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On April 10th, the Wisconsin Bike Fed, on behalf of our thousands of members and millions of residents, has urged Governor Evers, Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, and WisDOT Secretary Designee Craig Thompson, to immediately prepare plans and put them into action to provide space in the public right of way for proper socially distanced essential travel and recreation for the benefit of our mental and physical health. Read more on latest updates and sign your name to the movement!

On April 9th Governor Evers and the Wisconsin DNR closed 40 state parksDue to unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and the need to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff, Gov. Evers has directed the DNR to close the following Wisconsin State Parks, Forests and Recreational Areas effective Friday, April 10.”

While Wisconsinites are asked to operate under Safer-At-Home orders the ability to walk or bike in your neighborhood for physical and mental health is still allowed and encouraged. Proper social distancing is strongly recommended in order to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus. Many residents will naturally flock to local trails and parks. Trail usage is already increasing in many communities. City of Milwaukee trail counters have already seen a 87% increase across all trails they track for the month week of March 29- April 4th in 2020, compared to 2019. Madison trail numbers are also holding steady, or increasing, despite many students leaving for semester. Nationwide reports show trail usage is up 200% across the country

Milwaukee County Vehicle Miles Traveled is down 76%. Dane County is down 79%. La Crosse County is down 73%. As the weather warms and families, and people living together or alone, will look for outlets to maintain physical and mental well being. We fully expect trail usage to continue to increase.  Now that state trails and parks are closing it is ever more increasingly important to provide safe outlets for essential travel and recreation in our communities.  

It’s becoming painstakingly clear that every Wisconsinite needs safe, immediate access to the outdoors—trails in every neighborhood, right now. Our elected officials have the power to make this happen.

Not all neighborhoods in our cities have easy access to safe places to do such activities. We ask that space for social distanced essential travel and recreation is created in places unevenly affected by the lack of recreational space as well as those with trail systems that are being overloaded.  

Sign our petition to urge local officials to close select streets to car traffic in order to create safe places to walk and bike during this global pandemic.

Suggested changes and ideas for immediate action:

  • Quickly and efficiently publicize street closures to “car traffic,” to the public and place signage with a reminder that the streets are for bicycling and walking with Social Distance Requirements at entrances.
  • Close low volume County and City Parkway roads to vehicle traffic to allow for proper social distance walking and biking.
  • Close low volume residential streets to through traffic and allow local traffic only (homeowners, emergency vehicles, delivery vehicles). 
  • Ask DPWs to take stock of cones and barrels to use
  • Create a closure plan that is geographically equitable, ensuring access to street closures in neighborhoods with higher populations of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
  • Provide looped “courses” that encourage movement and not congregating. 
  • Reduce the number of lanes open to cars on wider roads, boulevards are good opportunities to separate users but allow traffic to flow.
  • Provide streamlined and updated online processes for “block party” street closure and allow residents to block off with their own barricades to reduce strain on city staff and resources. 
  • Deactivate “Beg Buttons”

Streets to Trails Call to Action

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By entering your home address the Bike Fed can connect local leaders directly with you as a constituent on this advocacy issue.

Do you have a personal comment or concern that you wish to convey? We will send it along with this broad call to action.

Read our letter to Governor Evers, WisDOT Secretary Designee Craig Thompson, and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm.

Madison Bikes has also sent a letter to Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and we are being informed she has directed local departments to begin making plans to make street closures and other accommodations.

“Starting this week, Traffic Engineering is planning to close lanes of motorized traffic on East Mifflin Street, West Shore Drive, South Shore Drive, Clyde Gallagher Avenue, Trailsway Street, Monterey Drive, Vilas Park Drive, and Atwood Avenue.” – Wisconsin State Journal 4/13/20 Here is more information on possible street closures in Madison.

UPDATES: 4/13/20 Grant Park roads in Milwaukee County has been closed to car traffic and remains open to people on bikes or walking. The Milwaukee County Parks Department is looking into other parkways that can be closed as well.

UPDATE 4/14/20: Bike Fed has sent a letter in support of this program to City Of Madison attaching the 71 names and comments we had gathered from the greater Madison area as of 2 pm today. Tomorrow, WEDNESDAY APRIL 15th at 5 PM, the City of Madison is having a Transportation Committee meeting to discuss this topic. If you did not leave an added comment or you wish to have your friends or other community members sign on as well please email by NOON on WEDNESDAY 4/15. Please send comments with the subject line: Support for Agenda Item 60201: Street/Lane Closures for Social Distancing during the COVID-19 emergency. Follow this link with directions on how to watch or listen live and submit further comments.