Categories
Weekly Update

Transportation report summary and bike registration repeal

2020 Transportation Report Summary

The City of Madison Department of Transportation released their 2020 Annual Operation Report. The report includes transportation accomplishments from last year and some very exciting initiatives planned for 2021. A video discussion of this report in the Transportation Policy & Planning Board: Meeting of January 4, 2021 is also available.

2020 Transportation Trends Trends

  • Motor vehicle traffic dropped significantly early this year, but has recovered to 90% of pre-COVID levels.
  • Overall monthly bicycle volumes on the Southwest Path are consistent, however there is a notable shift in volume to the weekends.
  • The average city wide motor vehicle speed has decreased, but the number of extremely high (100mph) speed related crashes have increased transportation fatalities.
  • Metro transit recorded a 27% reduction in revenue hours last year, however the department remains on stable financial footing. The city is expecting transit ridership to recover in 2021 and views transit as a “key transportation mode”.
  • Parking revenue is down over 50% and which resulted in a $6 million dollar operating loss.
  • The city made deliberate efforts to minimize the impact of traffic and transit change to communities of color and low income households. For example, metro fares were suspended from March to August.

Traffic Engineering COVID-19 Response

  • Added signage to encourage and inform people of physical distancing guidelines.
  • Modify signal timing to eliminate the need to press walk buttons and reduce pedestrian wait times.
  • Implement 4 miles of temporary shared streets to expand low stress bike and pedestrian facilities.
  • Temporarily closed streets, created dedicated curbside pick-up spaces and converted parking to outdoor restaurant seating, to aid local businesses.

2020 Traffic Accomplishments

  • Madison adopted Vision Zero with the goal of eliminating all traffic related deaths. Adopting Vision Zero is a substantial achievement that encourages the city to use data driven methods to review and address hazardous roads and intersections. See figure below is a data driven example of how 2020 vision zero projects were distributed with a focus on equity.
  • Complete Green Streets initiative will consider how to use our precious roadway space more equitably, by considering all transportation modes in addition to motor vehicles.
  • Improved and expanded bike facilities. I have seen a lot of new green and white paint at city intersections and I hope you have has well. You can view the report to see the full list of improvements.

2021 Traffic Engineering Initiatives

  • Vision Zero. This was adopted in 2020 and you should expect to see this every year. Getting to 0 traffic deaths is a big deal and will take a lot of work.
  • School Crossing Guards
  • Shared Streets – this was one of the positive outcomes of the COVID pandemic and there maybe ways to make some changes semi-permanent.
  • Green Complete Streets. A long list of projects to make our city more equitable to all methods or transportation. Lots of exciting projects on this list.
  • Twenty is Plenty is an initiative to reduce residential street speed limits from 25mph to 20mph. Lower urban speed limits reduce pedestrian fatalities and don’t significantly impact average vehicle speed.
  • Change how traffic calming funds are allocated to make the process more equitable.
  • On-street parking ordinance review to consider changes to Madison’s parking permit structure and incentivize real estate developers to incorporate facilities for alternative transportation modes.
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Conclusion

I am impressed by the significant achievements made by the Mayor, Director of Transportation, city alders, traffic engineers and others to make transportation in our city more equitable for all Madison residents. In particular, I applaud city leadership in their clear prioritization of all modes of transportation, not just cars, and look forward to the numerous initiatives planned for 2021. I am proud to join the effort to shift of our great city to an environmentally sustainable, livable and equitable example of what is possible. You can help too, by attending public input meetings, voting for candidates who support all modes of transportation and encouraging others to bike.

Mandatory Bike Registration Repeal

The mandatory bike registration ordnance was unanimously repealed this week by the city council. This might sound bad, but is is a good thing because this outdated law was a barrier to biking and wasn’t effective at deterring bike theft. If you would like to register your bike there are voluntary national registration services available.

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.

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In The News

NBC15.com – How Madison keeps its bike paths clear through the winter

WMTV NBC15.com NEWS

By Colton MoleskyPublished: Jan. 7, 2021 at 8:31 AM CST

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Weekly Update

Welcome to 2021!

