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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.

Categories
Bike News

Wilson Street: What happened last week

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The West Wilson Street reconstruction and the question whether the street should be reconstructed as-is or include safe and comfortable accommodations for people biking was discussed at the Board of Public Works (BPW) last Wednesday. The proposal by City Engineering and supported by the district’s Alder Mike Verveer argued for the former, but at the meeting many voices disagreed. Looking beyond the West Wilson project itself, the BPW meeting perfectly demonstrated why Madison needs a Director of Transportation, someone who would be the liaison between the often-competing interests and desires of various interest groups and the city staff who are charged with maintaining and rebuilding our streets.

Alder Mike Verveer, in whose district the W. Wilson reconstruction project is located, said that he felt “whiplash” by the requests for protected bike lanes, constituents who fear losing on-street parking, other alders –⁠ including two on the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission — who requested that the PBMVC needed to see the project again, and city staff who had already sent a letter to adjacent property owners saying there would be neither a pilot test of the protected bike lane that had previously been proposed. Verveer also claimed that this project was being used to fight a turf battle between different city committees.

However, three Madison Bikes board members and several other bicycle advocates testified or submitted comments to the Board of Public Works on Wednesday evening, saying that the public process has been botched, the street was unsafe for bicyclists, and insisted that the BPW and city staff follow the city’s many transportation and sustainability plans that point out the need to provide safe infrastructure for all road users.

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Public testimony at the BPW meeting

It was apparent that the BPW felt very uncomfortable with the conflict playing out in front of them. Normally their schedule is filled by nothing more controversial than approving bids for infrastructures and assessments for new sidewalks.

Staff from City Engineering insisted that there was no time to send the matter back to the PBMVC and still meet a September deadline to use Tax Incremental Financing for the project. Additional there was the procedural question whether the Board even had the authority to refer the matter to another committee. In the end, the BPW approved the project to be rebuilt exactly as it is now: no bike lanes, no widened sidewalks, and no test of a protected bike lane in place of parking on the south side of the street. But staff claimed that the design would be “flexible,” should anything change in the future.

While this may sound disappointing, there was a bright spot: The resolution to go forward with the reconstruction as-is was amended. Alder Denise Demarb introduced a provision that city staff will develop a plan to make the entire length of Wilson St bicycle-friendly all the way from King Street to Broom Street by the time that the construction around the Judge Doyle Square project is completed (expected to sometime between 2020 and 2022).

We will continue to push for a safe, comfortable design on West (and East) Wilson Street that will give space for people biking and walking and support the oft-stated goal of the city to encourage bicycling, walking, and transit use. And we will continue to push for a better public process so that these issues can be resolved and all interested parties can be involved long before a financial deadline is looming.

The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission will discuss the matter at their meeting tomorrow, and the project will be before the Common Council at their June 6 meeting. We will keep you updated for when your input is going to be most effective. Thanks to everyone who testified or submitted written comments: They really made a difference.

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Bike News

Changing West Wilson Street? You can make it happen

On Monday, March 20, there will be a meeting to hear from the public–⁠yes, that’s you–⁠about changes to West Wilson Street between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Hamilton/Henry Streets. The meeting will be in room 351 of the City-County Building, and we need your voice!

Some more information, including plans and past presentation can be found here on the City Engineering website. Also stay tuned for another post on the project tomorrow.

What’s the problem?

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This section of Wilson Street is a scary stretch for people cycling west: Two westbound lanes of traffic, parking on both sides, and no bike facilities. At the bottom of the hill and the intersection with Hamilton and Henry, you have few good options when biking. South Hamilton climbs steeply up to the Square and also lacks bike facilities. The same is true for South Henry. If you continue straight, West Wilson becomes two narrow lanes–⁠now one in each direction–⁠with no bike lanes. To the south of the intersection there are two dead-end streets. Worse, people on bikes must choose between staying in the right lane of Wilson, which is right turn only, and the left lane. Being in the right lane sets you up for a “right hook” from turning cars. But riding in the left lane requires merging on the downhill–not really an option for most people cycling.

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Aerial view of the intersection of Wilson, Henry, and Hamilton (Source: Google Maps)

Even more difficult is trying to travel eastbound. In theory, Wilson would make a great connection to the Capitol Square and points east, as it is less steep than any of the parallel streets. Many residential buildings, offices, and other destinations are along Wilson Street, and with the Judge Doyle Square redevelopment and the proposed bicycle center, this will be even more true. Finally, there are already concrete plans for connecting Wilson Street with the Capital City Trail by building a bridge across John Nolen Drive and the railroad tracks. But of course: Wilson Street is a one-way street, and so this is not an option.

So many bicyclists going both directions end up riding on the sidewalk. On this particular stretch it is legal. But as you can see in this video, it is not pleasant, and once you get to East Wilson, riding on the sidewalk is prohibited.

The proposed street reconstruction offers an opportunity to fix many of those issues. We have a chance to West Wilson Street (and eventually all of Wilson) safer for all users, but especially for people biking and walking. We could have a two-way, protected bike lane on the south side of the street. And that is one of the ideas we can discuss at the meeting on Monday. Pretty exciting, huh?

But there is a lot of pushback against that idea. Those who don’t want to lose any car parking on the street may be opposed to accommodating people on bikes on Wilson. A protected bike lane would replace car parking on one side of the street.

So we need your help to convince the city and your fellow citizen that the safety of bicyclists should be more important than a few parking spots. After all, there are literally hundreds of public parking spots on the street and in parking garages within a couple of blocks of West Wilson Street.

