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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Madison Highway 34: Keep Your Arms and Head Inside the Bus

Correction [2008.01.03]: As I review the Madison Daily Leader print edition for the week, I find a correction in Wednesday's paper. Evidently, the Leader misreported the current and proposed lane widths. Right now, the four lanes on Highway 34 through town are 12 feet wide. The state DoT proposal would restripe the road to create three middle lanes of 10 feet each and two outer lanes of 9 feet each. Apparently recognizing how cranky cyclists like me are at the prospect of going shoulder-to-side-mirror with SUVs, the Leader emphasizes that each outer lane has two additional feet of gutter. I hope the suggestion is not that the gutter is where cyclists belong. ;-)


The Madison City Commission and even Police Chief Chuck Pulford think narrowing the lanes on Highway 34 through town to accommodate a fifth lane down the center for left turns will be hunky-dory. A couple numbers:
  • Proposed new lane width: eight feet (down from the current ten feet)
  • Standard width of school bus: eight feet.
Narrower lanes mean increased safety? I'm still not convinced. If I'm biking home from class, and along come a school bus and a Suburban in each lane... well, it'll be a tight fit.

19 comments:

  1. Give up your bike and drive like everyone else.

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  2. When I moved out to Rapid I initially tried to ride like I use to in Madison. That doesn't work here because many roads are only 8 feet wide here (I'm looking @ you 5th/Haines).

    Rather than trying to accommodate the drivers I learned to just ride in the middle of the lane and force the drivers to move to another lane of traffic. I recommend you do the same. Get other riders to follow suite (as the BHMBA here does) and you will teach the drivers how to share.

    Anon 11:26:

    Seriously?

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  3. Take that lane, Tony! I'm with you!

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  4. Imagine all the people the Chief can pull over on suspicion of DUI! Narrow the lanes and everybody's going to clip a lane line at some point. It'll be a real cop fest after midnight around there. "Do you know why I pulled you over?" "Step back to my car so I can smell your breath better."

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  5. Don't do it ... check out US Hwy 212 in Watertown, which is five lanes, and it's a mess. Should have never added the fifth lane, but now it's too late. It's one of the worst city highway stretches in the state. Do not narrow the lanes to accommodate a fifth turning lane.

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  6. The bad news about 5 skinny lanes through Madison is that we only have 6000 people using those lanes versus 25,000 people using Hway 212 through Watertown. There have only been 15 accidents on Hwy 34 in the past ten years, not all related to turning lanes. That's 1.5 accidents per year. With our elderly population, we need the wider lanes so they will actually have a chance to stay in their lanes. The good news is the same as the bad news. We only have 6000 people so there will be less opportunities for accidents compared to more populated cities. The City Commissioners have forgotten the trial of center turning lanes west of Madison when the new wider Hwy 34 was done. That didn't last very long either.

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  7. "center turning lanes west of Madison"—that's what I tried to remind them of!

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  8. Why is this even a big deal if there are only 1.5 accidents a year on this road? Seems from reading all the comments that it will create more problems than it will solve.

    Not to say where is the money coming from for this? State and county both say they have no money, and yet the powers that be are proposing this? Does anyone have a clear head here?

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  9. Ah, but cost won't be much. They're not widening the road or laying new concrete, just restriping. A little more paint than last time, but that's it.

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  10. Discover the Unexpected, ya thats Madison! Glad to see the 5 city leaders (and I use the word leaders loosely) were even concerned about what the residents thougth of the idea.

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  11. pennypincher1/02/2009 4:47 AM

    My only advice is if you don't like what the council is doing, then get other people to run against them this spring. :-)

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  12. PennyP: Hear hear! Tom Wolf appears to be on top of that; anyone care to join him?

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  13. Maybe it's time to consider having a full time, professional city manager with no affiliation rather than a part time mayor.

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  14. Cory:

    You don't live in Madison so it really doesn't matter what you say. The Mayor and city commissioners are doing what they think is best for their residents by agreeing to have the state screw up the highway through town.

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  15. "You don't live in Madison so it really doesn't matter what you say."

    Of course it matters what Cory says. He and I both have jobs IN Madison. And we contribute a heck of a lot of sales IN Madison. So whether or not we live within the city limits doesn't really matter. The city commissioners should be open to listening to the concerns of everyone who contributes to the Madison community.

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  16. Oops, should have said sales tax.

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  17. "Give up your bike and drive like everyone else."

    Yeah, Cory. You're reducing pollution, dependence of foreign oil, and our overall health care costs. Stop that!

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  18. A terrible decision? Maybe. I don't know. But there was not ONE person who appeared and voiced a contrary opinion. If we want our leaders to be responsive to the public, the public needs to appear and speak up.

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  19. Looks like we all ought to be buying Smart cars that will fit in that narrow allowable space being allowed! Or just turn the entire street into bike lanes with the middle for a turning lane (dont forget to use your hand signals!)

    ReplyDelete

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