Categories
Bike News E-Mail Newsletter Weekly Update

New Bike Paths coming to Madison

New bike paths are coming to Madison- have your voice heard in the development of these two new projects.

New North-South Bike Path

Madison wants to provide safe bike/ped. connections within the north side.

A new study for a North-South bike path seeks to ‘address a current gap in the system’ by connecting the Demetral Path with Westport Road. Read more in this article.

Country Grove Park- Bike Optimized Singletrack

Country Grove Park – Bike Trail Conceptual Plan (2023 Master Plan)

Madison Parks is starting a new single-track bike project at Country Grove Park and is looking for your input. There are two options to submit your feedback- you can complete their survey here and/or register for a public meeting on Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 5pm. The survey will remain open until July 5th. Survey responses received by the June 27th public meeting will be tabulated and data will be presented at the meeting.

Happening this week

Madtown Monday Ride

Join Cap City Cyclists Madison for their “Mad Town Monday” ride on Monday, 6/17. As always, the group meets at Orton Park, at 6pm- party pacing at about a 12 mph pace for the 18 mile route. Temperatures are expected to reach 91°F, so please bring enough water, sunscreen and also consider wearing lightweight and breathable 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.

Categories
E-Mail Weekly Update

Bike Week Wrap-up, Fall Film Festival

Riders enjoy infrastructure tour during Bike Week

Bike Week Wrap-up

What a week! Organizations from the community put on a mindboggling (86 if you’re counting) number of events.  Mother nature threw a few challenges at us but, overall, events were well attended. Here’s a link from “Portraits on the Bike Path” courtesy of Saris.

Madison Bike Week, 2024 Beth Skogen Photography – www.bethskogen.com

Andy, the “BikeFarmer” gives approval at the vintage bike ride.

Three infrastructure tours illustrated issues relating to current problem areas as well as solutions implemented by the city. The city of Middleton tour included a number of sites with the mayor and alders in attendance. The signal and detection tour had good attendance despite a rain forecast. There was lots of new information this year, so repeaters were not disappointed.  Board member Craig Weinhold lead a tour of south Madison which brought home the issues created by the beltline and railroads and the problems faced by individuals who need to bicycle but can’t do so safely.

Jerry Schippa from the City of Madison shows participants the inner workings of traffic signals.

There was an opportunity to ride with the mayor of Madison at her press conference.  It was great to hear mayor Rhodes-Conway and board member Robbie Webber describe how Madison is becoming a national model.

Madison Bike Week, 2024 Beth Skogen Photography – www.bethskogen.com

Enthusiastic cyclists at the mayor’s press conference ride.

Commuter stations provided bicycle repair, sustenance (e.g. biscuits, bacon)  and learning opportunities.  Bike Week 2024  featured several E-bike events.

A bicyclist’s best friend on  “Ride with the Pack.”

Bike Week participants had opportunities to try out the on-board racks on the new electric “bendy busses” which will be used for BRT.

Several hundred bicyclists had a great time at the Friday party. The beer was transported to the site from the Hop Garden in Paoli in a sustainable manner during “Fetch the Keg” event. Click here to see keg transportation video.

A big thank you to our sponsors, event organizers, the city and those who attended or assisted at events. Looking forward to next year!

Help us make Bike Week even better in 2025

Madison Bikes is interested in your feedback on this year’s Madison Bike Week. No matter if you participated as an attendee, an event organizer, or a sponsor, we’d love to hear from you. Please complete this quick survey, and we’ll use the results to make next year’s Madison Bike Week even better: https://forms.gle/dArS6La8YN7iRDGf7

Want one of those cool shirts?

They are still available from the Madison Bikes Webstore along with other Madison Bikes T-Shirts. Click on the following link to order: https://madison-top-company.printavo.com/merch/madison-bikes.

The Bicycle Film Festival Comes to Madison!! Get Your discounted tickets this week only! 

Bicycle Film Festival is coming to Madison October 3, 6:30 pm at the Barrymore Theatre. 

Bicycle Film Festival has been celebrating bicycles through art, film and music over the last 24 years. BFF spans the world in over 100 cities worldwide to an audience of over one million people. We’re excited to bring the festival to Madison for the first time!

BFF Madison presents a new short film program. These stories will appeal to a wide audience from film connoisseurs to avid cyclists and everyone in between. Curated documentaries, narratives, animations, award-winning directors, and emerging talents – all share equal billing. For lovers of gravel, road cycling, mountain biking, and bike packing, and the advocates who are pushing the bike movement forward in their communities.

This program will take you on a journey around the world featuring: 

  • Kailey Kornhauser and fellow “fat cyclist” Marley Blonsky are on a mission to change the idea that people with larger bodies can’t ride bikes
  • A family gives up everything to be together in their motorhome, traveling from bike park to bike park across Europe
  • The 1900 mile bicycle journey by Erick Cedeno (Bicycle Nomad) retracing the original route of the Buffalo Soldiers
  • A charismatic Ghanaian immigrant in Amsterdam teaches refugee adult women how to ride bikes
  • Cycle sport as relief from genocide (Oscar nominated director)
  • A Diné mountain biker hosts the first ever Enduro race in the Navajo Nation
  • And more…

Check out the trailer here!!: Bicycle Film Festival Madison – Trailer on Vimeo

We are extending the Bike Week 30% discount through Friday, June 14th. Use the code BIKEWEEK2024 to get your discount. 

Get your tickets here: https://barrymorelive.com/event/bicycle-film-festival-madison/

Gammon Road gets media attention:

The Wisconsin State Journal recently highlighted the safety issues on South Gammon Road. Some safety improvements have been made but many more are needed. Comments are still being accepted and will be reviewed before review of the Final Draft Plan.  Click the following link to access the story:

https://madison.com/news/state-regional/government-politics/madison-gammon-road-bicycle-safety-memorial-high/article_8d132d30-1e8e-11ef-b496-cba00c3ae917.html

Bikeway Project Construction

UW Arboretum West Entrance. June 10.  Construction of a 10- foot shared use path connecting Manitou Way with McCaffrey Drive and the installation of a RRFB (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon) pedestrian crossing. Completion expected in July.

