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Bike News

Winnebago and more – Weekly update for Feb 19, 2018

Update on Winnebago projects

This past week saw the public meeting to discuss the reconstruction on Winnebago Ave. We’ll have to get an update later this week from Grant or another person who attended, but just today came news that the project has been delayed, along with changes to the diagonal crossing of the Isthmus Path at Riverside.

Below is information sent out by Alder Marsha Rummel. Mark your calendars for March 27, when the main Winnebago project will be before the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission to discuss a revised design.

1. Winnebago diagonal crossing canceled, planning to resume after construction season ends.

Last week I posted a tentative date for the Winnebago diagonal bike crossing project at Riverside for February 26. It is not happening. I have been informed the project has been delayed. Recommendations from the community and Ped Bike to add bike connections to Winnebago at Merry St made Engineering realize that they did not have sufficient funds allocated in 2018 for the project. City Engineer Rob Phillips promised me that staff would engage with the public in the early fall to look at a larger project for next/future year.

2. Winnebago reconstruction delayed for parking study.

If you attended the second Winnebago reconstruction PIM meeting last week or last December and signed up for the email list, you would have received this email from project manager Jim Wolfe on Friday: The City has decided to delay the upcoming meetings and mailings for 2018 reconstruction of Winnebago St. between Second and Bashford. The updated schedule for the project is noted below. With this additional time, City Traffic Engineering will conduct a parking study of the area, and this data will help with deciding on a proposed design for Winnebago St. The project website will also be updated with this revised schedule.

Pedestrian, Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Commission: March 27
Mail estimated assessments: April 6
Board of Public Works public hearing: April 18
Common Council public hearing: May 1
Bid project: early May
Start construction: early June

The parking study will provide important data to show how residents, employees and visitors park on the four block area from 2nd St to Bashford. The study will be done twice – soon and after March 15 when alternate side parking ends. There are benefits to Option 2 but I have heard concerns about the loss of parking so this study will provide important information to help decisionmakers.

Meetings and events this week

The week is a little short on city meetings, but there are still lots of things to do.

Monday: After a full day of strategic planning on Sunday, the board decided to cancel our board meeting on Monday at the Library. These meetings are always open to the public, but we won’t be at the library this month, so we don’t want you to come out in the horrible weather predicted, just to find us MIA.

But the MEAThead ride is still on, as it is every Monday through March. They will be leaving from Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago, at 7:00 pm for a no-drop, Lake Monona loop with optional loop through Arboretum.

Tuesday is the Spring Primary Election, so bike on over to your polling place and make your voice heard! There are primaries in Districts 6, 11, and 15 on the County Board, so if you live in one of those areas (near east, neat west, and far west), then you will see a county board race on your ballot. There is also a state-wide primary for Supreme Court Justice, so everyone can vote in that one. Spring voter turnout is very, very low, so your vote will be especially important. Not sure where to vote, who’s on the ballot, or who the candidates are? Head on over to the League of Women Voters of Dane County website to read candidate statements and answers or to find out where to vote. Polls are open 7:00 am –⁠ 8:00 pm, and you can register at the polls. Find out more about how to vote and what you need to register or what voter IDs are acceptable at the ink above or on the City of Madison Clerk’s site.

Because Tuesday is Election Day, the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meets on Wednesday this month –⁠ 5:00 pm in Room 201 of the City-County Building. You can see what’s on the agenda here. It looks like a pretty short agenda, but they will be discussing the winter maintenance policy for bike facilities. Did you know you can watch the PBMVC meetings on cable or on your computer, just in case you want to know what they are doing, but don’t want to go downtown? Head over to the Madison City Channel and watch it live or check out the recording later.

Also on Wednesday is the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee meeting at 6:00 pm in the offices of Bendyworks, 106 E Doty St #200. As with all our committee meetings, you are welcome to attend to either watch or participate.

And that’s about it for the week ahead. We’ll have more information on Winnebago later, or go to our Facebook groups to join the discussion.

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Bike News

Back to meetings and get ready for Winter Bike Week – Weekly update

It’s bitter cold, then it’s amazingly warm; it’s snowing, then it’s raining. There’s ice, and then the streets are bone dry. That’s winter in southern Wisconsin. But there are lots of activities and city meetings to think about and attend. So here we go with our weekly update of the goings-on.

