Archive for July, 2012

NW Twin Cities Map Updates

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 30th , 2012.

Just got back from talking with Kevin O’Connor from Gear West. He spent over an hour discussing the routes he rides in the northwest corner of the Twin Cities Bike Map.

Three important deletions came out of the discussion:

I will remove Willow Drive between Highways 6 and 24. Traffic has increased dramatically during rush hour and the road doesn’t have shoulders.

Kevin recommended removing a section of Highway 19 near the northwest corner of Baker Park Reserve. The bike path along that stretch is much better.

He strongly recommended removing a section of Hwy 101 at the I-94 interchange. This change will require more research because it cuts off access to the western end of South Diamond Lake Road.

He also recommended a couple of scenic new roads, told me about new bike paths and new pavement in the area and confirmed that many of the suggested routes are still great riding roads.

Thanks Kevin and Gear West.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Entire Cannon Valley Trail Open Again

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 29th , 2012.

The Cannon Valley Trail Association announced that the entire trail is open again, although sections of the trail are still unpaved. Finishing touches to the trail, including laying asphalt on the unpaved sections, shoulder work and ditch work, will continue for the next couple of weeks. The work will be done on weekdays and trail users may be asked to walk through the construction areas. No trail work will be done on the weekends.

The Cannon Valley Trail is not a state trail. It charges a trail user’s fee for all adult users. The generally good condition of the trail and the current major overhaul demonstrate the value of a consistent, reliable income stream and a governing body that is dedicated to providing users with the best possible trail experience.

This weekend I was on the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. The trail surface was poor, with long stretches of bumpy and deteriorating pavement. These conditions have become a depressingly common occurrence on state trails.

Minnesota had the heady experience of receiving a lot of Federal funds for building new trails, but the political climate has been strongly against investing in our future, so funds for ongoing maintenance of the trails have all but disappeared. It’s past time to develop a sustainable method for maintaining our popular, but deteriorating, trail system.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc

Algoma to Door County

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 22nd , 2012.

Algoma to Door County: Riders have two options to get from Algoma to Sturgeon Bay, the gateway to Door County. The first is a road route along county highways S and U; low traffic roads with ocassional views of Lake Michigan, rolling terrain and alternating woods and farmland.

The second option is the Ahnapee Bike Trail, a hard packed limestone trail that runs through the center of the peninsula along an abandoned railroad right of way. The bike trail crosses the Sturgeon Bay Canal into Door County next to Highways 42 and 57.

From there go east on County Highway TT, a quiet road that doesn’t get much traffic even during the height of tourist season. TT turns south just before reaching the Lake Michigan shoreline. Go straight toward what looks like a dead end. A small road, it looks more like a driveway than a public road, turns left. Take it. The road rolls and twists through deep woods with views of the Lake and some impressive lakefront homes. This little used, well maintained, road is a cyclist’s paradise. It will take you past Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park, Cave Point County Park and north to Jacksonport. It’s a must-ride road that gives you all of the beauty and dramatic scenery of Door County without the heavy tourist traffic.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Interurban trail improvement planned

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 13th , 2012.

Mequon has announced plans for a rerouting of the Interurban trail in a section between Highland and Bonniwell roads that crosses railroad tracks, runs next to the fence for an electrical substation, and then climbs a hill fairly steeply. Construction is projected to take place next year. The rerouting is described as increasing safety.

 

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Drexel bridge and the Oak Leaf Trail

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 13th , 2012.

The bridge carrying Drexel Avenue over I94 is now completely demolished. This means that the main Oak Leaf loop around Milwaukee county is now severed. In researching the update for the Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin map last week I checked for signs suggesting a detour but did not find any. So here is my suggested detour:

East bound on Drexel:

  • South on 27th St.
  • E on Puetz Rd
  • N on Shepard Ave
  • E on Forest Hill
  • N on the bike trail
  • E on Drexel

West bound on Drexel:

  • S on the bike trail (shortly after crossing the railroad tracks)
  • W on Forest Hill (the first cross street)
  • S on Shepard
  • W on Puetz
  • N on 27th
  • W on Drexel
Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Brookfield trails progress

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 11th , 2012.

