Monday, July 04, 2011

Monona City Council Report - Some Stuff Happened

The Monona city council met on Tuesday, July 5, this week due to the holiday. See the full agenda!

See the full packet.

G. Council Action Items.
1. Unfinished Business (Approval Requested Unless Otherwise Noted).
a. Consideration of Resolution 11-06-1782 Authorization to Proceed with Planning for Tax Increment District Amendment (CDA). Adopted 6-0

2. New Business.
a. Consideration of Resolution 11-07-1786 Capital Budget Amendment for Winnequah Road Choker Project (Alderman Wood, Alderman Busse). The proposal is to straighten the entry/exits to the 'sidewalk' portions. Amendment is not likely to be needed. PW Director Dan Stephany developed a cheaper alternative solution that will be tried at one or two locations in the next few weeks.

On a related note, Mayor Miller did hand me the gavel at an upcoming meeting to put in his ideas about the location and/or need for the speed display signs on Winnequah Road. He had different distances than I came up with. His basic point is that doesn't like the location of one sign at Graham Park because he feels it is too close to Bridge.

I don't agree. Graham Park is about 1000' from Bridge Road. Mayor Bob said 600'. The entire stretch from Maywood Road to Bridge Road is 3200' (Mayor Bob said 1800'). And the speed detectors read the speed at some point upstream (i.e. more than 1000' from Bridge Road).

I attempted to stage a coup d'etat by holding to the gavel, but then the city attorney advised me that having the gavel wouldn't really make me mayor.  

* b. Consideration of Resolution 11-07-1787 Accepting Offer from American Transmission Company for Transmission Line Easement (City Administrator). ATC has offered $75,000 for an easement through the wetlands for the giant transmission towers soon to come. And no, the city can't use its ownership as a way to stop the transmission line. Under chapter 196 stats., ATC could condemn the property.ADOPTED

* c. Consideration of Resolution 11-07-1788 Acceptance of Bid for 2011 Fire Department Remodel (Fire Chief). This proposal would add three individual bunk rooms and a remodeled kitchen to the fire station. Not acted upon; may need to re-bid because isn't clear that all bidders had the same information from the city.

d. Consideration of Resolution 11-07-1789 Supporting The Monona Fire And Emergency Medical Services Departments in their Application to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Seeking to be Licensed as a Paramedic Provider (Public Safety Commission).

Adopted. By approving this resolution the council basically just stated its support to upgrade emergency medical services from EMT's to paramedics. Several of current staff are retiring so that replacements will be hired at a lower rate of pay than the current veteran staff, which will offset the substantial training costs.

The proposal also stated support for a second ambulance. However, the intent is to keep the current ambulance when a new one is acquired within the next year.


  1. Doug:

    Here's a deal (spoken as a Monona property taxpayer) -- I'll help pay for improvements in the bumpouts for bikers (straightening, flattening) if the city can somehow post signs along Winnequah Road that say (maybe in bold, flashing letters): "Bikers, please observe traffic signs."

    Yet another holiday weekend, filled with bikers enjoying the dedicated bike path in Monona, brought another round of lawlessness by many (most?) bikers along Winnequah Drive. As both a dedicated car driver and bicycle rider along Winnequah Drive, it's been my experience that few bikers bother to observe traffic signs on Winnequah (primarily the one at Winnequah and Maywood). Rarer still are the bikers who properly signal their intentions -- crossing the street, making turns -- while riding along the road.

    It's a shared road -- I get that. I'd like to see our city become more bicycle-friendly. But the bumpouts and dedicated bike path have undoubtedly:
    -- Made car traffic on Winnequah slow down;
    -- Have made biking (and walking) on Winnequah much safer;
    -- Reflect the realities of political compromises, in which everyone gets less than their ideal solution.

    Improvements? Sure. But as long as we're concerned about speed enforement on Winnequah (laudable goal), can we get the bicycle-riding Officer Fenton (one of our city's really good guys) to go undercover on Winnequah to enforce traffic laws among our bikers?

  2. Thanks for the thorough comments. A couple quick points before I head off to work.

    The bumpouts are *not* going to be flattened as part of this project.

    With regard to the stop signs at Maywood/Winnequah Road, I have also observed bikers blow through them without even slowing down, especially going southbound. It irritates me, but...not that much.

