Categories
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.

Categories
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.

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Action Alert E-Mail In Depth

Guest Post: An Update on the Vilas Park Master Plan

This is a guest post by Jim Lorman. Jim is Professor Emeritus at Edgewood College, and he represents the Greenbush Neighborhood Association on the Vilas Park Master Plan Resident Resource Group. We asked Jim to provide an update on the Vilas Park Master plan ahead of the public input on meeting on Nov 16 (see end of the post for details). Jim also started a petition to continue keeping Vilas Park Drive as a shared street closed to motor vehicles.

Two adults and two children riding bicycles and one female teenage riding a skateboard on Vilas Park Drive

There is a lot for bicycle advocates to like about the final draft of the Vilas Park Master Plan, including a major reconstruction of Vilas Park Drive into a largely multi-use path, and an improved bike and pedestrian entrance on Drake Street. On the down side for motorless motion advocates, expanded parking lots are proposed near the entrance to the zoo and near Vilas Beach.

Community input to the plan has been underway since the first public meeting in June of 2019, and is expected to wrap up with approval of a final plan by the Board of Park Commissioners early next year. There are many issues at play in the draft plan – what I’ve selected here are what I believe to be of most interest to the Madison Bikes community.

The final draft design proposes to replace the main vehicle entrance at Drake and Randall with a separate pedestrian and bicycle gateway (“G” in graphic above, at a mysteriously-proposed new possible location of Annie Stewart Fountain). Car access would be relocated to a new entrance/exit on Drake opposite Campbell (lefthand “G”).

The parking lots in this area (“P”) would be greatly expanded. This has been a source of continuing contention among those who greatly value the green space that would be lost along South Randall, particularly nearby homeowners. The current drive and diagonal parking that exits to the Drake/Grant intersection (upper left corner above) to the west would be converted to a path with more adjacent green space.

For those of us who feel that motor vehicles have become overly dominant in our transportation planning and public spaces, perhaps the most positive aspect of the draft master plan is the proposal to reconstruct much of Vilas Park Drive into a multi-use path (“N” in the graphic below). This design option, which has received overwhelming community support, will restrict motor traffic from using a large segment of the shoreline, allowing motor vehicle access to the beach and the main park shelter only from the east.

The strong support for this design can be seen as one of the few good things to come out of the horrific Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to the motor vehicle restriction associated with the City’s Shared Streets program, 96% of all motor vehicle traffic along Vilas Park Drive was commuter and other pass-through traffic, amounting to more than 200 cars per hour during the afternoon commute. Over half of those vehicles were recorded as exceeding the speed limit of 25 mph, much too fast for a lane shared by walkers, runners, and bikers traveling in two directions.

Five young women riding their bikes on Vilas Park Drive. One of them is pulling a trailer.

The exclusion of pass-through motor vehicles resulted in a major transformation of this Vilas Park lakeshore area to a vibrant multi-generational public space for people with many interests and all abilities. There has been a dramatic increase in its use by pedestrians, bicyclists, and other park users, including small children riding scooters and bikes with training wheels; adults with walkers and canes; people with wheelchairs; and people hammocking, picnicking, and fishing along the Lake Wingra shoreline.

Although the final draft of the Vilas Park Master Plan proposes to permanently restrict motor vehicles from driving through the entirety of Vilas Park Drive, it will be at least 2024 until that design is implemented. Meanwhile, however, the Shared Streets program has been terminated for the year; and the City is considering opening up Vilas Park Drive to commuter and other through traffic this winter. The Board of Parks Commissioners will likely be taking this issue up at its December meeting, after it was referred to them by the Transportation Commission on Oct 28.

In response to this, many of us are advocating for keeping the current restriction on drive-through traffic until the proposed reconstruction can occur. Separate from the public input associated with the Master Plan process itself, we are distributing a petition asking the Parks Department to keep the current motor vehicle restriction on pass-through traffic on Vilas Park Drive during the upcoming winter months and until the Master Plan is eventually implemented.