The week ahead

On Monday, both Madison Bikes and Bike Fitchburg will be holding meetings. The Madison Bikes Board of Directors meets at the Madison Central Library at 6:00 pm. Fitchburg Bikes meets at the Fiitchburg Library at 6:30 pm.

Also on Monday, the weekly MEAThead ride leaves at 7:00 pm from Ford’s Gym, 2114 Winnebago St, for a Lake Monona Loop ride, with an optional loop through the Arboretum. This is a weekly ride from November through March, so just put it on your calendar.

Tuesday, the monthly Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meeting (5:00 pm in Rm 201 of the City-County Bldg, agenda here) will take up a number of seemingly routine, but actually quite important matters. Remember that you can go to all city meetings to watch, and you can also register to testify on any item on the agenda. You can summit comments or your support/opposition via email or in writing in person. Your voice is important! To get more information on the items below, just click the agenda link and follow the attachments for each item.

The PBMVC will discuss the following items:

  • Projects within the neighborhood Traffic Management Program (AKA traffic calming).
  • Where new traffic signal will be installed.
  • A number of general city engineering projects that affect bicycling, including the project at Winnebago and Riverside, a few short path connections, and the repaving of the path that leads to Memorial High School.
  • Bicycle-specific projects coming up in this year, mosst of which are small items like flashing lights or curb ramps.
  • The city’s policy of bike route maitenance policy.

Also on the agenda is a state law being considered that would add electric bikes to the definiton of “bicycle” in state statutes. You can see a staff review of the proposed state law by Traffic Engineering.

If you’re not I the mood for a city meeting on Tuesday, you can head over to Manna Café on N. Sherman to join up with Down With Bikes for their biweekly winter social ride and games night. Leaving from Manna at 6:30 pm, they will weave through the North Side to arrive at Player’s Bar for ping pong, pool, and board games.

Wednesday

Although the Middleton Pedestrian, Bike, Transit Committee is listed on the Madison Bikes calendar as meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 pm at the Middleton City Hall, no evidence of it can be found on the City of Middleton meetings website. If you are interested in upcoming issues, it might be worth a call to the city to see if a meeting is scheduled.

Finally, on Thursday, the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee will be meeting (5:00 pm in Room 108 of the City-County Bldg, agenda here.) The principal item on the agenda will be continued work on the transportation component of the Imagine Madison planning process, which is the update to the city Comprehensive Plan.

And some reminders:

If you have an event, meeting, or ride that you would like us to list on the Madison Bikes calendar, please drop us a note.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for Feb 3, when we will be at the Frozen Assets Festival and Fundraiser for the Clean Lakes Alliance. It’s happening on the lake behind (or would that be in front of?) the Edgewater. Drop by and see us and enjoy all the activities, including a fat bike race on the ice on Friday, and on Saturday our popular fat bike sled pull. (Sorry, kids only.)

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Bike News

Weekly update: Keep riding, a few city meetings, and get ready for the fashion show!

Although we still have over a week to go, the big news is that we are busy preparing for the Winter Bike Fashion Show on December 9 at the High Noon. Make sure to invite all your friends who are curious about how and why to bike in cold weather. You can even invite those friends who think we are all nuts; they may just have fun or gain a new respect for the cold-weather pedalers. We have a great roster of models lined up!

View post on imgur.com

Besides the fashion show, there are a couple of city meetings and a whole lot of fun cool/cold weather events to keep your blood and legs moving. Or, you can just be a spectator at the Cyclocross Championships on Saturday.

Monday

Bike Fitchburg monthly meeting, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Fitchburg Public Library. If you live or work in Fitchburg or just care about what happens there, here’s a great group to influence policy in our neighboring city.

MEAThead ride, starting at Fords Gym at 7:00 pm at 2114 Winnebago. This is a no-drop ride of Lake Monona with an optional loop through the Arboretum. If this sounds like fun, but you can’t make this one, it is held every Monday from November until March 6.

