Categories
Weekly Update

Take back the streets

Rally for Safe Streets sentiments in chalk

Probably the biggest event this past week was the rally that Madison Bikes held Saturday morning in partnership with three other organizations. The Take Back the Streets: Safe Streets Save Lives gathered people in front of the Madison Municipal Building to demand improvements to E. Washington Ave (and other large, fast roads in our city) to address the conditions that led to recent deaths. All three major local TV news services and the Wisconsin State Journal covered the rally the same day. Tone Madison will be running an article in the future. 

Although we wanted to have an event immediately to react to the deaths on E Washington in the last month, this is not the end. This is just the beginning of a coalition for safer streets. We will keep you up to date on future events, planning, and actions. If you are interested in volunteering for this coalition, drop Marybeth McGuiness — Madison Bikes new board Vice President — a note. 

Building a coalition
Grant at the mic

The week ahead

Monday

Transportation Planning and Policy Board meets Monday at 5:00 pm. On the agenda is the final report of the Traffic Calming Subcommittee and adoption of the new Safe Streets Madison program. This new program will replace the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program that required residents to collect signatures and petition for traffic islands, speed humps, or other traffic calming infrastructure. The new program’s scoresheet relies more heavily on whether a proposed project will improve the pedestrian network, all-ages-and-abilities bicycle network, or address a high-crash and serious-injury location. You can read the full report of the subcommittee here. If you want to watch the meeting, see what else is on the agenda, or comment on any item, follow this link

Wednesday

The Greater Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet at 6:30 pm. They will be hearing reports on a variety of regional transportation issues, including the following:

  • Regional Travel Forecast Model Project
  • Review of Connect Greater Madison Regional Transportation Plan 2050 — Update public survey results
  • Initial scoring of projects to receive federal STP-Urban funding

Documents related to these topics are not linked from the MPO agenda (unlike other city committees), but you can poke around on their website if you want to delve into the info, The MPO does transportation planning and finances projects in the Greater Madison metropolitan area, so many major projects go through the MPO to get the funding go ahead. You can also watch the meeting or comment on agenda items at the.  agenda link.

Save the date, and think about events

Although Madison Bike Week 2021 isn’t until September 12-18, it isn’t too soon to think about events. So if you are a member of a business or organization that wants to put on an event or offer a deal or discount during Bike Week, or even if you want to host an event yourself or with a small group, you can find the form to fill out on the Madison Bike Week page.

We are excited to have the opportunity to have a wide variety of activities and events throughout the city. So if you have an idea, we can work with you to flesh it out.

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

E Wash action, Bcycle Updates, Gorham, New Cambridge Trail

East Washington Safety

Marybeth covered the deaths that have recently happened on East Washington Ave last week. We’ve been working with other organizations on a protest action calling for an end to the traffic violence. If all goes as planned it will take place next Saturday (July 2731), starting at 10 am. We’ll send out a separate email once we have more detail. Stay tuned, save the date. The only acceptable number of traffic deaths and severe injuries is 0.

Madison bike ecosystem in the news

Madison has an amazing ecosystem of biking. Madison Bikes is part of it, but there are many other people and organizations out there that do really important work. Some of them recently got some media coverage. The Know your Madisonian series has a portrait of Alan Crossley, a “retired wildlife biologist who finds purpose in giving bikes new life.” Alan has long been part of Wheels of Winners, and more recently he joined the board of BikEquity. BikEquity, founded by Francisco Sayu, and Madison Adaptive Cycling, which launched only a few weeks ago, were covered in a segment by NBC15, covering their work to make cycling more inclusive in Madison.

Gorham Street, now with bike lane

Brand new bike lanes. Photo: Michael Rolfsmeyer

Until very recently, Gorham Street, one of the few corridors through the isthmus, was a busy, bumpy street, with a narrow combined parking/bike lane on some part and no bike infrastructure at all farther east. Repaving the street was just completed, and now there are bike lanes all the way from Baldwin (where the Tenney Park multi-use path ends) to Butler! The bike lanes required the removal of some on-street parking spots — something that we need to be willing to do in more places to make space for safe bike infrastructure. Well done.

