After many of them valet-parked their bikes a couple doors down, enthusiastic cyclists and advocates overflowed from a conference room at U.S. Bank Plaza on Wednesday night to hear about plans and ideas for the future of biking in the area.
It was “a very fit group” who came to hear Mayor Paul Soglin, other officials and program leaders discuss and ask about ways to increase bike ridership, said Tony Fernandez, a city engineer.
Soglin said $4.4 million of the 2012 capital budget was allocated to bicycling and pedestrian projects — the only category that increased — up from less than $4.1 million in the last one. Mentioning attacks by young people this summer that occurred on bike paths, he emphasized the need to look at commuting and recreation possibilities that biking opens in the context of other challenges the city faces.
Carletta Campbell, a student at Verona High School, has been working with DreamBikes, a nonprofit that puts used bike stores in low-income areas. She said Wednesday’s meeting got her thinking about how many people drive to school when they could bike instead.
Fernandez showed photos from a trip to Europe last year by former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and city staff to study biking. He pointed out features Madison could eventually incorporate, such as bike and pedestrian separation from cars and bike-priority streets that are color-coded to mark where bikes are allowed.
Photos of recent changes in Madison, such as red-painted bike boxes and buffered bike lanes, drew applause.
Before heading back to the village of Oregon on his bike after the meeting, advocate Hans Noeldner said he thinks city streets should be made into places where people always feel comfortable biking and walking, which will increase ridership.
“Nothing makes a street more welcoming than people on it,” he said.
The meeting was sponsored by the city and the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.