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Bike News

Guest Post: Biking with Out-of-Towners

Please welcome our guest blogger Elysha Jones. Elysha and her family love biking and live in a car-light household. Elysha tells a great story about having out-of-town guests and showing them how awesome biking in Madison can be. Especially for those of us who already regularly ride, it is easy to forget how others perceive biking—dangerous, weird, requiring special gear, not for families, and so on. Elysha’s post puts this in perspective and reminds us that getting around by bike in Madison is pretty convenient and fun. Thanks for sharing, Elysha!

A little background on us: Scott, my husband, and I were both born and raised in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. During a visit to Amsterdam we fell in love with the biking life. But back home in the suburbs we found that we couldn’t bike everywhere like the Dutch did. So we decided to move some place more bike/pedestrian friendly, and Madison fit the bill for us. For five years now we have called Madison home, and we haven’t looked back.

This past weekend our friends from St. Louis came to visit. Weeks before the visit I talked with Becky about all the stuff we could do here, and I kept mentioning that biking would really be the best way to go to all the different places. She was very skeptical and told me she wasn’t sure she could handle biking with her two kids (ages ten and eight). I told her I have a bakfiets and could borrow a long tail bike from a friend. Another excuse for Becky not wanting to bike was curbs: Becky was sure there would be curbs that we would have to maneuver. So on one of my many errands by bike I stopped every now and then to take pictures of the bike trails and streets they intersect with and sent them to her. Again she worried: What should she wear while biking?! She didn’t own “bike clothes” and neither did her husband. And again I tried to reassure her by taking pictures of me in my “biking” outfits, that is, just regular clothes. Still, Becky remained unconvinced and tried one more excuse: Her husband, he didn’t want to bike at all. He thought it was really weird and had no desire to do it all. So I hatched a plan to convince him it was normal to bike around in Madison.

When they got into town, on Friday, we took them out to dinner. We live just a bit off of Atwood, and so we walked down to Glass Nickel Pizza and then walked from there to the Chocolate Shoppe. I made sure we walked down the bike path. I wanted to normalize biking as much as I could. I also made sure to point out all the “regular” people biking by and the Bicycle Benefit stickers at all the places we went to and explaining to them what they get for that little sticker on their helmet. Finally, we got back to our house and they were a bit unsure of biking still. But I could tell: At this point they were at least thinking of it as a possibility. I thought it would be best if I showed the kids the bikes they could ride on and let the grownups see our bikes too.  I opened our garage door and told them to go ahead and pick out bikes that would work for them. They had a blast in our mini bike shop. They all picked out bikes and we went for a quick ride around our neighborhood. There was a lot of laughter and cheering. It seemed like my plan was working!

Saturday morning I suggested we bike to the farmers market on the Square. They all agreed, and the 12 of us made our way downtown. Our friends were impressed by the bike paths and the bike elevator and cars stopping for us! After walking around the Square I suggested we bike down State Street to the Union Terrace. Again, this was a huge surprise to them: a street just for bikes and special vehicles! They loved the Union too, and when we got home and they realized they had biked 12 miles round trip, they were all pleasantly surprised. “It didn’t seem that long!”

On Sunday I suggested we go to the zoo and I said whoever wanted to drive could and whoever wanted to bike could. All the kids wanted to bike, and my friend’s husband wanted to bike too!!  Even though he said he was a bit sore from all the biking the day before, he still chose biking over driving! So we all biked to the zoo and then on to Ella’s Deli for ice cream. Their kids chatted about how they wanted to live in Madison when they got older, and our friends were able to see how and why biking was such a big part of our lives. It was a huge success and made us really appreciate the biking infrastructure that Madison has.

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Bike News

Fitchburg Bike & Ped Plan: Open House July 21

Fitchburg

The City of Fitchburg—currently ranked a “silver” Bicycle-Friendly Community—is updating their Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. The meeting will take place on July 21, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Kids Crossing Shelter at McKee Farms Park. If you can’t make it to the meeting, there is also a website with information about the plan and the opportunity to take a survey and provide input. Read the full announcement below.

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Bike News

City Asks: Where to Invest in Bike Infrastructure?

Bad bike infrastructure

Where should the city invest in bike infrastructure in the coming budget period? That is the question that the Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) is asking you. And we want to hear from you too, as well as provide guidance on how to maximize the impact of your suggestions. The meeting is already today, June 28 at 5:30pm, but you will have time to provide written input until July 8. Let’s start with the actual announcement from PBMVC:

The Madison Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission will hold a public hearing to receive comments on potential pedestrian and bicycle projects the City should consider undertaking in the 2017-2019 Capital Budgets to increase opportunities for walking and bicycling in Madison.

The intent of the public hearing is to hear suggestions for new capital (construction) projects. Please note that concerns about routine maintenance and operational issues can be directed to the appropriate agency or the City’s Report-a-Problem webpage http://www.cityofmadison.com/reportaproblem.

The hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, in Room 260 of the Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. NOTE: If you need an interpreter, materials in alternate formats or other accommodations to access this meeting, please contact the Traffic Engineering Division at 608-266-4761. Please do so no later than 9:00 a.m. on the Thursday preceding the meeting so that proper arrangements can be made.

Written comments will also be accepted through Friday July 8, 2016, and should be addressed to the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission, c/o City Traffic Engineering Division, PO Box 2986, Madison WI 53701-2986, or email to traffic@cityofmadison.com.

The results of the public hearing and written comments will be used to develop a list of projects to be considered for inclusion in the 2017-2019 construction work program.

Sounds slightly complicated, doesn’t it? What exactly is a “new capital (construction) project”? How much money are we talking about? What happens to your suggestions once they have been submitted to the PBMVC? Is sending your suggestions to PBMVC the most impactful way to improve biking?

Here’s our advice:

  • Any input is valuable. The only way that gaps in Madison’s bike infrastructure network will be addressed is if the city hears from you. So consider taking the time attending the meeting or submitting your comments in writing.
  • That said, there is no guarantee that your input will lead to action. One of our goals at Madison Bikes is to hold the city accountable for not merely asking for public input but actually transforming it into concrete action. One way to help with this to cc’ing your Alder in your email. You can look up your Alder and their contact information here.
  • Don’t assume that someone else has already made the same suggestion. Yes, most likely someone will send in input about the horrible intersection at John Nolen/Blair/Wilson/Williamson. But the more people voice their concern, the more likely it is that something will be done to fix it.
  • Consider including examples of what has worked well. If there is bike infrastructure that you think has worked well and should be considered elsewhere (e.g. bike-specific signals, turn restrictions, a buffered bike lane), mention it in your input.
  • Try to be specific. Instead of only saying “The intersection at John Nolen is a big mess,” consider adding detail, for example “When crossing from the Capital City path towards Machinery Row Bikes, you can’t make it across the intersection in one signal phase” or, “Drivers turning across the park into the Law Park parking lot frequently don’t pay attention to people cycling on the path.”
  • Don’t be afraid to think big. Yes, some projects may be “too expensive” or “not politically feasible” right now. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on changing that.
  • Don’t be afraid to think small. Sometimes it’s a little thing that can make your and everyone else’s biking experience so much better. A missing curb cut, a traffic signal that doesn’t detect bikes, a bike lane that ends just half a block before a popular destination, …
  • If you have a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member who’s interested in biking but thinks it’s not safe enough, encourage them to provide input as well. It’s important to create facilities that people of all ages and all abilities feel comfortable on.

Here are some text snippets that you can use:

Dear PBMVC members, dear Alder [name]:

Thank you for asking the public for input on improving biking and walking in Madison.

I’d bike more if […]

A gap in the system that is a problem for me is [location].

A road that really needs better accommodations for cycling/walking is […]

I can’t get to [location] by bike because […]

There needs to be more bike parking in the following public areas [street, park, library, public building, etc.]

[Location] is an intersection/road that is hard to cross, and that keeps me from biking/walking.

Thank you for considering my suggestions.

[Name and full address]

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Bike News

June 13: Monroe Street Reconstruction Meeting

Monroe St, Madison, WI (1/2)

Monroe Street will be reconstructed in 2017. On June 13 the first of a number of public meetings will take place, providing you an important opportunity to provide input early on in the process. The meeting will take place at the Wingra School Gymnasium (second floor), 718 Gilmore Street, from 7–⁠9 pm. Registration is recommended but optional.

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Bike News

It’s Bike Week! Come Chat With Us

Update 4/6: A previous version of this post had the location of one of the commuter stations wrong. Fixed below.

Madison Bike Week kicked off on Thursday with the New Belgium Clips & Beer Film Tour at Olin Park. The main chunk of Bike Week will be happening next week though. Madison Bikes folks will be at both the commuter station near Machinery Row/John Nolen between Broom Street and Monona Terrace as well as at the one at Crazylegs/Camp Randall Monday to Friday between 7 and 9 am. We’ll have awesome spoke cards, sign-up sheets for our newsletter, and you can talk with us about all things Madison Bikes.

Bike week sign on the Cap City trail

Location of the two commuter stations:

We’re looking forward to meeting you in person, either at the commuter stations or at one of the many other Bike Week events!

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Bike News

June 2: Join the Madison Bikes Caravan to Clips Beer & Film Tour

The east side contingent of Madison Bikes is planning a casual group ride to the New Belgium Clips Beer & Film Tour (benefiting the Wisconsin Bike Fed) at Olin Park tomorrow, June 2. Departure is at the intersection of South Fair

Oaks Avenue and the Cap City Bike Trail at 6:45pm. More details after the fold or on Facebook.

Join the ‘East Side Bike Caravan’ to Olin Park!

Stop departures will be prompt. We’ll ride on the Cap City Trail the entire route from S. Fair Oaks Ave to Olin Park.

