Monday, August 23, 2010

More on the Brookfield-Waukesha trail

I was curious about the condition of the right-of-way between Brookfield and Waukesha that I mentioned in a previous post: Are the bridges in good condition? What does the crossing look like where the County's right-of-way crosses the highly-trafficked Canadian National (CN) line, right underneath a bridge of I-94?

So I parked at the Wonderland Pub at the intersection of JJ and F, and took a little hike up the abandoned right-of-way towards the interstate. Here are some pictures.

First, here's a photo taken from Frame Park at the intersection of North Street and Moreland Boulevard, looking north. I think there's room for a bike path next to Highway F, don't you?

The lovely Wonderland Pub. No, I didn't stop in--maybe next time. ;)

The right-of-way was pretty weedy but not completely overgrown. Two bridges were in pretty good condition. I'm no expert but it seemed to me that the existing bridges could simply be rehabbed, rather than re-built:

Approaching the I-94 bridge. Harris Lumber is on the left. There is a little spur from the Canadian-National line that Harris Lumber is using. The abandoned right-of-way where a path would be built is to the right of the tracks in the picture below; I think the County removed the tracks and sold the scrap metal in the past 2 years or so.

The I-94 bridge over the tracks. Again, the abandoned right-of-way does NOT have any tracks on it, and is to the right of the tracks in this photo.

Here's what it looks like under the I-94 bridge. You can see the CN tracks behind the bridge pillars. Unfortunately I didn't get a good shot of where the right-of-way continues after it crosses the CN tracks. (Another hike!) However, negotiating a bike path crossing with Canadian-National over their extremely busy tracks will be a very tricky challenge. It may require a bridge, or some innovative thinking.

The WBA is currently preparing a letter to send to County officials and to Waukesha, Pewaukee, and Brookfield aldermen whose districts border the trail. We'll request that they prioritize building this multi-use path and look for State or Federal grants to help leverage the cost of constructing it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spinners hear back from Iowa County DA

The Spinners asked, "why wasn't a citation issued" to the driver for failing to yield the right-of-way?

The DA responds, "I'm not going to issue a citation now" because too much time has passed.

Uhh, that doesn't answer the question, sir.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

LC Trail Progress

Got a few ride's in on the Lake Country Trail lately and its shaping up nicely...
The trail is now paved from Country Springs Hotel to Glen Cove Rd. near Pewaukee Lake.

There is a new bridge near Pewaukee Lake though.

Deer seem to like the new sections of trail.

The new trail will split here, taking cyclist through the controlled intersection of Hwy. 83 & Golf Rd. near Nagawaukee Ice Arena. Much safer then the 4 lane blind corner it currently crosses at.

With the new smooth trail, carting a couple rims to work is no excuse to drive!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Waukesha Bike Rack Project

We are beginning to work with the BID and the City on the possibility of getting some bike racks installed downtown. One of the things they've asked us to do is document potential locations and take pictures of areas we think bike parking would be a nice edition to the city. To gather more input I've started a flckr pool here. If you're on flickr feel free to add photos of where you park your bike or where you'd like to. Ideas are open to anywhere in the city, not just downtown. Business owners, your input is vital! Let us know if bike racks are something you would or would not want near your business. Remember, the photos are only ideas, there's quite a bit more process to go through before anything materializes.

Inspiration from Denmark

I recently had a long chat with a friend of mine who moved to Denmark to be with his girlfriend (now wife). He was not a huge cyclist before moving to Copenhagen, but now he uses his bike all the time. He said that in the two years he has lived there, he only really needed to use a car once.

Before you say, "well, that's Europe for you", let me point out that Copenhagen wasn't always so easy to bike around. Streetsblog concisely sums up the history:

Copenhagen, Denmark is not a natural bicycling city. In the early 1960's it was very much of a car town. In 1962 the city created its first pedestrian street, the Stroget, and every year since then Copenhagen has allocated more and more of its public space to bicycles, pedestrians and people who just want to sit and take a load off. The result is a remarkably pleasant city. Danish urban designer Jan Gehl says that the single biggest key to the change has been the development of the city's extensive bicycle network and that the Copenhagen of great public spaces that we see today would not be possible without bicycles.

Indeed, there are bikes everywhere. Thirty-six percent of Copenhageners commute by bicycle. It's an astonishing number considering that this isn't exactly Miami Beach. It is cold and rainy for much of the year. The city is, however, extraordinarily flat.

