Categories
Action Alert Bike News E-Mail Newsletter Weekly Update

New Bike Paths coming to Madison

New bike paths are coming to Madison- have your voice heard in the development of these two new projects.

New North-South Bike Path

Madison wants to provide safe bike/ped. connections within the north side.

A new study for a North-South bike path seeks to ‘address a current gap in the system’ by connecting the Demetral Path with Westport Road. Read more in this article.

Country Grove Park- Bike Optimized Singletrack

Country Grove Park – Bike Trail Conceptual Plan (2023 Master Plan)

Madison Parks is starting a new single-track bike project at Country Grove Park and is looking for your input. There are two options to submit your feedback- you can complete their survey here and/or register for a public meeting on Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 5pm. The survey will remain open until July 5th. Survey responses received by the June 27th public meeting will be tabulated and data will be presented at the meeting.

Happening this week

Madtown Monday Ride

Join Cap City Cyclists Madison for their “Mad Town Monday” ride on Monday, 6/17. As always, the group meets at Orton Park, at 6pm- party pacing at about a 12 mph pace for the 18 mile route. Temperatures are expected to reach 91°F, so please bring enough water, sunscreen and also consider wearing lightweight and breathable clothing.

Help make Bike Week even better in 2025

Madison Bikes is interested in your feedback on this year’s Madison Bike Week. No matter if you’ve participated as an attendee, an event organizer, or a sponsor, we’d love to hear from you. Please complete this quick survey, and we’ll use the results to make next year’s Madison Bike Week even better.

Want one of those cool shirts?

They are still available from the Madison Bikes Webstore along with other Madison Bikes T-Shirts. Click on the following link to order.

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
Newsletter Weekly Update

Ride With Us Through the Arb!

Welcome to this week’s newsletter! Madison Bikes has a goal of hosting a community meeting or event each month in 2024. Which one has been your favorite so far? I loved the Spring Bike Wash last month where we teamed up with Freewheel to get people’s bikes cleaned, check them over for safety, and handed out some Greenbush doughnuts, all for free. It was wonderful to see so many people show up to enjoy the service and sunshine.

We’ve got some exciting bike-related things to share with you this week, including another awesome community event. Here’s what you need to know:

Badger Rusk Shared-Use Path Information Meeting

More separated bike infrastructure is on its way! Monday, May 13th, at 6:00 PM, the city will be hosting a public information meeting on a new shared-use path that is proposed to go along the North side of W Badger Rd and the West side of N Rusk Ave. The path would build upon and help connect the existing bike/ped bridge over the beltline to other destinations that path users may want to go. Along with a 10-ft wide shared path, the project includes improvements to lighting and street crossings. The design is scheduled for Summer-Winter 2024 with construction in June-Oct 2025. Register for the meeting on the project’s page from the city website to learn more.

The approximate location of the proposed path

Capital Brewery E-Bike Ride

Capital Brewery Bike Club is hosting their first Wednesday night E-Bike riders group ride. The ride, starting at 5:30 PM will be 11 miles, starting and ending at Capital Brewery at 7734 Terrace Ave in Middleton.

Quarry Park Bike Trails Work Day

Saturday, May 18th from 8 to noon, Capital Off Road Pathfinders is hosting a Spring work day to clean up and prep the MTB trails at Quarry Park for the season. Volunteers will help clear brush along the trails, tune up the jumps and pump track, and buff in some tech lines. Work days like these are critical to getting the trails ready for the season and keep them in good shape.

Community Event: Bike and Learn Through the Arboretum

Also on Saturday, May 18th at 1pm, Madison Bikes will be hosting a ride through the Arboretum where you can learn all about the ecosystems that live there. Eric Grycan, Ecological Restoration Specialist and friend of Madison Bikes will guide us through the route and tell us about about the Lost City Forest, Skunk Cabbage Bridge, and Curtis Prairie. You can find all this info and let us know if you’re coming on our Facebook event.

The planned route through the arboretum for Saturday’s event

Get your event registered for Madison Bike Week

In case you didn’t hear, Madison Bike Week is right around the corner on June 1-8! We are so excited to see all the events rolling in. This year we will have rides, parties, educational sessions, discounts, free stuff, dogs on bikes, and so much more. Check out our current event schedule, save the dates/times, and get ready to party on the paths. Remember that new events are still being added so check back often so you don’t miss any! If you or someone you know is interested in hosting an event, you can register it on our website, or check out our event-hosting FAQ for more info.

That’s it for this newsletter. We have a lot to be excited about in the coming weeks and we can’t wait to see you out riding.

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
Action Alert In Depth

The Tragedies of Sauk Creek Greenway

(disclaimer: this is a personal blog and not an official position of Madison Bikes)

Alder Nikki Conklin recently announced the scuttling of a long-planned North/South path through the Sauk Creek Greenway on Madison’s far west side. This is an unfortunate capitulation. The tragedy isn’t so much the loss of the path, but the way in which it was lost and how it unfairly perpetuates a “Bikes vs Trees” narrative.

If you just want action, jump to Next Steps at the bottom of this painfully-long blog.

I’ve also added a footnote1 with updates and follow-ups since this blog was originally posted.

