Monday - Friday
8:00am to 4:30pm
121 S. Pinckney St.,
Madison, WI 53703
Tel: (608) 266-4336
Fax: (608) 261-9967
Bicycling is an efficient and convenient mode of transportation that, like the automobile, provides a high degree of independence, flexibility, and freedom of choice relative to schedule and destination. Door-to-door travel times are comparable to driving for short trips up to three miles, particularly in the central Isthmus area where parking adjacent to buildings is limited. Bicycling levels are much higher during the warmer weather months, but many people bicycle all year long and the numbers are increasing with improved equipment and clothing.
The Madison area has an extensive network of on-street and off-street bicycle facilities, although improvements are needed to fill some gaps, eliminate some barriers, and provide better connections between the City of Madison and the surrounding communities. This network includes 187 miles of streets with bicycle lanes or paved shoulders and 181 miles of off-street multi-use paths. Countywide, there is a total of 237 miles of paths or trails, including the unpaved Military Ridge and Glacial Drumlin Trails.
Major paths built in the past 10-15 years include the Capital City Trail (Isthmus, E-Way, Verona Road segments), Southwest Commuter Path, Campus Drive and Black Hawk paths in the University Avenue corridor, Badger State Trail, and Ice Age Junction Trail, among others. Bicycle lanes have been routinely included as part of arterial and collector roadway construction and reconstruction projects for many years now. In some cases, bicycle lanes have been able to be added through re-striping. Arterial roadways retrofitted with bike lanes in recent years include: University Avenue, Seminole Highway, McKee Road, East Broadway, Monona Drive, Buckeye Road, Cottage Grove Road, Milwaukee Street, Thompson Drive, Lien Road, East Washington Avenue, W. Main Street (Sun Prairie), and STH 113 (Northport/Packers).
Census data on work trip commuting and bicycle traffic counts in the City of Madison show that bicycling levels continue to increase as the growing and increasingly interconnected area bikeway network makes bicycling more convenient and enjoyable. The percentage of City of Madison residents commuting to work by bicycle increased from 3.2% in 2000 to 4.5% in 2007-2009. For all county residents, the mode share was 2.5%.
The City of Madison collects bicycle path traffic counts from 24-hour detection devices placed in paths at several street intersection locations and in the contra-flow bike lane on University Avenue at Mills Street. Bicycle traffic on most of these facilities increased significantly between 2003 and 2008, but bicycle counts haven’t changed much the past two years. A traffic detection device was installed on the Southwest Path west of the Monroe/Regent intersection in 2009. Both the Southwest path and the East Isthmus segment of the Capital City Trail had over 1,300 bicyclists per day from April to October in 2010. The Southwest path connects to the John Nolen path and has increased bicycle traffic on that path the past few years. The hourly traffic counts indicate that the paths, particularly the Capital City Trail (East Isthmus) and Southwest path, have a large volume of commuter traffic with weekday usage peaking from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.
Beginning in May 2011, Madison B-Cycle – a bicycle sharing program – became operational. The program has 32 operational and one planned bicycle share station around central Madison. Users can buy a day, week or annual pass and pay an additional charge for trips longer than 30 minutes. Users check out bicycles using a credit card or pass and return them to any station in the system; reservations are not required. The bicycles are intended to serve short, utilitarian trips and are equipped with baskets. The project is sponsored by Trek Bicycles (parent company for B-Cycle) in partnership with Humana Health Care and Crispin Porter + Bogusky, an advertising and brand management company.
There was an average of 110 reported crashes in the City of Madison during this period with less than one fatality per year. The 2010 total of 141 was the highest over the six-year period. Countywide, there was an average of 151 crashes with an average of one fatality per year.
The City of Madison Traffic Engineering includes data on the location, type, time, etc. and comment elements of reported bicycle crashes as part of its annual crash report. The information is used to target high crash areas for further analysis and inform safety education efforts among other purposes. In 2010, about 3/4s of bicycle crashes occurred at intersections with failure to yield the most common factor, particularly for auto drivers. In crashes involving citations, the auto driver was issued a citation 42% of the time compared to 17% for bicyclists.
State Complete Streets Policy
The Madison Area TPB, City of Madison, and some other communities have had policies for some time promoting a “complete streets” approach to street design with facilities to accommodate all users. Federal law has also required the safe accommodation of non-motorized users as part of all federally funded transportation projects. In 2009 the Wisconsin Legislature approved the passage of a state “complete streets” law that requires the inclusion of pedestrian and bicycle accommodations in new road construction or road reconstruction where state and/or federal transportation funds are used (with some exceptions). WisDOT has adopted rules (Trans 75) to implement the law.
The MPO’s Bicycle Transportation Plan and Regional Transportation Plan 2030 provide more information on state and local bicycle-related plans and policies, bicycle safety and education, and meeting the needs of bicyclists. A comprehensive update of the Bicycle Transportation Plan is planned to be initiated in late 2012.