June 04 2014

“Complete Streets” Madison Leads the Safe Bicycle Initiative

Madison, Wisconsin is repeatedly ranked as one of the happiest, healthiest, and greenest cities in the nation – and for good reason. The city boasts 12.7 parks per 10,000 residents, and there are more than 200 miles of biking and hiking trails in the Madison area. So it comes as no surprise that the city dedicated the last few decades to creating pedestrian and bike friendly communities. According to the 2011 American Community Survey, Madison’s efforts produced a 23% rate of commuting by bicycle, walking or transit – a statistic the city hopes to continue improving.

Bikers in the Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood, Madison, Wisconsin

Wilson St. in the Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood, Madison, Wisconsin

In fact, Madison’s Common Council even adopted a report in 2008, entitled “Making Madison the Best Place in the Country to Bicycle.” With this increase in bicyclists on the streets, it is important that the city focuses on how to create the safest environment possible for all modes of transportation. Within the last few years, many communities and urban planners in Madison have been aiming to design “complete streets” that provide safe access for all users, whether they are pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, or transit riders. For example, one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the downtown area, the Williamson-Marquette neighborhood, recently tested a variety of techniques to create a safe commute for bicyclists and pedestrians within the roadway network. The city experimented with different types of striping and bike boxes until the community was satisfied.

A pedestrian crosswalk button on Williamson St., Madison, Wisconsin

Madison’s 2012 Downtown Plan even specifically sites complete streets as an objective to continue working toward. Many of the recommendations in the plan involve improving the safety and aesthetics of key gateway intersections in the downtown area, while improving the ability of pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the street.

Bike rentals on Williamson St., Madison, Wisconsin

The "bike loop" in the Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood, Madison, Wisconsin

Not only is Madison striving to create more complete streets, but the entire state of Wisconsin is as well. Wisconsin actually created a law in June 2009 called “Wisconsin’s Pedestrian and Bike Accommodation Law,” designed to create more complete streets. The state law details, “…the department [of Transportation] shall ensure that bikeways and pedestrian ways are established in all new highway construction and reconstruction projects funded in whole or in part from state funds or federal funds…” The state plans to improve safety and foster transportation equity through the passage of this law, and so far it is doing a great job. Wisconsin was just voted the third bike friendliest state in the nation.

Sign on Williamson St. in the Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood, Madison, Wisconsin

Is your city concerned about bicycle and pedestrian safety? How are their actions stating so?

Credits: Images by Kaylie Duffy. Data linked to sources.

Kaylie Duffy

Kaylie Duffy is currently pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies, Geography, and Russian Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. While writing and photographing for the university’s student newspaper, The Badger Herald, she developed a passion for architecture and sustainable urban planning and design. Her other interests include traveling, reading, writing, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She stays connected to her community by volunteering in neighborhood gardens and at her city's Literacy Network. Kaylie hopes to eventually pursue a Masters in Urban Planning and GIS in order to develop more walkable and bike friendly cities across the U.S. She is now busy discovering how Madison, WI is becoming one of the greenest medium sized cities in the country.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 9:36 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Kaylie Duffy, Land Use, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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