Key points in support for this are:

  • The pre-pandemic motor vehicle situation along Vilas Park Drive was untenable, endangering the safety of our community and deterring the use of the drive and adjacent park shoreline by park users. A decision to return to that situation now, after the demonstrated success of the current Shared Streets configuration, would be dangerous and irresponsible.
  • It is important to have continuity in the restriction on cut-through motor vehicle traffic. As a result of the current barriers, motor vehicle commuters have found alternative routes; non-motorized park users are able to fully utilize the park and Lake Wingra shoreline area in myriad ways that are comfortable and more enjoyable than ever before.
  • While park usage (including bicycle and pedestrian traffic) does drop significantly in winter weather, many people continue to use the area in a variety of ways, especially on nicer winter days and in early spring. Younger children, older people, and people with disabilities will be the first to stop using the drive and adjacent shoreline if commuter and other pass-through motor vehicles are allowed again.
  • Motor access to the shoreline and the ice skating shelter can occur without allowing pass-through motor vehicle traffic along Vilas Park Drive. There are alternatives and accommodation options available that could be implemented easily and without great expense. For example, relocating the eastern barrier further west would allow more convenient access to the shelter (to the lot by the boat landing or even to the shelter lot itself).
  • While there may be minor challenges in accommodating all of this, these are not serious obstacles that justify allowing cut-through motor vehicles into the park.

With regard to the larger process for finalizing the Master Plan, the Vilas Park Master Plan website, in addition to link to the final draft plan, has useful links to an explanation of the decisions that were made, and answers to questions from an October 15 meeting of the Resident Resource Group and Community Partners Advisory Committee Meeting.

The Parks Division and its consultants will hold a community input meeting via Zoom at 6:00-7:30 pm on Monday, November 16.  Here is the agenda for the meeting, and you can register here. (Pre-registration is required.

Categories
Weekly Update

City Budget This Week, Shared Streets Survey

As cases continue to climb in Wisconsin and beyond, be sure to wear a mask and reduce unnecessary trips.

What a wild week: yes, there was an election, but there was also 70 degree weather in November. A bit concerning, but I hope every Wisconsinite was able to get out on bike before the temperature dips down again.

Last Week

Madison’s Shared Streets program has ended for the winter. Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, the city restricted traffic on a number of streets Atwood Avenue, Mifflin Street, and Vilas Park Drive. This program was similar to many programs in other cities. On a personal note, I use the Mifflin Bike Boulevard nearly daily; amazingly, the simple ‘Road Closed’ barrier made such a substantial difference in not only my physical safety but in my mental health. We encourage every Madison Bikes community members to reply to the city’s survey (in English and in Spanish) and to consider what it means to riders – and not-yet riders – to have streets with slow-moving, safer traffic patterns.

This Week

Madison city budget discussions start this week, with a meeting held on Tuesday that includes public testimony, and meetings on Wednesday and Thursday without public comment. As we discussed at a previous Community Meeting, the Madison budget is relatively good for biking investment. However, we also discussed how city officials are most often used to hearing from members of the public who disagree with proposals. We encourage reaching out to your alder to support budget items such as Vision Zero and bike infrastructure – in a tough budget year, this helps to reduce the chances of these items being removed throughout the process.

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Weekly Update

Weekly Update: Shared Streets Ending, FB4K Donation Opportunity

Traffic alert: Babcock Drive between University Ave and Lot 40 will be closed to motor vehicle and bicycle traffic on Wednesday 11/4 from 9 AM to 3 PM. The sidewalk will remain open.

Bicyclists using the restricted Vilas Park Drive. Spatial distancing was facilitated on Vilas Park Drive by restricting motor vehicle use. At Wednesday’s TC meeting, there was strong support for keeping Vilas Park Drive restricted. Photo credit: Harald Kliems

Last Week

Last Wednesday’s Transportation Commission featured a number of important topics relating to comfortable and safe bicycling in Madison.

First up was the discussion about Madison’s shared streets program. In order to facilitate comfortable spatial distancing during the pandemic, the city enacted a number of restrictions on several streets. Atwood Avenue, Mifflin Street, and Vilas Park Drive were some of the restricted streets. The city is planning on removing these restrictions for the winter, and will evaluate their effectiveness. Public comments strongly supported keeping the traffic restrictions on Vilas Park Drive throughout the winter.

During the discussion, Alder Grant Foster made a good suggestion to look at mid-term solutions to keep some of the shared streets restrictions that are planned in future projects. A mid-term solution is more permanent than barricades and traffic cones, but less permanent than a complete reconstruct. For example, a mid-term solution could include concrete planters.

Click here for more information on the shared streets item.

Also discussed at the meeting were the 2021 Public Works Transportation Projects. Bikeways in the 2021 projects include new bike lanes on Odana Rd, a path connection to Demetral Park from Johnson Street, and the Russell Street bike path crossing. Click here for more information.

