Transportation Planning Board


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.

Bicycle Facilities

The Madison Metropolitan Area has an excellent bicycle facility network, though some improvements are needed to fill gaps, eliminate barriers, and better connect the City of Madison and surrounding communities. This network includes 227 miles of streets with bicycle lanes or paved shoulders and 186 miles of off-street bicycle paths. Countywide, there is a total of 244 miles of bicycle paths or trails, including the unpaved Military Ridge and Glacial Drumlin Trails.

Major paths built in the past 15+ years include the Capital City Trail (Isthmus, E-Way, Verona Road segments), Southwest Commuter Path, Wingra Creek Path, several path segments in the University Avenue corridor, Badger State Trail, Pheasant Branch Creek Path, 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 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, West Main Street (Sun Prairie), STH 113 (Northport/Packers), North Sherman Avenue, and portions of the Outer Capitol Loop.

The City of Madison continues to create innovative infrastructure improvements.  On Segoe Road, from Mineral Point Road to Regent St, the City constructed a buffered bicycle lane. A buffered bicycle Lane is a bike lane separated from traffic by a 2-3 foot marked/painted area.


The City has also added green coloring to a variety of intersections to increase awareness of bike facilities. Several intersections on the eastbound bike lane on University Avenue have had green coloring added to remind motorists to watch for cyclists. The bike path at the entrance to Machinery Row, located at the intersection of John Nolen Drive and Williamson Street, is green to remind entering and exiting motorists to watch for cyclists. Green coloring has been added to innovative bicycle crossings including the Southwest Path crossing of Monroe Street and the diagonal crossing of Atwood Avenue and Dunning Street.  Both of those intersections feature separate bicycle stop lights.


The City has reconfigured the lanes around the outer loop of the Capitol Square to provide a floating bike lane along with overhead signs that let people know where to drive, bike and park. A floating bike lane changes positions in the street depending on the time of day and when parking is allowed or not allowed.  During “peak hours” parking is not allowed and the bike lane is next to the curb. During “off peak hours” parking is allowed and the bike lane shifts left, outside of the parking area.


Contra-flow bike lanes have been added to South Pinckney Street, East Mifflin Street and West Main Street, which are all one-way streets leading to the Capitol Square.  These contra- flow lanes make it easier to navigate the Capitol Square area.

Other smaller improvements have also been made such as the addition of a number of bike boxes at intersections which are intended to help reduce bicycle and car collisions, especially those between drivers turning right and bicyclists going straight, by providing greater visibility.  In addition, a pedestrian and bicycle hybrid beacon was installed at Blair Street and East Mifflin Street which allows bicyclists and pedestrians to activate the signal as needed.

Bicycle Travel

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 5.2% during the 2009-2011 time period. For all county residents, the mode share increased from 1.7% to 3.0% during the same time period.

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. In 2012, bicycle traffic increased significantly on the Capital City Trail (Yahara River Bike Bridge) and on the contra-flow bike lane on University Avenue at Mills Street; however, bicycle traffic decreased on the Brittingham Bay Path (West of North Shore Drive), on Dayton Street (at intersection of Mills Street), on the John Nolen Path (Bridge SW of North Shore Drive), and on the Wingra Path (at Park Street). Bicycle traffic on the John Nolen Path (East of North Shore Drive) and Southwest Path (West of Monroe/Regent) remained virtually the same. The City recently installed several other stations on its bike path/trail network. In 2012, the Capital City Trail at Rimrock Road had an average monthly volume of 452 riders, while the Sherman Flier Path at Johnson Street had an average monthly volume of 168 riders.

During the April through October period in 2012, the Southwest path had over 1,300 bicyclists per weekday, the East Isthmus segment of the Capital City Trail and the John Nolen path (Bridge segment southwest of North Shore Drive) had over 1,600 bicyclists per weekday, and the contra-flow bike lane on University Avenue at Mills Street had over 2,800 bicyclists per weekday.

The Wisconsin Bicycle Federation worked with the City of Madison and volunteers to conduct a bicycle count at 46 locations for two hours on a weekday from 4:30-6:30 pm in September 2013.  This initial count will serve as a baseline for future counts which are planned to be done quarterly.  In addition, future counts are planned to include random surveying of bicyclists to gather even more data.

Bike Sharing

Madison B-Cycle, a bicycle sharing program, has been operational since May 2011. The program has 32 operational bicycle share stations 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. 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 Madison Area City Guides, Community Cars and Green Cab of Madison.

Bicyclist Safety

There has been an average of 117 reported crashes in the City of Madison since 2005, with less than one fatality per year. The 2012 total of 135 was the second highest over the eight-year period. Countywide, there was an average of 157 crashes with an average of nearly one fatality per year.

The City of Madison Traffic Engineering division 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 2011, 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 40% of the time compared to 14% 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 2035 Regional Transportation Plan Update provide more information on state and local bicycle-related plans and policies, bicycle safety and education, and other issues important to bicyclists. A comprehensive update of the Bicycle Transportation Plan was initiated in 2013.