Background

The 26-acre Sauk Creek Greenway snakes from Tree Lane to Old Sauk Rd. There has long been a stormwater project to deal with years of neglect and surges of stormwater from west side development, particularly the parking lots near Menards. The issue became critical after the 2018 floods which resulted in the drowning death of a person in the nearby Chapel Hill-Greentree greenway, an area with many similarities to Sauk Creek. That incident resulted in the $5.9M McKenna Boulevard Flood Mitigation Project.

The Sauk Creek stormwater project’s goals are to stabilize the creek and build a gravel service road similar to the ones in Owen Conservation Park and Pheasant Branch north of Century Ave. The project would also thin the trees according to a soon-to-be-released corridor plan. It’s expected that the City will want to remove all damaged and unhealthy trees, and also many of the less desirable trees that are crowding the more desirable trees. Opinions vary on what is a “desirable” tree, but there’s no doubt the current greenspace is a product of neglect and mesophication, and there isn’t a single healthy oak tree under 80 years old. Unlike Owen, Olin, Hoyt, Picnic Point, and other urban greenspaces, this greenway has never had a volunteer group clearing invasives, burning duff, stemming erosion, maintaining trails, etc.

Throughout the project, neighbors have rightfully expressed concerns about what tree removal will look like, especially after a different tree-thinning exercise a few blocks away seemed excessive:

As far as I can tell, the City departments involved seem to have been responsive, going so far as to inventory the entire 26-acre wood and its 5500 trees, post a list of every public meeting and department involved, publish a community engagement guide, and issue multiple statements to dispel misunderstandings that had arisen. However, throughout the process one can’t help but sense that neighbors seemed more interested in how the project will affect their own properties than the City’s.

Enter the “Friends”

In mid-2022, the “Friends of Sauk Creek” formed. Unlike most “Friends” organizations that help improve our parks and open space, this group’s single goal was to “stop plans to remove 5,500 trees during a reconstruction of Sauk Creek,” i.e., to ensure nothing changes. [Update: their new web site has expanded their mission to include “stop bike paths in the nearby woods.” Their old web site with much of their history is still in google’s cache]. The leaders are nice, intelligent people and they’re passionate about their neighborhoods. But for reasons I can’t explain, their manner of engaging with the City quickly turned belligerent and hostile, and they’ve shown little interest in compromise or finding common ground.2

The group aggressively took the planners to task, demanding details and impacts long before any engineering had been done to provide precise answers. They looked for inconsistencies with what was said by different people in different City departments, jumping on them as signs of malfeasance or secrecy. They apparently filed Freedom of Information Act requests. To this outsider, their treatment of our City officials seemed unfair and unwarranted. Despite all that, a petition they crafted in late 2022 calling for public involvement in tree-clearing decisions was calm, measured and entirely appropriate. It got 373 signatures. I would have happily signed it.

Their true colors were revealed in May 2023 when they rallied to kill a planned youth single-track MTB trail in Walnut Grove Park that would have provided youth recreation similar to the Aldo Leopold Park shred-to-school trails. The trail didn’t endanger a single mature, healthy tree and was environmentally compatible with the park’s existing uses (which include a dog park!). With no environmental reason for their opposition, it’s impossible not to conclude that the “Friends” group is more concerned about the users of the greenway than the health of the greenway. To them, the greenway should remain their own private backyard in perpetuity and anything that brings more people into the area is a threat.

During a meeting in July 2023, City planners indicated that the stormwater project may be coordinated with a long-planned North/South path through the greenway. This would mean paving and grading the access road to ADA and NACTO path standards, adding one or more bridges, and connecting the path to the City’s growing All Ages & Abilities bike network. The idea of a path goes back at least to the 2000 bike plan (pg 84) where it was listed as a “third priority” because “suitable on-road routes exist.” The “Friends” group twists that to say that the City had declared the path “wasn’t a priority.” In reality, “third priority” means exactly that and, after 24 years, many of the other “third priority” projects have been completed, including Wingra Creek underpass, Stricker Pond path, a path in Blackhawk Park, the new Starkweather bridge, etc. The path again appeared in the 2015 bike plan on the future map (figure 4-7, pg 39). It also was on the West Area Plan that kicked off in early 2023.

At some point, East/West path connections through the greenway were also added to the West Area Plan. I’m not sure the history of that, but do know that students headed to Memorial High School, Jefferson Middle School, and the Lussier Community Center have expressed a desire for an E/W connection without having to go all the way down to Tree Lane. For some, an E/W connection will eliminate up to a mile of extra travel and avoid having to take busy four-lane Old Sauk Rd. It will also provide a connection to WisDOT’s planned bike/ped beltline bridge just to the west. Even after Alder Conklin capitulated on the N/S path this week, the E/W path remains in the plan and will surely be a continued fight.