Watch the meeting here on the City’s YouTube page, and review the Agenda here. The Shared Streets item (#7) was moved to the beginning of the meeting due to the large number of registrants.

This Week

Monday, the TPPB is meeting at 5:00 PM in a virtual meeting. Topics of discussion include possible branding for Bus Rapid Transit and the vision zero high injury network. For full details, here’s the Agenda.

Tuesday is election day. If you haven’t already voted absentee, make sure to have your voice heard by voting at your local polling place. Although the presidential election is dominating headlines, there are down-ballot races for the House of Representatives, State Senate, and State Assembly. These races are important because they can affect local transportation policies.

Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board is meeting virtually at 5:00 PM. Not much biking related, but here’s the agenda.

Saturday, November 7th, Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison is providing another chance to donate bikes! From 12pm-3pm, nine bike donation stations will be setup throughout the area where you can drop off your gently used bike donations.

The list of donation stations is below.

While the most important donation you can make is a gently used bike, the next best donation you can make is a financial donation! This allows FB4K to purchase all of the supplies to repair bikes and to hire mechanics and staff to get the work done. It costs us about $100 to give a bike away.

MAKE A FINANCIAL DONATION HERE

• Country Financial-Chad Ford – 1777 W. Main Street, Sun Prairie
• Delta Beer Lab – 167 E. Badger Road, Madison
• First Weber Realtors-West Towne – 429 Gammon Place, Madison
• Forward Madison at Breese Stevens Field – 917 E Mifflin Street, Madison
• JLA Architects – 800 W. Broadway, Monona
• The Thirsty Goat – 3040 Cahill Main, Fitchburg
• Monona Fire Department – 1005 Nichols Road, Monona
• Verona Fire Department – 101 Lincoln Street, Verona
• Oregon Police Department – 383 Park Street, Oregon

Categories
Weekly Update

MadBAT, Parking and Some Long-term Planning

Photo: Cyclists of Madison

This week

On Tuesday at 5:30pm, attend a virtual meeting discussing the plans for the Park St/Cedar St/Wingra/Fish Hatchery project. There are several options detailed for Fish Hatchery and Cedar St with varying bicycling facilities, so check out the plans and register for the meeting here.

On Wednesday from 6:00-7:30pm, attend the third in a series of virtual meetings to learn more about the Madison Bicycle Adventure Trail (MadBAT) Network.

MadBAT is a natural surface trail, optimized for biking yet allows for walking and running. It is a citywide network of nodes and arms connecting parks and greenways to neighborhoods. The network would be implemented much like the existing paved bicycle facilities Madison enjoys, over the course of years and in many different phases.

On Thursday at 5:00pm listen in on a special meeting of the Madison Plan Commission where an overview of two different options for residential parking will be presented. Learn about the costs and benefits of the RP3 (“Time-limited parking except for residents with permit”) and RPO (“Resident parking only”) plan options. The meeting will be livestreamed.

Also on Thursday from 6:00-8:00pm, participate in an online workshop discussing the future of Law Park including the John Nolen Drive bike path.

Looking Forward

On November 3, Election Day, BCycle will offer free day passes all day. Just enter promo code 110320 at any kiosk or online to access free 60-minute trips.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is organizing a fall donation drive on November 7! From 12-3pm at nine locations around the city you can donate your gently-used bicycles, or this is a great time to offer some direct financial support. Also, check out a great article in the WSJ profiling Kristie Goforth, the new Executive Director of FB4K.

On November 16, a community input meeting will be held to present the new Draft Vilas Park Master Plan. The new draft includes recommendations for “closure and removal of Vilas Park Drive along the peninsula (Lagoon and Lake Wingra), between the existing bridge and the southern zoo entrance” (emphasis ours) to be replaced with a multi-use path. For a discussion of all the major recommendations and the rationale behind them, there is a detailed decision matrix that will answer a lot of your questions. 

Draft Vilas Park Master Plan (October 2020)

Did You Miss It?

