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Monday, October 19, 2009

Breaking News! Madison Highway 34 Gets Fifth Lane!

Time for some yellow-stripe journalism....

On our way in to El Vaquero last night, my wife asked me, "So when's the city going to restripe the highway?"

Your stimulus dollars hard at work
Answer: today!

On my way in to class today, I found the road crew hard at work grinding lines and laying new stripes to convert Madison's four-lane stretch of Highway 34 into a glorious five-laner, with a great golden center turning lane.

That's 3M tape, so you know it'll stick.

Also stimulating: the thought of jockeying for space with my bike in the newly narrowed lanes with trucks and other big-wheeled beasties trundling through Madison. Alas, there's no sign of the bike lanes that Jon Hunter and I thought would be wonderful (dare I say, Unexpected™?) additions to our infrastructure.

Shot from the saddle: Is this road big enough for the both of us?

Picture that pickup riding in my lane. Picture me, on two wheels, beside him, trying to avoid curb and mirror. With two feet shaved off each lane, I'll be staking my claim about three feet from the curb and urging drivers to pass well left. (I'm just glad I missed that semi hauling the wind turbine nacelle through town just a minute before this photo!)

View east into Madison, across from Westside Park


  1. First it is 34 west out of town redone after a few years-actually for the better. Now we will deal with vey narrow lanes through town. I dread the snow on the lane next to the curb. It may become a one lane on each side with a turning lane in the middle. Oh great fun! I heard on the scanner a guy saying so many markings on this road - which one to follow when driving. I would almost bet that this will be changed back sooner than later if many complaints and near misses occur. Oh well, when the snow does hit we won't have to follow the makings anyway- right? Oh well, I had no say on the matter and neither did you.


  2. What a ridiculous waste. There were already two lanes. If you want to turn, get in the innermost lane. If you don't, stay in the outer lane. But I guess it is because of the very heavy traffic coursing down this road in Madison, or the impatience of drivers who might need to wait a couple of seconds behind a turning vehicle, that necessitated this restriping. If Madison were growing, if we had traffic into Madison for jobs instead of out of town for same, if there were lots of accidents, this would maybe make sense. But I'm with you on this issue, Cory. A waste of tax dollars, especially at this time.

    Linda M

  3. Uh Oh! We're giving people something "Unexpected" in changing the driving lanes and adding turning lanes. First, we have turning lanes onto Egan Avenue that have no green arrows, so people just turn "whenever". Next, we add several new stripes with the old stripes still clearly visible, none of which line up with the original poured seams in the road. This will be an interesting challenge in a town where many drivers drive based on years of habits. At first blush, it looks wider than the lanes in Watertown.

  4. Time to adopt the big city riding policy of simply taking the full lane. Definitely not worth the risk.

  5. Cory, biking is a real hot-button issue in many locales. The truth is that a cyclist will be on the losing end of any accident involving a car. Bikes fall into a category of neither pedestian nor auto. We assume that they have the same privileges as cars and will follow the same laws, but bikes can also be ridden on the sidewalks and they don't require an operator's license. BTW - Do you have your bike licensed by the city? You need to if you ride within Madison. I'm thinking that my biking days are over. It's much safer on four wheels than two.

    Time will tell what happens with the five lanes. Right now it really isn't that bad, but what happens when the outside lane has 4 ft or more of snow by the curb for weeks at a time. Is the city going to be in a rush to clean in up and let the rest of the town wait to be plowed?

  6. I am as opposed to licensing bikes as I am to licensing scooters and other small alternatives.

    And on accidents: that's why I'll be riding very visibly, pink hat and all, right down the lane. Keep your eyes open, stay off the phone, and always watch out for the little guy.

  7. It's not a choice Cory. It is the law in Madison. Bikes must be licensed with the city. If you don't want the law to apply to you, don't ride in the city limits.

    Cold weather will probably slow down any thought of civil disobedience until Spring.

  8. Easy, Mike—all I said was that I oppose such laws. I oppose sales tax laws, but that doesn't mean I don't pay sales tax. Laws creating barriers to alternative transportation are a detriment to the community.

    Rain slows me down, not cold.

  9. Michael Black10/22/2009 10:56 AM

    Do you have the bikes licensed?

    If not will you be getting one soon?

    BTW - I don't like the five lane road either but I guess I'll try to stay between the lines just like I have to do in Brookings and Watertown.


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