Enter the Boogeyman

Once the “Friends” heard about a paved path, they were livid and shifted their attention towards this new boogeyman — the bike path! After all, what better symbol of hatred than a smug, entitled biker?

credit: AI

Their web site soon shouted “City planner describes creek area as biking hub; it could destroy thousands of trees, birds, wildlife.” Taking a lesson from the “see what sticks” playbook, they brainstormed a random assortment of false and exaggerated talking points, listed below (with my rebuttals):

  • “Thousands of trees removed”, “decimate”, “reduced canopy”, etc. (The stormwater project is what will remove trees! A paved path will only require minor additional tree removals for bridges and the E/W path. Engineers will surely try to avoid the healthy, desirable trees.)
  • “Destroy nature”, “harm animals”, etc. (Paths are not a major factor. Studies do show that mountain biking can impact nesting habits of some bird species in wilderness areas. But this is an urban greenway; any animal here is adapted to houses, highways, noise, and the adjacent dog park. Turtles even dig their nests next to paths.)
  • “The path’s impervious surface will leach toxins into our lakes!” (Path asphalt is inert and the path has no gutters or drains for water to reach the lake. All rainwater soaks into the ground a few feet from where it falls. Porous asphalt can also be used, as Fitchburg did along Lacy Rd. Toxins from asphalt largely come from driveway sealants used by homeowners.)
  • “The grade is too steep and the path will be dangerous!” (The grades are nothing that design engineers couldn’t handle; overall it’s much tamer than paths in Yarmouth Crossing and Pheasant Branch Creek.)
  • “Heat-island, climate change!” (The stormwater project is responsible for the extent of tree removal; their thinning will allow the remaining trees to flourish, improving the overall canopy. Plus, if the path can convince even a single person to give up their car or drive less, that can save up to 250 mature trees worth of carbon capture. Biking and walking are climate solutions, not problems!)
  • “The path will be lighted!” (This is not in any plan and is technically challenging. It would only be added if neighbors asked for it. [edit: see footnote 1])
  • “The cost will be $6M! or $7M!” (The City doesn’t have a design detailed enough to know what the cost will be. By the time the stormwater project has rehabilitated the gravel access road, the cost to add asphalt and bridges should be very reasonable with most costs covered by a federal grant.)
  • “Bikers are fast and dangerous” (FUD. See below for why this path would not be a major bike thoroughfare.)
  • “The path doesn’t connect anywhere!” (Never mind the chicken-and-egg fallacy of arguing against paths because of lack of other paths, this path would have immediately connected to bike lanes on Old Sauk Rd and Tree Ln, and it would nearly reach Mineral Point Rd’s new widened sidewalk. The E/W path will connect WisDOT’s planned beltline overpass at Sauk Creek Park.)
  • “The path isn’t needed because there are other routes on Westfield and High Point!” (This is absolutely true for most bicyclists one sees on the roads today. However, it’s estimated that ⅓ of bicyclists only bike where there are comfortable off-street paths. This path could be the difference in whether a family bikes or drives to Swagat for dinner or whether their child can reach Alicia Ashman Library on their own.)

This last point drives me crazy and points to a major failure in City messaging. This path would never have been a major bike hub or bike highway on the order of the Capital City trail or Southwest Commuter Path. Instead, it would be a backyard greenway path similar to ones in Greentree-Chapel Hill, Oak Meadow, Mineral Point Park, Garner Park, and dozens of others. Those are all important bike connections, especially for All Ages and Abilities, but they attract far more walkers, joggers, dog walkers, strollers, and kids than bicyclists. Most path users are from the adjacent neighborhoods.

A typical 5pm in McKee Farms Park. Five walkers, one jogger with dog, and one fisherman on a bike (obscured).

Mobilization strategies

The “Friends” group issued a second petition in Fall 2023 filled with their false talking points, though it moderated its words on tree removal. Curiously, they only got 305 signatures, far less than the 2022 petition. This could have been due to shortness of time, but it might also be due to neighbor fatigue. I’ve spoken with several people in the area including a few who are serious conservationists and, frankly, they’re bewildered by how sideways things have gone and they’re afraid to speak up because of the power the “Friends” group seems to wield.

Another pillar of their mobilization strategy was to hound and harass every public servant and every public meeting related to the West Area Plan with emails, public comments, and in-person confrontations. Ald. Conklin’s inbox probably has a thousand messages about it, far more than any human could read, let alone reply to. At the Wisconsin Healthy Communities Summit last week, State Senator Chris Larson advised that one key to successful government advocacy was to “point out the problem without being problematic.” The “Friends” group proves him dead wrong! I recall one technical zoning meeting where an exasperated attendee asked of the barrage of Sauk Creek path comments, “Do these even refer to anything on the agenda?” (they didn’t, but it was a public meeting so there was no stopping it)

It was also agonizing to see how much time and energy the “Friends” group was able to extract from their own members. I’ve read every public comment from a half-dozen meetings. Most are earnest and thoughtful, and many brought up well-researched concerns about project bounds, path routing, grade, erosion, proximity to yards — all issues that would be really helpful during the design phase, had there been one. But so many of the messages also raised the same false and exaggerated talking points. At one meeting, a neighbor with a disability stood in opposition to the path because she couldn’t imagine how an ADA path could navigate the terrain. With the project now scuttled, we’ll never know how engineers would have solved that; but they would have.

