Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (9/25/2016)

Madison Bikes Kickoff Party

Last Week

Wow, our Kickoff Party was such a great event. We counted somewhere north of 80 attendees, which was great considering the dicey weather. Big shoutout to all those that helped put the event on, including support from High Noon Saloon, DJ The Real Jaguar, Saris Cycling, and especially Jonny Hunter with Underground Food Collective. If you missed the partyyou can still donate online. All the money raised will be put into improving biking in and around Madison.

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There was also a good turnout at the Sustainable Madison Transportation Master Plan Open House the following night. Mayor Soglin shared some words and then we got a brief overview of some of the key highlights by David Trowbridge and the consultant firm. I think a lot of the groundwork for this plan is very solid, and I appreciate the attention to land use and the impact that has on our current and future transportation network. The biggest gap in the current draft is the absence of any clear goals/objectives, particularly around biking. There is a long list of recommendations, but most of them encourage the city to keep doing what it’s already doing and there’s nothing put in front of us that requires any new action. Take a look for yourself and share your thoughts on what you like and what you think is missing. The website now includes links to several of the draft documents including the primary summary document.

This Week

The 4th week of the month is always busy with the City’s primary transportation committees. Add in the final Mondays Around Monona ride and the big Monroe Street Reconstruction meeting on Thursday and it’ll be a busy week. If you haven’t made it out to any meetings, give it some consideration; things on the ground change when people speak up. PBMVC meetings are also streamed live over the web and can be watched from the comfort of your home.

Monday: It’s the final Mondays Around Monona ride of the season, and if you keep a steady pace you can get to the Wil-Mar center by 7:00 to participate in the discussion about moving bus routes from Jenifer to Williamson Street. There are a lot of considerations with the move and bike comfort/access is one that hasn’t received as much attention as it should. Come learn more and share your thoughts.

Tuesday: Key topics on this month’s Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meeting will be a discussion of a proposed ordinance change related to panhandling from medians and a first view of the comments received this spring on potential pedestrian/bicycle improvement projects. Also on the agenda is a new proposed segment of the Goodman path.

Wednesday: After a month off, the Transportation Ordinance Review Ad Hoc Committee will meet on Wednesday and review draft ordinances proposing the creation of a Transportation Policy and Planning Board, and the recreation of Transit and Parking Commission and Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission. This is really fundamental and important work for our city and is worth paying attention to.

Thursday: The Long Range Transportation Planning Committee will receive a presentation from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on “various major WisDOT roadway projects in the Madison urban area” followed by a review of “Madison in Motion draft transportation system performance monitoring program”. But for anyone that bikes or that would like to bike through and around the Monroe Street neighborhoods, the Monroe Street Reconstruction: Cross Section Workshop may be the more important meeting to attend. This meeting will bring together a lot of the input received to date and will give the public a hands-on opportunity to recommend possible cross sections for further evaluation and design by Engineering. If you care about getting bike lanes on Monroe Street, you should find a way to get to this meeting.

Saturday: For a break from all the advocacy and city meetings, you can go see a talk about touring the Silk Road on a folding bike at Sequoya Library

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (9/19/16)

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Last Week

I wasn’t able to attend the final UW-Madison Draft Campus Master Plan Public Input Meeting, but from the reports of others on our Facebook page, it sounds like the plan calls for increasing motor vehicle access with a not-quite-fully-baked plan for accommodating bikes on University Ave. The final plan should go through the city before it’s adopted and it would be good to consider sharing your thoughts on how this important downtown corridor should function.

This Week

Monday: I’m super excited to see all your faces at our Madison Bikes Kickoff Party at the High Noon Saloon. We’ll have great food and tunes and you’ll have an opportunity to give your thoughts on where we should focus our energies in 2017. Also, door prizes from Saris including a SUPERBONES rack! Party starts at 6:00 pm and we’ll be there until 8:30 or 9:00 pm. There will be a special Mondays Around Monona ride leaving at 4:00 pm and ending at the party. Or for the night owls, join us for a post-party ride (details will be announced at the event). Whether you can join us or not, consider donating online. Every little bit makes a big difference.

Tuesday: The Sustainable Madison Transportation Master Plan Open House is your chance to see the city’s current transportation vision. Come see for yourself what big ideas the city has in mind to improve biking. Do you think the plan will have what it takes to move us out of our stalled mode share numbers?

