Lots more events are planned, and you can RSVP to the Facebook event and follow our website for updates.
Bike Week celebrates riding to work, to the grocery store, to a park, to the library—or biking just to feel the warm wind blowing through your hair. Celebrating cycling is more important than ever, and we’re so excited to make Madison Bike Week possible.
If you would like to have an event listed on our calendar, offer a deal/discount, or otherwise participate as an organization, please register your event here.
This event is generously supported by our sponsors:
Well, the students are back in town, and as usual, there is a steep learning curve for them as to how to behave on the streets, trails, sidewalks, and other public spaces. But this year there is the added adventure of social distancing. We all need to be patient as the new residents learn our ways. Try to slow down a bit, announce your passing movements way early, and expect the unexpected as you ride through the downtown and campus. It happens every year, but we all need a little extra space and kindness this year. Try to be generous and gentle.
The past week
The new Badger Trail bridge over McKee Road is up, but it’s not open yet. In a couple of weeks, we’ll let you know when there is a grand opening. This will make crossing the road so much more comfortable for everyone — no stopping at the intersection, no confusion with the flashing lights, and no wondering if the drivers are going to yield.
And after many years of work and some obstruction by a few local communities, the first official US Bike Route in Wisconsin has been approved by Wisconsin DOT and Adventure Cycling. Madison Bikes Board member Robbie Webber worked on mapping this route over a decade ago, but there were a few bumps along the way before it was official. Although many Wisconsinites may already know many of these links, it’s great to have a route from the Mississippi River (at Winona, MN) to Lake Michigan (the ferry dock in Milwaukee) officially published. This is part of USBR 30, which will run coast to coast, but each state needs to approve the exact route in their state.
The city is stepping up their game when it comes to outreach and education for not just bicycling and walking, but also driving. The previous position was principally devoted to doing bike and pedestrian safety presentations at schools and community meetings when someone specifically requested it, and the job has been vacant for a few years. The new person will have a different title and the job will be more proactive in its focus. You can read the memo explaining the changes here, but in general this looks like a positive development. No job posting yet, since this is just the authorization to create a new position.
And we have a new BCycle station! It’s at Breese Stevens Field, and sure to be popular when we can go back to gatherings, concerts, and Flamingos games. This location has been requested by a lot of people, and will fill a critical gap in the station network, since it’s close to so much of the new development and destinations. You can also check out a new type of station — one without kiosks! Check out their Twitter announcement.
Maybe you’ve heard, we have a new station! Here’s some tips for using our newest technology at our new Breese Stevens station(s) pic.twitter.com/xVMPvFNawj
Monday at 5 pm, the Transportation Planning and Policy Board will meet. There are a few changes to neighborhood plans, a discussion of the Residential Parking Permit Program and Resident-only Parking Program (discussion only), and some possible modifications to the BRT Local Prefered Alternative involving possible center-running sections (as opposed to using the right lane). This last item could affect bike facilities on some sections of the route.
On Wednesday at 6:30 pm, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MPO) will meet. They will be holding a public hearing on the Transportation Implementation Plan, which governs the projects that the MPO might fund for the next five years. This plan is updated every year, but it gives us a good idea what their plans are for major projects throughout the metropolitan area. The TIP won’t be approved until the October 7 meeting, but there doesn’t appear to be a link to the document itself. (Not great public access, IMHO.)
And of course, don’t forget that Bike Week will be starting up on Sept 12. We’ll have more information on that in a separate post, but we WILL have activities, even though not the kind we all love where we get to socialize and hang out. If your business, club, organization, or work place would like to host an event, discount, promotion, or other activity, you can submit it now to get it on our Bike Week calendar (which will be up soon.)
In the meantime, you can join the Madison Bikes group for Cycle September at the Love To Ride site. Even if you are on a team at work, you can join our group as a club/organization. We will have some special prizes awarded in a drawing for group members, so, yeah, that’s an incentive.
It’s another week when it is hard to focus on biking issues. Police in Kenosha shot Jacob Blake, a Black man in the back. Seven times. Will this ever stop? Not if we don’t make it stop, through individual and collective action. As Governor Evers states: “While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.” “Although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action.” I encourage everyone in the Madison Bikes community to think about what actions you will take to dismantle anti-black racism and police brutality.
Some good news on the north side of town: The construction of a multiuse path and bike lanes on Anderson Street near Madison College is mostly complete. This project helps close a gap in our low-stress bike network between the Starkweather Path and the Reindahl Park Path. Unfortunately, the crossing of Stoughton Road was not improved as part of the project, as it’s under the control of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
We mentioned the public input meeting about the new Cedar Street in last week’s update. I haven’t heard how that meeting went, but the topic will be back at the Transportation Commission on Wednesday. The questions in front of the commission is whether to have buffered bike lanes or “door zone” lanes next to on-street parking on this newly built street, and what the crossing of Park Street should look like. You can register to speak on the topic here, or submit written comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on Wednesday night, the new bridge for the Badger State Trail across McKee Road will be installed (weather permitting). It will still be a few weeks before construction is complete and the trail will reopen. I’ll try and be out there with my camera!