A third pillar was the press. By framing this as “David v Goliath,” “neighbors saving trees from uncaring City planners,” or “trees versus bikers”, they got a lot of sympathetic press. Allison Garfield’s excellent Capital Times piece “A Silent Deforestation” gave most coverage to the neighbors, but it was extremely fair in presenting the City’s position. WORT‘s earlier coverage was similarly balanced. Coverage in the Wisconsin State Journal was more lopsided for the “Friends”, and Cap Times editor Paul Fanlund proved himself a sucker for the false messaging, lobbing cheap shots against bicyclists in his opinion piece on zoning changes.

The fourth pillar was to capitalize on the public outcry about proactive zoning, as Fanlund had done. The zoning issue is important and potentially affects the entire city, but it has nothing to do with the local Sauk Creek stormwater project. That didn’t stop a former Common Council candidate from making this FOX news-worthy video that egregiously conflates the two issues.

City Capitulation

The strategy of the “Friends of Sauk Creek” worked. The city is now planning to remove the N/S path from the West Area Plan. This is no big loss for the overall bike network, but it is a tremendous loss for low-stress bicycling since beautiful paths like this are often what get people hooked on biking in the first place. I personally think it’s also a huge loss for the neighborhood, but that’s really for the neighbors to judge.

The biggest tragedy for me as a transportation advocate is that this loss is entirely due to misinformation and bullying. The “Friends of Sauk Creek” apparently feels no shame in their tactics and perhaps this is just a case of local democracy emulating national politics. But that doesn’t make it right. It’s embarrassing to see it succeed in Madison.

Of course, the “Friends” aren’t done. Of course they know the path has little impact on tree removal. They will fight the E/W path that remains in the plan. They will fight the stormwater project later this summer. And, in a couple years, they’ll be fighting the off-street bike paths now planned for High Point and Westfield Rds — paths that will end up costing far more than the greenway path and that will remove parking and disrupt the front yards of the fifty or so home- and condo- owners on those streets.

What’s next?

Madison’s West Area Plan updates and information about all upcoming meetings are posted at https://www.cityofmadison.com/dpced/planning/west-area-plan/3896/. The Sauk Creek path change has two meetings:

  • virtually on Thursday May 30 at 6pm
  • in-person open house at High Point Church on Thursday June 6 from 6-8pm. Fortunately or not, this falls in the middle of Bike Week!

As bicyclists, our goals should be to show overwhelming support for the East/West path and to try to restore the North/South path through the Sauk Creek greenway.

Our success depends almost entirely on helping opposition neighbors to (a) understand that the paths are not responsible for mass tree removal and (b) that paths will be an asset, not a threat, to the neighborhoods, the greenway and the adjacent property owners.

Let’s mobilize with facts and kindness. Let’s help the opposition think about how they might personally benefit from a path. E.g., walking a dog without getting muddy feet or ticks, morning jogs or birding, walking or biking to dinner, sending your child alone to the park or library, and so on. If quality-of-life gains aren’t enough, remind them that a trail will increase property values by 3-5%.

Most importantly, let’s encourage them to go explore the similar greenways to see what paths are really like and how other neighbors use them. Here are four ideal ones to visit:

  • Middleton’s Pheasant Branch Creek path (at Park St, not the larger area north of Century Blvd) is most analogous to Sauk Creek in terms of narrowness, length, and terrain.
  • The Mineral Point Park path from behind Memorial High School to Inner Drive. This is similarly narrow to Sauk Creek but has a concrete stormwater drain.
  • Fitchburg’s paths like Nevan Springs/Buttonbush and Oak Meadow have adjacent houses. Here you can see how homeowners integrate their yards with the paths while maintaining privacy.
  • The Cap City trail west of Fish Hatchery (park at Adesys) is a popular trail so expect a much higher volume of bike traffic. It has steep grades, multiple bridges, and a meandering creek whose banks are reinforced with natural boulders.
  • The gravel maintenance road in Owen Conservation Park from Inner Drive to Forsythia Pl. This is what Sauk Creek’s new maintenance road will look like unpaved. The corridor width is not that different from a paved path.

There is a path to saving the path.

  1. Update: Added Mineral Point Park path to the list of suggests greenways to visit. Errata: Although the “Friends” group does not organize it, some Sauk Creek neighbors do independent garlic mustard removal and other woods maintenance. Follow-up: The “Friends” group has not responded to this blog , but instead doubled-down on their misinformation in a May 19 blog. Follow-up: social media discussions about this blog are at Nextdoor and Reddit (and earlier Reddit). A very good policy discussion about paths in Sauk Creek greenway took place in the Dec 13, 2023 meeting of the Madison Transportation Commission (watch here from 1:52:00 to 2:33:45). In it, and also at a June 6 meeting, City engineers said they preferred paths to be lit but that it was very much a design question, decided by public input. ↩︎
  2. To be transparent, I have no first-hand exposure to the Friends of Sauk Creek prior to Fall 2023, so all descriptions of earlier events are based on the public record. There may be other plausible explanations. I welcome the “Friends” or other involved people to help correct the record and point out any mistakes they read in this blog. ↩︎
Categories
Bike News Newsletter Weekly Update

Metro hits 1M+ ride mark again; Healthy Communities Summit; and biking events this weekend

Bus rider walks up to bus stationed at stop on campus
Metro Transit bus, by Lauren Graves – UW Transportation Services

Metro Transit hits 1M+ rides in February

Metro Transit once again hit a post-pandemic milestone of providing over one million rides in February 2024. The agency reports having provided 1,019,324 rides in February ’24, a 12.5% year-over-year increase over February ’23. This is the second non-consecutive month Metro has had more than 1 million rides in a month since before the pandemic, with October 2023 being the last seeing roughly 1,075,500 riders.