And make sure that the Monroe Street Reconstruction: Cross Section Workshop is on your calendar for the following week. This will be the most important meeting to date to advocate for better bike access on a reconstructed Monroe.

Bike News

Bike commuting in Madison 2015: More stagnation

September is the time of the year when the US Census publishes data from the American Community Survey, one of the few large-scale data sources that can tell us something about long-term trends in biking in the US. How is Madison doing? We had a first look at the data.

So what are the numbers for bike commuting in Madison? They’re pretty much exactly the same as in the previous year. Whereas between 2013 and 2014 there was a minor increase in bike commuting from 4.8 to 5.3% (well within the margins of error of the data), in 2015 it is still 5.3% of people who report that biking was their main means of getting to work. So for the seventh year in a row bike commuting in Madison has stagnated.

In some ways this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Nationwide bike commuting has also stagnated for several years. So at a time when spending on road expansions continues while gas price hover barely above $2 per gallon, maybe we should be happy that commuting by bike hasn’t decreased. Some advocates in other cities have taken this position. For us at Madison Bikes that’s not an acceptable stance to take. The Bicycle Transportation Plan for the Madison metro area has an increase in the number of people cycling as one of its stated goal, and the city takes great pride in having received “Platinum” status as a bicycle-friendly community. Stagnating bike commuting rates for multiple years in a row therefore should be cause for alarm: What has been done and is being done to improve biking either isn’t working or isn’t enough.

Getting to a mode share of five percent is relatively easy, especially in a college town. Research originally done in Portland divides the population into four categories: “Strong and fearless” riders are those who will ride under almost any circumstances. This is a very small segment of the population. A slightly larger percentage can be characterized as “enthused and confident,” people who are willing to ride on unprotected on-street bike lanes, in mixed traffic on side streets with few cars, or Madison’s disjointed network of off-street bike paths. Taken together, these two groups make up about five to eight percent of the population. To get a bike mode share that goes beyond that, we need to tap in the group of “interested but concerned”–people who may ride a bike for recreation on a trail or during Ride the Drive, or someone who currently is not biking at all but is in principle interested.

To tap into this group real investments in infrastructure, along with incentives to active transportation and disincentives to driving need to happen. In Madison we do not see those major steps. Changes to biking infrastructure are incremental and piecemeal. Green paint on an intersection here, a widened but still unprotected bike lane there. But no protected bike lanes, no rebuild of horrible intersections such as the one at Machinery Row, and major street reconstruction projects, such as the one on Monroe Street, still prioritize on-street parking and car traffic throughput over safer and more convenient bike and pedestrian infrastructure. At the same time, driving and parking continue to be cheap and convenient. Let’s work together to make this change!

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the data. And please stop by our Kickoff Party this Monday and tell us what you think needs to happen to make cycling grow again in Madison.

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (9/12/16)

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Last Week

There were a couple transportation related items discussed at last week’s City Council Meeting. It was a six-hour-long meeting with many important discussions. You can watch all or parts of it here.

  • Item 19: Update to panhandling ordinance – Some have suggested that this ordinance rewrite is about trying to stop panhandling in our roadways, but Mayor Soglin tries to make the case that this is really about public safety. Perhaps this new focus on roadway safety will carry over to initiatives to reduce accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists on our city streets. 3:40:15 is the start of the item and 3:51:00 is the mayor’s speech.
  • Item 27: Comprehensive Plan update – This will be gearing up later this year and into next. It will be a good opportunity to try and get some real transportation vision in a City of Madison plan. The Planning Department says this version will have greater emphasis on equity, health, sustainability, and resilience. (4:20:15)
  • Item 125: Capitol East District Parking Structure – Parking and parking policy have a lot to do with how our city develops and a lot to do with where we allocate roadway space and transportation dollars. Interesting discussion about the subsidies involved in order to encourage development in our downtown. (5:20:00)

On Wednesday, the Bicycle Facility Maintenance Workgroup met and reviewed a first draft of a Bicycle Maintenance policy. We’ve been making good progress and hope to have something pulled together by the end of the year.

This Week

Monday: Madison Bikes Board Meeting – if you are interested in participating in any of our committees, send a message of interest via this online form. And India, one of our directors, leads another Mondays Around Monona ride.

Tuesday: UW Madison Draft Campus Master Plan Public Input Meeting – There was some good discussion about one element of the plan, the redesign of University Avenue and its bike facilities, on our Facebook page recently.