@cyclists_of_msn Photo: Harald Kliems

If you haven’t read Harald’s wrap up of 2020, it’s worth checking out. (what, you don’t read it as soon as it’s published every Monday?) It’s easy to forget how much we’ve done and where we’ve had wins. We couldn’t do it without you, the biking community. Your voices are what give Madison Bikes strength and influence.

And although everyone has said it already, “Whew! I sure hope 2021 is better than 2020.” The only good thing in biking news was that a lot of people who hadn’t been biking discovered the joys of two wheels, and our local bike shops did a bang-up business, often selling out of… everything.

Although you might have to watch out for a few icy patches, the snow and recent hoar frost have made Madison a true winter wonderland. It’s a great time to take your bike out and enjoy the quiet that a snow blanket provides.  

Aldermanic elections this spring

Looking ahead to the new year, we will soon be moving into yet another election, although nothing quite as dramatic as the November (and continuing) presidential rugby scrum. I don’t think my heart can take more than one of those every decade. 

But Tuesday (Jan 5) is the deadline for candidates for city council to file paperwork to run. If there are more than two candidates in a district, there will be a primary on February 16. Then the final election for aldermanic seats is April 6. All 20 seats are up for election, with many current alders not running again, so this is a good opportunity to ask the candidates (even if there is only one) where they stand on bicycling and other transportation issues. If they seem unsure why these issues are important or what the barriers are to biking in your district, you can be both an advocate and a source of information for them. 

Not sure what district you are in? You can look it up here

And maybe some on this list might think about running in the future. Alder elections are every two years, and many seats go uncontested. We have two board members with experience running and serving, so we can answer a lot of your questions.

Madison Bikes is planning on sending questions to all the candidates, and we’ll publish the answers. But having a personal conversation with your representative probably has much more influence than our handful of questions.

The week ahead

Monday, the Transportation Commission meets, but there isn’t anything significant on the agenda. They will be adopting the recommendations for the locally preferred alternative for the east-west BRT line. They will also be reviewing and approving the Traffic Calming Subcommittee summary report, but it looks like that work will continue, since they are also asking for an extension. 

Tuesday, on the Council agenda is a proposal to repeal the mandatory bicycle registration ordinance. Why? It costs more to run the program than it takes in each year; compliance with the current ordinance is low; the current program is not an effective way to return recovered bikes or use staff resources to improve bicycling across the city; and free national online bicycle registration services have made recovery of bicycles across jurisdictions much easier. 

Wednesday, the Board of Public Works will approve plans for phase 2 of the Demetral Bike Path. This is the last section needed to complete a link from the Yahara River Path to Commercial Ave. This is just a pro forma vote, but it’s nice to see an important link moving forward. Every little bit helps.

Madison Bikes is here for you, but you can be here for us as well

In the year ahead, there will be many important decisions made that will affect bicycling in the city.

Some are big: 

  • a complete reconstruction of a road, which provides opportunities to add or improve bicycle facilities; 
  • decisions about prioritizing one transportation mode over another in a corridor; 
  • how Bus Rapid Transit will integrate with bicycling or possibly displace current bike facilities on the route; 
  • removing parking in order to provide buffered or physically protected bike lanes. 

Other decisions are small: 

  • new or better paint to delineate bike facilities; 
  • a curb cut moved that allows easier transition to a path; 
  • repaving a bumpy path or filling a bunch of potholes; 
  • making sure a traffic signal detector picks up bicyclists using a road and not just motor vehicles. 

We will do our best to keep you informed of these decisions and how you can have an influence. But if you see an issue in your neighborhood, on your rides, or near where you work or shop, you can both let us know and talk to your city representatives or city staff. Sometimes all it takes is pointing out an issue to get it fixed, or at least get it on the radar to be fixed in the future.

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

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In Depth Weekly Update

2020: A Madison Bikes year like no other

Once again, it is time for a review of another year for Madison Bikes. And what a year it has been, for our organization but more so for all of you, all of us. It’s hard to summarize all the things that have gone on, but I will try anyway.

