Mayor Soglin's Blog

Bicycling Madison Style: The 2012 Capital Budget

September 12, 2011 12:15 PM

Amanda White, Associate Director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin (BFW), posted Madison continues to invest in bicycling. In what is the most comprehensive analysis of bicycling and pedestrian portions of the 2012 capital budget she notes:

Mayor Soglin's tone was serious and to the point. He did not mince words when he said it was no fun putting together this budget. Soglin said the constraints placed on Madison by the State combined with debt service from municipal borrowing leave the City with little choice but to cut planned increases in services and programs across the board. Still, he managed to save many planned bicycle projects, which dollar for dollar produce more jobs and higher economic returns on investment than traditional road projects.

The planning for bicycling in our community starts with the bicyclists, the future bicyclists, and the folks who benefit from bicyclists. The latter would include automobile drivers and bus passengers who benefit from less congestion and more attractive roadways. It continues with a new breed of planners like Tony Fernandez, a civil engineer with the city of Madison who is responsible for translating aspirations into realities.

The agenda is daunting. We have completed projects such as the Southwest Path which needs widening and improvements. We have long planned improvements like the Sherman Flyer and the Cannonball Express which join a long list of cycling projects that must move from dreams to reality. Then there are the smaller projects, little connections that will fix major impediments to fun and safe cycling.

I do not believe that anyone was as excited and surprised at the size of Wednesday's BFW meeting as Amanda. Good for her and the organization for generating such interest.

That reminds me, I let my membership lapse some time ago. I wonder how long it will take to hear from her.

Another complimentary observation came from the A.V. Club of Madison:

...But remarkably, the Madison biking community came away pretty much unscathed. In fact, between $4.4 million budgeted for biking and pedestrian projects next year, and $500,000 set aside to conduct a study on how to coordinate and harmonize all forms of transportation...

But we can always find the cynics at Isthmus, Madison's weekly newspaper who were so skeptical earlier this year (look at the mocking article Soglin: The debt ceiling is rising) about the existence of severe capital budget problems, but have yet to master the fundamental of budget comparisons.

The article Soglin explains his biking cuts to a room full of Madison cyclists:

Soglin is proposing $8.3 million in cuts for biking and pedestrian projects in 2012. Although funding is predicted to rise in the following years, Soglin's proposing spending for biking and pedestrian projects is still about 11 percent less than former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz had budgeted through 2016.

As budget analysts know, when comparing budgeting from one year to the next, the accepted practice is to compare actual budgeted numbers. If the city council makes no cuts to my recommendations, the 2012 capital budget for bicycling will be greater than it was for 2011.

 

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