Its a great time a year to get out bike! There are tons of great gravel rail trails in Dane county which can be comfortably enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. This family is enjoying a ride near Cambridge on the Glacial Drummlin Trail and possibly the adjacent CamRock mountain biking area.
Madison was recently Awarded Gold status as a walk friendly community, which is just another reminder that we live in one of the most awesome cities in the US! I think this award shows we are making progress towards a more walkable city, but of course there is always more work to be done 😉
City alders and transportation engineering took another step in the right direction when they choose two neighborhoods (Tenney-Lapham and Hammersley-Theresa) to pilot the new 20 is Plenty initiative to reduce car/ped crashes in residential neighborhoods by reducing the speed limit to 20mph. I’m very excited about this because my kids bike to Lapham School and slower cars means more kids will feel comfortable biking or walking to school.
Madison’s Ride the Drive event is quickly approaching on Jun 6th from 9am to 1pm and they are still looking for volunteers (2-hr shifts). This is a great city wide event to encourage biking particularly those who don’t often bike. The event will be held at 4 different city parks:
Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB) is meeting at 5pm and their agenda includes an update on the Complete Green Streets initiative. If you are unfamiliar this initiative, I recommend you take a look at the presentation to view map overlays of the city focused on identifying how out transportation system serves our community and where we should focus efforts to improve. Its really great to see how our city leaders are taking steps to dramatically change how transportation projects and users are prioritized.
Another item on the TPPB agenda is the Parking Research and Policy Overview, which is a short overview of how Madison ordinances currently encourage car ownership by subsidizing free parking. This is part of the broader topic of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and changing our local laws so that some of the hidden costs of car parking is supported more by drivers.
Although we’ve had some ups and downs in temperature, there are clearly more people moving around by bike. Whether it’s seasonal riders hauling the bike out of the garage and pumping up the tires, newly-vaccinated people being out and about more, or just friends and families being more visible on bikes, the two-wheeled traffic is obvious.
I always love to see people of all shapes, sizes, ages, clothing styles, abilities, family types, economic backgrounds, and destinations traveling by bike. It makes me happy to see people on bikes going by, chatting with each other, clearly just using their bikes to go about their daily lives. No big deal, except that it is a big deal that it is so normalized in Madison.
Lots going on this week that will affect how we move through the city and what types of transportation we prioritize. Your participation and voice is why we’ve made the progress we have, but we still have a long way to go until everyone feels comfortable using a bike all year and everywhere.
The week ahead
The Transportation Commission will consider reviving the Shared Streets program for the summer. last year the city limited motorized use of some residential streets to local users in order to open up the street to people walking, biking, using other non-motorized transportation, as well as activities like socializing, playing, and just enjoying the public right of way in ways that are difficult or impossible when one has to “watch out for traffic.”
This program also includes creating a dedicated, protected bike lane on Atwood in front of Oblich Park. The justification is that the shared sidewalk is too narrow to be shared with pedestrians. Very true, but probably true all year, and not just in summer. This section is a big gap in the bike network, since the bike lanes on Monona Dr end at Cottage Grove Rd when you are headed north.
Currently, the following streets are proposed to be part of the program: Atwood, West Shore and South Shore, Sherman, Darbo, E Mifflin, Darbo, and Fisher.
As always, some letters, emails, or testimony in favor of this program would be helpful. And maybe some encouragement to make some of the street changes permanent.
Also on the TC agenda:
Discussions of the “20 is Plenty” program to pilot lowering the speed limit on some residential streets to 20 MPH. This is a test program, and the city hasn’t decided where and how many streets will have the lowered speed limit.
Consideration of traffic calming for Wheeler Rd
Ped/bike enhancements (projects) for 2021
Updates from a subcommittee on whether the traffic calming program should be modified or changed.
As always, you can watch the meeting online, register to speak on any item, and/or send comments. Go here to find out how and when to access the meeting (and see the full agenda and all the details on the items above.)
Also Wednesday, Parks Commission will consider of an interim traffic management plan for Vilas Park Dr until the new master plan can be implemented in a few years.
Last year Vilas Park Dr was closed to through motor vehicle traffic as part of the Shared Streets program. This was very popular with pedestrians, bicyclists, and many other park users, as the current configuration of the road means all users either have to share the paved roadway or walk/bike on makeshift gravel areas along the side of the road.