And before I forget: If you want to support Madison Bikes financially, donate here.

Also a thanks to my weekly update coauthors, Robbie, Ben, Marybeth, Kyle, and Jim. A lot of work goes into these emails, and we can only do it because we have an awesome team.

A good start

The year started out splendidly: To promote year-round riding for people of all ages, we invited the community to join us for a short bike ride through the Holiday Fantasy in Lights course at Olin Park. About 75 people, including many kids, heeded the call on the first Saturday of 2020.

A group of people biking through the Holiday Fantasy in Lights course at Olin Park
Holiday Fantasy in Lights Ride (Photo: Mark Renner)

While we had gotten lucky with the weather for the Holiday ride, things looked a little different on Winter Bike Day. In previous years we had tried hosting a full week of events to celebrate winter riding, but conditions were often tough in February in Madison. This year we focused all our energy on a single day — and of course it turned out to be one of the coldest ones of the year! Well, we were out out there anyway, serving coffee and pastries around a fire pit on the Cap City Trail.

A group of people standing around a bike trailer with three coffee urns on it. Frozen Lake Monona and a rising sun in the background.
Winter Bike Day 2020 on the Cap City Trail

With two events already under our belts, we were getting ready for the next one: An early spring ride to the murals of Madison. Then COVID happened and would shape the whole rest of the year.

Pandemic this, pandemic that

The early days of the pandemic saw us and our community jump into action. During the first lockdown, bike shops were considered essential businesses, but many of them had reduced or changed hours. Our board member Heather started a simple spreadsheet keeping track of Madison’s shops, and we, with assistance from the Bike Fed, eventually expanded this to an interactive map of the shops around the whole state. Nowadays we still maintain a map of all Dane County shops and outdoor repair stations.

Another thing early in the pandemic: Keeping your distance on the bike path. We didn’t have a great understanding of the risk of outdoor transmission yet, and public health orders mandated a 6-foot distance outdoors as well. A great opportunity for a fun PSA on the SW Path:

A person lying down in the middle of the bike path, with lines marking the edge of the path and the inner 6 feet of it. Text: "Be safe on the path. Always keep 6 feet away from people, including when passing people"

One of the few positive aspects of the pandemic: Like in other cities, Madison designated some of its streets as shared streets. In some cases, cars were kept out completely (Vilas Park Dr), in others “local traffic only” signs were used (e.g. N Sherman, Mifflin), and on Atwood Ave we got a temporary protected bike lane! And for those worried about crowded bike paths, we crunched the bike counter data to tell you when the paths were emptiest.

Temporary bike lane on Atwood Avenue A line of barrels separates the right travel lane from a two-way protected bike lane. Two people are biking in in the bike lane.

Madison ranked #2 biking city

In June, Madison received some good news: People for Bikes had ranked Madison the second most bike-friendly city in the US! We took a closer look at that ranking and concluded that biking in Madison is indeed pretty good compared to other places in the US. But it could be much better still. One important indicator: The number of people biking has stagnated for several years, as we explored in a blog post.

Racism, Black Lives Matter, Vision Zero

At the end of May, police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. Suddenly, racism and the Black Lives Matter were in everyone’s minds and out on the street. White people, myself included, faced hard questions about their own actions and the systems of privilege and racism that we are entwined with and that we perpetuate. It’s was a difficult topic then, and the fight against racism is here to stay.

One intersection of racism and our bike advocacy was around Vision Zero. Vision Zero is an approach to traffic safety that recognizes that humans will make errors and that all traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable. In other cities, part of Vision Zero has been increased traffic enforcement. But it is well known that this enforcement has disparate and sometimes deadly impacts on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). When Madison was about to adopt its own Vision Zero policy, Madison Bikes submitted a letter (you can download it below) to the Common Council. And the adopted Vision Zero policy does include a clause that acknowledges the harm from both traffic violence and police enforcement and asks for a plan to eliminate that harm.