Besides Madison Bikes, who says we need better bike facilities here?

There are many public studies and plans that have identified West Wilson Street as a critical gap in the biking network. These gaps hold us back from achieving the goals to make transportation more sustainable and make getting around by bike a real alternative to driving for people of all ages and abilities. The South Campus Transit Oriented Development Plan looked at the entire area south of the Capitol, and that plan also identified a need to improve bicycle facilities on Wilson, especially for eastbound travel. The City and the Transportation Planning Board both have “complete streets policies” that make it a requirement to accommodate all modes of travel when a street is being reconstructed. And the Wisconsin Bike Fed wrote a letter pointing out the need for eastbound accommodations, especially with the soon-to-be-completed Judge Doyle Square Bike Center.

OK, you convinced me and I’ll come. What should I do or say at the meeting?

The Monday meeting is not a formal city committee meeting. It will be a presentation of options for the street, and then questions and comments from those in attendance. You can just come and watch, but make it obvious that you are someone riding a bike and wants safe conditions for that. Bring your helmet or wear a Madison Bikes or Bike Fed t-shirt. Fill out a comment form with something as simple as, “I want safe biking conditions on Wilson Street.” Ask questions or share stories about how biking on Wilson Street currently feels.

Madison Bikes supports a two-way protected bike lane. We think that having facilities for people biking, separated from people walking and protected from people driving, is the best option. A slightly widened, eight-foot sidewalk that mixes two-way bike traffic with pedestrians would be frustrating and dangerous for all.

If you can’t make the meeting, you can still weigh in. We will have a separate blog post that will outline some of the future engagement opportunities. But for now you can email your support: The Engineer in charge of the project is Jim Wolfe, and you can email comments directly to him. The alder for all of Wilson from Proudfit to Williamson is Mike Verveer. And you can email your own alder or the whole Council as well, since this project will eventually have to be passed by the entire Council. To find out who your alder is, check the map or look it up by address on the Council website. To send an email to the entire Council, you can use the address: allalders@cityofmadison.com

Being involved in decisions is actually pretty easy.

A few voices can really make a huge difference, and your alder needs to hear from you. You may actually know a lot more about these issues than they do, since you ride the streets and paths every day. You are the expert on what makes a city easy and safe to bike. But also keep in mind that we want a city where everyone can bike, not just the brave and the experienced. So think what kind of street your neighbor, child, friend, or parent would feel safe and comfortable on when biking to work, go shopping, school, or errands.

A short email, a phone call, a written comment at a meeting, or even your presence all contribute to a better biking city for us all. Everyone’s opinion is important, and everyone’s voice is needed. See you on Monday!

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Bike News

Action Alert: Monroe Street Reconstruction Ped, Bike and Transit Meeting

The public input process for the Monroe Street Reconstruction project continues with the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Transit World Café , to be held Thursday, August 11 at Edgewood College from 6:00-9:00 PM. This will give users of these modes a chance to say what is important to them and think about trade-offs on the street.

Below are the official announcement and RSVP form from Urban Assets, the firm coordinating the public input from various interest groups. They ask that you RSVP so they can prepare for the right number of people but an RSVP is not required to attend.

If you think trying to squeeze in the interests of all those user groups is going to be tough, you’re right. That’s why the meeting is three hours long. If you can’t attend the whole meeting, you should consider coming to the first part, as this is when the information about your options to input is going to happen.

Transit users may not have the same interests as those who get around by bike; and when you are walking, you may be annoyed by someone riding their bike on the sidewalk (maybe because there are no bike lanes…?). But this meeting is a great chance for people who don’t primarily drive to or on Monroe Street to speak up for a more livable street that welcomes those who use active transportation and don’t need car parking.

A world café allows people to actually discuss what is important to them. Volunteers will be on hand to record everyone’s thoughts and concerns so that you don’t have to have all your comments prepared before the meeting. You will be part of an actual dialogue about what you want to see, what works now, and what doesn’t.

So I hope we get a really big turn out and a great discussion.

Also note that the deadline of the online community survey about the reconstruction has been extended once again – this time until Aug 7. So if you haven’t done so already, please respond to the survey!

The next meeting in this public engagement process is the Pedestrian, Bike, Transit Infrastructure World Café. At this meeting we aim to understand the community’s perspective on issues and opportunities related to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure design on Monroe Street, including how these different uses will interact following reconstruction. Participants will hear from City of Madison staff about reconstruction plans, multimodal design concepts and considerations, and have the opportunity to discuss in small groups the complex opportunities and tradeoffs involved in multimodal planning on Monroe Street. We hope to see you there!

What: Monroe Street Reconstruction Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Transit Infrastructure World Café
When: Thursday, August 11th, 2016 from 6:00-9:00 PM
Where: The Washburn Room @ Edgewood College, 1000 Edgewood College Dr., Madison, WI 53711
RSVP: To help us plan accordingly, please register/RSVP for free here:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/monroe-street-pedestrian-bicycle-and-transit-infrastructure-world-cafe-tickets-26566505132. Those who are unable to RSVP are still welcome to attend.

*Note that some surface parking lot space may be unavailable at Edgewood College at this time due to resurfacing, so please allocate an additional five minutes for parking. If you have limited mobility, please contact Zia Brucaya at zia@urbanassetsconsulting.com to inquire about special accommodations.

And, last but not least, if you have not yet taken the Monroe Street Reconstruction Community Survey, please consider doing so! The survey deadline has been extended to next Sunday, August 7th, 2016. You can take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/monroestreetsurvey or reply to this email for more information on how to receive a paper copy.

Thank you for participating in this important community process!