W Lakeside Street. June 24. Pavement replacement and construction of a two-way cycle track on the south side of W Lakeside St on a one-block section connecting two sides of the Bay Creek Neighborhood. Parking will be removed on the block. Sidewalks will remain open on at least one side for the duration of the project. Completion expected in mid-July.

Elver Park Path and Greentree Park Path. July 22. Repairs and culvert construction. Paths may be closed during, some or all of, construction. Completion expected in early August.

Details on these projects are available at : https://www.cityofmadison.com/news/2024-06-06/bikeways-projects-2024-construction

It’s been an exciting, inspiring week. Don’t forget to purchase your film festival tickets and fill out the Bike Week survey. We will have more Madison bicycling news for you next week. Watch the calendar for upcoming events.

Madison Bike Week, 2024 Beth Skogen Photography – www.bethskogen.com

Here’s to another great Bike Week in 2024!

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

Happy Madison Bike Week!

Harald Kliems and Laurie Lata at the Vintage Bike Ride on Sunday

I hope everyone reading this already knows that it is bike week. If this is the first you’ve heard, then we have been doing a really bad job at communication.

Have you marked your calendar with the events you want to attend? When I counted last Thursday, there were 80 events listed, and it’s possible that more have been added at the last minute. There are events all over town:

  • Commuter stations all across the city to pick up yummy treats, including the ever-popular Bacon on the Bike Path, Bratcakes on the Bike Path, and a Cheddar-Bacon Waffles event.
  • Bike check-ups and repairs
  • Discounts at businesses
  • Social rides of all kinds – a great place to meet new people or try a different type of biking
  • Demonstrations of different types of bikes, like the family show and share to learn about cargo bikes
  • A chance to learn about or practice your skills at the pump track near Leopold School
  • An infrastructure tour to see all the cool new paths, connections, and signals to improve your ride
  • Lectures and learning opportunities
  • A chance to pick up freebies, try using the bike racks on the buses, ask questions about BRT and the transit redesign, and learn about the RoundTrip program
  • Rides to other events, like the Mallards game
  • A big party at Brittingham Park on Friday
  • And so, so much more

There is something for every type of bicyclist and every age and ability, so bring your neighbors and friends that might need some incentive to get the bike out.

Media coverage

We’ve also been getting good coverage in the media, which is great, since Bike Week is meant to encourage new people to get out biking or try a new type of ride. 

Inaugural E-Bike Expo: Electric bike riders group kick off Madison Bike Week (NBC15)

More speed limit reductions coming after Madison announces new Vision Zero projects (NBC15)

Madison BIke Week 2024 Begins Saturday (Channel3000)

Trinity Lutheran Church holds first Blessing of the Bicycles event (WKOW-27)

City of Madison Celebrates Bike Week (WKOW-27)

Destination Madison

And just out Monday morning, the CityCast Madison podcast will have an interview with Madison Bikes board members Harald Kliems and Eleanor Conrad on Monday.

Wednesday: City budget discussion on north side

Also on tap this week is a city budget discussion and public information meeting Wednesday 6:00 pm at Black Hawk Middle School on the north side. These have been going on around the city for about a month, but if this one is convenient for you, it’s worth it to check out the information and opportunity to give input.

Although many of the infrastructure projects we want are either funded by grants or funded via the capital budget – borrowing to be paid back over years – the operating budget has a projected deficit next year of $27 million. If a referendum doesn’t pass in November, things are going to get cut. That might be traffic enforcement, paint for the streets, filling potholes, maintenance of paths, clearing brush, or even plowing in the winter. 

The link asks you to register, but that’s mostly so the city can anticipate the crowd and you can receive information in advance of the meeting. You can just drop in without registering. 

Thursday: West area plan: Transportation and Sauk Creek Greenway

In person meeting at High Point Church, 7702 Old Sauk Rd, 6:00 pm.

There has been a lot of news and discussion in our circles about the West Area Plan — a plan for what Madison might look like in the next 30 years — including what new transportation infrastructure might be needed. A suggested north-south path through the Sauk Creek Greenway to connect Mineral Point Rd and Old Sauk Rd has been removed from the draft plan. We are concerned that neighbors are now targeting an even more important easy-west connector.

There is quite a bit of information at the link about about this plan, but if you want to read about the Sauk Creek Greenway specifically, Craig Weinhold wrote a detailed blog post on the subject in early May.

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

This is the last newsletter…

… before Madison Bike Week 2024 starts! Yesterday, our VP Christo and I took our respective bike trailers and distributed 40 yard signs advertising Madison Bike Week around the city. And maybe you’ve seen one of our Bike Week ads on a Metro bus. Anyways, I’ll return to Bike Week below, as there a few other things going before we get rolling on Saturday.

Good and not so good bike infrastructure news

Let’s start with the good news: Olin-Turville Court will soon no longer be bumpy. Currently the pavement on this busy bike connector has a pavement rating of 3 out of 10. For that reason, the city will repave the road this fall. Other than repaving, there won’t be major changes to the road’s layout. Except that the city will add a bike ramp on the southern end of the road! There’s a very clear desire path here, and soon it will be paved. Hooray!

Existing desire path (Image: Google StreetView)

You may be wondering what happens to biking and walking access during the construction. More good news: The city plans to repurpose one of the lanes on John Nolen Drive and create a temporary jersey-barrier-protected two-way multi-use path. Phew, that’s a lot of hyphens.

Now to the less good news: Two large bike infrastructure projects are experiencing delays. The Tancho Drive Path on the Northeast Side won’t be constructed this year as planned. Apparently the city discovered some grade and alignment issues with the already approved plans. Also running behind is the Autum Ridge Path and overpass. Because of manufacturing delays, the overpass itself will only go in January 2025.