Graph displaying Metro's monthly ridership from 2020 to February 2024, with a callout showing the 12.5% year over year increase in rides provided
Metro continues to make progress in recovering post-pandemic ridership

Coming this week

Healthy Communities Summit

4/29 at 8a – 5p

The Healthy Communities Summit returns to Madison this year on Monday, April 29. The summit is scheduled to occur at UW-Madison’s Memorial Union in the Great Hall on Monday, April 29th, 2024, running from 8a to 5p. Featured programming topics for this year include Education Empowerment, Changemaker Inspiration, and Trail Development Toolbox. Attendees can anticipate various breakout sessions led by both local and national experts, covering these themes and additional subjects.

North/South BRT Public Meeting

4/29 at 5:30p

Metro Rapid Route B will be the second bus rapid transit route in the Madison area, following a North to South route from the North side of Madison to Fitchburg. At the next round of meetings on Monday, April 29 at the MainStay Suites in Fitchburg from 5:30-7:30p, the public can provide feedback and see changes that have been made based on input we received, including updated station locations and routing. Attend the meeting in person or watch it here.

Women’s Mountain Bike Day Group Ride

5/4 at 9:30a

Celebrate Women’s Mountain Bike Day on Saturday, May 4th with a Women’s Group Ride! Meet at the Pavilion by the Quarry Ridge parking lot at 9:30am for a 1-hour beginner-friendly ride. Bring your mountain bike, helmet, water, and a flat kit. There will be an instructor present to help you learn and improve your mountain biking skills. Stick around afterwards for coffee and donuts.

A woman on a mountain bike on a dirt path, Machinery Row Bicycles

Cinco de cuatro ride with @Cap.City. Cicylists

5/4 at 11a

Join @Cap.City.Cyclists and others for a “Cinco de cuatro” bike ride this May 4 to get burritos and drinks. Ride starts at 11a and leaves from Orton Park.

Poster for May 4 bike ride from Orton Park to Habaneros restaurant at 11 a.m.
Join @Cap.City.Cyclists and others for a burrito ride.

No matter how long you ride this week, ride safely! Cheers.

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
Newsletter Weekly Update

Bike Advocacy in the Wake of Tragedy

Welcome to this week’s newsletter. If you aren’t familiar, this newsletter shares the need-to-know information for bicycle advocates in the Madison area. As we gather to address both the joys and challenges of biking, this issue touches upon critical matters—from supporting those affected by tragedy, to community meetings where discussions of bicycling safety can take place.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Joseph Solomon, who was killed by a driver while biking home from work on Lien Rd on the East Side. I can’t express how frustrated and angry it makes me that there has been another bicyclist death due to traffic violence. We have to do better to protect vulnerable road users, especially in areas farther away from downtown where separated bicycle infrastructure is often sparse and disconnected. If you wish to donate, his family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his funeral and provide support for his daughter. Thank you to those who have made contributions.

Community Event: Vision Zero & Active Transportation Planning

Join us this Monday, March 25th, 6:00 PM at the Central Library downtown to hear from Renee Callaway and learn about Vision Zero and Active Transportation planning. Renee is the new Assistant Director of the City of Madison’s Traffic Engineering division. Renee has over 20 years of experience in Transportation Planning and was recently promoted from her previous role with the city as Pedestrian Bicycle Administrator. We’re looking forward to having her come talk with us about Madison’s progress in Vision Zero, bike and pedestrian infrastructure planning, and Safe Routes to School planning.

We’ll be in Room 301 (note the change from 104) and we’ll have pizza, so come down, grab a slice, and chat with us about Making Madison a better place to ride a bike.

Transportation Commission

On Wednesday, at 5:00 PM the Transportation Commission will meet. Included in the agenda is one North/South BRT topic, the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPT). The LPT is the desired configuration for things like stops, dedicated bus lanes, and other operations like transit frequency and fare cost. Tune in to this meeting or see more information by vising the city website.

Upcoming Bicycle Education

The League of American Bicyclists has a few upcoming classes at the Fitchburg Community Center:

Smart Cycling on Saturday, April 20.  This course is a fast-paced class that provides cyclists with the confidence to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. We will cover the basics of bike maintenance, rules of the road, on-bike skills, and crash avoidance techniques.

League Cycling Instructor (LCI, May 31 – June 2).  LCIs are ambassadors for better biking through their education efforts. After earning certification through a three-day, League Coach-led seminar, LCIs can teach a variety of Smart Cycling classes to children as well as adults, helping them feel more confident and secure about riding. From our youth focused classes to our Bicycle Friendly Driver curriculum, LCIs can educate people who bike and drive how to safely and legally share the road.

