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.

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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.

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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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Bike News E-Mail In Depth

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.
Categories
Weekly Update

TPPB/TC Joint Meeting, and More

Have you ever tried putting your bike on a bus? It’s a great skill to have just in case! Photo credit: Harald Kleims

This Week

Portions of East Washington Ave. will have speed limits reduced to 25 mph. This is a part of the Vision Zero initiative. With a growing number of businesses and residences, East Wash is become a dangerous road – a highway through the heart of downtown. We’re excited to see this road transform into a transportation artery that is safe for cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and bus riders (and eventually BRT riders!).

Wednesday is a busy night. First, the Transportation Commission and Transportation Policy and Planning Board will meet at 5 pm in a joint meeting. The agenda has quite a lot going on for those interested in policy and how the city can make biking more comfortable for all, including agenda points from the Traffic Calming Subcommittee and a discussion on equity. Nothing very specific to biking this week, but a useful way to see transportation more holistically.

Next, the Joint Campus Area Committee will meet on Wednesday at 4:45pm. For folks who live near campus, this meeting might be of interest, as the Village of Shorewood Hills’ sustainability plan has several plans to improve biking in the area.

Don’t Forget…

We promote a lot of road and mixed-use path cycling around here…but what about those of you excited for off-road travels? Check out the Madison Bicycle Adventure Trail Community Engagement Meetings, happening on Oct 13, Oct 15 and Oct 28 from 6-7:30pm. The meetings will be online with required registration. If you cannot attend, you can still email feedback. More Info.

Cycle September is still happening, too!

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E-Mail

Join the Board of Madison Bikes

Want to become more involved in local bicycle advocacy? Consider joining the Madison Bikes board of directors.

Madison Bikes is looking for people who are dedicated, passionate, strong communicators, good compromisers, organized, and able to commit time and energy to promote biking as a priority in the city of Madison. There are no paid staff and everything we do—from fundraising to advocacy to communications to events—is done by our 15-member volunteer board and volunteer committee members.

We are currently accepting applications for at least one seat on our Board of Directors, with elections taking place in December. And we’re hosting a virtual open house where you can learn about us (see below for details).

Our organization is committed to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic board committed to equity and anti-racism in our work. We strongly encourage applications from people of color, women, and other groups who are underrepresented in bike advocacy.

The Madison Bikes board is an all-volunteer working board. At a minimum, we expect board members to:

  • Attend our monthly board meetings (6-8 pm every third Monday of the month, virtual for the foreseeable future), and when possible our community/work meetings (6-7:30 pm on the fourth Monday of the month)
  • Have a passion for our organization’s vision: Making Madison a city where anyone can ride a bicycle conveniently and comfortably to any place in the city and neighboring communities year-round.

Other examples of things our board members do:

  • Write for our blog
  • Plan, organize, and promote events like Madison Bike Week, Winter Bike Week, or the Winter Bike Fashion Show (online or in-person events when those return)
  • Attend city-held meetings (public input meetings, City Council meetings, local and regional transportation committee meetings)
  • Mobilize the community to advocate for bike projects
  • Meet and liaise with community partners (neighborhood associations, non-profits, other bike advocacy groups)
  • Contribute to fundraising and organizational development efforts

If you are interested in joining our board, please complete this application form by October 16. If you would like to nominate someone other than yourself, please forward this post/email to them and ask them to apply.

A great opportunity to chat with current board members will be at our Virtual Board Open House on October 6th at 6 pm. Or you can email questions to harald@madisonbikes.org.

Meeting ID meet.google.com/izm-uttm-xgg
Phone Number ‪+1 316-512-8967‬
PIN: ‪185 331 103#‬

Our executive committee will review all applications and follow up with all applicants with the next steps.

Categories
Weekly Update

Bike Week over, budget and ‘cross season on

A bicycle leaning on a glass facade, with Madison Bike Week posters attached to glass
My bike at the Pacific Cycle/Schwinn HQ, one of the food drive drop-off sites

Madison Bike Week 2020 is a wrap! It sure was different this year, but what isn’t… I want to say thank to our sponsors and community partners that contributed to the fact that we even had a Bike Week this year. If you took any great Madison Bike Week photos, please send them our way: info@madisonbikes.org

While Madison Bike Week is over, Cycle September continues. So you can still participate in the Bike Benefits Blitz, collect points in our Love to Ride group, donate used bike to Free Bikes 4 Kidz, or contribute to the Pedal for Good food drive and the Park Clean-up.