In other construction news: The Cap City Trail will be closed between Nob Hill Road and South Towne Drive for a sewer project. The closure is schedule to begin on August 26 and will approximately four weeks. Follow the detour signs.
Another stretch of the Cap City Trail will be closed starting September 1. For the final phase of its repaving, the section between Seminole Highway and the roundabout (Velo Underround) will be closed for a few weeks. Fortunately, there is a convenient detour via the Cannonball.
Madison Bike Week is going to be very different this year — as so many things. But we’re still committed to celebrating biking in Madison in all forms and shapes, this year from September 12-20. Save the date and stay tuned for more details.
A member of our Board of Directors, Robbie Weber, was interviewed last week by NPR. If you’re new-to-biking or know someone who is, it’s a great starting point for advice. Although, as Robbie points out: “Believe it or not, people often are glad to share their knowledge. You may not be able to shut them up once you ask them for help.” What can we say- we love to see new people on cycles!
On the biking front, it’s a fairly light week. There’s a public information meeting about the Cedar Street construction, happening on August 20. There are some questions about the best path forward, with two alternatives listed. One of these involves road design and parking on the new Cedar Street. The city is deciding between a buffered bike lane for the entire stretch of the new Cedar Street or transitioning partway to standard bike lanes.
In notable construction: The Badger State Trail in Fitchburg is closed for construction of a bridge over Highway PD until mid-late September. Follow the marked bicycle detour.
It’s Madison in the summer, which means lots of construction. As always, make sure you receive the city’s Bike Madison update emails.
A public information meeting for the the long-planned reconstruction of West Wilson Street is happening on August 25. Learn more and register here.
Now that the sun is beginning to set before 8, don’t forget your bike light. Keep getting in those great summer rides!
It’s been a beautiful week for cycling! Cooler temperatures have given us an early taste of autumn and people are taking advantage.
State Street is a very interesting destination right now, as it is ped/bike only and there are many beautiful and powerful artifacts of our times on display. Mifflin St from the Capital Square all the way to the Yahara River is closed to all but local automobile traffic, which makes for a relaxing, low-stress ride with plenty of room for physical distancing.
In last week’s update, we reported that the Transportation Commission approved a low-stress design for the new Cedar Street extension. Because of the projected number of cars on the street, the design features buffered bike lanes on both sides of the street, and on-street car parking in front of the to-be-built supermarket.
The design will get its final approval at the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night. Street space is always contested, and some registrants at the Transportation Commission meeting advocated for taking away the buffer from the lanes or even building a street without bike accommodations at all. Please consider registering in support of the low-stress design (use agenda item #60869). You can register your support or opposition without the need to speak at the meeting, and you can also send your comments by email to email@example.com.
On Monday, the Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) is meeting at 5:00. The agenda looks relatively light this month!
A gentle reminder that there’s still time to read the virtual book club selection for next Friday, August 14: Cyclescapes of the Unequal City: Bicycle Infrastructure and Uneven Development by John G. Stehlin. Event details here.
This is a guest post by Sally Lehner. Sally started a petition to ask the UW-Madison that Arboretum Dr remain open only for people walking, running, and biking past July 31, while the COVID-19 pandemic is going on. You can find the petition here.
Arboretum Drive was closed to cars in May, early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure was meant to give people more space to safely enjoy the outdoors, without having to worry about traffic. The pandemic isn’t over, but the University wants to reopen the drive to cars on July 31.
I am asking the UW to reconsider this decision and extend the temporary closure until at least regular activities are resuming (i.e. MMSD schools fully reopened in-person, organized sports for kids and adults open and running as usual, gyms reopened fully, community spread of COVID-19 under control etc.).
It has been absolutely wonderful to have Arboretum Drive closed to cars. The road has become an amazing amenity with so many grateful people utilizing it as a sanctuary and place of respite from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been especially true for kids confined to online classes with no organized sport activities.
The first time my younger son was able to bike on the road without having to worry about the cars he said: “This is like a short-cut to heaven!” And it is—and also why almost every day since it’s been closed, I have been using this drive to run and/or bike with my 7 and 11-year-old children. Without the cars, we are able to keep our distance safely and comfortably from other walkers, joggers and bicyclists. I can also let my 11-year-old bike up ahead or on his own knowing that the threat of him getting hit by a car is diminished.
The UW’s decision to temporarily close Arboretum Drive to motor vehicles was done for safety reasons. UW-Madison Transportation Services director Patrick Kass at the beginning of the closure said: “With limited options for people to get outside, other recreational activities have definitely seen a spike — particularly people on bikes.” “We want to provide safe locations for people to do that.” Therefore I’m troubled that a decision is being made now to open the road back up because: 1) it is still heavily used by pedestrians and bikers, much more so than before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2) we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring social distancing, masks, and massive closures of usual business, sports, and community activities. Local school districts aren’t even able to open doors because community spread is not under control.
Late yesterday afternoon along the drive, around 4:00-5:00 pm, there were children happily riding bikes on training wheels, parents jogging with strollers, older adults on recumbent bikes, triathletes training on their speed bikes, joggers, older adults walking slowly along in pairs at a distance… and most of us weaving in and out of the middle of the street to keep socially distanced from one another.