Smart Cycling is a prerequisite to LCI, and LCI is not held locally very often, so those in Wisconsin who are interested in getting certified should take advantage.

That’s all for this newsletter. We really hope to see you at one of our upcoming events. There are a lot of interesting, fun, and educational events coming up, including during Madison Bike Week 2024 in June. Stay safe and see you out 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.

Categories
Action Alert Bike News Newsletter Weekly Update

Not one more cyclist- take action with this week’s updates

It’s daylight savings time. Don’t forget to skip your clock an hour forward if it isn’t automatic- you don’t want to miss this week’s updates.

A white bike memorial for the late Sarah Debbink Langenkamp
A ghost bike memorial for the late Sarah Debbink Langenkamp (credit: Alicia Bosscher, 2022)

This week – urgent action needed

Sarah Debbink Langenkamp was killed while riding her bike in a bike lane in Bethesda, Maryland in August of 2022. The driver who struck her received a meager sentence of 150 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine. Sarah’s husband, Dan, is urging lawmakers to take action and pass the Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation act, which is likely to be introduced Tuesday, March 12.

Specifically, the Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Safety Act would:

– Unlock Highway Safety Improvement Program funding for projects that connect two pieces of safe cycling infrastructure.

– Allow local governments to identify active transportation projects eligible for Highway Safety Improvement Program funding.

– Allow bicycle and pedestrian safety projects to be fully federally funded, ensuring all communities can take advantage of these new eligibilities and encouraging communities to undertake more bicyclist and pedestrian safety projects.
Noa Banayan, PeopleForBikes’ director of federal affairs

We need your help to email Ron Johnson and ask that he co-sponsor the Senate version of the bill. The House version has bipartisan support. Click here to quickly e-mail Senator Ron Johnson. You can copy this message, if you would like: “Please consider co-sponsoring the Senate version of the Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Act as it has the potential to save lives and won’t cost the government anything. Thank you!”

Also in this week

UW Transportation Services published this illustrated guide on bicycle security and theft prevention. Check it out for tips on how to keep your bike safe using the right equipment.

A bike lock security infographic showing: more secure: small u lock and square chain, moderately secure: u lock and cable or u lock only, and less secure: cable only
Bike lock security infographic (Credit: UW Transportation Services, 2024)

Coming next week

Spring is in the air! Come celebrate with MadisonBikes by taking a tour of the Madison BCycle Facility on Thursday, March 21. Join a relaxed group ride from Law Park leaving shortly after 4:30 pm or meet directly at the Third Street facility at 5 pm. Discussion will include battery charging and safety. Drinks and snacks will be provided.

Three Madison BCycle bikes docked next to each other as a cyclist starts to pull one out
Madison BCycle bikes (Credit: BCycle, 2022)

Dane County Supervisor candidate questionnaire

Elections for the Dane County Board of Supervisors are on April 2. The Spring Election is on April 2. Madison Bikes, the Affordable Housing Action Alliance (AHAA), Madison is for People, and Madison Tenant Power (MTP) worked together on an election questionnaire. The questionnaire for Dane County Supervisor candidates is focused on Dane County’s ongoing housing crisis and transportation issues. We reached out to all candidates, and we received 15 responses. Find out how the candidate(s) for your district responded and share the information with others.

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.

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Newsletter Weekly Update

Happy Winter Bike Week!

Welcome to the Madison Bikes newsletter! It’s Winter Bike Week and we’re super excited to share some news and updates with you.

Winter Bike Week activities

On Tuesday morning from 7-9, Bike Fitchburg will be hosting a commuter station at the “Velo UnderRound” (where the Badger, Cap City, Southwest, Cannonball, and Military Ridge Paths intersect). Stop by to enjoy some hot coffee and bagels. There will also be minor mechanical adjustments and bike maps available. Come chat about what Bike Fitchburg is doing to help make a more fun and welcoming place to ride a bike, and how you can get involved!

Friday is International Winter Bike Day, and Madison Bikes and the City of Madison are hosting another commuter station on the Capital City Trail, just east of the Monona Terrace (near the bike elevator). From 7-9am we will have free coffee (courtesy of Cafe Domestique), donuts, and some one-of-a-kind MB Winter biking stickers!

An smiling individual with long hair, wearing a high-vis coat and a high-vis hat, celebrates their free Madison Bikes blue face buff with the sun rising on the frozen lake behind them. A sign reads "no motorized vehicles past this point".
A happy commuter at Winter Bike Day 2023 (Photo: Harald Kliems)

Finally, Friday afternoon from 4-6pm, we’ll be hanging out at Working Draft Beer. All are welcome to stop by, enjoy 10% off with your Bike Benefits sticker, and chat with us about why you love Winter biking. Working Draft has a large selection of tap beer and plenty of NA options! We look forward to capping off the celebration with you there.

Meetings: Passenger Rail and Pedestrian Safety

How exciting is it to imagine a passenger train station in Madison? On Tuesday from 6-7:30pm, the city will be hosting a public meeting on the Passenger Rail Station Study. The study aims to identify a location for Amtrak’s planned extension of the Hiawatha route. Tune in to hear about the study’s progress and where the station could be located.

