rapid Transit, 6:00-7:30 pm at the Madison Senior Center, 330 West Mifflin Street. An integrated transportation system is important for bicyclists, and good transit as an alternative to driving may convince more people to try biking for trips. Being able to take transit when the weather or circumstances don’t favor biking makes it easier to break the driving habit and bike at other times. In addition, the city will have to decide how to integrate (or maybe trade off) infrastructure on some roads between bicycling and BRT.

There is a survey online that you can fill out to express what is important to you for stations, service, modal hierarchy (see, that’s coming up again), and BRT vehicle type.

Wednesday

Pacific Cycles will host a commuter station in front of their headquarters in honor of National Bike Week. You can find them on Hamersley Rd where the SW Path crosses the Beltline. Just look west on the south side of the bridge. Come by for coffee and pasties from 7:00-9:00 am

The Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will meet at 6:00 pm at Bendyworks, 106 E Doty St, 2nd floor. If you want to work on issues with the city and help shape our agenda, come on by. We can help you communicate effectively with your elected officials and city staff.

First Annual Sun Prairie Ride of Silence will be held at 6:30 pm at Prairie Athletic Club, 1010 N Bird St. The Ride of Silence is a national event honoring those that have been injured or who have died in biking accidents. Riders are to all wear white for the ride. The ride is 8-12 miles at an average pace of 12 mph, and will be in silence. This year the ride honors and remembers Sun Prairie resident Annie Rubens who was killed in a biking accident last summer. Join the grooup after the ride for conversation, food and refreshments at Prairie Athletic Club’s restaurant/bar/coffee bar.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting for May will meet at 6:30 pm at the Water Utility offices, 119 E. Olin Avenue, Conference Rooms A-B. Nothing directly bike-related on the agenda, but it you’d like to see what the regional transportation planning board is talking about, you can check it out.

Thursday

Middleton Good Neighbor Social Ride, 5:30-9:00 pm starting at Long Table, 7545 Hubbard Ave, Middleton.

Intro to Bikepacking, 6:30 pm at the Cargo Bike Shop, 1404 Williamson St. Join Bell Joy Ride leaders Sheenu and Sue Ellen for an introduction to bikepacking. Demos include how to pack a bike, rehydrating food, and the basic necessities for bikepacking. After the demos, the ride will head out back for s’mores. Bell Joy Ride will be leading a bikepacking trip July 21+22 from Madison to Blue Mounds. This event is limited to Women/Trans/Femme identifying individuals. Please get a “ticket” so the organizers get enough s’mores supplies. There is space for 30 attendees.

Sunday

Mountain Bike Demo, 10am –⁠ 1pm, at Quarry Ridge Recreation Area, 2740 Fitchrona Rd (It’s actually off the Military Ridge Trail. The easiest way to find it is to Google a map.) You’ll be able to test out a couple of different types of bikes to see which one works best for you.

And if you want to have your bike blessed, head on over to the Vermont Lutheran Church, 9886 Vermont Church Rd, Black Earth for a Breakfast and Blessing of the Bikes, 10:30 am -12:30 pm. This is an annual fundraiser for Dream Bikes. A great breakfast (donation) and a real blessing of all the bikes present. All breakfast donations go to Dream Bikes. Bombay Bicycle Club will lead a ride from Lakeview Park in Middleton at 9:30 am (40 miles total). Join us on the ride or drive or bike on you own…but, please support Dream Bikes and enjoy homemade pancakes, sausages, coffee, etc and save your bike from damnation for a year…guaranteed!! Contact Tenny Albert for info at tennyalbert@gmail.com

What have we been talking about on Facebook?

Closing of the SW Path and whether the detour is marked, adequate, both, or neither. Warning: Because of rain, the closing and detours are likely to continue for another week.

The Joint Finance Committee has removed from the state budget the repeal of a prohibition on using eminent domain to build bicycle and pedestrian facilities. This prohibition was inserted into the budget anonymously two years ago and has meant that many planned paths, trails, and even sidewalks cannot proceed across the state, including in Madison.

A lively discussion about whether there should be yield or stop signs on area paths and what they mean when they are there.

