I think I live in bike heaven.
There is a bike trail that passes a few blocks from my house in Madison and travels to within a mile of my land in the Driftless Are:a. The Military Ridge Bike Trail runs along the Chicago and Northwestern Rail corridor that followed Military Ridge, the divide between the Wisconsin River watershed to the north and the Pecatonica and Rock River watershed to the south.
And now –Just 2 blocks from my house in the other direction– Kendall Avenue has been transformed from a narrow and problematic driving street into a bicycle boulevard. Cars can still move along it, but their way has been complicated with traffic-calming devices like bumps and cute little round-abouts and signs and big symbols painted on the pavement that make it clear bikes have the right of way here.
That is the kind of thing that keeps Madison on the list of top 10 biking cities in the U.S. even though we have some seriously unfriendly biking conditions in the winter. (I am a dedicated biker till the snow flies. I don’t like the odds when a car is skidding out of control in my vicinity.)
Top Ten Biking Cities
1. Davis, California – Bike Info, City Info
2. Boulder, Colorado – Bike Info, City Info
3. Corvallis, Oregon – Bike Info, City Info
4. Madison, Wisconsin – Bike Info, City Info
5. Palo Alto, California – Bike Info, City Info
6. Portland, Oregon – Bike Info, City Info
7. San Francisco, California – Bike Info, City Info
8. Tucson/Pima Eastern Region, Arizona – Bike Info, City Info
9. Eugene, Oregon – Bike Info, City Info
10. Seattle, Washington – Bike Info, City Info
This list is compiled by The League of American Bicyclists. To get a list of bike friendly cities and towns across the United States. Go to their website .
Municipalities want their citizens to bike. It cuts down on traffic congestion, road wear and carbon emissions. Bicycle boulevards are popping up around the country – mostly in California and Oregon. Portland is a fabled oasis of bike-friendly policies. They have even produced a handbook for creating a bike boulevard.
Check out this 3 minute video to see one in action.
A bike boulevard brings some of the benefits of a bike path to a regular street, creating a shared roadway that is comfortable to cyclists of all ages and skill levels and is a safe and direct route for commuting bikers.
It means giving some streets back to bicyclists and pedestrians.
“It’s an intermediate step between busy streets and a bike trail,” according to Robbie Webber, who supported biking when she was Fifth District Alderperson in Madison. “Trails don’t go everywhere,” said Webber in a recent telephone interview. “If you want a place where bikers feel comfortable, you need to move to another level of bicycle facility, but you don’t have establish a whole separate system. If more and more people see their neighbors and friends and family commuting by bike — they are more likely to try it. When you make it easier for people to bike, all the pieces come together.”
So how is the Kendall Bike Boulevard doing?
According to Madison Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Arthur Ross, “So far, it’s working well. There haven’t been any problems or complaints.” He didn’t have any before and after bike traffic figures yet.
I suspect the figures will show increased bike use. A couple of years ago I used to zip down Kendall every day when I was in grad school (it was a decent bike route even before being boulevardized), and I see more bikes there now. (Unscientific, I admit — but I know my neighborhood.)
What is the biking like in your neck of the woods?
Is it getting better or worse?
Categories: Eco activism