West Area Plan meetings on Sauk Creek Greenway and housing/land use

The city is holding a final(?) set of public meetings to discuss the latest round of revisions to the West Area Plan. In case you missed it, in early May, the city released a new draft plan that had several changes from the previous draft, including the removal of a N/S bike connection through the Sauk Creek Greenway. Many of those changes were controversial, and so there is another set of virtual and in-person meetings to gather more feedback. Next week the virtual meetings are taking place. The first one is on land use, zoning, and housing on Tuesday, May 28 (registration link), followed by a meeting on transportation and the Sauk Creek Greenway on Thursday, May 30 (registration link). If you need a refresher on what’s happening with the Sauk Creek Greenway, read Craig’s in-depth post on the topic. The in-person meetings will take place during Bike Week.

In addition to meetings you can also provide written feedback on the plan here.

Transportation Commission: East Madison Bikeways and Stoughton Road

On the Transportation Commission’s agenda on Wednesday are a few bike-relevant items. City staff will be presenting an update on the “East Madison Bikeways Enhancement Projects.” You may remember that as part of the East-West BRT project, 24/7 bike lanes were removed along some stretches of E Washington Ave. This was because BRT needed a dedicated bus lane and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) refused to let the city reduce the number of general travel lanes. To make up for this, the city promised improvements to parallel routes to E Wash, such as the Mifflin and Main St bike boulevards or Hoard St. Here’s an overview map of the improvements:

Also at the Transportation Commission is a city letter to WisDOT about their planning for Stoughton Road. The city analyzed WisDOT’s proposals for their impact on safety, whether they are compatible with walking and biking, and their impact on development and future Amtrak service. Some of WisDOT’s proposals would preclude all-ages and all-abilities bike facilities and cause the loss of significant tax revenue to the city by taking properties off of the tax roll. Here is the presentation and the city’s proposed letter.

You can submit comments to the Transportation Commission by email to transportationcommission@cityofmadison.com or register to the meeting here.

Madison Bike Week

Okay, finally we’re getting to Madison Bike Week. I’m one of the people who gets an email notification whenever a new Bike Week event is being submitted. And let’s just say: I got a lot of emails! We have over 70 events on the calendar, and while the event submission deadline is technically over, I’m sure we’ll get some more submissions this week.

With this many events, trying to point out highlights or providing an overview is almost impossible. Instead, I encourage you to check out the full calendar of events and start planning. A little tip: The default view of the calendar on our website is sorted by day and location, rather than by day and time. So it’s easy to miss some morning events. You can click on “simple” instead to get a chronological view. You can also use the Sched app to plan our your event schedule.

I do want to highlight a few events that we are hosting or co-hosting ourselves:

  • Make sure to join us for the Ride with the Mayor on Monday morning at 8am. There will be west side and northeast side feeder rides.
  • Join our board member Pratik on Tuesday on a ride to Capital Brewery in Middleton to pick up a beer donation for our Bike Week Party
  • Also on Tuesday, we’re once again co-hosting an afternoon bike station with root beer floats (including vegan ones) with Fire Station on the west side
  • More beer fetching is going on on Thursday. Join me on a ride to the Hop Garden in Paoli to pick up a keg of beer.
  • And of course on Friday it’s Bike Week Party time! As per usual: Brittingham Park. Free food and beverages. Tabling by other orgs. Tunes by DJ KA-BOOM!BOX
Categories
E-Mail Weekly Update

Bike Week, Infrastructure Rally, N-S-BRT

Bike Week Approaching

Bike Week proclaimed on Madison busses

Less than two weeks until Madison Bike Week!. Lots of events have already been posted on the event schedule including a vintage bike ride, infrastructure tours, lots of commuter stops, and of course the mayor’s press conference and the awesome Friday party. Start planning today!

Bike Week Merch Now Available

Check out the new Bike Week short-sleeve T-shirt and sleeveless top. Madison Bikes short-sleeved and now long-sleeved T-shirts are also available. Click on the following link to order: https://madison-top-company.printavo.com/merch/madison-bikes.

Transportation Committee Actions

The locally approved alternative (LPA) for N-S BRT was approved by the Transportation Commission at the May 15 meeting. This plan includes over 50% dedicated bus lanes. Overall, there will be less bus conflicts with bicycles, but bicycle infrastructure for much of the route will be substandard because of challenges inherent in engineering the narrow corridor and the status of S. Park Street as part of the National Highway System. Next, the LPA will go to the Common Council for final approval.

For the north section, the addition of BRT will not change bike infrastructure significantly. Bicycle accommodations along Northport Dr. will still not meet All Ages and Abilities guidelines and there are not bicycle facilities on Packers Drive. Madison is developing a grant application to develop plans for better connections between the Northside and other parts of the City. Significant work remains.

West Washington Ave. to Fish Hatchery Rd: This section of S. Park St is not being reconstructed, making it impossible to conform to All Ages and Abilities standards. In an attempt to improve the situation, bicycle facilities on alternate routes will be strengthened. However, these routes provide a less direct north-south route and these routes would not be helpful for those who need to access businesses on S. Park St.

Parking for motor vehicles will be retained on S.Park in 3 areas between W. Washington to Cedar. The longest area, between Vilas and Erin, will be 3 blocks and is not likely to significantly impact bus traffic.

Bike parking will be added on side streets off S. Park just south of W.Washington because of the lack of bicycle parking in the area.

S. Park from Fish Hatchery Rd. to Badger Rd. reconstruction:  There will be a center running bus line with an 8-10 foot shared use path on the west side of S. Park St, with a standard 5-foot sidewalk on the east side.  The path will replace the current shared bike/bus lane. The terrace will be wide enough to accommodate shade trees. Because the path only services one side of the street, crossings, including new traffic signals, reduced speeds, and continental cross walks will be added.

For all of the details you can listen to a recording of the meeting and/or check out this document from the city.

