The City of Madison, Wisconsin was a magnificent host city for the Annual Congress of the CNU, or Congress for the New Urbanism. Although admittedly I visited only a portion of the City that is the most urban, downtown, it had an amazing pedestrian presence. Downtown Madison has the unique advantage of being the center of commerce, education and government for the State of Wisconsin. The nexus of all of these major anchors creates an enlivened district where the reality of a park once and walk situation is easily attained.
With this in mind, it should not be difficult to understand the intense use of the bicycle in Madison. However– I was still blown away by the amount of bicycles in motion and parked at bicycle racks throughout Madison.
Colorado Springs is also a bicycle Mecca in the United States. The use of the bicycle in Colorado Springs though is primarily for exercise and training purposes. As I am often reminded by friends and neighbors, Colorado Springs is the home of the Olympic Training Center and several World Champion bicycle athletes.
I suspect that Madison is different and it appeared that bicycling in Madison is truly a common mode of transportation to get from Point A to Point B.
You may be wondering how the City of Madison became such a bicycle friendly city? My suspicion is that is an effect of multiple policy decisions accompanied by great anchors as previously referenced. I believe that the State Street Pedestrian Mall in Madison is also a product of success for the same reasons.
The following is a brief list of potential causal items that may have made Madison one of the greatest bicycling cities in the United States:
1. Proximity and Bicycle ready linkages between downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin.
2. Miles of lake frontage flanking both sides of downtown Madison.
3. High connectivity of streets, therefore dispersed traffic flow throughout Madison.
4. Available bicycle infrastructure elements including bicycle lanes, trails, storage opportunities & the new bicycle sharing program by B-Cycle.