    I always slow down enough that I can stop if a motor vehicle is approaching. No, I don't completely stop at most stop signs, but neither do most drivers, especially the one at Maywood/Winnequah.

    I always use hand signals to indicate my turning movements. I want other vehicle operators to *know* what I am going to do. I don't know why any biker wouldn't use hand signals.

    Lt. Fenton (I agree is one of city's really good guys) will enforce traffic laws on bikers. BTW, at least two patrol officers also bike-on-duty (they were tooling around the fetival this weekend.

    Bikers are not obligated to use the bumpout sidewalks. I generally prefer not to use them, so I listen for traffic behind me and if none is approaching, I stay in the roadway. On trash days there are often a few trash cans sitting on the sidewalks, so then bikers can't use them. Likewise, brush sometimes gets piled up and flows over into the sidewalk, so again, can't use it.

    There really isn't a bike lane south of Frost Woods Road. In fact, parked cars won't fit between the curb and the bike "lane". So, then I will get out into the traffic lane because I don't want to get "doored."

  3. Doug:

    Far more motorists -- I'd bet by a ratio of about 10:1 -- make the attempt the stop their car at the Winnequah/Maywood intersection than bikers.

    "Bikers are not obligated to use the bumpout sidewalks."

    This to me is troubling. They should be. Here's why. Winnequah was narrowed for car traffic -- a good thing, I'd argue. But when two cars are traveling in opposite directions, and cross paths, cars are more likely to stay further to the right. As a car driver, even if we're going under the speed limit, there's a real chance of hitting a bike rider who jogs left off the bike path to avoid the bump-outs (which, they do all the time -- I nearly ran into one today who zipped in front of me to avoid a bump-out). I understand not using them to avoid brush collections and garbage/recycling bins -- but those instances are not common, in my experience, but actually pretty rare.

    I saw six cars parked on Winnequah south of Frost Woods today -- all construction workers at a local house project. All were parked within the parking lane, with maybe two or three with wheels a bit over the edge of the bike lane. Again, an over-rated problem, from my experience.

    What is too common are bikers not stopping at stop signs, bikers not signaling their intentions, and bikers jutting out into street traffic to avoid the bump-outs they seemingly disdain but are there for everyone's safety.

  4. Hi Anon,

    Ofc. Frank Fenton can probably answer this better than I can, but I put together a blog post on exactly *why* cyclists hate this road, complete with pictures and WI state statutes:

    By the way, WiscoDOT advises at minimum 3' clearance when passing any parked car, which means that those "2 or 3 with wheels a bit over the edge of the bike lane" will force a cyclist out into traffic to pass them. Also keep in mind that the width of the bike/parking lane varies, so while some parts of the road might have a 12' bike/parking lane (barely meeting the WI's guidelines), others are as narrow as 10' total, or 2' narrower than the minimum and 3' narrower than the recommended width.

    Also, bicycles are required to follow the same laws as motor vehicles, so yes, they should be stopping at stop signs and signaling their intentions. They are NOT required to use the bike/pedestrian pathway along Winnequah, and if the road is of substandard width (ie, too narrow for a bicycle and car to occupy the roadway with appropriate safe distances inbetween), then the cyclist is advised to ride in the center of the (motor-vehicle) lane.

  5. Travis:

    I understand the tri-level aspects to certain parts of Winnequah -- road, dedicated bike/pedestrain lane, parking lane -- are not ideal. You could absolutely prohibit parking on both sides of Winnequah, but that was viewed as unduly harsh for those who live in Winnequah and need to park their cars on the street on occasion.

    Bikers hate that stretch of Winnequah? Hmmm -- they seem to use it a lot. I hate parts of the Beltline, too -- but I get that it has conflicting demands among business owners, commuter drivers, and others.

    What I don't get is the seeming indifference among the bicyclist community that lower Winnequah is a road with competing demands and interests -- a major thoroughfare in-and-out of Monona, a major bike-riding corridor, a bus route for school busses nine months a year, a pedestrian walkway, and a residential community with needs (on-street parking, regular brush and garbage pick-up) no different than any other neighborhood.

    I understand bikers have to avoid cars parked on the street -- I either stop, slow down, or make sure the traffic is clear before I move out into the street to avoid the possibility of the sudden door-opener. I understand their frustration at bumps-outs being cluttered with brush and garbage cans (although I'd argue that issue is over-stated; it's rare, instead of being common). Winnequah is undoubtedly safer since the redesign, for everyone -- car drivers (traffic is slower), pedestrians, bikers (dedicated path).

    Can't bicyclists slow down, just a bit, a few times a day, on their journey through Monona and use the darn bump-outs?

  6. Are the bump-outs really that hard? I tow 70 pounds of children and have no issue negotiating them at speed. If you don't have the skill to navigate your bike over the bump-outs, I don't think you should be on a bicycle at all.

  7. Anonymous,
    Very well stated regarding this over-discussed portion of Winnequah Rd.

  8. When I am commuting on my bike, why should I slow down to use the bumpouts so that cars can continue to exceed the speed limit? Very few cars actually travel under 26 mph on Winnequah. If I'm not using fossil fuels and getting around under my own steam I think the cars should slow down for me. I also drive to work sometimes and I slow down for people on bikes.

    Also, it's not "rare" that the bumpouts have brush or recycle and trash bins in the way. There's one bumpout in particular that has a big brush pile next to it and I am sometimes worried my bike will skid on the debris from it. On trash day, which is 1 of 5 weekdays, I can pretty much guarantee you that at least one bumpout will have a bin or trash can in the way.

  9. Anonymous (from monday. Can't you guys use names?):

    You just don't get it. Bicycles are vehicles, and cyclists behave just like drivers. They want to find the easiest, fastest, shortest, and most efficient way to get from point A to point B. When my wife rides her bike on Winnequah every morning on her way to work, if she has the right of way why should she stop/slow down/etc for you just so that *you* don't have to stop/slow down/etc on *your* way to work? You're asking her (as a cyclist) to do things that you won't do (as a motorist).

    As a driver, you have plenty of options. You can go out of your way (Nichols - Monona Drive - Beltline), you can slow down to the speed of cyclists (12-15mph), etc. You don't do those, because you're looking for the fastest, easiest, and most convenient (legal) route. Cyclists have the exact same priorities, and the exact same mindset.

    What's more is when you're overtaking a cyclist, THEY have the right-of-way. Bicycles are vehicles under WI state statute, and by law you have to give them 3' when passing them. Furthermore, the Wisconsin DOT actually advises bicycles to ride in the center of the lane when the lane is not wide enough for a bicycle and a car to occupy it together.

    When there are cars parked on Winnequah this is DEFINITELY the case, and I usually see at least a dozen parked cars along this route every time I take it.

    I just don't understand why you can't grasp the fact that cyclists have the legal right to use the road, are *safest* when they use the road (and not sidewalks), and in most cases have the right-of-way over motorists coming up from behind them?

  10. Since this discussion seemed to change directions to bikes - I would like to refocus the point! There is a speeding problem on Winnequah! For those of us that live on the south end & have children-there is a safety issue! Our children & our families use this road daily - walking & biking - we are simply asking for a *safer* road for everyone that uses it. We were promised cross walks & speed display signs months ago. Summer is 2/3 over & nothing has been done. Since the removal of the stop sign at Frost Woods & the completion of Monona Dr. the speed issue seems to be right back where it always was-many using excessive speed. If *everyone* would slow down, share & enjoy this beautiful stretch of full grown trees & gardens maybe we could all get along -- and be safer! By the way Doug - what was the outcome? Are the display signs going up?

  11. "By the way Doug - what was the outcome? Are the display signs going up?"

    The sped display signs are still going up, but the Mayor doesn't like the location at Graham Park.

  12. Actual speed data shows that the speeding on south Winnequah increased with the stop sign at Frostwoods, right? So the assertion that it is worse since its removal seems odd. Also, fewer people are detouring onto Winnequah/Bridge since Monona drive is done so why would anyone assert the completion of Monona Dr. has increased issues on Winnequah? I also wonder how several generations of Monona youth have managed to survive the speeding that somehow wasn't a problem in the past but now seems to take so much of this city's focus. I have a lot of speeders on my street. Why is this four or five block section of road the only place where we care about speeding and road design? We rebuilt a major thoroughfare a few years ago with Midmoor Road. The neighbors were not consulted about the design until it was done deal. I really do not understand the hyper-focus on Winnequah.