Upcoming Planning Meetings

Just a notification that these are coming up. More details next week.

West Area Plan – May 30: Virtual meeting on transportation

Northeast Plan draftsVirtual meetings on May 28 @ 6:00 pm ( register) and May 29 @ 12:00 pm ( register) or attend the In-person open house events on May 29 @ Reindahl Park, 5:00-8:00 pm and May 30 @ Sycamore Park, 5:00-8:00 pm 

E. Mifflin St. Bike Boulevard Virtual Public Input Meeting – Mon, June 3 at 6:30pm Register for the Zoom meeting 

West Towne Path Zor Shrine Phase Public Meeting – public information meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., May 28, 2024, via Zoom. https://www.cityofmadison.com/engineering/projects/west-towne-path-phase-2a

Bike Rally for Infrastructure

This event at 6pm on Thursday May 23, hosted by assembly candidate Thad Schumacher, will start with a 3- mile slow roll from the Vilas Park tennis courts to Neff Cycles traveling through the Arboretum. All ages welcome! Check out the route here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit…

Route detail of the ride to the bike rally

The ride ends at Neff Cycles at 6:30 pm, where there will be a rally advocating for continued development of Madison’s bike/ped infrastructure.

Badger Rusk Shared-Use Path

A proposed design for a street reconstruction project which would improve bike/ped access across the beltline was presented at an informational meeting on May 14. The project would replace the existing sidewalk along the north side of W. Badger Rd and west side of Rusk Ave. with a 10-ft grade separated, lighted, shared-use path by narrowing the street. Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons would be installed to improve the crossing at the pedestrian overpass. The project should be reviewed at the Transportation Commission in July and it is hoped that construction can be completed in October of 2025. https://www.cityofmadison.com/engineering/projects/badger-rusk-shared-use-path

Capital Brewery Bike Club – E-Bike Riders Group, Inaugural Ride

Thirty bikes showed up for a very successful first event. Weekly rides will continue on May 22nd (Wednesday) at 5:30 PM and continue on that schedule throughout the summer. Rides start and end at Capital Brewery in Middleton. Non-members welcome.  Check out all the details at www.capitalbikeclub.org

Riders await the start of the first Capital Brewery E-bike event

That’s this week in a nutshell. Watch the calendar for upcoming events, including Madison Bike Week 2024 events in June.

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
Newsletter Weekly Update

Ride With Us Through the Arb!

Welcome to this week’s newsletter! Madison Bikes has a goal of hosting a community meeting or event each month in 2024. Which one has been your favorite so far? I loved the Spring Bike Wash last month where we teamed up with Freewheel to get people’s bikes cleaned, check them over for safety, and handed out some Greenbush doughnuts, all for free. It was wonderful to see so many people show up to enjoy the service and sunshine.

We’ve got some exciting bike-related things to share with you this week, including another awesome community event. Here’s what you need to know:

Badger Rusk Shared-Use Path Information Meeting

More separated bike infrastructure is on its way! Monday, May 13th, at 6:00 PM, the city will be hosting a public information meeting on a new shared-use path that is proposed to go along the North side of W Badger Rd and the West side of N Rusk Ave. The path would build upon and help connect the existing bike/ped bridge over the beltline to other destinations that path users may want to go. Along with a 10-ft wide shared path, the project includes improvements to lighting and street crossings. The design is scheduled for Summer-Winter 2024 with construction in June-Oct 2025. Register for the meeting on the project’s page from the city website to learn more.

The approximate location of the proposed path

Capital Brewery E-Bike Ride

Capital Brewery Bike Club is hosting their first Wednesday night E-Bike riders group ride. The ride, starting at 5:30 PM will be 11 miles, starting and ending at Capital Brewery at 7734 Terrace Ave in Middleton.

Quarry Park Bike Trails Work Day

Saturday, May 18th from 8 to noon, Capital Off Road Pathfinders is hosting a Spring work day to clean up and prep the MTB trails at Quarry Park for the season. Volunteers will help clear brush along the trails, tune up the jumps and pump track, and buff in some tech lines. Work days like these are critical to getting the trails ready for the season and keep them in good shape.

Community Event: Bike and Learn Through the Arboretum

Also on Saturday, May 18th at 1pm, Madison Bikes will be hosting a ride through the Arboretum where you can learn all about the ecosystems that live there. Eric Grycan, Ecological Restoration Specialist and friend of Madison Bikes will guide us through the route and tell us about about the Lost City Forest, Skunk Cabbage Bridge, and Curtis Prairie. You can find all this info and let us know if you’re coming on our Facebook event.

The planned route through the arboretum for Saturday’s event

Get your event registered for Madison Bike Week

In case you didn’t hear, Madison Bike Week is right around the corner on June 1-8! We are so excited to see all the events rolling in. This year we will have rides, parties, educational sessions, discounts, free stuff, dogs on bikes, and so much more. Check out our current event schedule, save the dates/times, and get ready to party on the paths. Remember that new events are still being added so check back often so you don’t miss any! If you or someone you know is interested in hosting an event, you can register it on our website, or check out our event-hosting FAQ for more info.

That’s it for this newsletter. We have a lot to be excited about in the coming weeks and we can’t wait to see you out riding.

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 Newsletter Weekly Update

Here comes Bike Week

The Madison Bike Week calendar is filling up with great events stretching from June 1 to June 8. It’s time to double-check your own calendar to make sure a few of them are there — and maybe triple-check whether you’ve got something to add to the events.

A few to consider:

COOKIES. Do you already miss Girl Scout Cookies season? Here’s your chance for another thin mint, and for free (courtesy Girl Scout Troop 8267) on the Cap City Path at Jackson Street from 1 to 3 p.m. on June 1.

Explore another silent sport. Join Badger Rowing at their Porter Boathouse, 680 Babcock Drive, for a bagel-and-coffee refuel stop on the Lakeshore Path from 3 to 5 p.m. on June 4. Take a tour of the boathouse and try out some dry-land training under the supervision of people who use their arms — Can you imagine? — to get around.