Wednesday from 5-7pm, the city is hosting a virtual Community Conversation about pedestrian safety. The meeting, held by the Disability Rights and Services Program, is for learning and discussing how to reduce crashes and deaths and improve safety for anyone who walks, rolls, or rides for transportation.

Freewheel Bicycle Co. Update

Madison Freewheel Bicycle Co. is a local non-profit bike shop that focuses on education about biking for transportation. Their services include providing free and low-cost bicycles to individuals in need, bike building, low cost and DIY repair, and maintenance classes. While they had to leave their previous space at the Madison Bicycle Center in 2023, they are still going and exploring which direction to go in 2024. Along with looking for a new indoor shop space, they are planning fundraising, advocacy for better transportation, and events. To help them do those things, Freewheel is seeking new board members. If you are interested in helping the community through bicycle education and advocacy, you are encouraged to join the next meeting on Thursday, February 15th, 6-7pm on Zoom (More info) (Zoom meeting registration link).

Welcome to our new board members!

Speaking of board members, meet the newest recruits to the Madison Bikes crew!

Jacob Bortell, Katie Nash, Pratik Prajapati, Paul Lata, and Christina Lopez join the Madison Bikes Board of Directors. Please join us in welcoming them! We are delighted to have such a great group and we look forward to their contributions and effort to make Madison an even better place to ride a bike. To read more about the new (and existing) board members, check out our Board of Directors page.

That’s all for this newsletter. Enjoy the warmer riding weather and we hope to see you out 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.

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Newsletter Weekly Update

When Bike Advocacy Work Pays Off

Welcome to the Madison Bikes newsletter! It’s the time of year when we get the least amount of sunlight, so if you can, be sure to take some time for yourself during the day. A short walk or bike ride in the middle of the workday can be an effective energy booster. As I like to say, you’re only one bike ride away from a good mood! Anyway, here’s what you need to know about biking in Madison this week.

Community Meeting Recap

Last week, some Madison Bikes Community members met to brainstorm and plan community meetings for 2024. Our goal is to have a meeting each month in the form of a get together, ride, learning opportunity, etc. and last Thursday we asked you for input and help. We got a lot of great ideas for meetings with themes like Spring bike cleaning and maintenance, restaurant hopping bike rides, dogs on bikes, and more!

Community meetings typically occur on the last Monday of the month, but you can see the complete schedule on our calendar. Sometimes we may combine the community meeting with other events, like during Bike Week in June. Keep an eye on this newsletter for details on all upcoming events. We look forward to seeing you there.

New Wilson and Broom St. Cycletracks

Some hot new bicycle infrastructure just dropped along Wilson and Broom streets! Two cycletracks were built as part of the city’s reconstruction and replacement of utilities along those corridors. This is a big win and important step towards connecting the Cap City Trail near Machinery Row to the Capitol area. We want to extend a huge thank you and congratulations for those of you who advocated for this improvement back in 2019.

Check out this video from Jerry Schippa for a tour of the new facilities!

Broom and Wilson Street Cycletrack 2023 | Jerry Schippa on YouTube

That’s not all. Last week, the Transportation Commission presented preliminary plans for even more improvements in this area. The plans included extending the cycletrack Eastward to King St, along with other changes. The construction is expected to begin in May 2024 and take 6 months. You can find more plan details in the full presentation.

This is proof that showing up to meetings or even sending emails can make a big difference in the way our city’s transportation is designed. Once again, thank you to those who pushed for this and hooray for reclaiming more space for people.

Alder Slack Resigns

On Friday, Alder Kristen Slack announced her resignation from the Madison Common Council due to family health issues. The resignation will take effect January 10th and the Council is looking for applicants to backfill that role. If you’re wondering if you are eligible, the city has a page to check which district you live in. If you are a bicycling ally, live in District 19, and want to become an Alder, now is the time to apply! Applications are due by January 9th. You can find more details on how to apply in the link at the beginning of this paragraph. The newly appointed Alder will serve the remainder of the current term which goes until April, 2025.

Mineral Point “Road Diet” Meeting

Last week, we talked about how Mineral Point Rd is due for resurfacing in 2024 and the city is considering a “road diet,” meaning they want to reduce travel lanes, eliminate parking, and add bike lanes. The project spans from Midvale to the Speedway/Glenway intersection. If you want to learn more, we encourage you to read this post from the city website. The page contains a link to attend the virtual meeting at 5pm on Tuesday, December 19th. If you can’t attend but want to show support, you can email Alder Tishler at district11@cityofmadison.com.

That’s all for this newsletter. Have a wonderful week ahead!

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.

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Newsletter Weekly Update

The Street Project; Midvale Bike Lanes; Atwood Construction

Welcome to the Madison Bikes newsletter! We hope you’re keeping warm this week as you pedal your way into November.

Remember, your hands and feet will be the first to feel the cold so make sure to have good gloves that keep the water out. If you don’t have waterproof gear and you have to cycle in some nasty conditions, try this. Hack : Layer your normal gloves with kitchen or latex gloves. To keep your feet warm, doubling up on socks can help, but if your shoes are already snug, you’ll want to avoid it because it can reduce circulation. I’ve also found that wind still goes right through even with a second pair which is why I prefer hack : Wrap aluminum foil or cling-wrap around your toes over your socks. It will provide a wind-resistant layer and help keep the heat in on longer rides and it shouldn’t cause well-fitting shoes to feel too tight. Plastic shopping bags can also work in a pinch.