Friday: Join Bike Fitchburg as they sponsor this year’s Pick Me Up at the Border, a nighttime ride to the Illinois border on the Badger State Trail.

Saturday: Ride over to Revolution Cycles for Ladies Night with Molly Hurford, “where all your questions will be answered—from women-specific ‘issues’ to cyclocross training to nutrition.”

Sunday: Bike the Barns, “a delicious charity bicycle tour raising funds for Partner Shares, featuring local food and CSA farms!”

Also, the 2nd annual Love to Ride program, a month-long local bike challenge developed to help more people rediscover the joys and benefits of riding a bike, runs from September 12 –⁠ October 7, 2016. Businesses can compete for team prizes and bragging rights based on their employees’ participation. Individuals get points for their own rides and, even more importantly, for encouraging others to ride. Visit the Love to Ride Madison website to find out more and to register. Sign up to be the Challenge Champion at your business and help spread the word!

And of course, Madison Bikes Kickoff Party at the High Noon Saloon is on 9/19. Donate online now and we’ll see you on the 19th!

As always, you can also find all these dates on our Community Bike Calendar.

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (9/6/16)

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Last Week

Other than the Mondays Around Monona ride, I wasn’t able to attend any of last week’s events. Sounds like the Sun Prairie Transportation Summit was well attended: video of the event (see screenshot above) is available to watch here. If you’re following the Monroe Street reconstruction process (you should be) here’s a link to last week’s Green Infrastructure World Café presentation. September 29th will be the Summer Input Review and Cross Section Workshop at Wingra School followed by the Cross Section Open House on October 27th. If you have any interest in seeing bike lanes on Monroe Street, you should plan on attending both of these meetings.

This Week

On Wednesday, the Bicycle Facility Maintenance Workgroup will meet to review a first draft of a bikeway maintenance policy. On Saturday, consider joining the Bike the Art Kickoff Tour! organized by the Arts & Literature Laboratory.

Also, just announced last week, is a public comment open house for the Madison in Motion, Sustainable Master Transportation Plan on 9/20. I’ll go into more detail about this plan and what to expect at the open house next week, but for now just plan on two big bike events that week. The other event, of course, is the Madison Bikes Kickoff Party at the High Noon Saloon on 9/19. Donate online now and we’ll see you on the 19th!

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (8/29/16)

Last Week

If you missed the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meeting on Tuesday, you can watch it online here. It was a long one (over 3 hours) with conversation centered mostly on 1) the Quarterly Traffic Report from City of Madison Police Dept 2) a Racial Equity and Social Justice Presentation and 3) updates to the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (with a particular focus on trying to make that program more accessible and more equitable for all neighborhoods).

I’ve become very disappointed with the information that is presented each quarter from our Police Department and am concerned with the lack of focus around actually increasing safety for our road users. Lt. Knight shared with the commission that, yet again, the bike safety grant funds that the department received were used to target cyclists failing to come to a foot-down stop at major path/street crossings. Without getting into discussions around the Rolling Stop (also known as the Idaho Stop), it’s clear that this is not the highest leverage enforcement activity to increase safety for people on bikes. People on foot and on bike are the most vulnerable and at-risk users of our public streets today and we need to start to work towards meaningful interventions that will reduce traffic violence.

This Week

On Monday, join We Are All Mechanics for their Mondays Around Monona, leisurely Monday night bike rides for beginners and experts alike.” slow roll. On Wednesday there are two bike transportation related meetings: Sun Prairie Transportation Summit and Williamson/Jenifer Parking & Bus Route Discussions. On Thursday, Monroe Street Reconstruction engagement continues with the Green Infrastructure World Cafe. Mark your calendars now for September 29th; this will be the key community meeting for Monroe Street reconstruction where discussion will begin in earnest around what cross-section concepts should be further developed.

And, of course, preparations continue for our Madison Bikes Kickoff Party at the High Noon Saloon on 9/19. Donate online now and we’ll see you on the 19th!

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (8/22/16)

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Last Week

The Madison Bikes Board of Directors met last week and fleshed out some more details for our party at the High Noon Saloon on 9/19. Stay tuned for more details.

This Week

The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission meets this Tuesday, 8/23/16, at 5:00. Topics for this month include a Racial Equity and Social Justice Presentation by City of Madison Racial Equity Coordinator, Toriana Pettaway, and a review of revisions to the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program.