It looks like they are considering two options, but both require bicyclists to share the road with motorized traffic. Tjhey would also remove some parking spots.
The Plan Commission will have a special meeting to begin the process of passing a citywide change to how transportation impacts are considered in development review. This is something that I worked on for other cities before I retired (as did Mayor Satya before she was elected), and I’m very excited that Madison is finally moving forward on this initiative.
I’ll write more about this concept at a later date, but this will mean facilitating biking, walking, and transit — as well as simply encouraging fewer and shorter motor vehicle trips — will be required as part of the city development review for all new developments over a certain size. The city will better link transportation and land use in city policy. Land use and transportation have always been linked, but not always explicitly considered as we reviewed new developments. You can tune in to hear the discussion and access the documents for the meeting here.
Bike Rodeo in the Allied Neighborhood. These events help kids learn to ride safely and also help them get their bikes in good shape for the summer. There is also an option to connect families with free bikes if they need one. As of this writing (Monday morning), there are still a few volunteer slots that need to be filled. You can go here to sign up to help.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Madison Love to Ride May Bike Month Challenge. You can sign up to be part of the Madison Bikes group/club. Or, sign up with your friends or workplace group. Why sign up and log your rides? It helps city, state, and national officials see how important bicycling is to you and the whole region. It’s an incentive for those who might need a little push to get out and bike — no one on this list, I’m sure. Help your friends get on their bikes by signing up and riding with them — or maybe competing. And you might win a prize in the drawing.
As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.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.
The Transportation Policy and Planning Board is meeting tonight. On the agenda are a proposal for the City to build a new parking garage at Villager Mall to support the Urban League’s new Black Business Hub, a presentation on Metro’s future fare collection system (spoiler: staff doesn’t recommend going fare free), and a presentation by City Engineering on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which lays out mayor road and path projects for the next 5 years. One new addition to the TIP is the plan for a new bike path connecting Old Sauk Rd across the Beltline to the employment and commercial centers in the Deming Way area.
Buffered Bike Lanes on Whitney Way
At their meeting last week, the Transportation Commission approved a slew of Vision Zero projects, including a new buffered bike lane on Whitney Way. Currently people on bikes have to share the curb lane with parked cars, and this new design will create a new low-stress bike connection on this important north-south corridor.
Mountain Biking for High Schoolers
Do you live on the west side of Madison or in Verona and have kids in 6th-12th grade? Are they riding mountain bikes, or are curious about riding? The Madison West Area MTB Teams are holding a virtual meeting on Tuesday, May 4 at 7pm. A Zoom link is available on the Facebook event page.
Come and discover the lifelong joy of mountain biking! Our co-ed teams serve 6th-12th grade students, beginner to advanced, casual riders to racers, in the west Madison and Verona area. Join us for an introductory meeting for parents and potential athletes and learn more about the fun, confidence and community that mountain biking can provide. We work with girls and boys riding at all levels. Some of our athletes ride only at practices and maybe an adventure outing or two. Others find that they love racing with their team. We welcome all interest and ability levels!
Repaving County Highway B north of Oregon (very commonly used on rustic road loops through Oregon, connecting from Cap City Trail)
Repaving County Highway A SW of Oregon between D and MM (pretty useful road connecting some alternate quieter N/S roads)
Repaving and widening County Highway G, adding 3ft paved shoulders, between Mt. Vernon and US 151
Repaving KP between Kross [sic] Plains @ US 14 to WI 19, slightly widened to include 1ft paved shoulder
Both F and J S/SW of Black Earth are going to be closed to through traffic due to bridge replacements. This will be annoying, particularly as they will be concurrent closures. Detours are long and everything is hilly out there.
I can personally vouch for the dire state of pavement on many of these repaving roads so overall I’m pretty happy to see the work being done!”
Thanks, Ben! Click on the map link above to get an overview of where the projects are located.
Beautiful weather coming this week, including a very summery Tuesday. Hopefully you were able to join us at our Spring Bike Wash event to get your bike ready for some rides (or your winter bike ready for storage). Thank you to all of the volunteers for helping and to Board Member Peter Taglia for hosting and doing so much of the planning work to make this event a success!
Apply for Grants!
