Archive for April, 2012

Stower Seven Lakes State Trail

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 30th , 2012.

This trail, between Dresser and Amery in west central Wisconsin, is tucked into an area of rolling hills, lakes, marshes, maple and oak forests and farmland. The trail is flat, with a hard packed limestone surface suitable for narrow road tires. During our visit over Easter weekend the trail was in bloom from wild fruit trees, and maples had already started to green up due to our unusually early spring .

The trail is named after Harvey Stower, a member of the Wisconsin Legislature and long time mayor of Amery. The name also refers to the numerous lakes along the trail. Lakes near the western end of the trail are large enough to support cabins and recreational boating. Others such as Kinney Lake, between Deronda and Amery, are seepage lakes which depend on groundwater and local precipitation. Seepage lakes are usually surrounded by marsh and virtually inaccessible.

The trail doesn’t appear to get much use, which is too bad because the frequent lakes and lowland marshes create scenic stopping points and break up the tunnel effect along better known trails such as the nearby Gandy Dancer Trail. Of greater interest to this long time road rider are the paved, low traffic roads that intersect and run parallel to the trail. Those roads weave among the rolling hills, skirt lakes and wander through woodland and farm country. I’ll be back to explore those roads later this season.

The Stower Seven Lakes Trail isn’t part of Bicycle Vacation Guide, but it will be part of the new Bikeverywhere website planned for spring of 2013.

 

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Commissioner of Railroads Strikes Again

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 27th , 2012.

Today, as I was scouting bike routes between Waukesha and Washington counties, I came across a sign announcing the impending closing of Colgate Rd.  Colgate Rd is quite a nice north-south low-traffic route. Unfortunately for Colgate it crosses a railroad and the Wisconsin Commissioner of Railroads has been on a tear to eliminate railroad crossings. All the alternate routes in the area are far more heavily traffic. It is likely that what makes Colgate attractive for bikes–low traffic–sealed its doom from the Commissioner of Railroads.

It turns out that the rustic road mentioned in an earlier post that was destroyed as a through route–Hoosier Creek Rd–was also done in by the Commissioner of Railroads.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Lake Country Trail News

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 25th , 2012.

Road work on the intersection of county P and I-94 is now nearly complete, including bike paths connecting the two sections of the Lake Country Trail east and west of county P and trails passing under the interstate. The intersection includes four traffic circles.

Also plans have surfaced that would extend the Lake Country Trail west from Oconomowoc to Watertown in Jefferson county. The route would follow a powerline that using a former interurban right of way. The biggest obstacle is the need to bridge two crossings of the Rock River.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Glacial Drumlin Trail Connection to Madison

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 25th , 2012.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported on a donation by GE Healthcare of a half mile corridor that will provide the “final link” in connecting the current Glacial Drumlin State Trail’s western terminus in Cottage Grove to Madison. The article is not clear about the route to be taken or the location of the half mile corridor, although the route would generally follow the Union Pacific rail line.  An article in the Wisconsin State Journal last year gave more information on planning for the connector.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Privatizing Public Roads

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 20th , 2012. One response

Today, in preparation for the third edition of the Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin map I was in the Burlington area checking routes shown on previous maps, including the roads the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has designated as Rustic Roads.

I was very surprised then to see a “dead end” sign at the intersection of one of these rustic roads, the Hoosier Creek Road. I took the road nevertheless and found that it had indeed been made dead end. A substantial section had been torn up and no trespassing signs posted. It appeared that the former public road had been handed over to private interests.

Both ends of the road still sport Rustic Road signs and it still appears on the DOT’s map as a through route.

I have never seen this before, where a public road was closed and converted to private interests. I wonder if this is legal. On my way home I kept thinking of Putin’s Russia where people who are politically well-connected can obtain public enterprises and become very wealthy.

I sent an email to the DOT and will report any response.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Walkable Cities

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 18th , 2012.

A web site called Walk Score rates cities and neighborhoods for walkability, the ability to walk to destinations like stores and coffee shops. Of the fifty largest US cities, Minneapolis is ranked ninth most walkabable with a score of 69. Milwaukee is fifteenth (score: 61). Madison had a score of 55. All three are rated “somewhat walkable.

The site also rates individual neighborhoods. Scores over 90 are called “walker’s paradises.” In the Twin Cities, Minneapolis’ downtown east, Loring Park, and Lowry Hill East and downtown St. Paul are rated as walker’s paradises. Milwaukee’s most walkable neighborhoods are Northpoint, Murray Hill and Juneau Town. In Madison, the capitol area is the only one.