Tuesday

The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission will meet at 5:00 pm in room 201 of the City-County Building. On the agenda is a resolution to proceed with development of a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor running east and west. The eastern and western termini area still to be determined. More information is available in the documents for the meeting. While this is not strictly a bicycle issue, BRT can be a complement to improved bicycling in the city as part of a strong multimodal transportation system. But we will have to be careful that the BRT is not built at the expense of bicycle facilities that allow access to important destinations in the same corridor. Also on the agenda is a discussion of the continuing Imagine Madison planning process. You can watch the meeting streaming here.

Also on Tuesday is another edition of the Tuesday Night Ride, a social no-drop ride averaging 10 mph. Leaving from Colectivo on the Square at 6pm sharp. Don’t forget your lights! This week they will stop by Alt Brew, hoping there will be a new Bicycle Benefits Madison, WI deal.

Thursday

The same two issues mentioned on the PBMVC agenda –⁠ the Imagine Madison update and the resolution in favor of the BRT Phase 1 will also be on the agenda of the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee on Thursday, meeting at 5:00 pm in room 108 of the City-County Building.

Saturday

The Cyclocross State Championships at the Trek Headquarters, 801 W Madison St, Waterloo. It’s back for 2017! Once again, Revolution Cycles Club is promoting the WI State Cyclocross Championships. Expect thrills, spills, and chills on a technical course at Trek HQ!

View post on imgur.com

Photo from the 2016 Global Fat Bike Day at CamRock

And if cyclocross isn’t your thing, then how celebrating Global Fat Bike Day at the CamRock Cafe and Sport, 217 W Main St, Cambridge. It will be the same day as the Cambridge Country Christmas, so there are events for the whole family. Details here. Group Ride at 2:00 pm. Lots of beverages (brews and non-alcoholic options) stashed at stop points around the trails. Fun back at CamRock Sport at 5:00 pm with Bonfires, Food, and more. All donations and all money raised for food, beverages, etc. going to the Bike Park. Music starts at 7:00 pm and goes all night. And somewhere in there the Badgers will be playing for the Big Ten title!

Sunday

Finally, to round out the week, come to the Cargo Bike/Café Domestique Shop Social, 1404 Williamson St. There will be warm beverages, a short ride, and the chance to learn more about the hosts. 3:00 pm: Meet for a hot beverage 3:30 pm: Roll out for a Lake Monona Loop. 4:30-6 pm: Demos/activities at Cargo and Café Domestique.

Remember, we have all these events listed on the Madison Bikes calendar. If you would like to have an event listed, send us an email.

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Bike News

New bridge, new pavement, and few meetings this week

Photo courtesy of Joel Patenaude

Last week, the bike network got one more connection in the form of a bridge over McKee road near S. High Point Rd. The bridge is part of a path that will run from Valley View Rd south to Verona and meet up with the Military Ridge Trail. Parts of the trail are already built, and this new bridge is a big addition. You can see the plans for the entire planned length as well as updates on construction on the city’s website.

Also last week, a bumpy and cracked section of the Wingra Creek Path that runs from Olin Park under John Nolen Drive and a bit west was repaved. It’s always nice to have smooth, fresh pavement, and we appreciate the city keeping our paths maintained.

View post on imgur.com

Nice, smooth pavement on the Wingra Creek Path

Grant has created a new Facebook group to keep everyone updated on the Atwood St Reconstruction. You can find it here.

There aren’t too many city meetings this week. I guess that’s what happens during the 5th week of the month. Remember you only have two more days until the end of the month, and that means the end of your chance to fill your Madison Bike! Bingo card! Thanks to all the businesses that participated and all the people that biked. I discovered some new places and had a lot of fun.

City meetings this week

Tuesday, the City Council will be accepting the final plans for Crazy Legs Plaza and Wingra Park. Both of these locations are important to bicyclists, because the SW Path passes through Crazy Legs Plaza, and Wingra Park is an important bike connection on the south side of Monroe St. This is part of the Monroe St reconstruction, so you’ve probably heard about the meetings and open houses to discuss these plans. But if you are sure what they are doing, you can find the plans on line or attend the Council meeting at 6:30 p in the City-County Bldg.

Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board will have a presentation on bicycle and pedestrian crashes in Dane County. The meeting is at 6:30 PM at the Madison Water Utility Building, 119 E. Olin Avenue. We’ll try to get an update on this project and see what they found. If anyone attends, maybe you can give us a report.

If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to info@madisonbikes.org.

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Bike News

Recap of Atwood meeting and this week’s calendar

Atwood meeting. Photo credit: Travis Youman

Atwood meeting. Photo credit: Travis Youman

The upcoming week is a bit slow for meetings, but there are a couple of road and path maintenance projects that may affect your travel this week. And last week featured an important public information meeting to gather input and outline plans for the reconstruction of Atwood Ave in a few years. The reconstruction will be from Fair Oaks to Cottage Grove Road.

This update of the Atwood meeting comes from India Viola:

A good mix of people showed up to the Oct 4 Atwood Avenue Reconstruction Public Input Meeting, including many Madison Bikes members, city traffic engineering staff, alders from District 6 & 15, representatives from the consulting design firm, MSA Professional Services, and the press.  The construction is slated to happen in 2021, and this was the first of several public input sessions that will be held in the upcoming year.  If we want substantial change to the cross-section of the 1.13 mile stretch of Atwood between S. Fair Oaks Ave and Cottage Grove Rd we are going to have to show up, speak up, and be the source of positive ideas and change that we want to see implemented.  Thanks to everyone who showed up at this first meeting. It was wonderful to hear folks express their thoughts and concerns to the people in charge of this design. Collectively, we make a difference!

The proposed designs, although they were quite preliminary, had their ups and downs.

  • No on-street bike lanes, protected or otherwise, were proposed along the entire length.
  • No bike facilities or street cross-section changes were proposed between S. Fair Oaks Ave and Oakridge.
  • An off-street multi-use path, 10 ft wide between Oakridge Ave and Walter St, and 8 ft wide between Walter St and Cottage Grove Rd was proposed rather than on-street cycling accommodations.  The current sidewalk conflicts that exist between pedestrians, who travel at 2-4 mph and cyclists, who travel at 8-25 mph will remain on such a narrow multi-use path.
  • City staff’s primary justification for having an 8 ft wide section of multi-use path south of Walter St. was space limitations with the parking lots of existing lakeside condominium developments. Although the city has the 8 ft wide segment crossing multiple driveways that currently have walls obstructing the line-of-sight, this narrow stretch of multi-use path was still billed as a protected bicycle facility.
  • The Lake Monona Loop between Lakeland Ave and the Cap City Trail will be improved with a new multi-use path on the west side of Atwood Ave. Unfortunately this doesn’t help bike commuters traveling between Monona and points northeast or east of Walter St. As Mark Shahan pointed out, the proposed plan asks cyclists traveling north on Atwood to make multiple clumsy street crossings to remain on the planned bike facilities.
  • The excuse the city gave for maintaining a 3-lane motor vehicle roadway vs a 2-lane was maintaining the geometry of the Fair Oaks, Walter, and Cottage Grove intersections so they could keep the light phasing as it is and can keep costs down by doing as little work as possible. As we all know, good design is invaluable, and maintaining the current cross-section of Atwood would be a terrible waste of an opportunity to safely accommodate cyclists and pedestrians along this mile-long stretch of lakeside roadway.
  • The design team was undecided on the final intersection geometry at Atwood Ave and Walter St. The options were to keep it as a signalized intersection or to convert it to a multi-lane roundabout. Both design choices have their various benefits and faults.
  • The rightmost inbound lane that is a rarely-utilized off-peak parking lane between Oakridge Ave and S. Fair Oaks Ave will be widened to 12 ft north of Oakdridge Ave, and extend to Walter St south of Oakridge Ave as an 11 ft off-peak parking lane.
  • Parking lanes were also proposed along the southbound stretch of Atwood Ave by Olbrich Park. This would take up valuable real estate that could otherwise be bike lanes or public terrace!

If you have questions or comments about this project, the following are contacts:

Chris Petykowski, Principal Engineer, City of Madison Traffic Engineering Dept: cpetykowski@cityofmadison.comJaime Kurten, Senior Project Engineer at MSA Professional Services:  jkurten@msa-ps.com

Brad Bruun, City of Monona DPW Project Manager: bbruun@ci.monona.wi.us

Marsha Rummel, District 6 Alderperson: district6@cityofmadison.com
DAvid Ahrens, District 15 Alderperson: district15@cityofmadison.com

Coming up this week:

Monday, October 9, at 6:00 pm Madison Bikes board will meet at the Public Library, 201 W Mifflin St.

