Here’s hoping most of you were able to get out on the bike and enjoy the warm weather. I ride all winter long, but rarely get out of the city on my winter bike. It’s such a great feeling to get back out to the sights and sounds and smells of the country.
And for those that don’t follow the activity on the Madison Bikes Facebook Group, here’s a collection of some of the top articles recently shared:
The Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee had it’s final meeting last week. Attorney Strange will be making the final revisions and the new ordinance will be introduced at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting and then referred to the current transportation commissions for review and feedback.
The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meeting last week was a long one, with debates on design choices for the Demetral connector, approval of protected bike lanes on Bassett Street, and a serious conversation about the upcoming Wilson Street reconstruction and our public input process. Stay tuned for a new public input session on this critical project and plan on attending to advocate for much needed bike accommodations on this critical connector.
On Monday, join Bike Fitchburg for their monthly meeting at the Fitchburg Public Library.
Thursday, there’s a presentation of Dane County’s Bicycle Wayfinding Manual in the morning, another opportunity to provide feedback on the Regional Transportation Plan at the Senior Center, and a public input meeting on Walter Street reconstruction at Whitehorse Middle School.
There’s plenty of opportunity this week to get involved. If you’ve never attended a public meeting before, consider giving it a try this week.
On Monday at 4:00p, the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee picks up where it left off last week (see below) to try and finalize a recommendation. At 6:00p, join the Madison Bikes Events Committee for a review of this year’s Winter Bike Week and a look ahead at upcoming events. For those that frequent Fitchburg, there’s a public hearing at 7:00p on the Fitchburg Bike and Pedestrian Plan at their Transportation and Transit Commission meeting.
On Tuesday, there are a pair of webinars to check out. At noon, tune in to hear about Integrating explicit and implicit methods in travel behavior research: A study of driver attitudes and bias and then at 1:30p join Madison Bikes and City of Madison Traffic Engineering for a webinar on Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Data. We’ll be holding a public viewing at 30 W Mifflin Street, open to anyone. Later that evening at 7:00p, consider attending a Wilson Street Public Information Meeting. It’s unclear at this point if the city will be proposing any new bike facilities for the 100 block of W. Wilson included in this project. Wilson Street currently is a one-way street with no accommodations for people biking. On the one hand, Alder Verveer’s February 18th blog post suggests that the proposal will include “an off-street, 2-way bike facility on West Wilson Street”. And yet the recently published Ped/Bike/Motor Vehicle Commission agenda includes an attached file showing instead a concept with no bike facilities. A design that accommodates eastbound bike travel on Wilson Street has been on the top of the list for local bike advocates for many years; here’s hoping the attachment for the PBMVC meeting is a mistake and that the proposal will indeed include the 2-way facility described in Alder Verveer’s post.
Current state of W Wilson St (Image: Google Maps)
In addition to the Wilson St. project, Wednesday’s Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meeting will also include review of several other key projects, including protected bike lanes on Bassett Street, the Demetral Path connector alternatives, and a review of the Judge Doyle Square Bike Center Operator request for proposals, as well as a look at a new draft Safe Accommodation for Pedestrians and Cyclists in and Around Work Zones policy. Consider attending this meeting to offer your input or watch the proceedings online on Madison’s award-winning City Channel.
The biggest update from last week is from the Valentine’s edition of the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee. The continued discussion around how to best organize and coordinate our transportation planning and implementation has started to gel around a recommendation that will likely include a new Transportation Planning and Policy Division of the theoretical (but leaderless) Department of Transportation. A newly proposed City Transportation Policy and Planning Manager is meant to fill the gaps identified during the conversations around the need for a Director of Transportation and will serve as primary staffer of the two new transportation commissions. This is a softening of earlier enthusiasm around a recommendation to actually hire a Director of Transportation.
On the committee side, there was a lot of discussion around Transit/Metro and how to best support regionalization. This has been a tough nut to crack for the group, but there seemed to be a general consensus around a new plan to move forward with the two new transportation bodies (Transportation Planning Board and Transportation Commission) and to maintain the regional focus within the existing Contracted Services Oversight Committee. This group may get a new name and will be expected to have a joint meeting with the Transportation Planning Board at least annually.
Additional conversation focused on the composition of the Transportation Commission and there was agreement that there should be members who are frequent users of biking, walking and transit as well as a person with a disability. I will be recommending that this be bumped to two of each of those underrepresented modes at this week’s meeting.
Thanks to all the sponsors and all the participants for an amazing Winter Bike Week! Stay tuned for a blog post to share some of the memories and photos and will also announce the winner of the Winter Bike Challenge.