Last week there was an informative kickoff meeting for the next phase of the Madison Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and you can watch a recording of it here. Think you know everything you need to know about our BRT? It’s evolved a lot over the past year so it might be worth catching up! A few bicycling-related highlights:

  • Will the buses have bike racks on the front or will we be able to roll bikes right onto the bus? That’s not yet been decided, so there’s still time to comment.
  • The bike lane plan for East Washington and Whitney Way is still being ironed out, but all of the likely solutions proposed seem to be better than what we have now. The street layout options for these segments are discussed in detail at the meeting.
  • When possible, center-running is being proposed which keeps buses further away from bicycle lanes and offers a number of other benefits to riders.
Potential BRT routing (October 2020)

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
Weekly Update

2021 City Budget, TPPB, and Fall Riding Gear

This weekend offered another great opportunity to get out and enjoy the wonderful fall colors! While late morning and afternoon temperatures are generally comfortable, I’ve noticed the temperature has started to dip down to freezing some nights. This has caused some cold fingers and ears for unprepared morning cyclists (like myself). Time to dig out the fall ridding gear from the back of the closet! On that note, I decided to describe the causal fall weather riding gear I use for commuting and short trips to the store.

Casual Fall Weather Riding Gear

The key to riding comfortably in cooler weather is to choose clothing that shields your skin from the wind without retaining heat and moisture. Your body will probably generate enough (sometimes too much!) heat to keep your fingers and ears warm if they aren’t exposed.

Light gloves for casual fall riding. Soft shell glove (right) is more wind resistant than the knit glove (left).

Gloves are the first fall weather item I don when temperatures start to drop below 50F. Bike specific gloves can be purchased, however I find many common “soft shell” gloves (right) work fine.

Standard beanie hat (left), beanie without rolled over edge (center) and bike beanie with ear flaps (right).

A head covering is the second fall weather item I add to keep my ears warm. I recommend thin hats for two reasons; 1) my head gets hot and 2) a thick hat can compromise helmet effectiveness during a crash. One option is a standard beanie hat with a rolled edge (left), however this hat type can sometimes push down over my eyes while riding (Bad!). I recommend a tight fitting hat (center) without a rolled over edge that will stay put under a helmet. Some hats come with extra ear flaps (right) which cover the ears more effectively.

This Week

Monday

The Madison Transportation Policy and Planning Board is meeting Monday at 5pm virtually. You can watch the meeting live or review the archived recording. The agenda includes a few items which maybe of interest:

Tuesday

Madison 2021 City Budget Discussion with the Common Council starting at 6:30. You can watch the meeting live, but you must register in advance if you would like to comment. Watch for a separate follow up post from Madison Bikes on this topic.

Voting

Don’t forget to VOTE! In-person absentee voting starts across the city on October 20. Make a plan to vote, because it’s important. Have questions or need information? Start 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
Weekly Update

Off-road trails, city budget, and… Vote

Hope everyone had a chance to get out on these amazing, last, warm days of fall. Soon we will be talking about how to keep warm as the temperatures drop, and then it will be winter biking season. We have plans for those conversations as well, but for the moment, let’s take one more ride in the sun and short sleeves!

The past week

On Monday we had a great open house for folks interested in learning more about both our current board members and what being on the board means. Even if you couldn’t make the open house, you can still apply to be on the board by filling out the application. Deadline is this Friday, October 16. 

The week ahead

Monday

At 6:00 pm, we will host a discussion of the city budget. The budget will be passed in November, but decisions and meetings are happening now. Hear what we are likely to see, and how you can influence what’s in there. Always wondered how the Mayor and Council decide where your tax dollars go? This is your chance to hear a short presentation and then ask questions and talk about what it means to the biking environment. 

Tuesday and Thursday

Public meetings about the proposed Madison Bike Adventure Trail (MadBAT) will happen both nights 6:00-7:30 pm. (There will be a third meeting on Oct 28 as well.) The meetings will present the same information, but this is your chance to hear more about what the plan means and provide comment. Registration is required and can be found on the community engagement page

If you aren’t sure what MadBAT is about, here’s a recent article that lays it out. The idea is to connect parks and neighborhoods with off-road trails and add pump tracks, mountain bike facilities, and other activities so everyone — including kids — can bike to a fun off-road activity.  

Wednesday

Transportation Committee meeting at 5:00 pm. As with all city meetings, you can watch the meeting online and/or comment by clicking the link.

On the agenda is a renewal of the BCycle contract with the city for ten years. 