Party at the Pump Track. Kick off the first day of summer vacation with Wisconsin Bike Fed and DreamBikes at the Aldo Leopold Park Pump Track, 2906 Traceway Drive, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 7. If you and yours have never tried — sounds like “shredded” is the appropriate terminology — a pump track, this is a great chance for beginners to get a few pointers or experienced riders to learn some new moves.

If you’d like to host an event like these, picture yourself on the calendar and check out the Madison Beer Week FAQ for registration info.

Southwest Bike Path closure

If you’re a regular on the Southwest Bike Path, you’ll have to skip a section near the UW–Madison campus this week. Construction crews will be removing a tower crane at 750 Regent St. That requires closing the bike path from East Campus Mall to West Washington Avenue. A posted detour will steer bicyclists around the closure via West Dayton Street.

It’s a pretty quiet week, otherwise. Other than a few showers in the forecast, a great time to get out for a ride!

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
Action Alert In Depth

The Tragedies of Sauk Creek Greenway

(disclaimer: this is a personal blog and not an official position of Madison Bikes)

Alder Nikki Conklin recently announced the scuttling of a long-planned North/South path through the Sauk Creek Greenway on Madison’s far west side. This is an unfortunate capitulation. The tragedy isn’t so much the loss of the path, but the way in which it was lost and how it unfairly perpetuates a “Bikes vs Trees” narrative.

If you just want action, jump to Next Steps at the bottom of this painfully-long blog.

I’ve also added a footnote1 with updates and follow-ups since this blog was originally posted.

Background

The 26-acre Sauk Creek Greenway snakes from Tree Lane to Old Sauk Rd. There has long been a stormwater project to deal with years of neglect and surges of stormwater from west side development, particularly the parking lots near Menards. The issue became critical after the 2018 floods which resulted in the drowning death of a person in the nearby Chapel Hill-Greentree greenway, an area with many similarities to Sauk Creek. That incident resulted in the $5.9M McKenna Boulevard Flood Mitigation Project.

The Sauk Creek stormwater project’s goals are to stabilize the creek and build a gravel service road similar to the ones in Owen Conservation Park and Pheasant Branch north of Century Ave. The project would also thin the trees according to a soon-to-be-released corridor plan. It’s expected that the City will want to remove all damaged and unhealthy trees, and also many of the less desirable trees that are crowding the more desirable trees. Opinions vary on what is a “desirable” tree, but there’s no doubt the current greenspace is a product of neglect and mesophication, and there isn’t a single healthy oak tree under 80 years old. Unlike Owen, Olin, Hoyt, Picnic Point, and other urban greenspaces, this greenway has never had a volunteer group clearing invasives, burning duff, stemming erosion, maintaining trails, etc.

Throughout the project, neighbors have rightfully expressed concerns about what tree removal will look like, especially after a different tree-thinning exercise a few blocks away seemed excessive:

As far as I can tell, the City departments involved seem to have been responsive, going so far as to inventory the entire 26-acre wood and its 5500 trees, post a list of every public meeting and department involved, publish a community engagement guide, and issue multiple statements to dispel misunderstandings that had arisen. However, throughout the process one can’t help but sense that neighbors seemed more interested in how the project will affect their own properties than the City’s.

Enter the “Friends”

In mid-2022, the “Friends of Sauk Creek” formed. Unlike most “Friends” organizations that help improve our parks and open space, this group’s single goal was to “stop plans to remove 5,500 trees during a reconstruction of Sauk Creek,” i.e., to ensure nothing changes. [Update: their new web site has expanded their mission to include “stop bike paths in the nearby woods.” Their old web site with much of their history is still in google’s cache]. The leaders are nice, intelligent people and they’re passionate about their neighborhoods. But for reasons I can’t explain, their manner of engaging with the City quickly turned belligerent and hostile, and they’ve shown little interest in compromise or finding common ground.2

The group aggressively took the planners to task, demanding details and impacts long before any engineering had been done to provide precise answers. They looked for inconsistencies with what was said by different people in different City departments, jumping on them as signs of malfeasance or secrecy. They apparently filed Freedom of Information Act requests. To this outsider, their treatment of our City officials seemed unfair and unwarranted. Despite all that, a petition they crafted in late 2022 calling for public involvement in tree-clearing decisions was calm, measured and entirely appropriate. It got 373 signatures. I would have happily signed it.

Their true colors were revealed in May 2023 when they rallied to kill a planned youth single-track MTB trail in Walnut Grove Park that would have provided youth recreation similar to the Aldo Leopold Park shred-to-school trails. The trail didn’t endanger a single mature, healthy tree and was environmentally compatible with the park’s existing uses (which include a dog park!). With no environmental reason for their opposition, it’s impossible not to conclude that the “Friends” group is more concerned about the users of the greenway than the health of the greenway. To them, the greenway should remain their own private backyard in perpetuity and anything that brings more people into the area is a threat.

During a meeting in July 2023, City planners indicated that the stormwater project may be coordinated with a long-planned North/South path through the greenway. This would mean paving and grading the access road to ADA and NACTO path standards, adding one or more bridges, and connecting the path to the City’s growing All Ages & Abilities bike network. The idea of a path goes back at least to the 2000 bike plan (pg 84) where it was listed as a “third priority” because “suitable on-road routes exist.” The “Friends” group twists that to say that the City had declared the path “wasn’t a priority.” In reality, “third priority” means exactly that and, after 24 years, many of the other “third priority” projects have been completed, including Wingra Creek underpass, Stricker Pond path, a path in Blackhawk Park, the new Starkweather bridge, etc. The path again appeared in the 2015 bike plan on the future map (figure 4-7, pg 39). It also was on the West Area Plan that kicked off in early 2023.