Copenhagen has decided to permanently close many major arterials to motor vehicles, which reminds me of a certain controversy going on here in Waukesha right now. If you are opposed to closing the streets for Friday night live, watch the following video about Copenhagen from Streetfilms (7 minutes). If you watch it and are still opposed to the street closings, let us know why in the comments.

Copenhagen's Car-free streets & Slow-speed zones from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Hat tip to Dave S for the video.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some Important Updates

Riders Death
A detailed crash analysis puts the blame for Allen Belonger's death on bad driving by a 16-year-old boy, who turned a pickup into the path of the cyclist on a rural Iowa County road more than a year ago.
Authorities in Iowa County, however, have taken no action - no ticket for failing to yield the right of way and no criminal charges for killing Belonger.
The members of Waukesha's Spring City Spinners Bicycle Club want to know why.
In a letter mailed to Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson, the leaders of the group, Belonger's widow and the executive director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin demand at least an answer, if not an official action that acknowledges the driver did something wrong.
"It is our opinion that there must be some official condemnation of his actions," the group says. "Otherwise, the public may very well and possibly quite reasonably conclude that your county does not take the safety and rights of bicyclists seriously.
"That type of attitude can only lead to a greater disrespect of cyclists' rights and therefore to more tragedy, not only in Iowa County, but throughout the state."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WBA Open Meeting Coming Up

Our next open meeting will be this Sunday August 15, at 7:00 p.m. at El Sol de Mexico, which is across from the YMCA at 309 E. Broadway. We'll review topics from our last meeting, get updates on projects from our various committees, discuss future projects and vote on one of 5 logos provided by Beth from Letterhead Press. If you're interested in helping make Waukesha a more bicycle friendly community, come out if you can.

By the way thanks to everyone who came out to the social ride last Saturday. Hope everyone had a great time and enjoyed the Art Crawl downtown.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In today's Journal Sentinel

The JS has a nice article about the Spring City Spinner's letter to the Iowa County District Attorney, asking him to at least issue a ticket to the driver who killed Allen Belonger last year.

The collision report prepared by a state trooper states that the driver failed to yield the right of way to Belonger, who was riding downhill.

The article also mentions that Waukesha County District Attorney has recommended that the police issue a ticket to the driver who killed Brett Netke in last month's crash near Dousman, for failing to obey the three-foot law.

UPDATE: Town of Summit police did issue a ticket to the driver who killed Brett Netke.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Do the risks outweigh the benefits for urban cyclists?

Often, as I pedal into work on Pewaukee Road, past the airport, over the interstate, I wonder to myself, "Why do I do this? Does the exercise and well-being that I get from biking really outweigh the potential risk of having an accident?"

Apparently, some researchers from the Netherlands wondered the same thing. They conducted a risk/benefit analysis and found that, at least for the Dutch, the health benefits of cycling exceed the potential risks:

"For the people who shift from car to bicycle use for short trips, we estimated that the beneficial effect...of the increased physical activity due to cycling is substantially larger than the potential...effect of increased inhaled air pollution...and the effect of traffic accidents."

Overall, the study found the following results:
  • Estimated gain in life expectancy because of increased physical activity: 3 to 14 months
  • Estimated life expectancy lost because of traffic crashes (in the Netherlands): 5 to 7 days
  • Using the crash rate from the UK, where the risk of dying for a cyclist is more than twice as high as the Netherlands, the estimated life expectancy lost due to traffic crashes: 14 days
Tip of the hat to the Racine Journal Times, which had an excellent set of articles on biking in the July 21 issue, including profiles of local urban cyclists, a look at the economic benefits of cycling for the state of Wisconsin, and some suggestions for people thinking about commuting by bike.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Paved Trails, Street Closings & Art Crawl

Got out for a bit on the new Lake Country trail yesterday. Even though its not open yet, the west end of the trail from Milwaukee St. in Delafield to Oconomowoc is now pretty much all finished and the east end from Country Springs Hotel to Hwy. SS are is also paved. Things are looking good and updates to the project can be found here.

I will kind of miss the adventurous feel of the crushed limestone, but the new paved trail will make it safer, more efficient and generally invites more users to the trail system. Aaah, progress. Now only we could get a connecting trail over I-94 to Northview Rd...

Tonight, for Freeman Friday Night Live the city will be closing the streets in central downtown(which I don't take credit for) to vehicular traffic. I'll make it down tonight to see how it goes. If you haven't made it Friday Night Live yet definitely check it out!

And just a reminder, a few of us plan to do little social ride tomorrow before the Art Crawl along the Fox River. Meet at Frame Park before 4:00pm. Everyone is welcome to come and then enjoy downtown after.