Transportation Commission

Wednesday’s Transportation Commission meeting has an update from bike share system Madison Bcycle on the agenda. The slides are already available, and it looks like we’ll be getting some new stations!

New stations coming to Bcycle

Another item on the agenda is a discussion about how racial equity and social justice can be incorporated in the Commission’s work.

New bike trail in Cambridge

Cambridge is close to the Glacial Drumlin Trail, but getting from the trail into town currently requires riding on a state highway. That is going to change: A new multi-use trail will soon connect Cambridge to State Farm Rd, bypassing the highway. The trail will be named after long-time bike advocate and adventurer Phil Van Valkenberg. A trail dedication ceremony will take place at Cambridge Winery on Sunday, starting at 2:30 pm.

Cannonball and Military Ridge reopening in October

We just received word that the Cannonball and Military Ridge Trails near the “Velo Underround” bike roundabout are scheduled to reopen October 1. This is well ahead of schedule: Construction was originally slated to continue until December. Until the trail reopens, please use the detours.

The Nine Springs Valley Interceptor Improvements – McKee Road to Dunn’s Marsh project anticipates reopening the Military Ridge and Cannonball trails by October 1, 2021. Remaining work left includes manhole lining, testing, fine grading, and various restoration work (signage, plantings, paving etc). This date is subject to change depending on progress and weather.

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

Coping in the wake of our deadly streets

Bike on a porch with front wheel removed. A hand in the foreground holds a wheel in front of the bike.
No camping for me, but I did complete a little bike project. It’s been nice to have the porch space to do projects like this during this great summer weather.

I planned to go bike camping this past Friday. Between the rain this summer and a big move to a new neighborhood, I haven’t had the chance to load the bike with gear. My plans were delayed again, this time by a semi-impromptu meeting with a mix of folks discussing how we can respond to the unacceptable deaths on our streets. These deaths aren’t inevitable tragedies, and the City’s commitment to Vision Zero – no deaths or serious injuries on our streets by 2030 – cannot just be a heartwarming resolution. It is unacceptable to approach Vision Zero and safe streets with an unstated asterisk: Vision Zero, unless we need a high vehicle throughput; Vision Zero, unless we know this neighborhood won’t put up a fight at Council and committee meetings; Vision Zero, unless, unless, unless. Our lives, and the lives of those wonderful people who make up our city, are more important than street parking or a few seconds shaved off of commutes. We need real Vision Zero, we need it now, and we cannot tolerate anything less. 

If you find yourself frustrated, sad, angry, and bitter at a city that likes to wield its “Platinum Biking Community” designation like a shield, I can offer two balms. Most important is coming together with other people, outside of social media. There is no greater relief to frustration than organizing with others and resolving to wield whatever collective power you have to make our streets safer. See my note about Tuesday below, and let us know what organizing and advocacy work you’re already doing.

The second balm? Throwing your tent on your bike and pitching it near or far. Hopefully we’ll run into each other on the trail soon.

Monday

At 5 pm, there will be a joint meeting of the Transportation Policy and Planning Board and the Transportation Commission. This is a pretty packed agenda, with a number of items that impact our transportation system. First is a preview of the Metro Transit Redesign. For those who haven’t been following The Discourse, the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit has led to some continuing discussions about the best possible route for the new system, with current focus on the downtown. Due to downtown’s geometry, there are some tradeoffs for locating BRT stops on or off State Street. Receiving less attention is the city’s redesign of the entire bus network. The network is outdated for a number of reasons including limited storage in the bus barn and a transfer point system that leads to enormously inequitable commute times for people of color and lower-income residents. I recommend reading through the presentation here. Your voice does matter

The agenda also includes a substantial report from the Traffic Calming Subcommittee. Additionally, Madison’s larger project of reshaping the size and substance of its many city committees is coming into play with our very own TPPB and TC, which are proposed to combine into a single body, called the Transportation Commission. Finally, there will be a discussion on the budget. If you want to watch the meeting while you cook dinner, the link is here. Sounds like a good one if you’re interested in buses and how decisions around transportation are made in our fair city. 