The Transportation Ordinance Rewrite Commission meeting for this month was cancelled and there will also be no Long Range Transportation Committee or Madison in Motion meeting in August.

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (8/15/16)

The public input meeting about pedestrian, bike, and transit improvements for the Monroe Street Reconstruction was the big event last week. Coming up next week is a visioning session about Jackson Street Plaza (where the Cap City Trail crosses Atwood Avenue). Read more after the fold.

Looking Back

Monroe Street Reconstruction

Last week’s big bike advocacy event was the Monroe Street Reconstruction Ped/Bike/Transit World Cafe at Edgewood College. There was a good crowd of attendees that sat through the three hour session. There were three presentations, one each on possible improvements for people on foot, people on bikes, and people who use transit. After each presentation, there were guided table conversations about what we heard, what was missing, and what we liked.

Some information from the online survey (2,779 responses) was interspersed in the presentations and the summary of survey results can be found here.

Key questions and top three responses:

“Other than by car, how would you prefer to access destinations on Monroe Streets if conditions were improved?”

  • 47% Walking
  • 38% Bicycle
  • 14% Transit

“Please choose up to three (3) qualities that you would most like to see improved and/or invested in as part of the reconstruction process.”

  • 54% Walkability
  • 46% Green street (more plant life and sustainable design)
  • 43% Bikeability

“Please choose up to five (5) priorities regarding what you believe is most important to achieve as a result of the reconstruction of Monroe Street.”

  • 70% Better pedestrian-friendliness and safety
  • 65% A reconstructed street, free of cracks and potholes
  • 51% Better bicycle-friendliness and safety

These results are very consistent with the opinions that have been expressed at the community meetings to date. Improved safety, comfort, and access for people on foot is the primary concern followed closely by improved safety, comfort, and access for people on bike.

Of the 1,000 or so people that said they would prefer to access destinations on Monroe Streets by bike if conditions were improved, there was some clear consensus around what improvements would be the most important (response of 9 or 10 on a 10 point scale):

  • 69% stated that protected bike lanes would be a major factor
  • 62% said that bike lanes (even without separation) would be a major factor
  • 46% called out smoother streets as a major factor
  • 45% hoped for better bike connections from nearby bike paths
  • 37% and 33% said that less and slower automobile traffic would be a major factor
  • And less than 30% of respondents selected better signage, more bike parking near destinations, and installing Bcycle stations as a major factor that would lead to them biking more to Monroe Street

Unfortunately, the presentation on bike enhancements by Assistant City Traffic Engineer, Yang Tao, only mentioned protected and unprotected bike lanes briefly while stressing the impact on car throughput and on-street parking that would result from including bike lanes in the reconstruction. Most of the presentation focused instead on concepts like providing an alternate route from the SW Commuter Path to Monroe adjacent to Glenway or on the long hoped-for connection from Wingra Park to Edgewood Drive. While both of these would be welcome additions to our bike network, neither address the needs of people who do or who would bike on Monroe if adequate facilities were provided. Significant time was also spent discussing improved wayfinding signage from the SW Path to Monroe and the possibility of including more bike parking on the side streets off of Monroe. These are also good ideas, but neither fundamentally improves access to Monroe Street for people on bikes.

Mark your calendars now for Thursday, September 29th. This will be the next big public meeting on the topic at the Monroe Street Reconstruction: Cross Section Workshop.

Looking Forward

The Bicycle Facility Maintenance Subcommittee meeting for this coming week has been cancelled and will pick up on reviewing a new maintenance policy (with particular focus on winter maintenance) in September. Madison Bikes board of directors will meet on Tuesday to work on finalizing plans for our Kick-off Party on September, 19th at the High Noon Saloon. Save the date!

For anyone that lives on or frequents the eastside, consider stopping in at the Jackson Street Plaza on Saturday, 8/20 to contribute your placemaking ideas to an important node on the Capital City Path. Conflict between people on foot and people on bikes was noted as the biggest opportunity for improvement around the plaza.

Bike News

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (8/8/16)

The one big, important advocacy event this week is the Monroe Street Ped, Bike and Transit World Café onThursday that Robbie has blogged about already. Read more about that and about last week’s highlights after the fold.