Anybody who misses a stop can join in anywhere along the way!

DEPART 6:45 S. Fair Oaks Ave & Cap City Trail

ARRIVAL 6:52p / DEPART 7:00p Cap City Trail behind Mickey’s Tavern (Thornton St.)

ARRIVAL 7:07p / DEPART 7:20p Cap City Trail at Machinery Row Bicycles (Blair St.)

7:30p ARRIVAL at Olin Park

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Bike News

June 28: Cap Times Podium Discussion About Biking in Madison

The Cap Times has over the past years regularly hosted discussion panels on locally relevant hot topics, such as housing affordability or criminal justice reform. Now it is time to talk bikes, and one of Madison Bikes’ own, Robbie Webber, will be part of the panel of experts. “How can Madison make room for the bicycling boom?” will take place at the High Noon Saloon on June 28, starting at 6:30pm.

Screenshot from Cap Times website

The discussion will be moderated by Cap Times editor Chris Murphy, and aside from Robbie (who will be representing herself), panelists include:

This promises to be an exciting opportunity to discuss ways of improving the bicycle network in Madison, attract a broader demographic to cycling, and bring our city to the next level of bike-friendliness. We are looking forward to discussing topics such as trade-offs between on-street car parking, ease of driving and bike/ped infrastructure, creating a complete network of bike infrastructure that works for people of all ages and abilities, or the question of equity in local and regional transportation. See you there!

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Bike News

Madison Bikes Launches – Press Release

SW_path_sunrise.jpg

Madison Bikes officially launched this week. Below the fold you can read our whole press release, or you can download it as a pdf.

Madison Bikes launches: Focus on improving bicycling for all

MADISON- Madison is a “Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community,” according to the League of American Bicyclists. But Madison Bikes—a new group that “envisions a city where everyone can bicycle conveniently and comfortably to any place in the city and neighboring communities year round”—thinks there is still a lot of work to do.

“Madison is a great city for getting around by bike. It’s great for confident riders in particular, but many people who are interested in riding their bikes don’t feel comfortable on busy streets with nothing separating themselves from fast-moving cars except a stripe of paint. We can double the number of people who ride their bikes for transportation just by closing some key gaps in our bike network,” said one of the founders, Grant Foster.

“Madison has done a great job over the last several decades in building out an extensive network of paths and in installing some innovative bike treatments” said Foster.  “But most people can’t get from where they are to where they want to go only on paths. We have to make our streets feel as comfortable as those off-street paths to people on bikes. The measure for all new and rebuilt streets should be, ‘Would you let your child ride on that street?’”

Madison Bikes says that a major focus will be on working to close the gaps in Madison’s existing bicycle network, ensuring equitable access to high-quality bike infrastructure in all parts of the city. Intersections and busy roads that leave people on bikes feeling exposed can make trips to work, shopping, school, or social events difficult or intimidating for many people who would like to have an alternative to driving.

Madison Bikes Steering Committee members also pointed out that improved bicycling options benefit everyone, even those who don’t bike.

Former Alder Robbie Webber, who now works with a number of states on transportation sustainability issues, explained: “Every person who bikes is one less person vying for a parking spot. And we can’t build our way out of congestion. Bicycling also supports transit use because it gives people options for the ‘last mile’—the gap between bus stops and their home, job, or other destination. With BCycle downtown and racks to carry bikes on the bus, better bicycling options make using the bus easier. If we can get more people using bikes, transit, or walking, our roads will last longer. That’s good for everyone paying taxes.”

Harald Kliems, a researcher in pediatrics at the UW, pointed out another benefit of active transportation: “It is now widely accepted that high rates of active transportation are related to improved health, both for individuals and for the population as a whole. And to enable people to use active transportation, you need good infrastructure and an empowered community.”

“The Bike Fed believes that the best progress can be made at the local level,” said Wisconsin Bicycle Federation Executive Director and former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. “As a statewide organization we can’t be at every meeting or know every player in each community. So these kinds of local advocacy organizations are really important. We want to help Madison Bikes grow and be successful in any way we can.”

More information about Madison Bikes can be found on their website, madisonbikes.org, on Facebook, or Twitter.

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Bike News

Wisconsin Bike Fed is Hiring

Want to work in bike advocacy? Our friends from the Wisconsin Bike Fed are hiring for some cool (paid) positions, including a membership director and a membership coordinator. More details here.

2016-05-18_09_07_08-Jobs___Wisconsin_Bike_Fed.png

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Bike News

May 18: Monona Sustainable Transportation Meeting

I just received word that there is an ongoing effort in Monona to improve cycling and walking. Tomorrow (May 18) at 5:30pm there will be a kick-off meeting at Monona City Hall.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Monona+City+Hall/@43.0633561,-89.3416618,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x880653b616867f17:0x848a557221558c4a!8m2!3d43.0633561!4d-89.3394731?hl=en

For more information, contact Brad Bruun (bbruun@ci.monona.wi.us, 222.2525×7402).