February 14, 2013

Madison's Bike Boulevards and You

When biking around Madison, you likely have noticed certain streets were upgraded for bicyclists with sharrows and signed as “bike boulevards,” such as on E. Mifflin St., Main St. and Kendall Ave. A bicycle boulevard is a street with low traffic speeds and low vehicular traffic volumes where the movement of bicycles is given priority. Bike boulevards work as a good alternative to bike lanes on quieter streets, which are typically too narrow for bike lanes.
You may have asked yourself how does this change the way the street functions? Not much; the rules of the road remain the same. However, it does welcome bicyclists to position themselves in the travel lane outside of the door zone and alerts drivers to the presence of bicyclists.
The few bike boulevards Madison has established are generally more of the bare bones variety. The city has yet to upgrade them to the status of Portland’s popular bike boulevards, which have more features to slow and divert traffic, such as 20 mph speed limits, speed tables, traffic circles, and barriers that let bikes through, but block cars. Madison currently has a program through which a street’s residents can request the addition of traffic calming features. Once these traffic calming/diversion features are in place, flipping stop signs (making them face cross streets) increases the convenience for bicyclists by giving them the right of way at each intersection.

Do you try to incorporate bike boulevards into your bike routes?

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