What a wild week: yes, there was an election, but there was also 70 degree weather in November. A bit concerning, but I hope every Wisconsinite was able to get out on bike before the temperature dips down again.
Madison’s Shared Streets program has ended for the winter. Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, the city restricted traffic on a number of streets Atwood Avenue, Mifflin Street, and Vilas Park Drive. This program was similar to many programs in other cities. On a personal note, I use the Mifflin Bike Boulevard nearly daily; amazingly, the simple ‘Road Closed’ barrier made such a substantial difference in not only my physical safety but in my mental health. We encourage every Madison Bikes community members to reply to the city’s survey (in English and in Spanish) and to consider what it means to riders – and not-yet riders – to have streets with slow-moving, safer traffic patterns.
Madison city budget discussions start this week, with a meeting held on Tuesday that includes public testimony, and meetings on Wednesday and Thursday without public comment. As we discussed at a previous Community Meeting, the Madison budget is relatively good for biking investment. However, we also discussed how city officials are most often used to hearing from members of the public who disagree with proposals. We encourage reaching out to your alder to support budget items such as Vision Zero and bike infrastructure – in a tough budget year, this helps to reduce the chances of these items being removed throughout the process.
Traffic alert: Babcock Drive between University Ave and Lot 40 will be closed to motor vehicle and bicycle traffic on Wednesday 11/4 from 9 AM to 3 PM. The sidewalk will remain open.
Last Wednesday’s Transportation Commission featured a number of important topics relating to comfortable and safe bicycling in Madison.
First up was the discussion about Madison’s shared streets program. In order to facilitate comfortable spatial distancing during the pandemic, the city enacted a number of restrictions on several streets. Atwood Avenue, Mifflin Street, and Vilas Park Drive were some of the restricted streets. The city is planning on removing these restrictions for the winter, and will evaluate their effectiveness. Public comments strongly supported keeping the traffic restrictions on Vilas Park Drive throughout the winter.
During the discussion, Alder Grant Foster made a good suggestion to look at mid-term solutions to keep some of the shared streets restrictions that are planned in future projects. A mid-term solution is more permanent than barricades and traffic cones, but less permanent than a complete reconstruct. For example, a mid-term solution could include concrete planters.
Click here for more information on the shared streets item.
Also discussed at the meeting were the 2021 Public Works Transportation Projects. Bikeways in the 2021 projects include new bike lanes on Odana Rd, a path connection to Demetral Park from Johnson Street, and the Russell Street bike path crossing. Click here for more information.
Watch the meeting here on the City’s YouTube page, and review the Agenda here. The Shared Streets item (#7) was moved to the beginning of the meeting due to the large number of registrants.
Monday, the TPPB is meeting at 5:00 PM in a virtual meeting. Topics of discussion include possible branding for Bus Rapid Transit and the vision zero high injury network. For full details, here’s the Agenda.
Tuesday is election day. If you haven’t already voted absentee, make sure to have your voice heard by voting at your local polling place. Although the presidential election is dominating headlines, there are down-ballot races for the House of Representatives, State Senate, and State Assembly. These races are important because they can affect local transportation policies.
Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board is meeting virtually at 5:00 PM. Not much biking related, but here’s the agenda.
Saturday, November 7th, Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison is providing another chance to donate bikes! From 12pm-3pm, nine bike donation stations will be setup throughout the area where you can drop off your gently used bike donations.
The list of donation stations is below.
While the most important donation you can make is a gently used bike, the next best donation you can make is a financial donation! This allows FB4K to purchase all of the supplies to repair bikes and to hire mechanics and staff to get the work done. It costs us about $100 to give a bike away.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Mapped reservation for future streets north of Milwaukee between Fair Oaks and West Corporate Drive.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Madison Bikes face masks and DIY kits now available
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 Boardwill 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.
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.
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: email@example.com
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.”
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.
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 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.
Well, the students are back in town, and as usual, there is a steep learning curve for them as to how to behave on the streets, trails, sidewalks, and other public spaces. But this year there is the added adventure of social distancing. We all need to be patient as the new residents learn our ways. Try to slow down a bit, announce your passing movements way early, and expect the unexpected as you ride through the downtown and campus. It happens every year, but we all need a little extra space and kindness this year. Try to be generous and gentle.
The past week
The new Badger Trail bridge over McKee Road is up, but it’s not open yet. In a couple of weeks, we’ll let you know when there is a grand opening. This will make crossing the road so much more comfortable for everyone — no stopping at the intersection, no confusion with the flashing lights, and no wondering if the drivers are going to yield.
And after many years of work and some obstruction by a few local communities, the first official US Bike Route in Wisconsin has been approved by Wisconsin DOT and Adventure Cycling. Madison Bikes Board member Robbie Webber worked on mapping this route over a decade ago, but there were a few bumps along the way before it was official. Although many Wisconsinites may already know many of these links, it’s great to have a route from the Mississippi River (at Winona, MN) to Lake Michigan (the ferry dock in Milwaukee) officially published. This is part of USBR 30, which will run coast to coast, but each state needs to approve the exact route in their state.
The city is stepping up their game when it comes to outreach and education for not just bicycling and walking, but also driving. The previous position was principally devoted to doing bike and pedestrian safety presentations at schools and community meetings when someone specifically requested it, and the job has been vacant for a few years. The new person will have a different title and the job will be more proactive in its focus. You can read the memo explaining the changes here, but in general this looks like a positive development. No job posting yet, since this is just the authorization to create a new position.
And we have a new BCycle station! It’s at Breese Stevens Field, and sure to be popular when we can go back to gatherings, concerts, and Flamingos games. This location has been requested by a lot of people, and will fill a critical gap in the station network, since it’s close to so much of the new development and destinations. You can also check out a new type of station — one without kiosks! Check out their Twitter announcement.
Maybe you’ve heard, we have a new station! Here’s some tips for using our newest technology at our new Breese Stevens station(s) pic.twitter.com/xVMPvFNawj
Monday at 5 pm, the Transportation Planning and Policy Board will meet. There are a few changes to neighborhood plans, a discussion of the Residential Parking Permit Program and Resident-only Parking Program (discussion only), and some possible modifications to the BRT Local Prefered Alternative involving possible center-running sections (as opposed to using the right lane). This last item could affect bike facilities on some sections of the route.
On Wednesday at 6:30 pm, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MPO) will meet. They will be holding a public hearing on the Transportation Implementation Plan, which governs the projects that the MPO might fund for the next five years. This plan is updated every year, but it gives us a good idea what their plans are for major projects throughout the metropolitan area. The TIP won’t be approved until the October 7 meeting, but there doesn’t appear to be a link to the document itself. (Not great public access, IMHO.)
And of course, don’t forget that Bike Week will be starting up on Sept 12. We’ll have more information on that in a separate post, but we WILL have activities, even though not the kind we all love where we get to socialize and hang out. If your business, club, organization, or work place would like to host an event, discount, promotion, or other activity, you can submit it now to get it on our Bike Week calendar (which will be up soon.)
In the meantime, you can join the Madison Bikes group for Cycle September at the Love To Ride site. Even if you are on a team at work, you can join our group as a club/organization. We will have some special prizes awarded in a drawing for group members, so, yeah, that’s an incentive.