One new thing we did this year: Promoting Bike Week on a Madison Metro bus. If you spot bus #148, take a photo and send it our way!

The City meeting calendar is pretty empty this week. This is a good opportunity to remind you that budget season is in full swing: Mayor Rhodes-Conway presented her executive capital budget at the beginning of the month and hearings at the Finance Committee have started. From a biking and walking perspective, there are several good projects in the budget, such as the Garver Path, a new underpass of the railroad near Knoche’s on Old Middleton, the extension of the Cannoball Path, and improvements to the Troy Dr underpass. The mayor is also doubling down on her commitment to Vision Zero by “[a]llocating $3.0 million for the Vision Zero program to redesign the City’s most dangerous intersections in a way that will reduce traffic and pedestrian crashes.”

Screenshot from the executive capital budget with the heading "Major land use and transportation projects by year"

The Common Council will have special sessions on the budget in November, and we’ll keep you posted about opportunities to provide input.

Madison Parks is trying something new this year for cyclocross: In addition to the year-round cyclocross course in Northeast Park, the department, in collaboration with Capital Offroad Pathfinders, is setting up rotating temporary courses in parks in different parts of the city. This week’s course: Hill Creek Park on the far west side. Find more info and future locations on the Parks website.

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Weekly Update

Bike Week Continues!

BikrLiz inspects the Madison Bike Week signage at Vilas Park. Have you seen them around in any new locations?

After last week’s rain, we’re thankful to have a beautiful week of warm fall weather on tap to help us celebrate Madison Bike Week. Kudos to those who braved the rain on Friday night to participate in the “Pick me up at the Border” ride. With the improved forecast, several new events have been added so check out the constantly updated calendar!

This Week

This week is all about biking in Madison, so here’s a sample itinerary for the week. This is only a small taste of the events this week so be sure to check the full calendar for the complete list.

While we have your attention, we’ve been collecting nominations for “Best of” cycling in Madison and now everything’s locked in. Today we start the final round of voting in six categories including “most improved street”, “best restaurant bike parking” and “best hill to bike down”. Vote here (no Facebook required)! The polls will be open until Friday evening and we’ll post the results on Saturday.

Speaking of collecting… if you’ve got an old bike collecting dust that you’d like to donate, this is the week to do it! Get yourself a discount on gear, free fun stuff, or a free beverage when donating at one of five locations around the city.

On Monday starting at 6pm, there is a virtual chat for Women, Trans and Femme individuals. “Throughout the U.S., women bike less than men for transportation, recreation, and sport. Why? Even in Madison, which has a better record than many cities, the disparities are very noticeable. What keeps you from biking? What keeps your friends, family, or colleagues from biking? There has been a lot of academic research and discussion on this topic, but we want to hear from you.” The event will be moderated by Robbie and Heather from the Madison Bikes board.

On Tuesday at 6pm, maybe check out the Bicycle Flat Fix virtual class, sponsored by UW-Madison Transportation Services. Registration required and space is limited.

On Wednesday at noon, learn more about the business uses of cargo bikes by participating in the bike week zoom sponsored by DMI and City of Madison. Also, check out a recent article discussing (with pictures!) the new electric cargo bike being tested by the city around town.

On Friday morning, maybe stop by the bike station along John Nolen drive, sponsored by Edward Jones Financial Services. Grab a pre-packaged snack pack and say hey! They’ll be out there Tuesday and Wednesday as well, if your schedule allows.

Next Sunday, September 20 between 2pm and 4pm, head over to Warner Park for the Pop Up Wheel Spots event sponsored by Capitol Off Road Pathfinders (CORP). Show your support for new off-road trail plans in Madison Parks.

Have a fun and safe week!

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E-Mail

Happy Madison Bike Week 2020!

Madison Bike Week has begun. For the next eight days, we’ll celebrate biking, in a safe and fun way. Liz and Harald walk through the events on Madison Bike Week TV:

And check out the full schedule on the Madison Bike Week event page — we’ll keep updating things during the week. Which Madison Bike Week activities are you going to do this year?

Happy Madison Bike Week 2020!