At some point, East/West path connections through the greenway were also added to the West Area Plan. I’m not sure the history of that, but do know that students headed to Memorial High School, Jefferson Middle School, and the Lussier Community Center have expressed a desire for an E/W connection without having to go all the way down to Tree Lane. For some, an E/W connection will eliminate up to a mile of extra travel and avoid having to take busy four-lane Old Sauk Rd. It will also provide a connection to WisDOT’s planned bike/ped beltline bridge just to the west. Even after Alder Conklin capitulated on the N/S path this week, the E/W path remains in the plan and will surely be a continued fight.

Enter the Boogeyman

Once the “Friends” heard about a paved path, they were livid and shifted their attention towards this new boogeyman — the bike path! After all, what better symbol of hatred than a smug, entitled biker?

credit: AI

Their web site soon shouted “City planner describes creek area as biking hub; it could destroy thousands of trees, birds, wildlife.” Taking a lesson from the “see what sticks” playbook, they brainstormed a random assortment of false and exaggerated talking points, listed below (with my rebuttals):

  • “Thousands of trees removed”, “decimate”, “reduced canopy”, etc. (The stormwater project is what will remove trees! A paved path will only require minor additional tree removals for bridges and the E/W path. Engineers will surely try to avoid the healthy, desirable trees.)
  • “Destroy nature”, “harm animals”, etc. (Paths are not a major factor. Studies do show that mountain biking can impact nesting habits of some bird species in wilderness areas. But this is an urban greenway; any animal here is adapted to houses, highways, noise, and the adjacent dog park. Turtles even dig their nests next to paths.)
  • “The path’s impervious surface will leach toxins into our lakes!” (Path asphalt is inert and the path has no gutters or drains for water to reach the lake. All rainwater soaks into the ground a few feet from where it falls. Porous asphalt can also be used, as Fitchburg did along Lacy Rd. Toxins from asphalt largely come from driveway sealants used by homeowners.)
  • “The grade is too steep and the path will be dangerous!” (The grades are nothing that design engineers couldn’t handle; overall it’s much tamer than paths in Yarmouth Crossing and Pheasant Branch Creek.)
  • “Heat-island, climate change!” (The stormwater project is responsible for the extent of tree removal; their thinning will allow the remaining trees to flourish, improving the overall canopy. Plus, if the path can convince even a single person to give up their car or drive less, that can save up to 250 mature trees worth of carbon capture. Biking and walking are climate solutions, not problems!)
  • “The path will be lighted!” (This is not in any plan and is technically challenging. It would only be added if neighbors asked for it. [edit: see footnote 1])
  • “The cost will be $6M! or $7M!” (The City doesn’t have a design detailed enough to know what the cost will be. By the time the stormwater project has rehabilitated the gravel access road, the cost to add asphalt and bridges should be very reasonable with most costs covered by a federal grant.)
  • “Bikers are fast and dangerous” (FUD. See below for why this path would not be a major bike thoroughfare.)
  • “The path doesn’t connect anywhere!” (Never mind the chicken-and-egg fallacy of arguing against paths because of lack of other paths, this path would have immediately connected to bike lanes on Old Sauk Rd and Tree Ln, and it would nearly reach Mineral Point Rd’s new widened sidewalk. The E/W path will connect WisDOT’s planned beltline overpass at Sauk Creek Park.)
  • “The path isn’t needed because there are other routes on Westfield and High Point!” (This is absolutely true for most bicyclists one sees on the roads today. However, it’s estimated that ⅓ of bicyclists only bike where there are comfortable off-street paths. This path could be the difference in whether a family bikes or drives to Swagat for dinner or whether their child can reach Alicia Ashman Library on their own.)

This last point drives me crazy and points to a major failure in City messaging. This path would never have been a major bike hub or bike highway on the order of the Capital City trail or Southwest Commuter Path. Instead, it would be a backyard greenway path similar to ones in Greentree-Chapel Hill, Oak Meadow, Mineral Point Park, Garner Park, and dozens of others. Those are all important bike connections, especially for All Ages and Abilities, but they attract far more walkers, joggers, dog walkers, strollers, and kids than bicyclists. Most path users are from the adjacent neighborhoods.

A typical 5pm in McKee Farms Park. Five walkers, one jogger with dog, and one fisherman on a bike (obscured).

Mobilization strategies

The “Friends” group issued a second petition in Fall 2023 filled with their false talking points, though it moderated its words on tree removal. Curiously, they only got 305 signatures, far less than the 2022 petition. This could have been due to shortness of time, but it might also be due to neighbor fatigue. I’ve spoken with several people in the area including a few who are serious conservationists and, frankly, they’re bewildered by how sideways things have gone and they’re afraid to speak up because of the power the “Friends” group seems to wield.

Another pillar of their mobilization strategy was to hound and harass every public servant and every public meeting related to the West Area Plan with emails, public comments, and in-person confrontations. Ald. Conklin’s inbox probably has a thousand messages about it, far more than any human could read, let alone reply to. At the Wisconsin Healthy Communities Summit last week, State Senator Chris Larson advised that one key to successful government advocacy was to “point out the problem without being problematic.” The “Friends” group proves him dead wrong! I recall one technical zoning meeting where an exasperated attendee asked of the barrage of Sauk Creek path comments, “Do these even refer to anything on the agenda?” (they didn’t, but it was a public meeting so there was no stopping it)

It was also agonizing to see how much time and energy the “Friends” group was able to extract from their own members. I’ve read every public comment from a half-dozen meetings. Most are earnest and thoughtful, and many brought up well-researched concerns about project bounds, path routing, grade, erosion, proximity to yards — all issues that would be really helpful during the design phase, had there been one. But so many of the messages also raised the same false and exaggerated talking points. At one meeting, a neighbor with a disability stood in opposition to the path because she couldn’t imagine how an ADA path could navigate the terrain. With the project now scuttled, we’ll never know how engineers would have solved that; but they would have.