Tuesday 

Several of us from different organizations met on Friday to discuss our response to the deaths on East Washington Avenue and the need for safe streets in our city. If you want to be involved in planning a response, we will meet Tuesday at 5. Send an email to marybeth@madisonbikes.org to receive the Zoom link. If you want to participate, keep watching this newsletter and our Facebook – we will have more information once we have the details hammered out.

Wednesday

Also related to buses: on Wednesday, Metro staff will have a virtual public meeting to introduce and discuss how to collect fares on buses.

Where are our Slow Streets?

The City decided to implement several of the same Slow Streets as last summer. We’re hearing reports that almost none of them have been implemented other than Atwood, despite plans for barriers to be up for Mifflin, West Shore/South Shore, and Sherman by the end of June. Report back to the Madison Bikes Facebook page if you see barriers implemented, and contact your alder about this.

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

West Wash Construction Begins

The newly reopened Capital City State Trail segment along Fish Hatchery Rd near Glacial Valley Rd. Photo credit: Harald Kliems

Call to Action

If you haven’t yet, take the City of Madison’s Lets Talk Streets Community Survey. This survey seeks to gather your community values and concerns about streets in Madison. The goal is to help the City of Madison create a process to design and construct streets based on equity and shared community values. This is your opportunity to provide direct feedback to the city about your experiences with Madison streets.

Last Week

Last week the Capital City State Trail reopened along Fish Hatchery Rd between Glacier Valley Rd to the Fish Hatchery Rd overpass. This represents an important milestone in the Fish Hatchery Rd project as this section had been closed since spring to accommodate the major construction project.

Governor Tony Evers on Thursday signed Wisconsin’s 2022-2023 biennial state budget into law. While the state budget covers many items, the Wisconsin Bike Fed posted a summary of the budget items likely to impact bicycling in Wisconsin. In short, the budget maintains funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship and the Transportation Alternatives Funding Programs. While the Governor’s proposed increases in funding for these programs were shut down by the state’s Republican legislature, funding levels were maintained.

This Week

Construction on the West Washington Ave project begins Monday. The primary goal of this project is to rehabilitate deteriorating pavement conditions. However, there are several improvements along this stretch that will benefit biking. The most impactful improvement for biking is what will change on Bassett St. I’ll try to cover the major changes from the perspective of a person on a bike traveling south on Bassett.

Bassett St modifications. Photo credit: City of Madison Engineering

The first change you’ll notice once this project is complete is the elimination of the exclusive right turn lane from Bassett. In its place will be a concrete median and staging area for bicyclists waiting to cross West Washington. This configuration will stage bicyclists well in front of right turning drivers in a newly shared straight-right lane. This should eliminate the stressful crossing of through riding bicyclists with right turning drivers that exists presently.

The next change you’ll notice is the presence of green crossing paint. This paint is intended to highlight to drivers where a person on a bike is likely to be in the event someone is about to cross the intersection. It does not provide physical protection, but it does create a visual cue for drivers to expect people on bikes to be using that space.

Finally, you’ll notice the parking protected bike lane continuing to Main St. This is the result of the overwhelming success and positive reception of the pilot parking protected bike lane on Bassett from Dayton to West Wash.

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

Another Death on East Washington, Odana Restriping

New Odana bike lanes paired with reduced car travel lanes. Photo: Harald Kliems

Another week, another death on East Washington Ave, one of the busiest roads in Madison. This time, a driver struck and killed a 57-year old cyclist who was crossing in a crosswalk at Pawling St. Needless to say, there’s a lot of sadness, frustration, and anger at the escalating situation on E. Washington Ave.

In fact, while recently it’s been in the spotlight, E. Washington Ave has been a problem for decades. For example, two of Madison’s four high schools are next to major arteries (E. Washington Ave and Mineral Point Rd) and both schools have lost students to these roads and drivers over the past thirty years. The city’s Vision Zero initiative is intended to reduce these sorts of deaths, but exactly how effective it will be or whether recent changes (such as reduced speed limits) will make any meaningful difference remains to be seen. Both of these roads are also part of the proposed BRT route, so there is at least some medium-term chance of changes to traffic patterns along these corridors driven by that project. Expect to see more coverage of this issue from us as we process these tragedies and try to figure out what we do next.

