Sunday, December 30, 2012


This is one of the major road-to-bike-lane crossings on University avenue.  I had to haul my bike over the snow pile to get onto the path heading East.

It's been nine days since Madison got hit with between 17-21 inches of snow--depending on which side of town you're on.  Nine days and most bike lanes are still full of snow and ice chunks.  Nine days and some of the bike paths on the West side are still covered with 2-3 inches of mush.  Nine days and plates of ice two inches deep still cover many of the side roads.  Hey, I'm not stupid.  I understand this snowstorm was extremely difficult on the city workers...but come on guys, this has happened before and I've never seen the roads in this condition for such a long period of time.  The only person I can blame is Paul Soglin, Madison's mayor.  Paul is a guy who loves to brag about being "bike friendly".  He also loves to talk about how he started the bike movement in Madison.  As most winter cyclists know here, he is also the guy that threatened cyclists lives by writing one of the worst blog posts I've ever read in waxing America.

Let me back up a bit.  When my husband and I first moved to Madison, we quickly fell in love with the plethora of cycling options and the commitment Madison had to becoming a platinum bike city.  Our mayor at the time, Dave Cieslewicz, not only put needed funds into expanding our commuter paths/lanes, traveled to Europe and the West coast to study bike friendly cities in hopes of adopting their practices, but he also supported the winter bike community (he shows up to Madison Bike Winter activities).  Dave had a vision of making Madison a more livable and healthy city.  He was, and is still, dedicated to environmental initiatives and wellness programs.  He sees what Madison could be.

Since Dave was voted out, and Paul was voted in--this is where I shed a few tears--Madison has dropped drastically in our bike friendly rankings.  We used to place in the top three.  This year, we fell to seventh place in bicycling magazine.  I can only guess this is partly due to Paul's "I know best and you can't teach me anything" attitude.

Here is a main commuter path next to Old Middleton road.  Several cyclists, including my husband, called the city to report it having 2-3 inches of mushy snow with ice underneath.  The city still hasn't plowed it.

Here is the same path just down the road but in Shorewood.  Notice any differences?

A few days ago, I took it upon myself to write formal letters to the city of Madison and Middleton expressing my concern for cyclists and pedestrians.  I explained why it's so important to have bike lanes clear and even gave specific street examples.  The city's reply was:  "I will have someone check these out.  I am not familiar with these particular paths.  On street bike paths are very difficult to maintain.  Some are too close to parked vehicles for us to properly clear and it is very hard for us to get sand on them as cars tend to blow the material off."  All of the street examples I gave them have only bike lanes and no parking areas. They were also all major bike routes for people commuting into the city.  As of today, none of the lanes have been touched.  In fact, with the recent 2.5 inches of fresh snow, they are even worse.

Here is a "nicely" plowed street.  The ice chunks force cyclists into traffic.

This all raises an important question.  With the budget issues we are facing, will cyclist and pedestrian safety be thrown out or completely disregarded?  As cities like Minneapolis and Boulder continue to put funds into improving their infrastructure for year round riding, will we drop even further down in rankings?  Let's hope Paul gets his shit together and learns from what Dave was trying to do.

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