Categories
Bike News

Monday Update: Vision Zero at TPPB, new bike lane on Ingersoll

The Southwest Commuter Path will close today, July 6 through Friday, July 10 at Odana Road to Glenway Street; and Commonwealth Avenue to Prospect Avenue for resurfacing. Follow the detours!

Good news: there is a new counterflow bike lane on Ingersoll between Gorham and Sherman. While this is a short segment, it adds important infrastructure in crossing the isthmus safely.

This Week

On Monday, July 6, the Transportation Policy and Planning Board will meet. On the agenda includes the adoption and endorsement of a Vision Zero policy. Vision Zero is a framework that recognizes that humans will make errors and that all traffic deaths are preventable, specifically through better systems. Since the adoption of Vision Zero, cities such as Oslo, Norway eliminated all pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

Madison Bikes strongly supports Vision Zero, with the belief that police enforcement should not be a part of achieving this goal. Enforcement places BIPOC people at disproportional risk of violence at the hands of the police. Smart engineering and offering safe, convenient alternatives to driving is the best way to avoid the most common way Americans interact with the police – traffic stops – as well as to keep all road users safe. The Madison Bikes board will be releasing a statement about Vision Zero soon.

On Wednesday, July 8, the Board of Public Works will meet. A number of projects will be featured, including roadway geometry around Fish Hatchery-South Park Street; developments around McCormick Ave/Commercial Ave; Kipp Street; and 4003 E. Washington Ave. have new bike and pedestrian infrastructure proposed.

Future

One of our community members, Margie Franzen, is inviting everyone to join for a virtual book club on August 14 at 7 pm. The book is Cyclescapes of the Unequal City. A Look at Bicycles and Gentrification. The Facebook event is here.

New website

As you may have noticed, we recently launched our new website. This took a great deal of effort, including from a few super-volunteers, to make the back-end migration a success. This is one of many ways volunteers can help Madison Bikes with our mission – if you want to get more involved, sign up today!

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

Categories
Bike News Internal news

We have a new website!

People biking on John Nolen Drive, with an animation of the Madison Bikes URL

You may have noticed it already, but we have a new website! Our previous website was basically as old as our organization itself, and so it was time for a revamp. We hope you like the new site and can still find all the Madison bike(s) content you’re looking for! If you encounter any issues, have feedback or requests, just send an email to info@madisonbikes.org.

The new website has allowed us to create some additional content and made things more user friendly. For example, our Resources FAQ page is much easier to navigate, and we have a brand new map of all Dane County bike shops and outdoor repair stations.

Let’s give a big shout-out to the people who have made the new website possible:

Our awesome super volunteers Dan Stout and Ben Sandee have helped with a lot of the technical stuff that made the transition run smoothly. We didn’t just change the looks of the website, but we also changed the whole back-end. That was a lot of work, and we couldn’t have done it without Dan and Ben.

On our board, Kyle and Marybeth have been the leaders of the transition. They only joined the board this year but jumped right into the new website project, kept things on track, asked the hard questions (“what is the difference between ‘join’ and ‘sign up’…?”) and came up with the design of the site.

Thank you thank you thank you.

And as always, if you want to support our work, join us and donate!

Categories
Bike News

Monday Update: Wilson Street, Chip Seal Resource

A person bikes up Wilson Street, looking east from Broom Street. The city is set to approve a corridor study that would support creating a cycletrack on south side of the street when it is reconstructed in the near future. Photo taken 2018. Credit Jim Wilson

Last Week

Plans for the new Cedar Street connection between Park and Fish Hatchery changed at last week’s Transportation Commission. Instead of parking and two unprotected bike lanes–one of which was a door zone bike lane–Cedar Street will have two buffered bike lanes and no parking. Buffered bike lanes go a long way towards rider comfort and safety, and it’s good to see the city supporting their implementation.

Since this is construction season, a lot of roads have been getting a chip seal treatment lately. Chip sealing is a process where tar is laid down on a road and gravel chips are laid over it. The process is a fairly inexpensive way to extend the life of a road, but it is unfortunately an inconvenience to people on bikes. Bombay Bicycle Club put together a resource documenting where chip sealing has occurred.

This Week

Tonight the city is holding a virtual Public Information Meeting to update everyone on Wilson Street Corridor Study. The current recommendation is to include the two-way cycletrack on the south side of Wilson that Madison Bikes has been advocating for. Thanks to everyone who showed support for this option at meetings, and by writing to your alders and project staff over the years. This victory could not have been achieved without your help!

Of course, this fight won’t end with this meeting. The Corridor Study still needs to be accepted by the Common Council, approved by the mayor, and ultimately constructed. Stay tuned for further advocacy actions and updates on this project! You can read Addendum 2 to the Wilson Street Corridor Study for more information on the City’s current recommendations. You can also catch up on why Madison Bikes views Wilson Street as an important corridor for our advocacy mission by reading our previous blog posts here and here.

On Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MATPB) is having their monthly meeting virtually to discuss a variety of topics. One item is adding the Initial Bus Rapid Transit Project to the Fiscally Constrained Plan for the Regional Transportation Plan 2050. Another item is amending the 2020-2024 Transportation Improvement Program to include safety improvements at two intersections. One of the intersections is County Highway MM and McCoy Rd, which is adjacent to the Capital City State Trail. You can read the full agenda here.

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

Categories
Bike News

Monday Update: City Meetings and Advocacy Wins

What else is there to say, except that those are some sweet, sweet purple kicks? Photo credit: Harald Kliems

This Week

On Monday at 6:30pm the city will be hosting a Vilas Park Master Plan Public Meeting (virtual, registration is required). This promises to be a real humdinger of an event, so get involved in the process to evolve one of the crown jewels of the Madison park system! Several cycling-related issues are front-and-center including whether or not Vilas Park Dr should go car-free.

On Wednesday the city’s Transportation Commission will be meeting virtually. Check out the agenda, which looks to be stacked with a little something for everyone.

The Bombay Bicycle Club has restarted a limited selection of weekend group rides for current members only, with 12 ft spacing during the rides along with other common-sense restrictions. Check your inbox for your emails from them for the details. Not quite ready for a ride with a group? Remember that BBC has a great collection of area rides with full routes and cue sheets available for your perusal and you can ride these at your leisure (although there’s nothing leisurely about many of those routes!).

Capital Off Road Pathfinders (CORP) is organizing the CORP 100: a self-supported, fund-raising ride challenge that runs through the end of August. “Choose from routes of 100 km or 100 miles to experience as much Madison-area trail as possible. From urban jump lines & pump tracks, to old school tech-gnar, this ride connects nine different trail networks with a mix of urban bike paths, gravel and scenic driftless roads.” For all the details, check out their event page.

Finally, it’s worth echoing the advice and sentiment on the ongoing protests from this week’s Bike Madison email:

Please expect and respect disruptions to bicycle routes as people gather to exercise their first amendment rights here in Madison. If your route is blocked, please wait respectfully or take a different route to your destination.

Last Week

There was a discussion on the Facebook community about how the iconic Merrimac Ferry was closed to cyclists and pedestrians due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. As Robbie observed, this was problematic as it is part of the public state highway system and there were no similar restrictions on motorcycles or convertibles. The good news is that after a brief email campaign and investigation, the ferry has been reopened to everyone! Nice work!

Cyclist aboard the Merrimac Ferry
Madison Bikes board member Liz Jesse on board the Merrimac Ferry just a few years back. Photo Credit: Ben Sandee

BCycle opened up a new station on the near east side last week. This week also marks the one year anniversary of the Madison BCycle fleet going all-electric! Might be a good time to revisit one of our most popular blog posts ever, detailing first impressions of those bikes. How have those bikes been working for you? 

The Bike Fed posted an in-depth article about how the “Safe Routes Partnership no longer emphasizes enforcement and instead challenges us to improve our forms of engagement.” Definitely worth the read.

Next Week

Put it on your calendar! On Monday, June 29 the city will host #5 in the series of meetings about the Wilson Street Corridor Study (virtual, registration required). According to the page, “Addendum 2” to the interim recommendation is due to be published on Tuesday, June 23 (that’s this week!); many of us will be taking a close look and discussing it in advance of next week’s meeting. One likely spot for that conversation will be our Facebook group. You might also be interested in revisiting some of our previous coverage of the Wilson Street project here and here.

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

Categories
Bike News

Weekly Update: Last Days of Spring

The weather this weekend was perfect for bike ride. I hope everyone was able to take advantage and get outside. The wonderful temperature and lush green foliage are the ultimate spring combination. Also, in case you missed it, Madison Ranked #2 best US biking city by People for Bikes. Go Madison!

Looking for a way to make Madison more bike friendly?

This is a short list of things you can do this week to encourage biking and bike infrastructure in Madison.

1. Fill Out a Survey (8-12 min)

Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) invites you to participate in an important regional survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on work-from-home trends and attitudes in the greater Madison region. Your participation is critical to understanding the unique impacts of COVID-19 on work and commuting trends in our region.

2. Register for the Vilas Park Master Plan Public Input Meeting

Registration is required to attend this public input meeting next week Monday June 22 at 6:30. This is an opportunity to provide feedback on the redesign of this wonderful Madison park. I am fond of Concept B that replaces the thru road with a multiuse path. This meeting is via Zoom and requires registration. More Information

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

Categories
Bike News

Madison ranked second best US biking city

People for Bikes, a bike-industry sponsored advocacy group, just released their annual Places for Bikes City Rating results. And Madison made second place, up from ninth in 2019! Any rating system is going to have strengths and weaknesses, but I like the the Places for Bikes data-driven approach. Let’s explore in more detail what the subcategories measure and how well Madison scores in each of them. The maximum score for each category is 5.