Also starting Monday and lasting until Wednesday, the SW Path will be closed from S. Prospect to Breese Terrace so the path can be resurfaced. There will be a detour that will take bicyclists onto surface streets, including lanes coned off on Regent and Monroe St. More information on this project and a map of the detour can be found on the city project page.

Tuesday, October 10 Bike-tober Bicycle Mixer. Ian’s Pizza on State Street 5pm -7pm.  (map)

Who loves Ian’s?! Who loves bikes?! Who loves all the gracious employees who give you Bicycle Benefits in Madison?! We are celebrating all of it with a FREE SLICE NIGHT for bike riders and staff of Bicycle Benefits locations in Madison! Come meet other bike riders, cool people and get energized with great calories and bike banter. How do you prove that you are a biker in Madison? Well, if you haven’t heard, Bicycle Benefits is a program where you get a little $5 sticker for your helmet and show it at businesses everywhere to get a discount or reward for riding your bike there. Here are all the places that it works in Madison. If you or your friends don’t have stickers yet, no sweat, they have them Ian’s Pizza Madison Maybe MORE EXCITING! This event counts as a “special event” if you are playing Madison Bike Bingo 2017 so bring your card or pick one up on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the Transit and Parking Commission will consider the proposal by Freewheel Bicycles to operate the bike center at Judge Doyle Square. A new building is planned for the site where the Government East parking ramp is currently located on E. Doty St. As part of the redevelopment, there will be a bike center featuring secure bike parking, lockers, showers, and a repair shop. Freeweel will be offering many of the same services they have at their Park St location, as well as classes. All the details of the proposal that will be discussed can be found here as part of the meeting schedule. The TPC meeting is at 5:00 pm at the Central Library. This item will be coming to the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission later, so you will have another chance to weigh in.

Sunday, October 15, 9:00am – 6:00pm Middleton Off-Road Ride

5191 Vosen Rd, Middleton, WI 53562, USA (map)

Ten Miles West of Madison, all off-road on private land otherwise not accessible to riding Adults: $35 Kids: $20 The ride will start at 10am, but everyone should be unloaded, lined up, and ready to go before the riders meeting at 9:45am. We suggest getting to the ride between 9am and 9:30am. Lunch won’t be provided, but complimentary rest stops will be available during the ride. The only way to register to ride is to contact Dan. You can contact Dan Fargen by Email:ddkj@td.net Phone: (608)445-8288

If you have a meeting or event that you would like to have included on the Madison Bikes Calendar, drop us an email.

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Bike News

Weekly calendar highlights for October 2, 2017

Probably the event this week that holds the most interest for bicyclists is the Atwood Reconstruction Public Information Meeting that will take place at Olbrich Gardens on Wednesday from 6:30-8:00. This is your opportunity to both find out what the plans are and also ask questions. If you are either curious about what’s going to happen or want to express your opinion, here’s your first chance.

Also happening this week:

On Monday, Sun Prairie Moves will host another Slow Roll, a fun, casual ride for all ages and abilities. The ride will start at Orfan Community Park and wil ride on paved city paths. For more information, check their Facebook page.

Tuesday the Madison Bikes Communication Committee will meet at Memorial Union Terrace. All are welcome to attend if you would like to help us out with getting the word out about not just our activities, but important meetings across the city.

Also on Tuesday the Common Council will consider the following for items:

  • Final plans for Monroe Street,
  • Allowing bicyclists to ride on the 100 block of W Mifflin. Yeah! The cul-de-sac at the end of W Mifflin will finally be connected to top of State Street and the Square,
  • Allowing the Police Department to donate abandoned and recovered bikes to non-profits. Previously, if the bikes couldn’t be sold at auction, the were required by law to send them to the landfill.

The Council meetings in the City-County Building starting at 6:30. Anyone can speak on any item on the agenda. Just fill out a slip when you arrive. You will have three minutes to speak.