It is a dangerous decision to now introduce cars and trucks into the mix, especially just as the university students will be coming back and wanting to take advantage of the Arboretum for exercise and relaxation.
Most of the day to day was excellent for biking if you could put up with the heat and humidity. Lots of people were out on the south west path, but most people were taking it slow to stay cool.
Cedar Street Extension
Last week the Transportation Commission approved a design for the new Cedar Street extension on the south side. This new street is part of the Truman Olson Redevelopment project and will be the main access to the supermarket that will replace the existing Pick’n’Save on Park Street. The approved street design includes on-street car parking for the supermarket and buffered bike lanes on both sides of the street. Traffic Engineering projects that the street will see about 5000 cars per day, which means that the buffered design is necessary to make this a low-stress bike route. Still to be resolved is the crossing of Cedar at Park St. Allowing people to safely walk and bike across the four lanes of Park St is challenging, and the commission and residents testifying didn’t like any of the proposed designs. Engineering will seek additional public input before bringing the design back to the Transportation Commission.
COVID-19 Biking Metrics
Streetlight Data released a report on biking metrics during COVID-19. Based on location data from smart phones and navigation devices, Streetlight compared “bicycle miles traveled” in May 2019 and 2020. For the Madison metro area (which consists of Columbia, Dane, Green, and Iowa counties), they found an increase of 20-49%. How do these numbers compare to the two bike counters on the Southwest Path and Cap City Trail? Our board member Harald took a look: The counters also show an increase compared to last year. But the increase is smaller (9%), and compared to years before 2019, the 2020 numbers are actually lower.
Oscar Mayer Area Plan Adopted
After a very long Madison City Council meeting last week a plan preserving the high density affordable housing for the Oscar Mayer Area was adopted and expanding the preserved wetland open space to 14.1 acres. This plan is expected to create more than 2,500 affordable housing units near Madison’s urban core that will be well connected by transit, biking and walking. In addition, Coolidge street will be restricted to bike and pedestrians to reduced car traffic through the neighborhood.
Aldo Leopold Pilot Trail Project
Madison Parks in conjunction with IMBA is developing a professionally built mountain bike park off the Cannonball Path on the City’s south side. This week good progress was made, the first trail was “burned” in and updated/larger signage will be put up soon. IMBA is also working with City Staff to build skills development features along the trail.
Additional development phases are planned over the next two years. Phase 1 design work will be taking place late summer and through the fall with the goal to build Phase 1 summer 2021. Phase 2 is planned for 2022. Visit Capital Off Road Pathfinders or Facebook to learn more.
The resurfacing of the Southwest Path unfortunately got a little delayed by the heavy rains last week. It seems like the contractors were mostly done by Friday, but apparently some work remains to be done. Please respect the closure signs and follow the signed detours.
The new week starts of with the inaugural meeting of a new city subcommittee. The current process by which we/the City decide who does and doesn’t get traffic calming (most often in the form of speed bumps) has been problematic in several regard. Probably some of the readers of this post have tried to get speed bumps on their street, signed a petition in support or opposition, or have shown up to a public hearing on the topic. To fix some of the issues and develop a more systematic and equitable approach to traffic calming, the Traffic Calming Subcommittee was created. (Disclaimer: I’m one of its members). Tonight, Monday 5pm is the committee’s first meeting, and you can watch it online. The full agenda is available here–mostly administrative stuff such as selecting a chair and defining the scope and timeline of the work.
The Common Council meets on Tuesday. One important on the agenda: There will be a vote on the Vision Zero resolution that we mentioned in last week’s update. The Transportation Policy and Planning Board during their meeting last week added an important amendment to the initial resolution, which acknowledges that eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries (the goal of Vision Zero) must not come at the expense of racist traffic enforcement:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Vision Zero Action Plan will document the disproportionate effects of traffic enforcement and the impacts of traffic injuries and fatalities on people of color and that a plan is developed that works to reduce and eliminate those harms; and,
Other cities and organizations, such as Our Streets Minneapolis, the Vision Zero Network, or the Safe Routes Partnership have spoken out strongly about the dangers that traffic stops pose to Black people, Indigenous People, and People of Color, and Madison Bikes shares these concerns. A street on which you’re safe from traffic violence but not from police is not a safe street.
The Transportation Policy and Planning Board is back to a bi-monthly meeting schedule. On Wednesday, some of the items on the agenda are:
A presentation on the Department of Transportation’s (DoT) budget request. Our city’s budget is under tremendous financial strain, and we’ll have to see how the DoT is going to prioritize capital and operations expenses for the upcoming budget period. In times of budget crises, there is always a risk that investments in walking and biking will be cut back, even when they only make up a minuscule proportion of transportation spending when compared to the cost of car infrastructure
The Wilson Street Corridor Study will be on the agenda once more. We’re getting quite close to finalizing this important bike corridor, and the proposed designs look promising. You can read the full report here. One key recommendation is a two-way cycletrack on Wilson between Broom and Blair!