We’re excited to be part of this exciting new grants program, specifically for projects that are led by and benefit People of Color and/or people from Tribes/Native Nations. The JUST Bikes Coalition invites individuals and organizations that would like to contribute to local, neighborhood-based efforts to support equity in active transportation, with a special focus on safe and comfortable access to bicycling. Learn more, share with your networks, and apply soon!
Join the Madison Bikes Board of Directors for our Bike Week planning session on Monday (4/25) at 6 pm. Help us set goals, create a planning timeline and brainstorm new, fun events. Bike Week will take place September 12-18, 2021.
Wednesday: Transportation Commission!
This week at Transportation Commission, a number of important issues are up for discussion. First, Vilas Park Drive’s reconfiguration will be up for discussion. We support removing car traffic from the road entirely – a strategy already proven by the Shared Streets program last year. Second, Whitney Way is also up for some incredible improvements, including a buffered bike lane. We highly encourage you to write or speak in support of these efforts to get us closer to a city where people of all ages and abilities can bike to every destination they need, regardless of where they live.
(Note: you can get a sense of the kind of feedback you can give the Commission by clicking on the link in the agenda about this item [Vision Zero], which will lead you here. People write in with varying level of detail and certainly a lot of personality! Your vocal support really does matter.)
Bombay Bicycle Club is hosting an open house at Garner Park.
Spring is in full swing with trees budding and flowers blooming. To help emerge from the winter season, Madison Bikes is hosting a Spring Bike Wash and Safety Check. This event will take place Saturday, April 24, from 1 PM to 5 PM at Clark Ct, near Brittingham Park. Volunteers from Madison Bikes, Down With Bikes, Dream Bikes, BikEquity, and Wheels for Winners will be on site to assist with safety checks. Cleaning supplies, tools, and lube will also be available for use. Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/events/785154002417389/
Also this week, the Madison Vision Zero Initiative is bringing a presentation on the 20 is Plenty campaign to two city committees: the Transportation Policy and Planning Board (TPPB), and the Board of Public Works (BPW). 20 is Plenty is a campaign to reduce the default speed limit on city streets from 25 mph to 20 mph. Injuries that result from a crash grow exponentially more severe with speed, so lowering speed limits should help save lives. The 20 is Plenty slides can be seen here. TPPB meets Monday at 5:00 PM, and BPW meets Wednesday at 4:30 PM. Both meetings are taking place virtually.
This Monday’s TPPB meeting also has a presentation on Complete Green Streets. Topics for this presentation include pre-design engagement and gap analysis approach. Pre-design engagement in projects is about reaching out to communities where a project is proposed to get a sense of what that community wants. The gap analysis approach is how to approach gaps in the low stress pedestrian and bicycle network.
High school may be a distant memory for many of us, but I want to bring your attention to an important high school and bike topic which I think is receiving insufficient attention. You are likely aware that Madison residents recently approved a $317M referendum to invest in MMSD school facilities, with most of the money earmarked for the four major district high schools. MMSD has drawn up project concepts and is in the process of turning these into firm requirements to send out for bid. You can view the project proposals and schematics here. Disappointingly, none of the MMSD project project call out any specific improvements to pedestrian or bike facilities.
Many bike facilities at MMSD schools are over crowded, in poor condition, and poorly designed (see image of west high above). This is unacceptable, we need to invest in enhanced bike, bus and walk infrastructure to make it safe, convenient and inexpensive for students to get to school! Relying on car transportation unfairly places the cost of transportation on families which can be a significant percentage of income for the underprivileged. At a minimum facilities should include functional, well lighted and covered bike parking, bus shelters and well lit walking paths around the school property, so kids feel safe walking home, unlocking their bike or waiting for a bus after dark.
Transportation Commission meets at 5pm this week and can register for the meeting here. Agenda items include a few items of interest, the city staff is proposing to revert pedestrian/bike crossing signals back to pre-COVID timing phases (view list of intersections, agenda item #8). In its current form, this change means pedestrians and bikes will once again be required to press walk buttons to receive a signal to cross. I personally, have become accustomed to the automatic pedestrian phases and would like to see many of them stay. You should send the TC an email to advocate for an intersection in your neighborhood.
The second item of note on the TC agenda is #6 after many public input meetings and discussion the city is proposing the following changes on Whitney Way. This is a hard earned win for pedestrian/bike friendly infrastructure design and it would be great if you could show your support by attending the TC meeting or sending a quick email of support to the TC.