The least walkable cities in Wisconsin are Caledonia, Pleasant Prairie, and Mequon. All are in southeast Wisconsin (on the Milwaukee bike map) and are areas near Racine, Kenosha, and Milwaukee that have recently become urbanized. Given their low density, it is unlikely that these areas will ever become walkable. But perhaps they could be made bikeable.

One tool on the site allows the user to type in an employer’s address and get back a list of apartments within a walkable or bikeable distance or available on public transportation. Apparently major apartment listings now include walkable scores (see this article in Slate), reflecting a growing desire to get out of cars.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Public Input for new Intercity Bike Trail

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 14th , 2012.

The Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners has developed a master plan for the seven-mile paved multi-use Intercity Bike Trail, which will travel north-south from Lake Nokomis Parkway in Minneapolis through Richfield and to the Minnesota River in Bloomington.

The trail will connect to the Minneapolis Grand Rounds trail system at Lake Nokomis, Three Rivers Park District’s Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail in Richfield, and the Mall of America in Bloomington. Future connections across the Minnesota River to Dakota County’s regional trail system and proposed Minnesota Valley State Trail also are considered.

Copies of the master plan are available at www.ThreeRiversParks.org (search for “Intercity” in the search box at the upper right corner of the home page)

The public has the opportunity to provide comments from April 2 through May 1; written comments may be submitted by e-mail to ICRT@ThreeRiversParkDistrict.org, by fax to 763-557-5248, or by mail to: Three Rivers Park District, Intercity Regional Trail, 3000 Xenium Lane N., Plymouth, MN 55441

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc

Construction on Drexel Ave blocks Oak Leaf Trail

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 13th , 2012.

The southern leg of Milwaukee county’s Oak Leaf Trail follows Drexel Avenue. Construction has started on a new interchange that will connection I- 94 with Drexel, resulting in intermittent closings of Drexel between S 27th St and S 13th St. The Wisconsin DOT has posted a detour for cars but not for bicyclists. Unfortunately the car detour (north on 27th, east on Rawson, and south on 13th for those traveling towards Lake Michigan) does not work well for bikes, carrying heavy traffic and, in the case of 13th lacking a shoulder.

It appears that the best detour for bikes would be to go south on 27th, east on Puetz, north on Shepard, east on Forest Hill, and north on the power line bike trail to Drexel, for bicyclists traveling towards the lake. Those going away from the lake would take the same route in reverse. Note that Puetz Rd west of 27th lacks shoulders and can carry heavy traffic.

According to the DOT’s web site, Drexel will be closed until November.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Lake Geneva Trails

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 11th , 2012.

Once upon a time, Chicago’s movers and shakers, such as the Wrigleys and the Ryersons built mansions along Lake Geneva. During the summer, their families would escape the heat and ride the train to their summer homes. Many of the mansions are still there but the train is gone. But a short stretch of the old railroad has been turned into a bicycle trail.

Apartments made from boxcars

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

The All-purpose Bicyclist

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 4th , 2012.

Whenever a new facility is proposed for bicyclists, in Milwaukee at least one can expect some letters to the editor in adamant opposition. Some look at bicycling as a frivolous activity; others seem to have been traumatized by an encounter with a bicycle. But the most frustrating are those who claim to be bicyclists, state that they would not use the facility, and conclude that therefore no bicyclist in his right mind would use the facility.

For example, when a bicycle lane was proposed for Milwaukee’s Hoan bridge, there were a number of letters that insisted the bridge was too steep and too windy for bikes. Yet when the bridge was closed one morning last summer to allow the UPAF Ride for the Arts to cross, it proved very popular and much less steep than many of the hills that bicyclists often ride.

I have run into several other examples in the past month. A proposal to extend the Lake Parkway south with a parallel bike path resulted in several letters saying that the idea was folly since the letter writers would never use it. A proposal to add shoulders to a road reconstruction in Pewaukee also apparently prompted letters that insisted bicyclists did not want shoulders.

The notion that bicyclists can project from their own preferences to what all bicyclists want seems like a stretch to me (although I am also skeptical as to whether some of the letter writers are the avid bicyclists they claim to be). In my experience bicyclists vary widely in what they look for in a route. Some just want to get from one place to another as quickly as possible and have considerable faith that drivers will look out for them. Others put much greater weight on scenery and protection from traffic.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News