Wednesday brings the monthly meeting of the Transportation Planning Board (the body that does transportation planning for the entire metro and urbanized area. A lot of the biggest projects in the area are discussed here, so if you want to know what’s up with big highway projects down to the regional bike network, these are the meetings where those discussions happen. You can find the agenda and materials for each item this month here.

This month the meeting will take place in Verona because they will be considering land use and transportation plans for Verona this month. The Board tries to hold meetings around the region during the year to make things easier for people all over the affected area, but most regular meetings take place in Madison.

If you have a meeting or event that you would like to have included on the Madison Bikes Calendar, drop us an email.

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Bike News

Madison Bikes 2nd Birthday headlines weekly calendar

Oops, a little late this week. But the real fun starts on Tuesday anyway.

Tuesday is our 2nd Annual Party and Fundraiser takes place from 6:00-9:00 pm at the High Noon. Make sure not to miss that, as it will be one of the few opportunities to get a stamp for the center square (Event) on your Bike! Bingo card.

Speaking of Bike! Bingo, everyone who comes to the party will receive a card when they make a donation. You will also receive a ticket to win door prizes. Of course, you’ll be supporting Madison Bikes so we can help you make the city more bike friendly for all ages and abilities. And you can fill out a postcard to tell a business, elected official, or anyone else either what needs to be fixed or what you love about their efforts.

You can also purchase additional Bike! Bingo cards or bike Benefit stickers for your family and friends that missed the party. So come on by and join the fun. Families welcome! Food by Jonny Hunter or Underground Food Collective will be available for purchse, and all proceeds will be donated to Madison Bikes. Yummy!

On Thursday, 6:00-7:30 pm at the Wingra School Gymnasuim (first floor), 718 Gilmore Street there will be a design alternatives presentation of ideas for Crazy Legs Plaza and the Wingra Park entrance off Monroe St. Both of these will be important for bicyclists that use the SW Path or want to bike through Wingra Park as a connector at the other end of Monroe. Participants at several past workshops and meetings gave their ideas and opinions to the consultants, and now we are going to see the results. If these two locations are important to you, please attend.

Do you have something that should be included on our weekly calendar? You can email us events and meetings to us to include and also see what’s coming up by looking at our Madison Bikes Community Calendar.

Sunday is Bike (and Bus) the Barns, featuring live music, farm tours, and a spectacular day of biking fueled by gourmet and local food. Pledges raised support Partner Shares, which helps low-income households afford to join a CSA farm. Bike the Barns features area CSA farms & tours, gourmet local food, craft libations, and live music –⁠ all to raise funds for fresh food for all! There are 3 routes to choose from, depending on your interests and capabilities, as well as a bus option for those who don’t wish to bike! Start and end location is Lake Farm Park, in Madison, Wisconsin. After the ride, join us for an after party in the park with more food, drinks, and live music! NEW: Bus the Barns! Space is limited. Bus tour registration includes all meals (breakfast snack + coffee, snack stop, lunch, and after party meal & beer ticket), farm tours and activities at three farms, and bus transportation. It all starts at Lake Farms County Park and runs from 7:00am –⁠ 6:30pm

Also on Sunday is the September Kidical Mass. This month will feature a ride-decorating party so the bikes can be part of the Willy St Fair Parade. Meet at the Cargo Bike Shop at 1404 Williamson St at 10 am.

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Bike News

Meetings this week, super fun party next week!

Our big news is that we are preparing for the Madison Bikes Annual Party and Fundraiser . Join us on September 12, 6:00-9:00 pm at the High Noon Saloon. Madison Bikes is turning two and we’re celebrating our growing community, which is now over 925 Facebook followers strong. Let’s see if we can get to 1000 by the end of the party!

At the party you’ll find useful and fun door prizes, a super-stylin’ membership bonus package with your $20 suggested donation at the door, food to purchase from the Underground Food Collective (all proceeds benefit Madison Bikes!), the kickoff of our fall Bike! Bingo event, Bike Benefits stickers for sale, great people, and good vibes. The center of the Bike! Bingo card needs a stamp for a special event, and the Madison Bikes party is the easiest way to get that stamp.