In brighter news, Odana Rd between Whitney Way and Gammon Rd has been restriped to add a mix of buffered and unbuffered bike lanes, a single travel lane each direction for cars and a center left turn lane.

Eastern segment of Odana Rd showing new bike lane and center left turn lane + new pavement. Photo: Harald Kliems

This change has been long-rumored and is certainly long-overdue, as it reverses an infamous 1980’s era “midnight restripe” where bike lanes were quietly removed overnight (and apparently in direct opposition to the intention of the City Council!), in favor of two travel lanes in each direction. We were first tipped off to the imminent change by Jerry Schippa, who might just have an inside track on these things; he’s a Traffic Engineer for the City of Madison. In addition, these changes are paired with brand new smooooooth pavement extending from Research Park Blvd to Whitney Way.

Four cyclists/two bikes taking advantage of the Smart Toyota parking lot connector to the Beltline bike path. Photo: Harald Kliems

More good news, albeit temporary: the Atwood protected bike lane in front of Olbrich Park is back for the season. Get your (clockwise) Lake Loop on and maybe stop off and enjoy the biergarten.

Not much in the way of calendar updates this week, which is sort of expected as it’s a short holiday week for some.

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

Vision Zero, Bike Advocacy Discussion at Community Meeting

June Pride Ride participants near McPike Park. Photo courtesy of Harald Kliems.

Hope you were able to avoid the worst of the rain this week and enjoy a few nice rides between showers. Its not always fun to get wet while biking, but we should be thankful for a little rain when so many places are threatened by drought, wild fires or worse. Both my kids and my garden were smiling after the Saturday afternoon deluge.

East Washington pedestrian death/Vision Zero

I was greatly saddened to hear a pedestrian was killed on East Washington by a automobile driver last week. This is a stark reminder of the urgent need to improve the safety of our transportation system to protect vulnerable users like pedestrians and bicyclists. I live near East Washington and cross this road everyday when biking my kids to school. I believe the recent changes to lower speed limits is both good and insufficient. If you would like to get involved and discuss ways to bring more awareness to this issue, you should attend our Community Advocacy meeting this Monday at 6pm.

Looking to the future, there is a concerted effort by city leaders to implement Vision Zero to eliminate (yes, eliminate) all transportation related deaths in Madison by 2030. A draft version of the Vision Zero plan will be presented at the TPPB meeting this Monday June 28th @ 5pm. This brings me great hope that Madison will become a city where anyone and everyone can feel safe biking or walking to school, to the grocery store, to work or for recreation.

Bike advocacy community meeting

Monday – June 28th @ 6pm – Join Zoom

Please join us for a conversation about bike advocacy in our community. This week the discussion will likely revolve around the tragic pedestrian death on East Washington and steps we can take to bring awareness and change.

How to “report a problem” to the city

In case you weren’t aware, Madison has a convenient web portal to Report a Problem with various city owned or managed infrastructure. This is a great way to report weeds overgrowing a path, illegally parked cars, blocked sidewalks, dangerous bike path cracks, etc… I have personally used this portal a number of times and found city staff usually responded within 24hr.

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

Weekly update: Why so slow?

Alicia Ashman repair warning sign. Photo credit: Harald Kliems

Not a lot on the calendar this week, which is surprising, since it’s summer and all. See the bottom of this blog post to find out how to make sure your event or meeting is included in the Madison Bikes weekly update.

If you use the Alicia Ashman bridge to cross Campus Dr, it’s closed for repair from June 23 – July 9. If you aren’t sure where this is, the north side is just west of the Stock Pavilion, and the south side is the 1700 block of old University Ave. 