It turns out that Brookfield has been on a tear, building trails next to busy through streets. Most notable is that a trail now runs next to Brookfield Rd from Lisbon Rd to Blue Mound, including a board walk through a wetland. Other recent additions include trails along Gephardt, Lilly, and Burleigh. Not all the problems have been solved; a trail along the busy Pilgrim Road stops abruptly when it crosses from Menomonee Falls into Brookfield.

In earlier maps, to cross Brookfield without encouraging bicyclists to use the narrow, busy, and dangerous through roads, I have found circuitous routes on winding residential streets. In the new edition of the map, several of these routes will be replaced by more direct routes using the new trails. Now if only something could be done about Pilgrim Road.

The trails parallel to roads seem to be somewhat independent of the Brookfield Greenways program, which builds trails through parks. It is the new trails in the Greenways program that have so far not progressed beyond the black plastic construction fencing stage that I referred to in a previous post.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Bugline Trail update

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 8th , 2012.

Since its start, the Bugline Trail has had a gap in Sussex requiring bicyclists to use city streets. The trail is now open through Sussex. The Bugline is the only Waukesha county trail that remains unpaved and the surface is sketchy in spots. Supposedly it will be paved next year.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Brookfield trails update–or the curse of the black plastic construction fence

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 8th , 2012.

Brookfield had scheduled several sections of trail for construction last year, but none appeared. I was quite excited then a couple of months ago when the black plastic fencing used to mark off construction areas appeared along the routes of the trails. Less exciting is that the trails still consist solely of the black plastic fencing.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Waukesha County treats

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 8th , 2012.

In part, Waukesha county is frustrating because it has so many treats. But it is often hard to put them together. Here are some off the top of my head:

  • Lakes: I like lakes where one can get close to the water. Two big ones include La LaBelle and Oconomoc Lake. Smaller ones where the road is at the water’s edge include Middle Genesse Lake and Silver Lake.
  • Woods and moraines: Waterville Road and the area around Palmyra.
  • Farms and fields: the area southwest of Dousman (flat and quiet), the area northeast of Mukwonago starting with Maple Ave (surprisingly rural), and Saylesville.
  • Artesian springs: Waukesha county used to be famous for its artesian springs that bubbled from the ground. Despite overpumping of groundwater several still exist and attract people with jugs. One I encountered along the marked routes is just south of Big Bend. Another is on Parry Rd just east of Dousman.

There are also a number of attractive routes. One I like is going from Delafield to Oconomow via Mill Rd and Oconomowoc Lake. One can return via the Lake Country Trail or continue on to Lac LaBelle.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc

Waukesha County frustrations

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 8th , 2012.

I have completed most of the research on Waukesha county for the updated Milwaukee and SE Wisconsin map. As usual, I find it the most frustrating part of the map. In picking out routes for the map I look for beautiful (or at least interesting) things and safe ways to connect them. Waukesha county falls short on both counts.

On the beauty count, Waukesha county is amply blessed by nature, with lakes, glacial moraines, and forests, and often stunningly attractive farms. The county’s problem is mainly a plague of scattered subdivisions, in their sameness and blandness, lack of connection to their location, and missing, to my mind at least, any pretense of charm.

Its scattershot development has led to an overloaded road system: old two-lane country roads with no paved shoulders or new four-lane highways with no shoulders. Too the extent bike lanes are constructed, they are often haphazard, periodically starting and stopping for no other reason than crossing a political boundary or leaving a construction project.

As a result of these considerations, I am taking off several roads that appeared on previous editions of the map:

  • County B through the Pabst Farms in favor of a new section of the Lake Country Trail. When first proposed, the Pabst Farms development was criticized by environmentalists both for taking very fertile crop land out of production and because it was an important groundwater recharge area. What surprised me is how uninspired the development has been. It is dominated by two huge warehouses and the housing areas look like those all over the county. On either side, county B is a pleasant country road that suddenly seems to be going through an industrial park.
  • The Walnut-Woodside route north of Sussex. It passes a seemingly endless series of standard issue subdivisions.
  • Lisbon Rd east of county KF. Busy traffic with no shoulders. Unfortunately that change also loses the northern section of the very nice Swan Rd.

That said, I should mention a deletion that represents progress: County C between Nashotah and highway 18. A new bike trail along Cushing Park Road offers a much friendlier alternative, with a side trail connecting to Lapham Peak.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News