Bring a friend and help us celebrate! Here’s the party flyer.

Before we celebrate, here are a couple of meetings to tune in to this week.

On Tuesday, Sept 5, the Common Council Executive Committee Meeting will consider the recommendations of the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee (TORC). The meeting will take place in Room 108 of the City-County Building. [Agenda, with links]

What is TORC? It is a committee that was charged with examining whether the committees that currently oversee the transportation business of the city — including the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission, the Parking and Transit Commission, the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee, and various other smaller committees and sub-committees —should be restructured.

On top of rearranging the city committee structure, TORC also recommended that the city hire a Transportation Director. This is something that Madison Bikes has also been advocating for, and here’s why we think it’s important: Madison needs someone at the helm to oversee all modes of transportation and to assure that the policies and plans that the committees and Council vote into place are actually carried out. Without a Transportation Director, there are too many missed opportunities in our transportation planning and implementation process.

Wednesday, Sept 6, the Transportation Planning Board — which oversees transportation funding and plans for the entire metropolitan area, not just Madison — will hold a public hearing in Room 354 of the City-County Building on the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for 2018-2022. This is a good way to see what major projects will be funded for the next five years. There are quite a few bike projects planned, and many road projects in the TIP may also affect your cycling comfort and safety. The full TIP can be found here. Public comments, letters, and other communications will be taken at the meeting or may be sent to: MPO@cityofmadison.com

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Bike News

Friday, July 28: Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Jane JacobsWe invite you to join us this Friday for a movie about Jane Jacobs, an incredible woman who changed how we think about the city. After the movie, there will be a reception for discussion and socializing, including a chance to meet one of the Executive Producers, who is a Madison resident. The movie is at 7 PM at Cinematheque, Rm 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave. The reception will be following the movie –⁠ about 8:30 PM, at the University Club, 803 State St.

If you know about Jane Jacobs, you need read no further. If you don’t know of her, I’m going to link to a few Wikipedia pages below, in case you want to dive in just a bit deeper.

Jane Jacobs was a resident of Greenwich Village during the Depression. She took on one of the most powerful men of her time, Robert Moses, who was not only the “master builder” of the mid-20th century, but a political force stronger than even the Mayor of New York. At one time, he held 12 positions simultaneously (none elected) in New York city and state government

Jacobs became a hero to her neighbors, coming to public meetings with stacks of papers with information and petitions signed by the people who would have been displaced by the grand plans of Moses. She was initially just trying to save her neighborhood, but she changed how we talk about housing, transportation, cities, neighborhoods, and businesses. Her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is considered one of the most important works about urban planning. She wrote about the concepts of “eyes on the street,” the importance of sidewalks, and social capital.

Jacobs knew that average people banding together and speaking up at public meetings could bring enough political pressure on the powers-that-be to change the course of history.

Moses believed in clearing the city of small, old apartment buildings that were affordable housing for people of modest means. Instead, he strived to construct large public housing projects set in a “park-like” setting. He thought the existing housing stock and small businesses – apartment buildings such as Jacobs and her husband lived in mixed with family-owned businesses right down the street – was “sub-standard” and “crowded.” He thought the neighborhoods fostered criminal behavior and unhealthy living conditions.

Of course, those neighborhoods were really walkable, transit-friendly, and often close-knit. You could buy everything you needed within a few blocks of your home, and people sat outside on the building stairs or stopped on the sidewalk and talked to each other. The “park-like” settings that Moses envisioned spread out the buildings so far that walking was difficult, and the community feeling was absent. Retail and jobs were separated from residential buildings, so all daily trips became much longer.

Moses also loved to build huge highways and arterial roads that made driving easier. Under his reign, large swaths of low-income and minority neighborhoods were bulldozed to make way for roads that carried white suburbanites on their trips into and out of the city each day. Moving cars and “urban renewal” were his goals.

The battles between Jacobs and Moses are the stuff of legend. But in the end, Jacobs saved Greenwich Village; the Lower Manhattan Expressway was not built through Washington Square Park; and walkable, mixed-use urban neighborhoods were recognized as valuable to the life of the city.

I hope you can join us for the movie and reception to take inspiration from Jane Jacobs for our own efforts. 