Common Council approves buffered bike lanes on Whitney Way

At their Tuesday meeting, the Madison Common Council unanimously approved buffered bike lanes on Whitney Way, together with a slew of safety improvements around the city. Despite the unanimous vote, several alders appeared to be skeptical of project, raising questions about whether there had been sufficient opportunity for public input (there had been three public meetings, in addition to the Transportation Commission meeting). The district’s alder, Arvina Martin, did a great job describing the engagement process and the purpose of the project:

“The accidents that had been happening on Whitney Way last summer — a motorcyclist was actually killed during one of our meetings because he was speeding.-The number of complaints that we get from people who try to cross Whitney Way and have trouble with that because of the speeding. This was a way that Traffic Engineering thought would not only provide better and safer access for more modes of transportation besides single rider vehicles. But this also was going to help with speed control. […] I mean people in this neighborhood — and this is my neighborhood! I live here — it’s referred to as the “Whitney Way Racetrack”. And these are some of the ways we can slow down traffic and make it safer not only for cars but make space for the BRT to take cars off this street, but also to provide space for bikes and bike traffic as well as making it safer for pedestrians that walk down there all the time. You know, we have a lot of people from my neighborhood that walk across on South Hill and walk to Garner Park. It’s a huge park and it gets used quite a bit by neighbors. And a lot of people — there are people who will drive across because they don’t want to cross that street [on foot]. So this is a whole big package of ways to make Whitney Way safer as well as bring it into alignment with Complete Streets and Vision Zero.

When Alder Wehelie asked whether Martin’s constituents supported the project, she responded:

“Like with any project, we get mixed results. There are a lot of people that like it, there are a lot of people that don’t. Not surprisingly, the folks that don’t like it are the ones that either live on Whitney Way or within a block in that section. The further you get out, the more support there is for this project. And I very much understand the concerns of losing parking in front of one’s home. I live next to a school, and there is a no-parking zone in front of my house. So I understand: it can be difficult. But at the same time, being an Alder means taking into consideration not only my constituents and their concerns but the needs and the impact that this decision has city-wide. And due to the support that I got from many other constituents and understanding that those that don’t want it are the ones that unfortunately are directly affected. But I felt in my decision to help move this forward was that this is something the city is going to need as we gain more residents and as we will need more transportation options other than people just taking their cars to work. That’s why I’m supporting this.”

Thanks, Alder Martin, and thanks to everyone in the community who expressed their support for this key piece in our city’s low-stress bike network!

From our Facebook Community: In May, one of our wonderful friends started a Google map to track construction projects that might affect those going out for a ride. The map extends far outside the city of Madison, so it’s really useful if you plan to stretch your legs farther afield. Pea gravel, new asphalt, and unexpected construction projects really can kill your rhythm when you go for a ride, so check out the map and help keep it updated here.  

Also, Wisconsin Public Radio ran a nice piece on how much a bike meant to a local guy when he was a kid and how biking with his daughter now has kept them close. I think we all remember the feeling of a bike as a kid: freedom to explore the world. Hopefully we all still have that feeling now. 

And the big question for the Facebook Community this week seems to be, “Why are the redwing black birds so aggressive recently, and does the color of your helmet make a difference?”

The week ahead

Tuesday

The Women Cycling Club will have their weekly women’s social ride from Black Saddle Bike Shop at 6:00 pm. This is a great ride for those who are just getting into cycling, getting their strength back, or just want a casual/social ride for all ages, body types, and styles of riding. The ride typically goes about 12 miles. They also have a longer, hillier ride leaving at the same time. First Tuesday of the month they do a Taco Tuesday ride that starts in a different location. (I showed up at the wrong place on June 1, but found them at the taco location.) More info and Facebook sign up for more news can be found here

Wednesday

Also Wednesday, the city Transportation Commission will meet at 5:00 pm (virtually.) There aren’t any burning issues on the agenda, but there will be the annual BCycle update to the city as well as updates from the Traffic Calming subcommittee. If you want to tune in or look at the transit items on the agenda — mostly accepting federal grants — you can find all the details here.

Saturday

MB board member Marybeth McGinnis will host an advocacy meet-up. I’ve copied her announcement below.

Madison Bikes will host a biking advocacy meet up Saturday June 26 at 10:30 am – noon at Memorial Terrace (with yours truly facilitating). This is meant to be welcoming to those new to biking advocacy – for the seasoned veterans, you are more than welcome to join us, just please keep in mind that this is a relaxed space where all levels of knowledge are expected. We’re intending to create a space that is as productive as it is focused on community-building. We also already had great ideas for discussion, including tactical urbanism; bike parking in residential areas; safety; bike shares; removing the trick riding ordinance; and more.