Safety

This category combines data about all traffic crashes, crashes involving injuring or killing people on bikes, as well as community perceptions of safety. Why include perceptions rather than just hard numbers on crashes? Because no matter how objectively safe a given piece of infrastructure is, if it feels unsafe, people won’t bike there. And crash data also won’t tell you anything about places that are so unsafe that people biking will just avoid them completely. Madison does very well when it comes to bike injuries and crashes, scoring 4.0 points, with overall crashes and perceptions of safety being somewhat lower (3.0 and 3.1). According to official crash data, in 2019 there were 13 serious injuries and 2 fatalities involving someone on a bike in all of Dane County (and no fatalities in the City of Madison). Of course we need to continue to work on eliminating all serious injuries and fatalities, but it’s also important to remind ourselves that overall biking is a pretty safe activity in Madison.

Ridership

The ridership score is calculated from three different measure of how many people actually bike how often in a community. The American Community Survey by the US Census provides numbers on how many people regularly bike to work. As commute trips only account for a small share of people’s overall trips, data from two other, smaller surveys provide additional information on ridership, including recreational riding. Our overall score in this category is 3.0, placing us in 11th place nationwide.

Acceleration

This is a measure on how quickly biking is improving in a city. Based on data submitted by the city itself, for example on the growth in miles of bike lanes, racks, bike parks, or attendees at events like Madison Bike Week, and by respondents to the Community Survey, a score is calculated. Madison gets a 3.2 based on the city data and 3.5 based on community perceptions.

Network

The “Bicycle Network Analysis” (BNA) is one key piece of the work that Places for Bikes has been doing: For each city, they take every street and assign it a bicycle traffic level of stress score based on the characteristics of a street, for example whether it is a residential street or an arterial, what the speed limit is, and whether it has bike facilities or not. All the streets and paths rated as low-stress then make up a city’s low-stress network, and in a second step, the analysis looks at how well that network connects people with where they need to bike to, for example libraries, shops, or centers of employment. Madison’s BNA score is 49.8, with the top US city having a score of 88. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the cities that scores higher than us is Sun Prairie…

A smaller proportion of the overall network score is based on survey results about people’s perception of the bike network quality. Taken together, Madison gets a network score of 3.1.

Reach

Madison’s lowest is in the Reach category. Reach is a measure of “how well the the bike network serves everyone equally.” It is measured in two ways: One looks at the gender split in bike commuting, as measured by the American Community Survey. If as many or more women than men bike, this is seen as an indicator of a high-quality, comfortable biking city. Madison gets 3.0 points in this category, as about 6% of men and 3.5% of women regularly bike to work.

The other Reach measure looks at Census blocks that have a higher concentration of traditionally underserved populations, for example a large proportion of people of color or low-income residents. The quality of the low-stress bike network in those areas is then compared with the rest of the city’s network. This is the category where Madison does worst, with only 2.2 points. If you look at the BNA map, you see that there are still many areas of the city that have low scores. And some of those areas are those where underserved populations live, for example on the North Side around Northport Drive, or along Park St. More work is to be done to provide safe and comfortable bike access equitably.

So is Madison truly the second best biking city?

I’m sure one could make good arguments for and against any specific score and sub-score. But what is indisputable is that Madison is indeed one of the best biking cities in the US. Let’s celebrate that, and then get back to the hard work of making it better faster and for more people. There is a lot of room for growth in each of the categories.

Categories
Bike News

Weekly update: Biking, urban design, and social upheaval

This image just feels like the last ten days

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

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

What’s happening this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Bike News

Weekly Update: New rider panel video, Cedar St, MPO meeting

It’s the first week of June. In a normal year, yesterday you would have enjoyed Ride the Drive, and this morning you’d have visited your first Bike Station to start into Madison Bike Week. But this year is anything but normal. There is still a little hope that we’ll be able to do Madison Bike Week in some form or shape in September this, but it’s hard to make predictions. We’ll keep you posted.

Last week City Engineering hosted a public meeting about Cedar, South, High Streets and W Wingra Drive. This area will be redeveloped, with new housing, a SSM Health clinic, and a new grocery store. You can find the meeting presentation here. From a bike perspective, there were questions about the proposed bike facilities on the new portion of Cedar Street: There will be painted bike lanes, but on one side of the street they will be next to on-street parking, creating a “door zone bike lane.” Another question raised was about the median island on Park Street, meant to prevent through traffic on Cedar Street. One resident pointed out that this would make it more difficult for people walking and biking to get across Park St.