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Bike News

Goodbye, Tim Wong: A Madison Radical on a Bike

Just after Tim Wong died on June 30, I posted an announcement and added a few words about what Tim meant to the bicycling movement in Madison. Several people asked me to put it up as a blog post. I’ve adapted the original a bit with comments that other people shared with me.

If you didn’t know Tim, you really missed a true Madison character, and someone who you can thank for being one of the early leaders of the bike advocacy that continues today.

I wasn’t around for some his early adventures, like the mass, simultaneous flat tires that a group of bicyclists got at the intersection of John Nolen, Blair, and Willy St. If you think that intersection is bad now, you can thank Tim that it isn’t worse. I don’t know the whole story, but I know that Tim helped organize a movement to add bicycle accommodations that made it at least somewhat safer for bicyclists and pedestrians at a time when almost no one rode a bike for transportation. Tim was one of the founders of the Bicycle Brigade, the first Madison-focused bike advocacy group. At his memorial, someone had dragged out old copies of the Spoken Word, an early advocacy newsletter. When auto manufacturers claimed that auto emissions were now cleaner than the outside air, Tim co-wrote a letter to the editor at the Wisconsin State Journal introducing the concept of the “dash pipe.” The State Journal never published the letter, but you can read it here.

Tim wrote more letters, showed up at more meetings, and spoke at more city committees than almost anyone I’ve known. He served as the Chair of the city Bicycle/Pedestrian Sub-Committee (before the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission that exists today was formed), but was squeezed out when the committee structure was rearranged. In the early and mid-2000s he was back, serving on the Transit and Parking Commission. Putting his professional skills as a data analyst to use, he poured over the quarterly reports and asked detailed questions when others just passed them over. He ended up getting thrown off that committee as well, probably because he asked too many questions about how money was spent and how things were run.

He never owned a car, and was probably the person that first coined the term “death-mobile.” He was also fond of calling John Nolen Drive, “John No-Lane,” because when Monona Terrace was being planned, the Lake Monona Path was going to be shut down for two years, and city officials scoffed at the idea that a lane of the existing road should be devoted to the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. Tim helped organize Friday peak hour rides that took over a lane anyway to demonstrate the need for safe facilities for walking and biking during the construction. The path was shut down for only 6 months instead of two years. I thought about him and those early critical mass rides when that path was being worked on recently, and there was indeed a lane of John No-Lane blocked off for bicyclists.

Tim was not subtle about his distaste for cars and driving, often calling drivers “muderists.” He could be irritating and alienated some people — including his allies. But you could never say he didn’t speak his mind and stand up for what he believed. One person wrote saying, “He always had strong opinions but I can’t think of any instances where he was actually wrong, even (or particularly) when we disagreed.”

Betty Chewning, a neighbor of Tim’s and a professor at the UW whose research focused on health, spoke at his memorial, and she said how much she appreciated that Tim put his reputation and time on the line over and over again. He told the inconvenient truth, even when no one wanted to hear it. He convinced her to testify about how important the bike paths were to her. He knew that it couldn’t just be him, or any one person, carrying the message; everyone has to speak up.

Even former City Engineer, Larry Nelson, wrote to say that he appreciated working with Tim:

“Despite the derogatory terms Tim used, such as the ‘great Wasteside of Madison’, I found him actually to be a very gentle person. He was also very frugal, and perhaps large transportation projects, even though they were bike facilities, were in Tim’s mind contrary to his own innate frugality.

“On the other hand, I found Tim very helpful pointing out both the need for and the most effective way to maintain bike facilities. The concept that the City should provide winter maintenance for bike facilities isn’t that old, folks. But, Tim needed to bike in the winter.”

Tim was 69, and rode his bike everywhere until a month before his death, when he fell (not while riding) and hit his head, leading to complications that ultimately did him in. At his memorial service I heard his family talk about how he refused to give a thumbs up to the doctors trying to determine his physical abilities. Tim said the thumbs up was what Trump did. So his doctor asked him to raise any finger, and sure enough he gave it to them.

If you didn’t know him, you have no idea how far back his advocacy for bicycling goes. He wasn’t always easy to work with, but he will be deeply missed. 

Rest in peace, Tim.