Please register in advance (please also feel free to register to mark your interest in the future, even if you can’t make that date). Registration helps me plan facilitation, coffee purchasing, and grabbing tables and chairs more easily. 

Our community meeting at 6 pm on June 28th will be something of a follow up to this event, so plan to hear more about that.

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

Let’s talk streets; bike camping; two crashes

A bicycle trailer loaded with 9 kids bikes
Putting the Madison Bikes trailer to good use by transporting kids bikes to and from a BikEquity event

Bike network progress

Tonight at the Transportation Policy and Planning Board there will be a progress report on how the bike network expanded in 2020 and how it will grow in the future. In 2020, Madison got 3.6 new miles of bike lanes and paths; in 2021 we will get 7.7 miles, including the Garver Path, buffered bike lanes on W Wash, and a protected bike lane on Broom St. See the whole list here. Other topics on the agenda: A planned freeway expansion of the Beltline and several items regarding bus rapid transit.

Loop the Lake 2021

Our friends from the Clean Lakes Alliance are hosting their annual Loop the Lake fundraiser. You can either bike around Lake Monona at any time between June 12 and 20, or join the main event on June 19, starting at Olbrich Park. More info here.

Let’s Talk Streets

Several city initiatives around transportation, safety, and how our streets work are underway at the moment: Vision Zero (focused on eliminating traffic deaths and injuries), Complete Green Streets “for everyone, no matter who they are or how they travel,” and others. Public engagement is really important to these initiatives, and in order to not burn out the public with several separate engagement processes for each initiative, the engagement process is going to be unified. It starts off this week, and you can choose between virtual meetings either at 5pm on Tuesday or noon on Wednesday. Sign up here: https://www.cityofmadison.com/transportation/initiatives/lets-talk-streets

We want to know what you think about the streets you use to work, live and play in the City of Madison. What do you value about our city streets, what worries you, and what type of street user are you? How can the City design streets around people? The purpose of Let’s Talk Streets is to learn from each other about how we design streets for the future in Madison. It’s a conversation with YOU that seeks to gather public input to influence several different street-related initiatives while ensuring you know what we mean when we “talk streets” and we learn from you what is important about how you talk streets.

Bike camping on the shortest night of the year

The summer solstice is coming, and Black Saddle Bikes is hosting a bike camp-out at Brigham County Park. Depart Madison on Saturday, ride to the park and camp, and bike back the following day.

Dangerous by design?

There have been reports of two bike crashes in the past week. One involved a collision of two people biking on the SW Path overpass of the Beltline. According to reports, the collision happened in one of the turns, possibly with one of the people riding outside of their lane. Visibility is limited there because of the tall fence and a tree, and several people reported having had close calls there. We reached out to the city to see if any safety improvements can be made.

Fence on the overpass making it difficult to see oncoming traffic

Another notorious location for bike crashes is the crossing of the Cap City Trail at Syene Rd. In 2016, a person driving on Syene Rd struck Cheri Maples on her bike, eventually leading to her death. Several other injury crashes have happened in the years since. The area is currently under reconstruction, and minor improvements of the crossing appear to be included.

“Cannonball”?

On our Facebook group, someone asked how the Cannonball Path got its name. It didn’t take long for our board member Grant to post the correct answer:

For many years there were two passenger trains and two or more freight trains traveling the line each way daily. The “Cannonball” freight train, pulling a passenger coach, left early in the morning from Lancaster and returned from Madison late in the day.

http://www.friendsofmilitaryridgetrail.org/history-of-trail.html

This didn’t stop other from spinning yarns about alternative explanations: Maybe there is a brotherhood that “sets up a cannon at an undisclosed location along that path and absolutely smokes a random cyclist passing by. If they survive, they are permitted to join the brotherhood.” Or was it named after “John J. Cannonball,” an early bike advocate who in 1920 tried to prove that high-wheeler bikes were superior by racing from Dodgeville to Madison, ending in the collision with a cow…? No, it’s really named after a historic train run.