Also on the agenda are approving plans for the following roads sections 

  • E Johnson from North St to Third
  • E Gorham from Baldwin to Blair
  • Odana from Whitney Way to Gammon. This last converts Odana Rd from a four-lane road to two through lanes, a center left-turn lane, and adds bike lanes. This brings the road back to what is had in the 1980s before a conversion to four lanes was done without public input in the middle of the night. (Yes, really.) Bike lanes on Odana Rd is a big deal and will provie access to many destinations on the corridor. 

And one more thing: VOTE! You can register on-line until October 14; in-person absentee voting starts across the city on October 20, and it’s not too late to request an absentee ballot. Make a plan to vote, because it’s important. Have questions or need information? Start 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
Weekly Update

Face Masks, Funding, Walk-Tober

Madison Bikes face masks and DIY kits now available

A man wearing a green face mask with the Madison Bikes logo on it

You can’t have too many face masks, can you? We printed custom Madison Bikes fabric and are now offering hand-sewn (Thanks, Heather and Nicole!) masks and DIY mask kits. You can order yours here and show your support for Madison Bikes while keep yourself and your community safe and healthy. Supplies of the finished masks are limited.

Madison Bikes Board Open House

There’s still time to apply to be on the Madison Bikes board of directors. If you’re interested but want to learn more, drop by our virtual open house on Tuesday between 6 and 7:30pm. Meeting info:
Meeting ID meet.google.com/izm-uttm-xgg
Phone Number ‪+1 316-512-8967‬
PIN: ‪185 331 103#‬

Walk-tober

walk-tober graphic

Cycle September is over, but Walk-tober follows swiftly. The City has put together a bunch of activities to get you walking or wheeling.

October is a great month for walking.   The temperature is cooler and the fall colors are changing throughout the month.  Walk to work, walk to the store, walk to pick up food, walk before school or just walk for fun. Walk-tober 2020 features new walking route ideas each week to encourage you to get out and enjoy the season.  We also have a Walk-tober Challenge to encourage you to keep walking all month and have fun prizes for everyone who completes it.

See here for a full list of activities and there’s also some news coverage.

Benefits Blitz continues

Bike Benefits started their Bike Benefits Blitz in September but just extended it into October. Participate to get the usual Bike Benefits discounts and some extra prizes. Learn how it works here.

Cargo Bikes and Business

If you missed the lunch talk about cargo bikes and business during Madison Bike Week, you can watch a recording here. City staff and local businesses talk about how they use cargo bikes as a flexible and cost-effective solution to moving things around in the city.

Engineering updates

City Traffic Engineering has started providing updates on the various bike infrastructure projects going on right now. We’ll share these through our newsletter. This week the highlighted project is the progress at Gammon Road and the new West Towne Path underpass.

Construction of the next segment of the West Towne Path is underway and features an underpass of Gammon Road and a path connecting to the underpass along Gammon Road to Mineral Point Rd. The underpass is anticipated to be completed by the end of November.
When all segments of the West Towne Path are completed it will ultimately provide an east-west connection for non-motorized users from the Junction Road (CTH M) to the West Town Mall area and to the near west side of Madison.
Here is a picture of progress on the underpass as of mid-September.

Funding for new bike projects

There has been some good news about funding for various bike and path projects in Madison and Dane County. The City was awarded federal funding for improvements to the W Main St bike boulevard (I haven’t been able to find out what types of improvements are planned and when they’re going to take place). And County Executive Parisi announced funding for a slew of trail projects:

  • $6.5 million for constructing the Fish Camp to Lake Kegonsa State Park section of the Lower Yahara River Trail
  • $350k to connect the new boardwalk on the North Mendota Trail to Governor Nelson State Park, and funds to plan for a future trail connection that eventually leads to Mendota County Park.
  • $150k for the planned bike/ped/snowmobile bridge across the Wisconsin River on the Walking Iron Trail
  • $500k for the PARC & Ride Grant Program. “PARC & Ride grants support development of regional bicycle trails that are identified in the Dane County Parks & Open Space Plan. Funds are awarded to local units of government and nonprofit organizations. Eligible projects now include bicycle playgrounds – an outdoor space designed to offer a variety of features and fun obstacles that safely build cycling confidence.”