One of many submissions to the #mbwinterchallenge! Thanks, Liz!
In addition to all the fun, there were also a pair of meetings on Monday. First the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee met to continue their work to propose a major overhaul to the city’s transportation ordinance. At the previous meeting, there was some compelling testimony around the value of hiring a director of transportation for Madison, but apparently some members of the group have started to back off that enthusiasm. At the end of Monday’s meeting, the talk was about still hiring for a new role, but now more along the lines of a coordinator or manager that would be a peer to the Traffic Engineer and Metro Manager with limited direct authority over transportation decisions. There was little conversation around the committee structure at this meeting. The group plans to meet several more times over the next month to finalize a recommendation.
Proposed design for Bassett Street between Gorham/University and Dayton
There was also an unannounced public input meeting on a proposal to add protected bike lanes to a stretch of Bassett Street. In spite of the poor communications, several Madison Bikes members were able to attend and hear the proposal. While it’s encouraging that the city is trying to improve the bike connections between University Avenue and the Capital City Path, it seemed clear to all in attendance that the proposal was not quite ready for prime time. Engineering has shifted their timeline a bit in order to work on refinements. Expect to see something at the February 22nd Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission meeting with a public hearing at Board of Public Works on March 8th and again at Common Council on March 21.
The Madison Bikes monthly board meeting is on Monday. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.
On Tuesday, bring your loved one to a special Valentine’s Day edition of the Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee where the conversation will continue around the value of a director of transportation and towards refining the recommendation for our transportation committee structure.
On Thursday, Madison in Motion will meet to consider feedback received from the many city committees over the last two months. This will likely lead to a final draft of the document that will then be presented to the Council.
Madison Bikes board member Chuck at the Frozen Assets race
Winter Bike Week kicked off with the Frozen Asset Fat Bike Race on Friday, followed by Family Music at Cargo Bikes/Domestique and Capital Goldsprint at Motorless Motion on Saturday. And Kids and adults alike had a blast on Sunday at the Fat Bike Sled Pull.
There’s a lot to report from last week’s three transportation-related committee/commission meetings. The Pedestrian, Bike, and Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) started out with another quarterly Traffic Enforcement Activity Report. I pressed Lt. Knight (again) to bring us more actionable information. You can see an example of the report and spreadsheet that is presented each quarter. It’s a lot of data, which basically just shows how much work the Traffic Enforcement team has put in. Citations go up and down based on hours worked and don’t really tell us anything about trends in dangerous activities. Instead, I argued that we need analysis of crash data that helps us pinpoint the leading causes and locations of collisions resulting in injury and loss of life. From there, we would be able to start working on interventions to address these issues. While we should be encouraged that Madison ranked third best in the nation in the recently released Dangerous by Design report, it’s still clear that pedestrian and bicyclists make up a disproportionate number of traffic fatalities in our city. This is definitely an area where we need to look to the data to guide our work.
Next up at PBMVC was a motion to recommend approval of the draft Madison in Motion Sustainable Master Transportation Plan. I’ve been critical of this plan in the past, calling out the lack of specific and clearly articulated action items, lack of accountability, and absence of performance measures. Without these things, this plan is destined to collect dust on the shelf. I shared those comments again here beginning at 00:32:30.
There was also a good discussion about a proposal to complete the Demetral Path connection (you can watch via the link above beginning at 01:00:00). This is an updated proposal from the one that came forward almost a year ago that would have had a significant impact on the OM Village. The new concept (see above) proposes to move the path through the existing parking lot of the commercial building to the north. I enthusiastically support closing this gap as it will become a major corridor for people on bikes once the bike facilities are added to E. Johnson as part of that project. However, I did ask Engineering to explore an alternate routing of this connector within the public right of way. This would save the city $300K in land acquisition costs and would avoid several problems associated with the current proposed alignment. PBMVC voted to refer the item to its February meeting and asked that Engineering develop in detail that alternate concept for further evaluation.
The Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Committee meeting on Wednesday was an engaging one. This ad hoc committee has been meeting since last March to propose revisions to Madison’s current transportation ordinance and is aiming to finalize its recommendation over the next month. The main focus of the group to date has been on a major overhaul to the city’s existing transportation commission/committee structure that would see the dissolution of all seven of the existing commissions/committees/subcommittees (and their up to 54 members) and replace them with two new bodies: the Transportation Policy and Planning Board and a Transportation Commission. While I support the efforts to bring together the different elements of our transportation system, I’m not convinced of the wisdom of splitting transportation policy and planning from operations and implementation. I think there is tremendous value in having the policy and planning decisions driven off of the real life issues that are identified and addressed through operations and implementation. I’m also concerned with the massive cut to the number of citizen members and the negative impact that would have. Another major concern, is that the current proposal eliminates all mode-specific commissions (Transit and Parking & Pedestrian/Bike/Motor Vehicle) along with all requirements to have membership that represents users of transit or bikes or walking or the disabled. These are major concerns that require significant deliberation before moving forward.