Categories
Bike News

New mayor and alders and new/continuing road projects

Every two years we have elections for the city council, and every four years we elect a mayor. This year there are a LOT of changes, and all the new people take office Tuesday, just two weeks after the election. What will that mean for bicycling or transportation overall? We’ll see.

Wilson Street update

On Tuesday of this past week, a number of MB board members, volunteers, and supporters attended the public hearing on Wilson St. In last week’s update, Harald linked to the final study, so you can see all the options. What we heard on Tuesday was that: 1. No decision has been made about what will be built; 2. The first section of the road –⁠ between Broom and Hamilton — will be rebuilt this year, principally due to deteriorating storm sewer pipes that cannot wait any longer; 3. The next immediate decision will be where to place the curbs during that project; and 4. The preferred option will allow bike two-way facilities to be placed on the street in one of three configurations, however, the bike facilities will not be built yet –⁠ until a decision is made on how to add facilities through the entire corridor from Blair to Broom.

So, you will see construction on W Wilson this year, but there won’t be any bike facilities on that section when the dust clears in the fall. There will be one more public information meeting before this project starts to wind its way through city committees and the Council. The next meeting will mostly be about assessments to adjacent landowners and the timing of work.

Traffic Engineering will also be building a two-way cycle track on Broom this year; it will run between John Nolen Dr and W Wilson. That should make getting between the lake path and local streets a little easier. They will be doing a test as to whether it is possible to extend the same treatment to W Main St. TE will test this out by closing off a portion of the right lane to see how this affects motor vehicle traffic flow.

We’ll keep you informed about any news on this project.

Bike rack campaign at the library

The Madison Public Library Foundation is raising funds for the new Pinney Library. It’s like a “brick campaign” — where individuals can sponsor a brick in a building — but with bike racks! Because so many Madisonians get to their library by bike, the Foundation wanted to provide an opportunity for sponsors to put their name on one of the 64 bike racks at the new library.

“Become a part of history at the new Pinney Library! For a $1,000 gift, our community-based ‘Rack Raising’ fundraising program gives you naming rights that will appear on a sturdy metal U-shaped bike rack outside of the new Pinney Library.

From children and teens to adults, many Pinney Library visitors rely on bicycles as a primary form of transportation and use the adjacent Capital City Trail to get there. Providing lots of parking and security for their bikes promotes safety and protects their investment, as well as encourages an environmentally friendly way to travel around Madison.”

Find more details on their campaign website.

Bike Week site up

If you, your employer, or a business would like to sponsor Bike Week or schedule an event, more information and forms to contact us are now available on the Madison Bikes website. There is now a dedicated page for Bike Week.

The week ahead

Monday at 6:00 pm is the monthly meeting of the Madison Bikes Board of Directors. As always, members are welcome to attend. We meet at the Central Library, 201 W Mifflin.

Tuesday, the new Mayor and members of the Common Council will be sworn in at noon. Not only is our new Mayor, Satya Rhodes-Conway a dedicated bike and bus commuter, but she is passionate about transportation as one of her highest priorities. Grant Foster, former President of the Madison Bikes Board of Directors will become the new alder (city council representative) for District 15.

Although these are two prominent examples, we are fortunate in Madison to live in a city where getting around by bike is considered fairly normal, and there are many elected officials, both current and former, who make this choice. In addition, many city staff, including our Traffic Engineer, Director of Transportation, and the head of the Metropolitan Planning Organization are all year-round bike commuters.

Good luck to all the returning and new elected officials. You’ll be hearing from us!

If you scroll through the Council agenda, there are pages and pages of mundane items: liquor licenses, contracts to build a sidewalk or sewer line, notices that a small street will be repaved. But sometimes you find some interesting tidbit. Here are a couple that are on the agenda Tuesday that are in some way bike related. You can click on the links if you want to see more.

Wednesday is the monthly meeting of the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee. If you interested in outreach to other members on advocacy issues, learning how to influence city decisions, or have issues that you would like to work on, please come by. We meet at 6:00 pm at Bendy Works, 106 E. Doty St, second floor.

What are we talking about on Facebook?

On the Madison Bikes Community group, here are a few discussions from the past week.

Would there be a market for a location where people could park their cars and then bike the rest of the way to their jobs?

Cambridge, Mass., becomes the first city in the U.S. to mandate protected bike lanes.