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Winnebago Street

A bicyclist travels down Winnebago Street on Madison's East Side Monday. Mayor Paul Soglin has vetoed a plan that would eliminate some parking on the street in favor of more room between bicyclists and traffic.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin on Monday vetoed a City Council decision to decrease parking in favor of bike safety measures on an East Side street.

The council had debated two options for a planned reconstruction of Winnebago Street. Last Tuesday, the council voted to go with the second option, which would add bike lane buffers while eliminating about 24 parking spaces by limiting on-street parking to one side of the street.

“When I look at the demand for this space on Winnebago and the options for bicyclists, and the options for residents and their guests to park their cars, I find that the balance leads to retaining the parking,” Soglin said in a veto letter to council members.

The affected area is an approximately three-block stretch between Bashford Avenue and South Second Street, where parking spots are already scarce.

The City Council can overturn Soglin’s veto with a vote of two-thirds of members at its next meeting. The measure passed 11-6 with three council members not voting.

Madison City Council President Samba Baldeh said he’s unsure if the council will attempt to override the veto because he hasn’t discussed the decision with members yet.

The first option, which did not receive a vote, included two, 10-foot-wide traffic lanes, two bike lanes, ornamental trees along one side of the road and two, 7-foot wide parking lanes.

The second option included two, 10-foot-wide traffic lanes and two bike lanes, with 2-foot buffers between them, and parking limited to one side of Winnebago Street and trees lining both sides of the street.

Neighborhood residents who opposed reducing parking spots along the street said many homes in the area don’t have garages or driveways and that finding parking was already difficult enough.

Others who preferred the second option said it offered extra protection for bicyclists on the street.

Madison Bikes, a nonprofit advocacy organization, had pushed for the second option because it gave bicyclists, especially those less comfortable riding in traffic, more distance from vehicles and Metro Transit buses.

“Option 1 will not create a street that is safe, comfortable, and convenient for people who aren’t driving,” the group wrote in an April 30 letter to council members. “An unbuffered bike lane right next to parked cars, as proposed in Option 1, is comfortable only for a small subset of the population.”

In his veto letter, Soglin said a reconstructed Winnebago Street that met the desires of all the potential users wouldn’t be a good fit for the neighborhood.

“A street with the width capable of handling motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and parked cars in their own lanes, in both directions, is too wide for a comfortable neighborhood,” he said. “We cannot accommodate every transportation demand with every street.”

If work proceeds on the project, it could start either in late summer or the spring of 2019, according to a Madison Department of Public Works Engineering Division memo from April. The project would take about four months to complete and cost nearly $3.3 million.

Alds. Michael Verveer, Marsha Rummel, Steve King, Maurice Cheeks, David Ahrens and Mark Clear voted against approving the second option. Baldeh, Barbara Harrington-McKinney and Sheri Carter didn’t vote. The remaining 11 voted in favor of the option.


Chris Aadland is a reporting intern for the Wisconsin State Journal.