You can find the full press release here: https://www.countyofdane.com/PressDetail/10720

Temporary Trails at Door Creek, Aldo Leopold Parks

We previously mentioned that Madison Parks has teamed up with Capital City Offroad Pathfinders to have temporary cyclocross trails in parks around the city. The current course is at Door Creek Park until October 5, and starting October 6 a course will be at Aldo Leopold Park. A great family friendly opportunity for some trail/’cross riding in your 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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Biking numbers in Madison: Not so great

Once a year in September, the US Census Bureau publishes the latest annual data from the American Community Survey (ACS). Included is information about how people commute to work. Transportation planners and advocates often rely on this data. Not so much because it is the absolutely best data, but because we don’t have a whole lot of other data about biking. This post takes a deep dive into the commuting data for Madison over the past couple years.

Let’s start with bike commuting: What’s the proportion of people biking to work1 in the City of Madison, and how has it changed over time?

We can see what looks like a slow downward trend, from around 5% in 2011 to 2016, to around 4% in the last few years. Note the dashed lines, though: These are the margins of error. Because the American Community Survey only send its survey to a sample of people (unlike the currently ongoing 2020 Census, which counts everyone), there is some of uncertainty in its numbers. What that means is that in 2019 the true number of people commuting could be as low as 2.7% or as high as 5.1%. And based on the data, it’s possible that in 2012 – the year with the apparent upward spike – fewer people were commuting than in 2019. Again, this is among the best data we have available, but keep this uncertainty in mind when reading the rest of this post. And even in light of this uncertainty it is pretty safe to say: Bike commuting in Madison hasn’t grown over the past nine years.

Is Madison an exception? Let’s add some other cities for comparison. We’ll choose cities that are maybe comparable in population, climate, or their Places for Bikes City Rating: Minneapolis, Portland, Pittsburgh, Fort Collins, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Milwaukee.

It looks like Madison isn’t that unique: Other cities, many of which have a high-for-the-US bike commute mode share, also have flat or slightly downward trends.

With bike commuting stagnating, how are other modes of transportation doing? Let’s compare the other modes of commuting in Madison.

One take-away from this chart is that things haven’t changed much in Madison. About two thirds of people keep driving to work; about 10 % each walk or take the bus; and about 5% each work from home or bike. The year-to-year variation most likely is within the margin of error.

So far, so bad. One thing we need to keep in mind: The proportion of people commuting to work by car, bus, bike, etc. is one thing. But Madison is a growing city, and for things like congestion or CO2 emissions, we have to look at absolute numbers:

Compared to 2011, there are 26575 more working Madisonians in 2019. So if, say, the car commute share stayed the same over that period, there’d be more cars on the road. We can look at these absolute numbers:

Because of the large difference between driving and biking, it’s a little hard to see in the chart, but compared to 2011, in 2019 there were 13294 (12%) more car commuters but only 51 “more” bike commuters in Madison.

Trips to work account for less than 20% of all trips. So is it possible that overall biking is still growing in Madison? Maybe people drive to work, but bike more to the grocery store or for recreation? We do have one source that can help answer this question: The Eco-Counters on the Southwest Path and the Capital City Trail. Their data don’t reach back all the way to 2011, but we do have several year’s worth of counts:

What to make of all this? Madison has a reputation for being bike friendly. The League of American Bicyclists has designate us a Platinum Bike-Friendly Community, and in the latest Places for Bikes City Rating we came in second. New bike infrastructure keeps being built. Our mayor joined a ride celebrating Madison Bike Week last year. The head of Madison’s Department of Transportation and the City Traffic Engineer are bike commuters. And still: All this doesn’t translate into a shift away from cars and toward biking.

National trends like low gas prices certainly play a role. But probably as important is the fact that locally we still have policies and procedures in place that making driving the easy, cheap, and convenient choice. Each bike infrastructure improvement is outmatched by yet another parking garage, another lane on the Beltline, a new subdivision or corporate campus at the edge of town, or a signal retiming to keep cars moving.

It will take sustained collective action, day after day, year after year, to move the needle. Madison Bikes is one piece of that collective action, but we can’t do it without you. Write to your Alder, provide testimony at public meetings, organize your neighborhood, join our board of directorssupport us financially.


  1. Maybe more precisely one would have to say “use biking as their main mode of transportation to work”. The actual question in the ACS is: “How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK? If this person used more than one method of transportation during the trip, mark (x) the box of the one used for most of the distance.” Note the qualification about “used for most of the distance.” Someone who bikes from their home on the far west side to the nearest bus stop and then takes the bus downtown? They would be counted as a bus commuter. Also note the word “usually.” Someone who rides their bike two days a week and takes the bus on the other days? Again, a public transit commuter, according to the survey.