A third pillar was the press. By framing this as “David v Goliath,” “neighbors saving trees from uncaring City planners,” or “trees versus bikers”, they got a lot of sympathetic press. Allison Garfield’s excellent Capital Times piece “A Silent Deforestation” gave most coverage to the neighbors, but it was extremely fair in presenting the City’s position. WORT‘s earlier coverage was similarly balanced. Coverage in the Wisconsin State Journal was more lopsided for the “Friends”, and Cap Times editor Paul Fanlund proved himself a sucker for the false messaging, lobbing cheap shots against bicyclists in his opinion piece on zoning changes.

The fourth pillar was to capitalize on the public outcry about proactive zoning, as Fanlund had done. The zoning issue is important and potentially affects the entire city, but it has nothing to do with the local Sauk Creek stormwater project. That didn’t stop a former Common Council candidate from making this FOX news-worthy video that egregiously conflates the two issues.

City Capitulation

The strategy of the “Friends of Sauk Creek” worked. The city is now planning to remove the N/S path from the West Area Plan. This is no big loss for the overall bike network, but it is a tremendous loss for low-stress bicycling since beautiful paths like this are often what get people hooked on biking in the first place. I personally think it’s also a huge loss for the neighborhood, but that’s really for the neighbors to judge.

The biggest tragedy for me as a transportation advocate is that this loss is entirely due to misinformation and bullying. The “Friends of Sauk Creek” apparently feels no shame in their tactics and perhaps this is just a case of local democracy emulating national politics. But that doesn’t make it right. It’s embarrassing to see it succeed in Madison.

Of course, the “Friends” aren’t done. Of course they know the path has little impact on tree removal. They will fight the E/W path that remains in the plan. They will fight the stormwater project later this summer. And, in a couple years, they’ll be fighting the off-street bike paths now planned for High Point and Westfield Rds — paths that will end up costing far more than the greenway path and that will remove parking and disrupt the front yards of the fifty or so home- and condo- owners on those streets.

What’s next?

Madison’s West Area Plan updates and information about all upcoming meetings are posted at https://www.cityofmadison.com/dpced/planning/west-area-plan/3896/. The Sauk Creek path change has two meetings:

  • virtually on Thursday May 30 at 6pm
  • in-person open house at High Point Church on Thursday June 6 from 6-8pm. Fortunately or not, this falls in the middle of Bike Week!

As bicyclists, our goals should be to show overwhelming support for the East/West path and to try to restore the North/South path through the Sauk Creek greenway.

Our success depends almost entirely on helping opposition neighbors to (a) understand that the paths are not responsible for mass tree removal and (b) that paths will be an asset, not a threat, to the neighborhoods, the greenway and the adjacent property owners.

Let’s mobilize with facts and kindness. Let’s help the opposition think about how they might personally benefit from a path. E.g., walking a dog without getting muddy feet or ticks, morning jogs or birding, walking or biking to dinner, sending your child alone to the park or library, and so on. If quality-of-life gains aren’t enough, remind them that a trail will increase property values by 3-5%.

Most importantly, let’s encourage them to go explore the similar greenways to see what paths are really like and how other neighbors use them. Here are four ideal ones to visit:

  • Middleton’s Pheasant Branch Creek path (at Park St, not the larger area north of Century Blvd) is most analogous to Sauk Creek in terms of narrowness, length, and terrain.
  • The Mineral Point Park path from behind Memorial High School to Inner Drive. This is similarly narrow to Sauk Creek but has a concrete stormwater drain.
  • Fitchburg’s paths like Nevan Springs/Buttonbush and Oak Meadow have adjacent houses. Here you can see how homeowners integrate their yards with the paths while maintaining privacy.
  • The Cap City trail west of Fish Hatchery (park at Adesys) is a popular trail so expect a much higher volume of bike traffic. It has steep grades, multiple bridges, and a meandering creek whose banks are reinforced with natural boulders.
  • The gravel maintenance road in Owen Conservation Park from Inner Drive to Forsythia Pl. This is what Sauk Creek’s new maintenance road will look like unpaved. The corridor width is not that different from a paved path.

There is a path to saving the path.

  1. Update: Added Mineral Point Park path to the list of suggests greenways to visit. Errata: Although the “Friends” group does not organize it, some Sauk Creek neighbors do independent garlic mustard removal and other woods maintenance. Follow-up: The “Friends” group has not responded to this blog , but instead doubled-down on their misinformation in a May 19 blog. Follow-up: social media discussions about this blog are at Nextdoor and Reddit (and earlier Reddit). A very good policy discussion about paths in Sauk Creek greenway took place in the Dec 13, 2023 meeting of the Madison Transportation Commission (watch here from 1:52:00 to 2:33:45). In it, and also at a June 6 meeting, City engineers said they preferred paths to be lit but that it was very much a design question, decided by public input. ↩︎
  2. To be transparent, I have no first-hand exposure to the Friends of Sauk Creek prior to Fall 2023, so all descriptions of earlier events are based on the public record. There may be other plausible explanations. I welcome the “Friends” or other involved people to help correct the record and point out any mistakes they read in this blog. ↩︎
Categories
Bike News Newsletter Weekly Update

Metro hits 1M+ ride mark again; Healthy Communities Summit; and biking events this weekend

Bus rider walks up to bus stationed at stop on campus
Metro Transit bus, by Lauren Graves – UW Transportation Services

Metro Transit hits 1M+ rides in February

Metro Transit once again hit a post-pandemic milestone of providing over one million rides in February 2024. The agency reports having provided 1,019,324 rides in February ’24, a 12.5% year-over-year increase over February ’23. This is the second non-consecutive month Metro has had more than 1 million rides in a month since before the pandemic, with October 2023 being the last seeing roughly 1,075,500 riders.