Adding a buffered bike lane from Old Middleton Rd to Tokay Blvd
This will require the removal of all the on street parking from Sheboygan to South Hill Dr
Pedestrian improvements including:
Old Middleton Rd – Adding high visibility crosswalks
Langlois St – Adding a pedestrian curb ramp and install a high visibility crosswalk
Door Dr – Adding new crosswalks
South Hill Dr – Adding a rapid flash beacon crossing on the south side of the intersection and add a high visibility crosswalk
If you do everything in this post, it might end being a very busy week in Madison for you! I think we have a nice blend of virtual and in-person activities to enjoy. While you’re out, enjoy that novel feeling of wind on your bare limbs. While you’re in, tend to that first, glorious sunburn of the year. In fact, you can share those #bikeshortburn photos over on our Facebook community and the “winner” with the “best” lines gets a bit under 1/4 of a bottle of last year’s Coppertone knock-off SPF 70, courtesy of me, redeemable at our bike wash event later this month. Please don’t try to win this competition though — really this is a just a friendly reminder that it’s legit sunscreen season for a lot of people out there.
On Wednesday at 6:30pm, the Greater Madison MPO Policy Board will meet virtually and discuss a wide variety of items including a bit about the University Avenue reconstruction, changes to their project scoring metrics and new board member nominations. For registration to watch the online stream or other access, check the linked agenda.
On Thursday at 5:00pm, join our friend Pepe Barros (City of Madison’s Pedestrian Bicycle Outreach Coordinator) for a virtual event hosted by Dreambank titled “THINK & EXPLORE: Smart Cities and the Biking Economy”. Registration is required!
Also on Saturday, between 12pm and 4pm, Free Bikes for Kidz is looking for some volunteer muscle to help relocate some bikes between two east and north-side sites. If you’ve kept up with your strength-training regime all winter, this is your chance to put it to good use! U-Haul trailer will be provided but it may take a dozen or so bikes to pull it. Check the event link for more information and a signup form for all of the ongoing FB4K opportunities.
From the Bike Madison newsletter on Friday, we learned that Ride the Drive 2021 will be happening on Sunday, June 6 with a few significant changes to the format due to COVID-19. Expect to hear a lot more from the City of Madison and us on this classic event!
If you missed our Advocacy 101 event, you can catch a recording on Facebook. Thanks to all the folks that joined us, asked questions, and added to a great conversation about how decisions are made in Madison and how you can influence those decisions.
And speaking of advocacy, with the spring elections set for April 6 (note that we had a typo about the date in last week’s update), in-person absentee voting is now available around the city. Although far fewer people vote in local elections and the non-partisan statewide elections than big November elections, your vote actually counts more. For alder – your representation on the Madison City Council – your vote might be one of less than 2000. And we will also elect a new Superintendent of Public Instruction for Wisconsin. If you want to know how the alder candidates view bicycling issues, check out the answers to the Madison Bikes questions on our website. Need to know how and where to vote? The Madison City Clerk’s website has you covered.
The week ahead
It’s a pretty quiet this week. There are no city meetings of note. But there are a couple of opportunities to learn more about transportation issues in the county and trails outside of Madison.
Monday evening at 7:00 pm, the Madison Area Bus Advocates will host a Facebook meeting to discuss Vehicle Miles Traveled, transit, and the link to the Dane County Sustainability Plan. Although this will focus on transit, the idea of reducing VMT is one that bicyclists and anyone interested in sustainability and better transportation policy will find of interest. Sign up here.
Thursday there will be a Zoom meeting hosted by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) about the Southwest Savanna master plan, an area that covers the Sugar River and Badger Trails south of Madison. They are also taking comments on the master plan.
Although the master plan does not recommend allowing ATVs or other motorized uses to the trail, there is a vocal group that has been pushing for motorized access. It’s always useful to provide comment that you do NOT want to share the trail with motorized users. On the positive side of things, the plan does show a detour for the currently-closed Stewart Tunnel and mountain bike trails in New Glarus Woods.
“The DNR will host a public meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2021 via Zoom video conferencing. Pre-register for the meeting here. For those unable to attend, the meeting will be recorded and posted to the Southwest Savanna Draft Regional Master Plan webpage for viewing after the event.