Cyclists of Madison

One project I was really excited about this year is the Cyclists of Madison Twitter bot. Since the early days of Madison Bikes, we wanted to fight stereotypes about who does and doesn’t ride a bike in Madison. I greatly enjoy taking photos of people out riding, and the technical expertise of our volunteer Ben Sandee allowed us to create a Twitter bot that posts one photo a day.

Screenshot Cyclists of Madison

Wilson Street: In the works since 2017

One significant advocacy victory for Madison Bikes in 2020 was the adoption of the Wilson Street Corridor Plan. We had been working on this from the very beginning, back in 2017. And what a long way the project has come since then. Originally, the plan was to keep this important corridor into downtown more or less as it is, except for a widened sidewalk on parts of W Wilson. Through our (and your) tireless advocacy, the final plan looks very different: Ultimately, there will be low-stress bike facilities along the whole corridor, from the SW Path to the intersection at Machinery Row! Should it have taken this long to acknowledge that we need bike facilities for all ages and abilities? No. But Wilson St shows the power of advocacy and persistence.

Schematic of the W Wilson St Cycletrack

Madison Bike Week

Madison Bike Week as usual was not an option this year. We had only taken over the organization of Madison Bike Week last year and were all excited about our second round. First, we decided to delay a decision. Then we decided to delay Bike Week. And then we seriously considered canceling Bike Week completely for 2021. In the end, we went ahead and ran a Madison Bike Week as best as possible given the circumstances. I really, really hope that 2021 will get us back to an in-person Madison Bike Week.

A Metro Transit bus on State St, heading toward the Capitol. A Madison Bike Week ad is on the side of the bus
Bike Week ad on a Metro Bus

Looking forward

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what 2021 will bring. I’m excited to to welcome three new people to our board of directors! We’ll stay involved with the bus rapid transit project moving forward, and we’re going to do some education for the Common Council elections in April. We have also allocated some funding for a small grant program, supporting BIPOC-led organizations for transportation-related projects. Stay tuned. And thanks for your support.

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Weekly Update

No City Meetings, More Time for Winter Biking

Bike paths cleared near Atwood. Image Credit: Angela Richardson

This Week

Unsurprisingly, it’s a light week for city meetings, and there are no meetings on the calendar with bike-related items.

A few non-meeting things to keep in mind:

  • Vilas Park Drive is reopened to car traffic despite its Draft Master Plan recommending its closure to cars and a petition that collected hundreds of signatures.
  • Be the eyes of the city and report issues with snow clearing on streets or paths; additionally, report snow or ice covered sidewalks.
  • Since we have a few weeks light on meetings, start thinking about- and submitting – those ideas for Pedestrian Bicycle Improvements. This is a great program; you can see the 2020 funded project list here. You can email Renee Callaway with 2021 projects ideas.

Did You See?

West siders, rejoice! Have you used the new Gammon Underpass yet? It’s a nice present in time for the holidays, and we hope to see the city continue to close gaps in the biking network.

Coming Soon: More Madison Bikes Winter TV

As is apparent from a recent post in our Facebook community, how to ride safely and comfortably throughout the Wisconsin winter is one of the most popular questions we hear! We released our first video last month about riding in fall (check it out below). With a first major snow and temperatures expected below 20 this week, we’ll be releasing the next video soon. Thank you to our community for spreading the word: “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

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.

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Weekly Update

Weekly Update: Bike-Related Meetings Galore

Image Credit: Harald Kliems

Last Week

On Monday, the Transportation Policy and Planning Board unanimously passed a resolution to end the City of Madison’s Bicycle Registration Program. The city is instead planning on encouraging registration through a national program that they will coordinate with. This change will not be official until passed by the Common Council.

On Wednesday, the Board of Parks Commissioners voted to reopen Vilas Park Drive to through car traffic. This is despite a petition with over 500 signatures and testimony that the Drive’s closure has been a net positive. The Board expressed openness to reconsidering interim Drive closure in April, noting that the Draft Master Plan recommends the Drive remain closed to through car traffic. This decision dealt a massive blow to people wanting Vilas Park Drive to continue being safe and comfortable to non-motorists using the park. Alder Tag Evers’ blog post from December 12 goes into more detail.

