Though Madison, Wisconsin is covered in a deep layer of ice and snow for almost half of the year, it doesn’t stop many of the city’s hardiest bicyclists. No matter if it’s a beautiful June afternoon or a bitterly cold March day, you will always find a dedicated crew of commuters traversing the city’s vast network of bicycle paths.
The medium sized city began to prioritize cycling in 1972, during the height of an oil crisis. Then in 1975, Madison developed its first bicycle transportation plan which inspired the city to make bicycle friendly improvements to this day. In fact, in the fall of 2006 the former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz created the Platinum Biking City Planning Committee with the aim to attain a platinum designation from the American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Communities program. In addition, he hoped to create a plan to make Madison one of the bicycle friendliest cities in the nation.
All the work and planning has indeed paid off. In past peak seasons, the city has verified around 11,000 bicycle trips through the downtown per day. However, downtown residents aren’t the only ones benefiting from Madison’s increased bicycle infrastructure. Bicyclists on the outskirts of the city and from neighboring towns now have safer access to the downtown area. The bike path along University Avenue provides a safe commute for residents of Middleton. And last summer, the city began construction of a Beltline overpass for the Cannonball Path, a more than four-mile-long undertaking. This path will eventually connect the neighboring town of Fitchburg to Madison’s downtown. The final segment of the bike path is scheduled for completion this August.
Madison continues to strive for platinum status from the League of American Bicyclists - an honor only four U.S. cities have been awarded. Madison has maintained its gold status since 2006, yet it continues to strive for better bike infrastructure and safety. A huge part of this process is connecting outlying communities to the downtown.
Aside from creating more bicycle paths, Madison is also working hard to maintain safe commutes for portions of roadway that are shared by cyclists and cars. Some of the city’s coolest innovations include floating bike lanes and diagonal bike paths, which use unique bike-only stop-and-go lights. In fact, the diagonal bike crosswalks are the first of their kind in the nation. The most notable is at the diagonal bike crossing on Monroe Street; however, another was recently added at Dunning Street and Atwood Avenue.
Madison doesn’t have plans to cease their dedication to bicycle safety and sustainable infrastructure anytime soon. In fact, each year the city seems to be one step closer to their goal of platinum status.
Is your city or town dedicated to bettering bicycle infrastructure and safety?
Credits: Images by Kaylie Duffy. Data linked to sources.