Monroe Street Reconstruction

Thursday, August 11th, 2016 from 6:00-9:00 PM

The Washburn Room at Edgewood College, 1000 Edgewood College Dr., Madison, WI 53711

RSVP (not required):

If you’ve thought about attending a public meeting on a bike project, but haven’t done so yet, consider coming to the Monroe Street Bike, Ped, and Transit World Cafe this Thursday at Edgewood College. Monroe Street is up for a complete reconstruct from Regent to Leonard and curb to curb resurfacing from Leonard to Odana. This is a once in a generation opportunity to reprioritize our public right of way. Some argue that accommodating bikes on Monroe isn’t needed since the SW Commuter Path is only a few blocks away. But those who rely on their bikes for transportation know that people on bikes need to get to all the same places as people in cars.

With a relatively narrow 66’ right of way, there’s no way to squeeze in bike lanes without losing some on-street car parking. Some business owners worry that a loss of parking would have a negative impact on sales even though studies on the topic show again and again that bike lanes increases sales and are a boon for business. Some neighbors have also objected to the loss of parking on Monroe out of a fear that visitors will park in front of their houses on the side streets and increase traffic in their otherwise quiet streets ‘searching’ for parking—something that could be addressed with better parking management or diverters on side streets that prevent through traffic.

See our Action Alert for more details and plan on coming down to support safe and comfortable bike facilities for all on Monroe Street.

Last week’s highlights

Monona Bay Bike Boulevard

You didn’t miss much if you weren’t able to attend the Monona Bay Bike Boulevard meeting. The plan is to add some bike sharrows and a few Bike Boulevard signs along West Shore and South Shore. None of that will change how the street functions, but perhaps it will help highlight that this is a shared road space for people on bikes and people on cars (and joggers who don’t have a sidewalk bayside). Some neighbors pointed out the challenge of Gilson Street and wondered if something could be done to address the high speed car traffic that comes through there. I advocated for a wider curb cut at the top of West Shore heading into Brittingham Park. It’s not that bad unless there is two-way traffic or in the winter. Widening it to the south would make it much more comfortable for all users.

Bike News

Little Victories: Improving Bike Parking, Two Racks at a Time

Good bike parking is an important but often overlooked component of bike infrastructure, despite its relatively low cost. By and large, the situation in Madison isn’t too bad. The zoning code requires a modest number of bike parking spots to be installed in new developments, and many developers and businesses have come to acknowledge the benefits of providing bike parking.

But sometimes a little citizen activism is needed.

In the summer of 2015, 5th Element Coffee, a high-end coffee shop, opened in the mixed-use building at the corner of University and Highland. I’m a bit of a coffee geek, and so I was excited to bike over there and check out their offerings. The coffee did not disappoint, but the bike parking did: There were no racks in front of the shop, nor even in the general vicinity. One other biking customer had dealt with that by locking to a young tree, and I locked up to a traffic sign nearby. When I mentioned the lack of bike racks to one of the baristas, he acknowledged the problem. To move things forward, a couple days later I emailed the shop:

I love your shop and I love your coffee – and now it’s even better with the outdoor seating. What is missing, though, is a place for your customers to park their bikes. Just today I noticed three cyclists having to use traffic signs, streetlamps, and even a tree to lock up. You may already know this, but you can send a request to the city to install bike parking in front of your business, at no cost to you:
Thanks for looking into this!

A response followed quickly, and it was very positive:

Thank you so much for your business, but also for your concern and suggestion. I’ve taken your advice and submitted the request on the link you provided. I’ve also spoken with our City Alder, and she’s supportive of the idea.

We’ll do our best to get bike parking asap. In the meantime, thanks again for being our guest. If there’s ever anything I can do to make your visits more enjoyable, please let me know.

So far, so good. However, for the next ten months nothing more happened. I would get my coffee fix elsewhere, where bike parking was easier, and I was too busy with other things to follow up with the shop or the city. A couple weeks ago, though, I bike past 5th Element and spotted newly installed racks on the sidewalk! And not only were there racks in front of 5th Element, but also right next to the entrance of Oliver’s Public House, located in the same building.

One can argue that eight bike parking spots busy a coffee shop and pub is not a whole lot, and waiting almost a year for those to be installed is a long time. But hey, little victories still are victories. Have you successfully convinced a business to install bike parking? Do you know of locations that desperately need more bike parking? Share your stories in the comments.

Image: Current bike parking situation. Green are the newly installed racks. The rack in the back of Lombardino’s is wall-mounted and not very useful. Map: OpenStreetMap contributors, Harald Kliems