This Week

Wednesday

On Wednesday there are two bike-related meetings woth mentioning. The first is a regular meeting of the Board of Public Works. The second is a Public Involvement Meeting about Phase 2 of the Demetral Park Path.

Board of Public Works

The Board of Public Works will be meeting at 4:30 PM. There are two bike-related items worth mentioning.

First up on the Agenda is approving plans for the Garver Path between the Capital City Trail and Milwaukee St. This path is part of a larger planned network to connect the near east side to the north east side of Madison.

The next bike-related item is a report on the Bassett St Protected Bike Lanes. The report recommends continuing the parking protected bike lanes and extending it as planned in the Bassett St Corridor Plan.

Demetral Park Path – Phase 2

Also Wednesday, at 6:00 PM, there’s a Public Information Meeting about the Demetral Park Path Phase 2. Phase 2 completes an off-street connection between the path along Johnson St and the Demetral Park Path. Previously the City improved the Demetral Park Path and connected it to Commercial Ave in 2018. Property acquisition issues led to some delays, but the city is moving forward with this key connection.

Thursday

Moving on to Thursday, there are two bike-related meetings happening at around the same time. The first at 6:00 PM is a BRT-related meeting. The second at 6:30 PM is related to the reconstruction of E Dean Ave on Madison’s east side.

BRT Update

The BRT Update meeting is primarily going to focus on Whitney Way and Sheboygan Ave. Whitney Way is notable because it currently lacks high quality all-ages and abilities bicycle infrastructure. Center running the BRT buses would improve bicycle infrastructure on Whitney Way. This would require sacrificing on-street parking, which was opposed to by many participants at the last meeting. If you are available please consider attending this meeting to show support for better bicycle infrastructure. Alder Arvina Martin has a blog post going into more detail.

E Dean Ave Reconstruction Meeting

Finally the meeting on E Dean Ave. Anyone with experience biking on the east side of Madison, especially from Monona, knows that E Dean Ave is in rough shape. The city is currently proposing three options.

Advisory Bike Lanes with 2 bikes and 1 car. Currently proposed with Option 1.

Option 1 is the narrowest option, and would best promote traffic calming. Option 1 proposes Madison’s first ever advisory bike lanes. What is an advisory bike lane? A video by the City of Ottowa best sums them up. Bicyclists have right-of-way in the cycling lanes, but cars may use them to pass oncoming car traffic as long as no bicyclists are present.

Options 2 and 3 propose more traditional bicycle infrastructure solutions. Option 2 would have no street markings and an 8 foot sidewalk on the south side of the street. Option 3 would feature a wider street with marked bike lanes for part of the street and pull out parking.

In summary, there are four bike-related public meetings this week. The best way to get comfortable, all-ages and abilities cycling infrastructure is for the cycling community to stay engaged with the public process. If any of the above meetings strike your interest, I encourage you to attend.

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.

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Weekly Update

Cannonball Detours, Several Big Meetings, Last Call for BCycle Season

Santas on the Bike Path during the Santa Cycle Rampage (credit: Cyclists of Madison)

It’s a busy week for meetings! With plenty of free content, who needs Netflix? You’ve got a real life Parks and Rec episode at your disposal.

Join us in congratulating Pepe Barros, who was awarded a Live Forward Award from Sustain Dane for his work with Down With Bikes, a free mobile bike repair non-profit! Pepe is the city’s Pedestrian Bicycle Outreach Specialist and a Madison Bikes board alumnus.

This Week

Starting today, a.k.a. Monday, a.k.a. December 7, the Cannonball Path and Military Ridge Path are closed between McKee Rd and Seminole Hwy. Sadly, this includes what we’ve crowned the best roundabout around, both southwest- and east-bound, but take the opportunity to look around at the detours that abound:

Cannonball Path and Military Ridge Path Detour (credit: City of Madison)

Hey, maybe explore the under-utilized Sprocket Drive option that passes by the Saris headquarters and give ’em a friendly wave!

