JUST Bikes Unveiled the Last of Four Self-fix Bicycle Stations that were Constructed this Summer

JUST Bikes, formerly known as the Madison Bicycle Equity Group, unveiled four self-fix bicycle station, new bike racks, and recognized graduates of the Mobile Bike Repair internship program on Wednesday at Centro Hispano. The projects were made possible by Madison Community Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Year of Giving grant “Mad About Bikes.” Mad About Bikes provides access for all riders, regardless of economic status, and helps them take advantage of Madison’s Platinum-level status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The $84,200 grant included a 1,100-bicycle giveaway in March, the installment of public fix-it stations, bike repair internships for community youth, starter bicycles for beginning riders, safety education and repair training for riders of all ages, and an electric-assist bicycle outfitted as a repair vehicle that travels throughout the city. Just Bikes’ Fix-it Bicycle Stations are equipped with various tools needed to keep bikes in working shape. The other fix-it stations were installed during the summer, and are located at Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, Bayiew Community Center, and Lussier Community Education Center.

Madison’s Neighborhood Resource Teams want to shift perspectives, improve quality of life in “pockets” of the city

Mayor Paul Soglin’s Neighborhood Resource Teams are working to tune into Madison residents in order to address their needs by introducing neighborhood-based improvement projects to the city budgets and planning. Soglin created the Neighborhood Resource Teams in 1991 during his second term as mayor after noticing the division between government departments, where the topic-style organization of agencies prevented cohesive collaboration. “It became obvious that we needed a better approach in terms of the needs of specific neighborhoods,” Soglin said. “It was also obvious that the services provided should be in response to the neighborhood identifying priorities rather than the city making those decisions.”

The Mayor’s office identified neighborhoods it felt would benefit and formed teams comprised of city employees across government agencies. The teams focused on small pockets of the city until 1997, when Soglin left office.

FreeWheel Bikes aims to provide the basic human right of transportation to Madison

FreeWheel Bikes was founded in 2003 by a group of local cyclists who wanted to establish an affordable community workshop space and promote cycling. In the 15 years that it has existed, the non-profit has given away more than 10,000 bikes. “Half of these are locally and the other half are through our work with international organizations that ship bikes to developing countries,” said Elijah McCloskey, president of FreeWheel. McCloskey, 30, said the goal of the organization is to ensure transportation as a fundamental human right, to reduce waste and increase education. The non-profit does this through giving away over 1,200 bikes a year, diverting over 35 tons of waste a year and teaching free classes to over 800 students a year.

The Bus Stops Here: UW Student Busing

One of the experiences of attending the University of Wisconsin in Madison is that students have access to unlimited Metro Transit bus rides paid with segregated fees by their Associated Students of Madison governance body (ASM). Students get an unlimited ride bus pass good for both fixed route and paratransit rides throughout much of the city of Madison and parts of Middleton, Fitchburg, Verona and Shorewood Hills. That bus service can be frequent around campus, and can take students to many major employment, shopping, health and recreation centers. Students can additionally use a no-fare #80 campus shuttle, the #81 and #82 late night routes, and a no-fare #84 shuttle to/from Eagle Heights. Those additional routes are paid for by a combination of funds from student seg fees, the UW’s division of Transportation Services for faculty and staff, and the division of University Housing.

Media Digest June 15, 2018

Top Story

Paul Soglin will propose a $17 vehicle-registration fee to help close budget shortfalls and maintain community service programs for low-income residents. Chris Rickert, Wisconsin State Journal, 6/15. Community

The Dane County Immigration and Refugee Task Force, created last summer, announced its recommendations, including a call for a universal drivers' card.  Madison 365, 6/15. The James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church on Madison's eastside is renovating its building to serve as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

The Bus Stops Here: For an Electrifying Experience

The city of Madison wants to run completely on renewable energy. As Metro Transit currently accounts for almost a fifth of the city government’s energy use according to a recent study, electrifying the bus fleet could play a significant part in reaching that goal. It helped that Metro was recently awarded a grant enabling it to purchase three electric buses, a first for Wisconsin. The buses are expected to start operating in 2019. Beside emitting less noxious exhaust fumes, electric buses can be much quieter than diesel-powered buses.

Does Madison have enough audible pedestrian signals to help the blind navigate the city?

Denise Jess wakes up every morning with one thing in mind — what route to take to work? There is no audible pedestrian signal at the intersection in front of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, where Jess works as CEO and Executive Director. Jess, 55, is a pedestrian commuter and lives in the neighborhood around her workplace. She takes neighborhood streets as far as she possibly can because they are quieter and there is less traffic. She does, however, eventually have to cross Williamson Street, a major street on Madison’s East Side.

The Bus Stop Here: Living on TIPs

A good indication of Madison’s current view of its bus system is how transit rates relative to other transportation items in the TIP, otherwise known as the Madison Area Transportation Board’s Transportation Improvement Plan. A Spring ritual in the transportation world is to quietly start the process of updating the next year’s TIP, which gets finalized in the Fall. The TIP is a compiled listing of planned short-range projects. By May, Madison’s engineers responsible for road/street and pedestrian/bicycle projects have already presented drafts of the TIP to oversight bodies, such as the Board of Public Works, the Long Range Transportation Planning Committee and the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission. Unfortunately, neither Metro Transit nor the Parking Utility has exposed their oversight committees to that level of public scrutiny, nor do they appear to intend to do so.

The Bus Stops Here: A Tiff About TIFs

In an era in which the state has been strangling public transit agencies financially while prohibiting local areas from establishing regional transport authorities, there is a little-known existing state tax policy that could offer limited help called Tax Incremental Financing districts or TIFs. However, TIFs are most often used to further the car-centric urban sprawl that has been bleeding cities financially rather than bolstering them with socially and environmentally sustainable transit-oriented development. Instead of using TIFs to draw residents into Madison from nearby, it is being used to drive people away and to further weaken its tax base. That is not the intent of course, but it is what it is going on. Madison and other municipalities around Wisconsin are using TIF money to build expensive infrastructure – including parking lots and wide roads – that it cannot afford.

Don’t be salty: The negative effect of road salts on water and Madison’s efforts to reduce it

When snow falls in Wisconsin, children may think about the snowmen they’re going to build, students may think of the school cancellations they’re going to enjoy and drivers may think about their safety on the road. When they hear the rumble of snow plows that clear the streets and scatter salt behind them, they likely feel peace of mind that actions are being taken to ensure safe driving. Wisconsin’s surfaces see more than 650,000 tons of salt dumped on them each year to ensure safety in winter. While spring is technically here, how Madison clears its roads in the winter has year-long effects. Road salts and de-icers melt ice to help prevent harm to drivers and pedestrians, but at a significant cost to the surrounding environment.