“The meeting will include a brief presentation by DNR staff, followed by a public comment period. Those wishing to speak at the meeting are required to register online here by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.”
More info, including the full master plan can be found here.
If you are looking for a job, the Wisconsin Bike Fed is hiring here in Madison. They have three positions posted: A Government Affairs Manager; an Education and Engagement Program Manager, who will spend 80 percent of the job working on a newly-revived Safe Routes to School program; and an Education and Engagement Program Assistant. More information, job descriptions, and deadlines to apply (April 15) can be found here.
What a beautiful weekend we had. The bike paths were busier than ever, as evidences by the City’s bike counters: On the Cap City Trail, Saturday saw the highest ever daily March count, with 2262 people riding past the counter. The SW Path saw a count of 1209, which isn’t quite an all-time March record (March 16, 2015: 1480 riders) but still very respectable.
Advocacy 101 tonight
Tonight from 6-7pm is the Madison Bikes Advocacy 101 community meeting. We often get asked what one can do to advocate for biking in Madison, and so this 1-hour Zoom meeting will provide some answers to that question. Our board member and former Alder Robbie Webber is going to do a brief presentation and then there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion. is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. For active participation, join the Zoom call, or you can watch the meeting on Facebook Live.
Common Council Candidate Questionnaire
Elections for the Madison Common Council are on April 16 April 6 (early voting has started already). Where do candidates stand on issues related to biking and transportation? We sent them a questionnaire to find out and now the answers are in! Don’t know which district you’re in? Enter your address here. Note that not all candidates responded to our questions, and Madison Bikes does not endorse or oppose any candidate. Independent from our questionnaire, you may also be interested in the one from 350 Madison.
District 20 (Christian Albouras, Erica Lee Janisch)
Cap City Yield Signs
If you’ve been riding the Capital City Trail between Blair and Dickinson lately, you may have noticed new yield signs on the path. This stretch of the path has always been a bit of a hodgepodge when it came to who had the right-of-way at the crossings, but over the years the City had installed more and more stop signs on the cross streets. Those are gone now, and you can thank the “Office of the Commissioners of Railroads.” This obscure-yet-powerful office has wide authority under state and federal law to regulate anything related to railroad crossings, and they didn’t like the stop signs — presumably out of a concern that cars on the cross streets would back up all the way into the railroad crossing, creating a safety issue. So watch out for the new configuration and be prepared for people in cars and on bikes to be confused by the changes.
Save the Date: Spring Bike Wash and Safety Checks
It’s still a bit out, but mark the date: On April 24, we’re partnering with BikEquity, Down With Bikes, Dream Bikes, and Wheels for Winners for a spring bike wash and safety checks events. We’ll have cleaning supplies to wash that dirt and salt off your winter bikes, and experienced volunteers to do basic safety checks on your bike to get you started into spring. The event will take place on Clark Court, right next to Brittingham Park. Stay tuned for more details and let us know if you’re going on the Facebook event page.
I’m not a native Sconnie, but I’ve been around long enough to recognize that we just experienced false spring. A beautiful weekend, perfect for a relaxing ride on a cruiser; a day to bring out your bike from storage and remember the feeling of the sun on your face as you ride. Unfortunately, Monday has snow in the forecast, so don’t get too used to it. Still, beautiful riding weather is nearly here for keeps! (Although of course, all weather is riding weather with the right gear and safe infrastructure!)
BCycle returns! Madison’s electric bike share program returns today, March 15, with a special Art Bike program.
Interested in spaces for recreational cycling for all ages and abilities? On March at 5:30 pm, there will be a meeting about the Aldo Leopold Pump Track. The proposed project would create an approximately 7000 square foot asphalt pump track near the shelter at Aldo Leopold Park. If you want to learn more and ask questions, this is a great meeting to attend.
Don’t miss Madison Bikes Community Meeting next Monday, March 22 at 6 pm for Bike Advocacy 101. Board member Robbie Webber will lead a presentation and discussion on advocating for biking in Madison. We’ll then dive into known (and unknown) bike problem areas in Madison. You can join by Zoom or watch the livestream on Facebook.
Are you voting in the April election? We will have answers from city alder candidates ready to view next week. Madison Bikes will not be endorsing candidates, but we look forward to educating candidates and the community through this process. Keep a lookout for more info on this blog and on the Madison Bikes Facebook group!