While a closure of this length is never ideal, it’s evident that a lot of careful planning has gone into developing the alternatives for this popular section of path. Several major projects were completed in advance to help provide convenient and comfortable detour options:

  • New Badger State Trail bridge over McKee Rd
  • New trail segment linking Badger State Trail and Capital City Trail along Seminole Hwy
  • Rebuilt Capital City Trail between roundabout and Seminole Hwy
  • Widened sidewalk+multi-use trail along McKee Rd, connecting Badger State Trail and Military Ridge Trail

Also on Monday, the Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) will be considering the elimination of Madison’s mandatory bicycle registration program. It’s worth noting that this change is sponsored by Alder Grant Foster, who’s also on the Madison Bikes board. Check out the entire meeting agenda or just watch online at 5pm.

At this same TPPB meeting on Monday, an amendment to the plan for the development of the Triangle Monona Bay Neighborhood (bounded by S. Park St, W. Washington and Regent St.) will be discussed that changes a proposed new through-street for all traffic to just bikes + peds + emergency vehicles. If you’re interested, Tag Evers, the district’s alder, wrote an informative blog post discussing it.

On Wednesday, the Board of Park Commissioners will meet to discuss a variety of interesting items. Aside from the whether or not Madison Log Rolling LLC will continue to have permission to conduct their log rolling activities in Lake Wingra, the big issue is the Vilas Park Drive Winter Operational Plan: Will it be opened up to cars again after a successful summer closure? Register for the virtual meeting here and check out a related petition link.

Last Week

Last Thursday, there was a public meeting to discuss the West Side Roadway Refinements for the Bus Rapid Transit project. We covered this in detail in last week’s update and now you can watch the action-packed replay yourself (passcode: #xG*J8Gi). Gleaned from the meeting: The Mineral Point Road multi-use trail is slated to be on the North side of the road (CUNA, Garner Park, Memorial HS). One question we had was how wide would this new section of path be? The answer from Tom Lynch, the City’s Director of Transportation, was (paraphrasing): 10 ft where possible, as narrow as 8ft in certain areas where the right of way is restricted.

Next Week

We’re just a week away from the end of the BCycle bike share season on December 15. The good news is they will probably be around for at least another ten years because the city and BCycle have signed a new long-term operating agreement. After more than doubling in 2019 due to the introduction of e-bikes system-wide, ridership was pretty flat this year due to the pandemic. If you used the service, you might grace them with your end-of-season thoughts in their 2020 Rider Survey.

On December 16 at 6pm, there will be a virtual public meeting discussing phase 2 of the Demetral Park Path (registration required). “Phase 2 completes the off-street, shared-use path (bicycle & pedestrian) connection from the Yahara River Parkway Path to Commercial Ave, linking the surrounding Eastside neighborhood to downtown and the future Public Market.” It’s a small section of path, but it should make a big difference for the people in that neighborhood.

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.

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Weekly Update

West Side BRT

The warm weather this weekend was a pleasant surprise. Hopefully you have an opportunity to get out side and take advantage of it. This mild weather makes for a great smooth transition to fall riding gear.

This Week

West Side BRT Refinements

Thursday, December 3 at 6:00 p.m. Register Here

This is community input meeting for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan impacting the west side. The city is seeking feedback on changes to accommodate center running bus lanes on Mineral Point Road and Whitney Way. The proposed center running bus lane plan for Whitney Way is a win-win for bikes and BRT. However, the recommended changes to Mineral Point Road are a compromise between BRT operations and bike facilities (see below for more details).

Mineral Point Road

The following graphic shows the proposed Mineral Point Road cross section with center running BRT lanes. The original proposal maintained the current shared bus/bike lane with separate BRT facilities on each side of the road. The proposed change removes the shared bus/bike lane and replaces it with a widened sidewalk on one side. The proposed changes can be summarized as good for BRT and so-so for bikes. I acknowledge there aren’t a whole lot of options available to accommodate two car travel lanes and bike facilities without 1) widening the road (which is expensive) or 2) significantly expanding the sidewalk/path (which the city can’t do). However, I am concerned a shared sidewalk on one side is not a good option for pedestrians or cyclists. This would be a good meeting to attend if you use the bike facilities on Mineral Point Road and could provide feedback to make this work for both BRT and bikes (like Whitney Way).