Categories
Weekly Update

Art Bikes, Advocacy Meetup

For this week’s photo, a little insight into Salt Lake City roads! You can see a center-running light rail station in the background (with users waiting to cross the street), and a bike in lane on the left. It’s not our city, but doesn’t it look an awful lot like E Washington?

Did you have a chance to enjoy this year’s Ride the Drive? The event, usually on John Nolen Drive, happened at a few neighborhood streets. Folks shared photos from the event in the Madison Bikes Community Facebook.

I missed Ride the Drive this year, as I was traveling to Salt Lake City, UT (yes, it felt weird to travel!). In many ways, Salt Lake is similar to Madison – a big college down, similar populations, and a capitol city. They’re also lucky enough to have BCycle (“Green Bike”), a regional light rail system, and frequent buses, all of which I used to get around. Traveling always makes me see my home in a new light. For example, SLC’s roads – even those in neighborhoods – were wide and fast, yet I saw cyclists on nearly all of them. I didn’t see any off-street paths, but for someone like me, that wasn’t necessarily a downside: I like to ride on streets so I can easily find my destinations. SLC, despite its wide roads and sprawl, seems to be changing for the better.

I like to use vacations as a way to communicate about biking with others. After all, when you’re traveling to a new city, enjoying the sights on foot or on wheels is often pleasurable and desirable. We can use these experiences to help our neighbors see their city through the lens of possibility: what if our city felt like that, for everyone?

Advocacy Meetup

Speaking of advocacy…would you like to join other Madison Bikes community members for a casual yet productive conversation about advocating for biking in Madison? Register here. Folks who are new to advocacy, organizing, and biking are especially welcome!

This Week

Wednesday

On Wednesday at 5:30, the Transportation Commission will meet, but it’s a fairly internal-facing agenda, mostly focused on updates and work planning.

Thursday

From 4:30-6:30 at Garver Feed Mill, Bcycle will unveil its Art Bikes! Twenty bikes will be presented by local artists, not-for-profits, and businesses.

Saturday

Ride with BikEquity this Saturday at 11 at Penn Park!

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

Ride the Drive is Back!

Photo of a previous Ride the Drive from the Madison Bikes Archive.

Last Week

After a fairly contentious discussion at the Transportation Commission, the Commission voted to recommend the Cedar Street plan that implements buffered bike lanes along the entire stretch of the new street. Hopefully this plan is ultimately implemented by the council. The Cedar Street alternate plan involved adding only five (5) parking spaces at the expense of the buffered bike lanes. Those few additional parking spaces would create much worse conditions for people biking on the street. Both Cedar Street plans involve the exact same street profile, the only difference is the inclusion of five parking spaces at the expense of a year round all ages and abilities bike lane. If it is later determined that those five parking spaces are really necessary then the street can be restriped. It is much easier to add street parking than it is to remove it. This is likely not the last time we will hear about those five parking spots on Cedar Street, so be sure to look out for future advocacy opportunities!

This Week

After a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19, this Saturday June 5, Sunday, June 6, from 9AM to 12PM, Ride the Drive is back! This year’s Ride the Drive is, however, different than any other RtD to date. The biggest difference between this year’s Ride the Drive and previous years is the fact that it’s not going to be on John Nolen Drive. Instead, there will be four smaller Ride the Drive routes scattered across the city. I’ll briefly touch on what is at each location, so click here for complete details for what will be available at all locations!

The first route I’ll mention is the one closest to downtown. That route is near Wingra Park. This route starts in Wingra Park at the end of Knickerbocker St with free bike safety checks by Dream Bikes and Erik’s Bike Shop.

The second route I’ll mention is in Marlborough Park, on Madison’s south side. Marlborough Park is located just west of Seminole Hwy south of the beltline. There will be free safety checks by Wheels for Winners at the park. Bikes will also be available courtesy of Bike Equity for this ride.

The third ride I’ll mention is on Madison’s east side, just north of Cottage Grove Rd. Safety checks at this ride will be provided by Trek and Freewheel.

The fourth and final Ride the Drive Route this year will be at Warner Park in Madison’s north side. Bike safety checks at this location will be provided by Dream Bikes.

Regardless of which Ride the Drive ride piques your interest, we hope to see you there!

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.