the ball whisk

December 5, 2008

My Plea for better bike path management in Madison

Filed under: VeloFietsen — groenefee @ 9:08 am

So here in chilly Madison, WI, those of us that winter bike commute are treated every year to the joy of fresh snow in the morning only to have a soupy mess by the evening commute. The reason? Our city sands the bike paths. Sand creates this loose less stable surface that quickly erodes drive trains. My only thought is that the sand is laid down for all the damn dog walkers to not bust arse. I would heartily recommend short short leashes and YakTrax. Imagine if we treated roads not for cars but for pedestrians how loud the uproar would be.

I’ve written to the city and I hope that through talking to people we might be able to affect change.

My wife and I have bike commuted for 3 Madison winters. Our only serious spills have happened when hitting the brown snow where the city has sanded. Please stop sanding the bike paths. Sand works great for cars, but turns roads into loose soup for narrow tyres like bikes. In addition it is the primary reason winter drivetrains breakdown on bikes. Please save money and stop sanding bike paths. If bike transportation is to be taken seriously here, we need bike sensitive route maintenance.


  1. Under normal circumstances, I’d use this as a chance to brag about our trail and bike lane maintenance. Usually the LFP is brushed and salted and is usable for transport (if a little icy for all out training). Given the way the bike lanes are continuous with the streets, they are also usually Chicago-style clear, which is to say nearly dry in an amazingly short time.

    Unfortunately, this seems to be changing this year. The path is a wreck and there is a buzz that the salt trucks are not salting the bike lanes on major streets. No official word on this, but there HAS been official word on the city’s need to cut salting due to cost of salt/labor etc.

    Officially, this sucks.

    Comment by quietglow — December 5, 2008 @ 9:25 am

  2. Sorry to hear it the problem is that this causes a real schizophrenia in bike choice for the regular commuter. Do we build pugsleys with 3-4 inch 15 psi tyres or do we use cx bikes with ice studs? One works on sanded snow and fresh snow the other on ice and snow pack.

    Comment by groenefee — December 5, 2008 @ 9:46 am

  3. Yeah, I am officially bagging outdoor riding after this sunday. If decent conditions coincide with low intensity workout days, I’ll get the track bike out, but I honestly don’t have a real need to be on the bike outside. Falling on ice and getting injured in the pre-season sounds like a crappy way to start the year.

    Comment by quietglow — December 5, 2008 @ 9:58 am

  4. its so wonderful when its right though…there’s something great about daily snowriding.

    Comment by groenefee — December 5, 2008 @ 10:02 am

  5. Just picked up some ibex knickers and shorts on sale…I officially have two chamois in house. All I can say is Sham-wow

    Comment by groenefee — December 5, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

  6. I also get pissed when they push all the ice and snow INTO the bike path, like this morning on University – all of a sudden the bike lane was, for all intents and purposes, blocked and i had to get into a car lane asap. Not a nice surprise and had it not been 6:30, incredibly unsafe.

    Comment by dagabairtilo — December 6, 2008 @ 10:26 am

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