Mineral Point Road cross section with center running bus lanes

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.

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Weekly Update

Happy Bikesgiving

With the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been enjoying, I hope everyone has gotten a chance to take a joyful ride through the city or surrounding farms. Maybe this is a little gift for the horrible year we’ve had to endure. We all know that riding all winter is not only possible, but can even be fun. And we are here to help you with that via more upcoming Winter Bike videos. But isn’t it nice to not need fenders, extra sweaters, and big gloves in late November?

The coming week

Monday, Madison Bikes will host their monthly community meeting at 6:00 pm. This month’s topic is “BRT and Bikes and Madison, Oh My.” As the city continues to plan for Bus Rapid Transit, there are opportunities to better integrate bicycling and transit use. For instance, bikes will be able to roll onto the BRT vehicles, so you won’t have to use an outside rack.

But there could be conflicts as well. The city is trying to balance speed for the BRT via exclusive lanes, parking, and bike facilities. The discussions have been good, and keeping bike facilities on the major BRT corridors looks more likely than a year ago. But we should be aware of these issues. So join us to hear how to get involved.

Other things on the horizon

With Thanksgiving later this week, the city calendar is quite empty. But there are some pending issues we should keep an eye on as well as some decisions that will affect bicycling.

Gorham Street resurfacing is scheduled for spring 2021. At present, there are bike lanes only from Brearly westward. However, there are no bike lanes from Baldwin to Brearly. There was a neighborhood meeting last week, and you can view the slides from the meeting here. The option presented to the Transportation Commission after the neighborhood meeting has continuous bikes lanes from Baldwin the way to University Ave. But this will require removing some parking, so there will likely be opposition from surrounding residences.

The Bassett Street parking-protected bike lane has been in place for a year now. At the Transportation Commission, the consensus was that it has been a success, so it will become permanent. Eventually it will be extended past W Washington. If you are interested in looking at the presentation from the meeting, you can find it here.

The city survey on shared streets ends on December 1, so if you haven’t filled it out, you still have time to voice your opinion. The city experimented with limiting access on some streets to only one-way, local traffic, or only non-motoritzed users during COVID. Examples include E Mifflin, West Shore Dr, South Shore Dr, and Sherman Ave. Atwood next to Olbrich Park also had a lane rearrangement to try a physically-separated bike lane. If you liked these trials and want to see more, or see them become permanent, speak up!

One of the roads that was closed to motor vehicle traffic during the summer was Vilas Park Drive through Vilas Park. The city plans to reopen the road to drivers as winter approaches, but the petition to keep it closed already has over 370 signatures. If you want to add your name, here’s the link.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, joyful, safe, and bike-tastic Thanksgiving. In these tough times, I’m thankful that Madison is such a great place to get outside by bike, because that’s kept me sane this year.

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

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Weekly Update

A busy week: BRT, VMT, Interceptor, Cranksgiving

While the bike paths have gotten noticeably emptier after the beautiful weather we had earlier, the calendar for next week looks surprisingly busy! Let me walk through everything that’s going on.

The record temperatures provided a great opportunity to get more @cyclists_of_msn photos

Speaking of empty paths: We at Madison Bikes firmly believe that biking can be a year-round activity. In past years, we have hosted the Winter Bike Fashion Show, an event where Madisonians who already ride in the cold show off their approach to all-year riding and answer the questions of the winter-bike-curious. An in-person event is not an option this year, and so we’re creating a series of short videos about fall, winter, and spring riding. We published the first episode, on fall riding, last week. Watch it here. And a big thank you to Eleanor Conrad and Eric Grycan who produced much of the video. More episodes still to come.

