Sunday, August 02, 2009

On Two Wheels

This summer I've been riding my bike (a Giant purchased at the Village Pedaler two years ago) quite a bit and more recently started commuting to work by bike.

I always thought it was way too far to ride my bike to work until I actually mapped it on Google Maps and found that it is about 10.3 miles - or two miles less than the Lake Monona Loop. It takes me about an hour, but that time is dropping.

Some observations. This area has some very good bike facilities. They could be better (more grade separations at busy streets like University), but they are very good.

One of the first things I did after commuting to work for a few days was to buy some bright orange t-shirts. I noticed a lot of the seemingly experienced bicyclists wearing bright reflective colors - and with good reason, there are plenty of drivers who just are not paying much attention. I also realized that I need to be a bit more aware of my surroundings, especially one part of the route with more traffic (auto and bike).

Streets. This morning (Sunday) I decided to ride on Monona Drive from Winnequah up to Walter Street. Dealing with the traffic was no big deal, it being around 11 a.m. on a Sunday. The condition of the road was another matter. Due to all the patches, riding a bike on Monona Drive is a bone-jarring, tire-rattling experience.

(I later road on Broadway from South Towne to Ahuska and it was fine.)

I've also looked more closely at the so-called bump-outs on Winnequah Road. First thing to note: They are not actually bump-outs. The areas with the red sidewalks do not stick out into the road any more than the bike lane. To me, the big problem with the 'bump-outs' are the ridiculous entry points, which are angled and bordered by an angled curb. The angle makes them less desirable to use than the bike lane for the average rider and plain impossible for anyone pulling a Burley. I will try and put a few photos to show what I am poorly describing. I'm really not sure why they are angled or why the curb is angled. They would be a lot more useable if the entry was a straight shot. The other (lesser) issue with the red sidewalks is the way they go up and down. Again, not sure why that was done either.

Here are some Madison area bike maps


My route if you are interested: I take Winnequah Road to the Lake Monona path and along Waunona Way and then north to the trail at Wingra Creek and northwest on the Wingra Creek Path to Vilas Park, cut across the park, and come out north of Edgewood College and tkae Harrison Street across Monroe Street and over the Southwest Bike Trail, then cut over to Allen Street, take that north to Kendall (runs parallel to University) and then go across University at University Bay Drive and catch the bike path west to Whitney Way.


  1. I was riding on Winnequah yesterday and I HATE those darn bump outs. The person who designed them should be shot. It is so darn unsafe. If the traffic isn't bad, I ride my bike into the car lane. I know one of these days, I am going to get hurt on one because of those angles. You have to slow so far down to get on them...and they make the road so narrow so if someone is coming opposite of you when you are in a car (like a big UPS truck) watch out!!

  2. I actually like the bump outs (am I the only one?). I feel safer because they make cars less likely to swerve over into the bike lane. Although a little tricky, I'm also able to navigate them with my Chariot attached (2 child model).

    Of course, I've been riding them for a while and don't remember what the first couple times was like.

  3. Carl, It's not the bump outs I have a problem with, it's the angle of entry and the way the curb juts out.

    That being said, they are not one of the top three threats to Western Civilization.

  4. I don't mind the bump outs either, but I am a pretty slow biker.

  5. The bump outs have never bothered me, but I've often wondered about their impact on bicyclists in the snow.

    The snow plow drivers aren't able to clear off the raised bumpouts, I presume. So are the bumpouts the responsibility of the homeowners to clear? Does the city clear them? Do they get cleared so the bicyclists can use them?

    Any biker have experience with the bumpouts in winter?