Vilas Park Drive

Wingra Recreation Loop Updates

May 20, 2021

With how much our community enjoys walking, running, and bicycling we have some updates on topics relating to the “Lake Wingra loop.” 
They include the Vilas Park Drive Car-Free Interim Plan and the Monroe Street “gap” (between Wingra Park and Woodrow Street) in the Lake Wingra loop. At the time of this blog post, we don’t have any suggested actions. However, you can email your Alder with any thoughts you have on these topics. We will try to keep you updated on any developments.  

Vilas Park Drive Car Free Interim Plan

The Board of Park Commissioners passed the Vilas Park Drive car-free interim plan on May 12. An implementation timeline does not exist yet. If you want to dive into more details about the interim plan, you can view it here.  According to District 13 Alder Evers’ blog post,

” The proposal has multiple elements to enhance pedestrian safety, including a buffered pedestrian walkway and a temporary gravel path along a portion of the drive.

The proposal specifies two-way traffic on the drive from the east heading west to the shelter parking lot, allowing access to park amenities. Bicycles will share the road and signage will indicate this portion of the drive is a shared use road. Cars will not be allowed on the section of the drive from the historic bridge to the shelter parking lot.

Please note this is an interim solution intended to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety on Vilas Park Drive until the drive is reconstructed in adherence to the Vilas Park Master Plan recommendations.”


Shared Streets

On May 12 the Transportation Commission met. One agenda item reviewed the Shared Streets program and included an open discussion for recommendations. During 2020’s Shared Streets program, the City focused on providing additional space for people to safely social distance when walking or biking while getting outside. Now, in 2021 the City will shift the program’s focus. It proposes to trial shared street options that can lead to permanent solutions prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Friend of Lake Wingra urged the Transportation Commission to consider adding a repurposed bike lane along Monroe Street, between Woodrow and Wingra Park, onto the 2021 Shared Streets program through written comments.  A repurposed bike lane along this section of Monroe Street appeared on the proposed 2021’s Shared Streets list in the Department of Transportation’s annual report. However, it was not included in the final proposal presented to the Transportation Commission. At the beginning of the meeting, Alder Evers of District 13 acknowledged that this area acts as a weak link in the Lake Wingra pedestrian and bicycle recreational loop. He also stated it would need attention in the future.  Additionally, a few transportation members asked about this during the discussion. Yang Tao, head of City of Madison’s Traffic and Engineering, said City Traffic is looking to make this portion of the Lake Wingra bicycle and pedestrian route closer to Lake Wingra.  This envisioned bicycle and pedestrian path would connect Vilas Park Drive and Pleasure Drive directly to the Wingra Park. Tao did not provide a timeline for this potential alternative. 

Featured image courtesy of Jim Lorman