Graph displaying Metro's monthly ridership from 2020 to February 2024, with a callout showing the 12.5% year over year increase in rides provided
Metro continues to make progress in recovering post-pandemic ridership

Coming this week

Healthy Communities Summit

4/29 at 8a – 5p

The Healthy Communities Summit returns to Madison this year on Monday, April 29. The summit is scheduled to occur at UW-Madison’s Memorial Union in the Great Hall on Monday, April 29th, 2024, running from 8a to 5p. Featured programming topics for this year include Education Empowerment, Changemaker Inspiration, and Trail Development Toolbox. Attendees can anticipate various breakout sessions led by both local and national experts, covering these themes and additional subjects.

North/South BRT Public Meeting

4/29 at 5:30p

Metro Rapid Route B will be the second bus rapid transit route in the Madison area, following a North to South route from the North side of Madison to Fitchburg. At the next round of meetings on Monday, April 29 at the MainStay Suites in Fitchburg from 5:30-7:30p, the public can provide feedback and see changes that have been made based on input we received, including updated station locations and routing. Attend the meeting in person or watch it here.

Women’s Mountain Bike Day Group Ride

5/4 at 9:30a

Celebrate Women’s Mountain Bike Day on Saturday, May 4th with a Women’s Group Ride! Meet at the Pavilion by the Quarry Ridge parking lot at 9:30am for a 1-hour beginner-friendly ride. Bring your mountain bike, helmet, water, and a flat kit. There will be an instructor present to help you learn and improve your mountain biking skills. Stick around afterwards for coffee and donuts.

A woman on a mountain bike on a dirt path, Machinery Row Bicycles

Cinco de cuatro ride with @Cap.City. Cicylists

5/4 at 11a

Join @Cap.City.Cyclists and others for a “Cinco de cuatro” bike ride this May 4 to get burritos and drinks. Ride starts at 11a and leaves from Orton Park.

Poster for May 4 bike ride from Orton Park to Habaneros restaurant at 11 a.m.
Join @Cap.City.Cyclists and others for a burrito ride.

No matter how long you ride this week, ride safely! Cheers.

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

Get Ready for Bike Week

Bike Wash and Safety Check

The Madison Bike Week 2024 webpage is up! Events are starting to come in, and soon the calendar will start filling in as groups, businesses, neighborhood associations, non-profits, and individuals start submitting their plans. Do you want to host an event? The form to let us know what you’d like to do is on that page as well. There are some pre-approved locations from the city in public parks and rights of way (streets), but you can also add events on private property or get city permission for additional locations. Let us know if you have questions.

Updates from the past week

The nasty, cold weather cleared away for a great Bike Wash and Safety Check on Sunday, thanks to board member Pete Taglia. We saw familiar faces – and many new ones too – and got a chance to wash off the road grime or salt, check to be sure our bikes are ready for warm weather riding, and talk about Madison Bikes and our plans for the coming months. We had a some people drop in because they saw chalked announcements on the Brittingham Path and signs near the closed street. Thanks to Freecycle for helping us out. WMTV channel 15 had a nice piece on the evening news.

Coming up this week

North-South BRT public meetings starting Monday. Just a reminder from last week’s newsletter that the city is hosting a barrage of public meetings about the proposed North-South BRT Line. On Monday April 22, you can go virtual, on Tuesday it’s at the Urban League on S Park (South Side), on Thursday it’s at the Warner Park Community Center (North Side) and on Monday April 29 it’ll be in Fitchburg.

On South Park St, there will probably be some changes that affect bicycle infrastructure – some good, some not so great. There will be fewer changes on the north side, but there might be opportunities to improve connection. 

Wednesday

The Transportation Commission agenda has several items that may be of interest. You can watch and/or comment on any agenda item at 5:00 pm online

The Safe Streets Madison project list contains relatively small projects that are meant to make streets, paths, crossings, and other infrastructure safer for all users: pavement markings, flashing beacons, small sidewalk and path connections, and signal changes. Safe Streets Madison replaced the previous neighborhood traffic calming program. For this year, Traffic Engineering is proposing 29 projects for a total cost estimate of $1,108,000. 

The Traffic Signal Priority list reports on locations where changes were considered to lights and stop signs. If you have a [least] favorite location for crossing, you may be interested to see why things are or are not changing. 

Thursday

The Joint Campus Area Committee – a committee that coordinates projects between the UW, the city, and adjacent neighborhoods – will be discussing a possible bypass of the Limnology Building.

If you are one of the 15,000 pedestrians or bicyclists that uses the UW Lakeshore Path every day, you know how frustrating it can be to negotiate the tight quarters at the eastern end of the path where we have to pass between the Limnology Building and Bascom Hill. It is narrow, people are entering and exiting the building, sightlines are very bad, and sometimes equipment and vehicles are stored close to the path, making it even narrower. No one is happy with the situation, but a new project will make it much more comfortable. You can see the slides to be presented at the meeting, but the short version is that the entire area south of the building will be widened by cutting into the hillside and building a retaining wall. This will create a better/safer entrance to the building, a dedicated delivery area, and a wider path for bicyclists. Pedestrians will still use a path on the north side of the building. This one is in person at 4:45 pm in room 132 in the WARF building on campus

Saturday

Blackhawk Trail Spring Work Day. If you use this mtb trail, or would like to meet others, come out and help get the trail into shape. Meet at the east chalet on 10118 Blackhawk Road, Middleton at 9:00 am for instructions and to enter your name in the raffle.

Celebrate Trails Day! with Bike Fitchburg 10 am-1 pm at the Velo UnderRound (where the Military Ridge, Cannonball, and Cap City Trails all meet.) Enjoy non-alcoholic drinks from national sponsor Athletic Brewing and snacks, pick up bike maps, and learn how we advocate for biking and walking that’s safer, easier, more fun, and more equitable in Fitchburg.

Sunday

Capital Bike Club 2024 Membership Party, 3-5 pm at Capital Brewery in Middleton. Come say hi to your cycling friends new & old. Snacks and beverages will be provided to paid members of the bike club. And if you aren’t a member, but would like to join, head over to their webpage.

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.