With those tips out of the way, here’s what you should know about bike advocacy in Madison this week.

The Street Project Film Screening

Monday night, Madison Bikes along with The Congress for the New Urbanism and the Wisconsin Student Planning Association will be hosting a screening of The Street Project, a film about humanity’s relationship to the streets. The film features real stories about traffic violence and the fight to make streets safer for bikers and pedestrians. Shot with a 500mm lens, typically used for filming wildlife, the film is intended to give a fascinating, ground-level perspective of transportation and movement and capture real-life human behavior.

You won’t want to miss this opportunity to gather with other members of the biking community and get your mind churning with ideas on how we can improve our streets here in Madison. We’ll kick things off with a happy hour at the Sett Pub at 5 PM, followed by the film screening at 6 at the Marquee Cinema, both located in the UW-Madison Union South. After the film, stick around for a panel discussion with the following members of the community at 7:

  • Alicia Bosscher, Organizer, Ride for Your Life
  • Baltazar De Anda Santana, Director, The Latino Academy of Workforce Development
  • Chris McCahill, President, The Congress for the New Urbanism – Wisconsin Chapter
  • Collin Mead, Wisconsin Bike Fed
  • Juliana Bennett, Madison Alder, Dist 2
  • Morgan Ramaker, Downtown Madison, Inc.

Midvale Blvd Bike Lane Meeting

Also on Monday at 6:30 PM, Traffic Engineering is hosting a virtual neighborhood meeting regarding Midvale Blvd Safe Streets improvements. A buffered bike lane has been proposed and would require removing some parking. The purpose of the meeting is to hear from residents, discuss impacts, and answer questions. If you bike on or near Midvale Blvd between University Ave and Mineral Point Rd, your support is needed! Check out the project page on the city’s website for more details and to register for the meeting.

Atwood Ave Bike Bridge is Here

The new bridge along the Atwood Ave path
The new bridge along the Atwood Ave path | Christo Alexander

The Atwood Ave bridge over the Starkweather Creek is up and ridable. The bridge caps off a series of improvements to the bike infrastructure along Atwood on the North side of Lake Monona. The new multi-use path goes from Lakeland Ave, past Olbrich, and down Atwood Ave and is a great way to navigate the Northern section of the “Monona Lake Loop.”

That’s all for this week. Have a safe and spooky Halloween, stay warm, and keep biking!

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
Newsletter Weekly Update

Bicycle Friendly University; Future Rides; Join the Board

The boardwalk bike path on Lake Waubesa
The Lower Yahara River Trail – A great place to ride a bike | Christo Alexander

Welcome to this week’s update! Here’s what you need to know this week about bike advocacy in the Madison area.

Campus area commuters needed

If you bike around the Madison campus, your help is needed to evaluate how bike friendly it is! UW-Madison has applied to renew its status as a Bicycle Friendly University and The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) is sending out the survey to students and any other users of the bike infra around campus. If that’s you, please take the survey here! The input received will help the LAB award their final decision and will anonymously be included in feedback to the university. Your feedback is appreciated. To learn more about what it means to be a Bicycle Friendly University, check out the LAB website. Note: the survey closes Tuesday, Oct 10th at 11:59pm PT.

September Community Ride

Not this week, but next Friday, September 29th, we will be co-hosting another community ride with Madison is for People! The ride will meet at 6pm at Law Park near the BCycle station, take the lake loop counterclockwise at a casual pace, and end at Garver Feed Mill for food and beverages. The days are getting shorter so remember to bring lights!

In addition to riding your bike and having a great time, it’s a good opportunity for anyone interesting in joining the Madison Bikes board (see below) to chat with current board members and get your questions answered. Check out the event on Facebook and let us know if you can make it. We’d love to see you there!

Ride For Your Life

rideforyourlife.org

Looking ahead to October 1st: The “Ride For Your Life”, a 5-6 mile advocacy ride will be taking place. The ride is in memory of Sarah Langenkamp, and any cyclist who has needlessly lost their life on the road. It’s long overdue that everyone stands up and demands safer places for biking and walking. The ride will meet at Brittingham park at 2pm, with a departure time of 2:30 and end at the Wisconsin State Capitol, to rally for congress to fund safer infrastructure. If you can make it, be sure to register on the website. The ride is free and open to all. Volunteers are also needed to help with crossings and other support. We hope you can participate. If you do, you’ll be helping make biking safer in Wisconsin and standing up for something you believe in, which is pretty cool.

We want you to join the board!

Yes, you! If you enjoy biking infrastructure, advocacy, volunteering for a good cause, or you just want to see fewer cars in your life, consider filling out an application. The application is not a commitment. It’s just to let us know you’re interested in getting involved.

We’re seeking members from all areas of the Madison community. We want your perspective and ideas on how to make Madison a more comfortable and safe place to get around!

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.