And yet in some ways, this massive proposed reorganization of our committee structure pales in comparison to the issue of whether or not the city should fill its long vacant Director of Transportation position. This position has been vacant for well over a decade and many of the issues identified by this body would be directly addressed by filling this position. There was compelling public testimony along those lines from former alders Robbie Webber and Satya Rhodes-Conway who both made strong arguments for the importance of filling this critical leadership position. The members of the ad hoc committee seemed to hear the message clearly and will continue to debate the question at their next scheduled meeting on 2/6.
On Thursday, the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee met and voted to recommend approval of a resolution calling for Establishing Goals for Regional Transit Authority Legislation. This resolution describes the city’s intent to work with surrounding communities to define how an RTA might be structured with the ultimate goal of gaining approval from the State at a later date. An RTA would provide the needed funding to continue to regionalize Metro to more fully connect with surrounding communities outside of the city limits.
Madison Bikes closed out the busy week with our board of directors retreat where we focused on strategic planning for 2017. Watch for more details around opportunities for membership, new events, and more focused work on advocacy. If you’re interested in getting involved, head to our website and drop us a note.
Tuesday: Consider attending this talk by Global Health Institute Assistant Scientist Jason Vargo and Research Fellow Maggie Grabow entitled Helping Cities Quantify the Health Benefits of Active Travel (4:30pm) or find out more about how a new parking garage on East Main Street will accommodate bikes and impact travel at the Cap East Parking Structure Design Open House (5pm). For Eastsiders, there’s a public input session to develop a Cottage Grove Road Activity Centers Plan at Olbrich Gardens (6:00pm). While it’s not a transportation specific plan, it’s important to have the needs of cyclists represented for these land-use/development/neighborhood plans.
Wednesday: On Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board meets to review the draft Regional Transportation Plan. This is nearing completion and will likely start its rotation through city committees soon.
Madison Bikes Events and Communications Committees met last week to make final preparations for Madison Bike Winter Week. Madison Winter Bike Week will be from February 3 to 10. Stay tuned for more details coming this week!
Looks like we’ll have at least one more warm day on Monday before winter comes back. If you’re looking for a social ride, consider joining the MEATheads leaving Ford’s Gym at 7:00pm sharp and looping around Lake Monona.
On Tuesday, the Ped/Bike/Motor Vehicle Commission has a full agenda.
There are three options to get involved on Monday. For those living or frequenting the isthmus, Marquette Neighborhood Association Traffic Committee meets at Wil-Mar at 5:30. The Madison Bikes Events Committee will meet at Barriques on Atwood at 6:00 to finalize plans for Madison Winter Bike Week. This is one of the things that may happen during that week:
And at 7:00 Freewheel Community Bike Shop will hold its annual stakeholder meeting. Freewheel is a community bicycle workshop run by volunteers with a range of bicycle skills that seeks to serve the low-income community in Madison, encourage bicycle ridership, and demystify bicycle maintenance.
On Tuesday, there’s another opportunity to work with Madison Bikes by attending the Communications Committee meeting (5:30 at Great Dane Hilldale). Email email@example.com if you’re interested in attending.
I hope everyone had some time to relax and rejuvenate over the holidays. It was great to see a number of you out on your bikes celebrating in style on the New Year’s Ride.
On Monday, Madison Bikes has its monthly board meeting at the Central Library. This meeting is open to the public and anyone who’s interested in getting involved in 2017 should consider attending.
After that, it’s a pretty quiet week until Saturday: If you’re headed to the Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap, make sure and stop by the Madison Bikes table to say hi. We’ll have our remaining Madison Bikes winter edition T-shirts for sale.
The Fashion Show itself was a great success! Between Rob’s photos and Emily’s write-up, this blog post does a terrific job of documenting the event.
Special Category: Grant’s Calendar Round-ups
PBMVC, LRTPC, Open House, Master Plan, …. Keeping track of what’s going on with bike advocacy in any given week is hard. But thanks to Grant’s tireless efforts, every Monday since August we have published a concise digest of important events. The Calendar Review is on winter break but will return to the blog in January.