Whalen Road in Fitchburg, WI is scheduled for resurfacing in 2018; however, paved shoulders are currently not included in the construction plans. Bike Fitchburg respectfully requests the Fitchburg Common Council to amend its 2017 CIP to include paved shoulders on the 2018 resurfacing, as well as future segments so that a continuous, bicycle and pedestrian friendly roadway is realized from Fish Hatchery Road to Fitchrona Road.
Significance of Whalen Road for Fitchburg Bicyclists
Whalen Road is an important thoroughfare, not only for automobile and truck traffic, but for bicycles and pedestrians as well. It is one of the few east-west routes that connect the Fish Hatchery bike paths to the Badger State Trail, another major bicycle thoroughfare and bicycle tourism draw. It is the primary east-west corridor connecting Fitchburg to Verona, and serves as a major bicycle commuting route between these two cities, as well as Madison.
Whalen Road is a major segment of the nationally-renowned Wisconsin Ironman bicycle course. Wisconsin Ironman is an annual event that draws over 30,000 participants and spectators to the Madison area, many of whom utilize Fitchburg as a base of operations during the event. It is estimated to bring over $4,000,000 dollars to our area each year.
Whalen Road serves as a major segment for the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County charity ride, an annual event that raises money for one of the area’s most successful non-profit organizations. Each year, more than 1,200 riders raise more than one-half million dollars for the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County using the roads in and around Fitchburg.
Importance of Paved Shoulders on Busy Rural Roads
Paved shoulders provide distinct advantages for rural roads in three primary areas: safety, capacity, and maintenance. In addition, we strongly believe in the economic, health and environmental benefits of a robust bicycling infrastructure in Fitchburg in order to enhance the quality of life and appeal of our community to out-of-town visitors, future residents and potential employers.
- Reduces numerous crash types including the following:
- Head on crashes (15%–75% reported reduction)
- Sideswipe crashes (15%–41%)
- Fixed object crashes (29%–49%)
- Pedestrian (walking along roadway) crashes (71%)
- Reduce passing conflicts between motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians
- Provides emergency stopping space for broken-down vehicles
- Provides a stable surface off of the roadway for bicyclists and pedestrians to use when sidewalks cannot be provided
- Provides space for variable message signs
- Accommodation of driver error
- Provides an increased level of comfort for bicyclists
- Paved shoulders provide advantages for all roadway users by providing space for bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles
- Increases effective turning radii at intersections
- Facilitate safer passing of cyclists and pedestrians, thereby increasing traffic flow
- Provide space for off-tracking of truck’s rear wheels in curved sections
- Provide space for disabled vehicles, mail delivery and bus stops
- Provide space for bicyclists to ride at their own pace
- Improves roadway drainage
- Provide structural support to the pavement
- Discharge water further from the travel lanes, reducing the undermining of the base and subgrade
- Reduces shoulder maintenance requirements* Provides space for maintenance operations and snow storage
- Facilitate painting of fog lines
The Case for Investing in Cycling
In addition to the extensive list of practical reasons for paved shoulders shown above, Bike Fitchburg strongly advocates for continuous investment in bicycling infrastructure for overall benefit of the health of our residents, our children, and our planet. Currently, more than two-thirds of all Americans are either overweight or obese. Obesity is a major contributing factor of cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and more. Type 2 diabetes, once called “Adult Onset Diabetes”, is now afflicting children as young as 10. One of the primary causes of this health epidemic is physical inactivity. Investing in cycling infrastructure is literally an investment in our children’s future.
Additionally, bicycling benefits our environment by facilitating more trips taken by bicycle. Every trip made by bicycle versus single-occupant automobile reduces wear and tear on our roads, reduces the demand for public parking spaces, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and conserves non-renewable petroleum.
We at Bike Fitchburg strongly encourage the adoption of paved shoulders on Whalen Road, as well as continued investment in our cycling infrastructure, for the benefit of our community, our roads and our planet.
- Safe Roads for a Safer Future, U.S. Department of transportation, Federal Highway Administration
- Michael Ronkin, Oregon DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator
- National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention