Spouse reports from the Upper Midwest

While I’m out-of-commission, bike-wise, I’ll be relying on some reports from the field by fellow Car-Free in PVD staff members. Staff Member #1, of course, is Spouse. Spouse recently returned from a visit to Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. Minneapolis was named bike-friendly city #1 last year, so I was curious to hear about what she saw on her trip. Unfortunately, Spouse still stubbornly refuses to buy a folding bike, so she didn’t get to experience Minneapolis’es bike-friendliness first hand. Instead, she sent me this picture:

This is from the middle of the University of Minnesota campus where a well-marked (and evidently snow-plowed) bike path runs right through the heart of campus.

Meanwhile, back in Providence, I’ve been reduced to taking pictures of Hope Street’s non-existent, non-cleared bike lanes:

Of course, these are not actually bike lanes, they are parking lanes on a signed bike route (Mark Dietrich at RIBike addressed a similar issue recently). It is now April, weeks since the last snow storm requiring salt & sand, and we still have giant sand piles on all of our streets. Just to mock me, Spouse sent me a picture of a Madison bike lane:

It’s a left-hand side, debris-free, non-sandy bike lane, with no parked cars in sight. Damn, that thing is beautiful. Due to the harsh upper-midwestern winters, I’m sure they sand their streets in Madison, so evidently, the city cares enough about cycling that they actually use street sweepers on the bike lanes. Imagine that. We have a left-hand bike lane in Providence – on Promenade/Providence Place and last time I checked, it was still covered in sand. Some people prefer left-hand bike lanes because they allow motorists to pass cyclists in a way where it is easier to see how much room they are giving the cyclists. Also, cars tend to not park on the left-hand side of the street.

Pictured above is a bike lane on an otherwise one-way street. Spouse titled this image “making salmon safe and legal.”

Bicycle Parking Dignity on State Street in Madison, WI

Madison provides excellent bike parking facilities in the State Street area. There’s also specific moped parking spaces. Spouse described State Street as being the equivalent of Thayer Street in Providence (close to the campus, full of restaurants, shops and bars catering to the university and young-adult population) except that it is completely closed to cars. Meanwhile, Thayer Street has ZERO bike parking but several sections of street reserved for motorcyle parking. I will revisit this topic later in the year when we are in the thick of motorcycle season.

Cyclists in Madison are even allowed to make left turns when cars are banned from doing so. However….

…sometimes, even when there’s special bike infrastructure (such as this bike box), the cyclists still like to bend the rules a little bit.

Any idea on when Providence puts out the street sweepers? I recently saw this on Twitter:

That's Matthew Coolidge of the excellent GCPVD.org blog

Time for Providence to catch up with Warwick. What’s that? There’s no money left? Oh well.

 

6 responses to “Spouse reports from the Upper Midwest

  1. The sidewalks aren’t any better regarding sweepage. I may bring a towel and umbrella with me on my commute once it gets warmer and hang out on the Atwells Avenue bridge sidewalk.

    • Maybe I should put together some sort of bike trailer sweeper contraption. That could be the ultimate smugness machine, but it would be waaaaayyyy out of my mechanical abilities.

    • Thanks Sara. I guess I could have googled it myself, but I like to keep things interactive here. That’s a ridiculous timeline – many of the city’s streets stay unswept until June? That’s crazy.

  2. An update from the Midwest – Madison now has a new bikeshare program (http://madison.bcycle.com/) that is installing racks across the city and seems to be picking up some use now that the weather is nice.

    One thing I wanted to point out regarding the bikes being permitted a left turn while cars are not (the WI School of Business photo): this (University St) is a one way street where cars may head west and bikes, in a partitioned-by-a-raised-cement-divider lane, may head east (i.e. make that left hand turn). One block south on Johnson, it is the opposite. I was once told that this is the only street in America that had cars in a one-way one direction and bikes in a one-way the other direction. (To be clear, some cyclists continue to head west on University with the cars, usually taking the right most bus lane, and vice versa on Johnson.)

    Finally, re: obstructed bike lanes, I’m passing along this gem in case it hasn’t found you yet:

    (I especially enjoy the Vivaldi reduction)

    cheers,
    Colin

    • Yeah, that video certainly brightened my day.

      That is not the only street in America with cars one-way in one direction and bikes one-way in the other. Scott street in Cambridge, MA (The Madison of the East Coast) has a similar configuration. You can see it in street view here. I guess, technically speaking, it’s one-way for cars and two-ways for bikes, although there is only a bike lane in one direction. Of course, bikes are allowed in the regular lane of travel going the other direction as seen by the patient Cantabrigian cyclist waiting for the light. It’s difficult to see, but I can assure you that below the “Do Not Enter” signs are signs saying “Except For Bicycles.” A rare sight indeed.

      Here’s a slightly better streetview link showing the Do Not Enter signs along with the exception.

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