On Monday night, you have to choose between three options:

The Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) is having its regular meeting. Some items on their agenda:

  • Vehicle Miles Traveled update: Way back in 2009, then-Alder Satya Rhodes-Conway introduced a resolution to the Common Council that would have set a goal of reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 25% by 2020. During the legislative process, the resolution got watered down significantly, and the final version no longer contained that 25% reduction goal. All that remained was a mandate to produce annual reports, “describing trends in traffic and mass transit volumes, including, to the extent possible, aggregate vehicle-miles traveled (VMT).” It seems like even this weak goal of annual reports was abandoned after a few years, but now the TPPB is receiving an update. Did we reach a 25% reduction? Well, we don’t know sure, but looking at things like traffic counts, it looks like VMT have hardly shrunk at all. Driving is alive and well.
  • On-street parking goals: There’s an on-going effort to change the residential parking permit program, as part of a larger rethinking about we use the public right of way. In certain parts of the city, the RP program provides local residents the option to store their car on the street, whereas “commuters” don’t have that option. The permits costs a mere $3.50 per month — less than what it costs the City in administrative costs…
  • Bus Rapid Transit: There will be an update on the routing of the initial BRT line, mostly around the question of “center-running” bus lanes on parts of the corridor. One thing important for people on bikes: Whereas side-running bus lanes allow for the option to have a shared bus/bike lane, center-running takes away that option, and unless we reduce the space for motor vehicles, it is challenging to create safe and comfortable bike infrastructure.
Proposed BRT configuration for E Washington Ave: Buses in the middle, bike/car parking on the right, except during rush hour

Speaking of BRT: There is a public input meeting specifically about the plans for East Washington Ave on Monday night as well, starting at 6 pm. The currently favored alternative would have buses running in the center, and the outside lanes, which currently are parking/bike lanes, would be turned into general travel lanes during rush between Blount and Milwaukee. In other words, when traffic volumes are highest, there would be no bike accommodations whatsoever. Or as the report says, “During peak hours, cyclists would need to travel within the general purpose travel lane, or use a parallel route such as the Capital City trail or the Mifflin Street bike boulevard.” Sign up for the meeting here.

Finally, Monday is also the day for the Vilas Park Master Plan public input meeting. You can find all the details in the blog post that we published yesterday. Sign up here for the meeting here. Somewhat related to the meeting, a reminder that you can sign a petition to keep cars off Vilas Park Drive (this is not part of the master plan).

On Wednesday, the Transportation Commission is meeting. Some bike-relevant things on the agenda:

  • Update on the Parking Protected Bike Lane Project on Bassett Street. If you have feedback on Madison’s only(?) parking-protected bike lane, email TransportationCommission@cityofmadison.com or sign up to speak at the meeting. This project was a temporary arrangement to test how it would work, and it’ll be good to get feedback from those who have actually used it.
  • Gorham Street resurfacing: There will be an update on this project. Gorham Street was identified as a missing link in Madison’s bike network. Several blocks don’t have any bike infrastructure at all, and the rest of it has a narrow combined parking/bike lane. The Transportation Commission asked staff to look into options for improving this, and we’ll see what they were able to come up with.

On Wednesday is an informational meeting about the “Nine Springs Valley Interceptor.” This is a construction project by the Sewerage District — which will unfortunately close down parts of the Military Ridge and Cannonball paths at the “Velo Underround” for the better part of a year. The closure starts on December 7 and you can find detour maps here.

On Thursday at 7pm, Madison Bikes is co-hosting a meet and greet with the General Manager of Metro Transit, Justin Stuehrenberg. Justin started his job this year, amidst the pandemic, and the Madison Area Bus Advocates invited him to a meet and greet that will allow you to ask questions. Find more information and a registration link here.

On Saturday it’s time for Cranksgiving. This food-drive-meet-alley-cat-race is organized by the Trek Stores this year. I haven’t seen anything about a possible cancellation, but given the current public health situation, please check in with the organizers to see if anything has changed. Sign up here.

Finally, a reminder to take the Shared Streets Survey that the City has put together. Except for the Vilas Park Drive, the Shares Streets program has been ended for the winter, and the survey is a great way to provide feedback on what the program should look like next year.

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