On Friday, the City of Madison hosted a virtual panel discussion, “When I started biking.” The pandemic has motivated a lot of people to either get back on the bike or start biking for the first time. If you missed the video (or know a new rider who may be interested), a recording is available on our Facebook page. Thanks to Pepe Barros, one of our former board members and now a City employee, for organizing the panel:

On Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (also known as “the MPO”) is meeting virtually. One agenda item is a presentation of the recently adopted Dane County Climate Action Plan. Transportation is one important topic in the report, as emissions from that sector account for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in our county. A lot of the report talks about electric vehicles, but there is also an acknowledgment that vehicle miles traveled need to be reduced as well. It’s good see mention of phenomena like induced demand (where building new or expanded highways leads to more driving, not congestion relief), and the need for regional transit, better land use, and active transportation. Full meeting agenda and materials here.


Screenshot from the Climate Action Plan

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

Categories
Bike News

A difficult post to write

Madison Bikes is a bike advocacy organization, and I was scheduled to write one of our weekly posts “about all things bike in Madison.” But on a day like today, I find it difficult to care and write much about this city meeting or that “open street.” (we’ll still have a weekly update tomorrow). I’m full of grief and anger. The following is a personal post and not a Madison Bikes position statement.

In Minneapolis, a city not far from Madison, police officers killed a black man, George Floyd. And George Floyd’s death is only one in an unbearably long list of Black people killed by police. And let’s not pretend this doesn’t happen in Madison. In 2015 a Madison Police Department officer killed Tony Robinson, an unarmed black teenager.

What does this have to do with bikes? Madison Bikes has a vision of a city where anyone can bike conveniently and comfortably to any place in the city. But who is that “anyone”? “Convenient and comfortable” for whom? Is a “protected bike lane” or an “open street” truly protected or open for people for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) — like Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed while out for a run? Is Vision Zero, the idea to eliminate all serious injuries and fatalities in the transportation system, worthwhile if it relies on police enforcement, which has been shown again and again to be racially biased, and too often ends up with a BIPOC person dead or arrested?

I grapple with these and similar questions a lot, in my personal activism, my role as a member of the city’s Transportation Commission, and of course in my role as president of Madison Bikes. And part of finding answers is to try to listen to and learn from those for whom these questions are less abstract than me. No matter how uncomfortable that may be. In that spirit, I will share some recent writings.

Our Streets Minneapolis (formerly the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition) issued this “Statement on George Floyd, white supremacy, and our work.”

Confronting Power and Privilege” by Tamika Butler (Director of Equity and Inclusion at Toole Design)

How do we make sure open streets are truly open for everyone” by Courtney Cobbs of Streetsblog Chicago

A Tale of Two Truths: Transportation and in the Time of COVID-19” by Ariel Ward

Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights” by Professor Gretchen Sorin (there’s also podcast episode about the book)

Categories
Bike News

Weekly Update: New Facebook groups; Urban Design Commission; Bookclub

Car-free Arboretum Drive - a safe place for kids to bike

This Week

No surprise – the week of Memorial Day is light in biking content, especially in the time of COVID. Get out on the trails, give distance, and enjoy the weather. If you’ve been able to enjoy one of the car-free streets like Arboretum Drive, send us a pic to share on our social media. (And don’t forget to tell your alder that you love that the city has opened streets to people!)

We’re sad to learn that DreamBikes West is closing. DreamBikes provides opportunities for teens to learn professional and bike skills, and its loss will be felt in that area.

We have two new Facebook groups for you to join: Haul it by Bike and Car-Free Madison. Join if you’re car-free-curious – as someone who sold my car a bit over a year ago, I can only recommend it.

The Urban Design Commission meets Wednesday, May 27 at 4:30 pm. The agenda, at first glance, is not bike-heavy; however, a number of the proposals on this list include massive increases in parking structures in downtown attached to offices, retail, and more. Consider speaking in favor of a more balanced approach to the transportation needs of who will use these future buildings, such as bike parking, bike lanes, safe crossings at intersections for cyclists and pedestrians, buses, and more.

Learn to Ride webinar, el 28 de mayo: Este seminario web está destinado a padres, madres, tutores, maestros u otros cuidadores que apoyan a los niños que aprenden a andar en bicicleta. También para adultos que deseen aprender a andar en bicicleta.

Coming up: Virtual Book Club: Join Us June 12 at 7 pm!

We moved the date of our virtual bookclub back a few weeks so more of you could join us. We are reading How Cycling Can Save the World by Peter Walker and will meet (virtually) on June 12, 7pm. Reach out to marybeth@madisonbikes.org for more info, or RSVP to the Facebook event.

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