Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Vilas Park deathtrap

The picturesque stone bridge at the west entrance of Madison's Vilas Park was especially busy on the Fourth of July. It's quaint and old-fashioned. It's also a death trap.

Cars come hurtling down the steep Edgewood Avenue hill and often fly onto the one-way, one-lane bridge way too fast. And because they also have to turn slightly before entering the bridge, they often swing wide, occasionally scraping the stone wall. The wall can be repaired, and is, from time to time. Adult pedestrians, wandering young children, runners, bicyclists, and the occasional car going the wrong way -- which the steep incline of the bridge often obscures until it's too late -- wouldn't fare nearly as well in a collision.

I've seen way too many close calls here, and experienced a few in the narrow bike lane myself. The bridge is a fatality waiting to happen -- unless something is done to slow down the auto traffic.

Simple solution
The solution is simple: Install a stop sign at the base of Edgewood Avenue, at the intersection with Edgewood Drive (it would also help with bicyclists coming from that direction). Or, alternatively, put a stop sign right before the bridge itself. The important thing is to make cars coming down the hill stop before they get to the bridge. There is absolutely no need for them to have an unobstructed run at the bridge, tempting absent-minded drivers to get in over their heads. What's the hurry? They're entering a crowded park. If they have to stop, they'll still be moving slowly when they start over the bridge, and they'll be better able to react to unforeseen congestion on the bridge.

If somebody gets killed at the bridge, it might be someone you know. Why wait to do something that would seem obvious after tragedy strikes? Let's do it now.

Use the email button below to send this post to your alder or Mayor Dave and ask that something be done.


Sara said...

Wow. You know, back in the day, I often would ride that bridge, and I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. How to do something....isn't there a bike and pedestrian committee that the city has? Is there a way that we could arrange to get on their agenda? The recent controversy of the Ghostbikes, the scary locations in Madison for biking, and the anti-bike attitude I recently encountered while biking in Monona make me feel like the cit(ies) around here don't give a crap about bikers at all. Someone has to wave their hands and get some attention but I have no idea how....I'll likely post on it...because this is an issue that definitely should be addressed...

Madison Guy said...

PROGRESS REPORT: I appreciate Jesse Russell at Dane101.com syndicating the post to help it get some more exposure. I contacted Mayor Dave's office and my alderman, Ken Golden. Ken pointed out that the bridge is not in his district but in District 13 (Isadore Knox). He also referred my inquiry to traffic, as did the Mayor's office. Waiting to hear what they say.

Shane said...

Hey, did you ever hear back from the City on this? Dane101 would be intersted in posting/cross-posting a followup on this if you want to write something.

Shane Wealti
Technical Director

Madison Guy said...

No, the city never got back. I imagine they think that since nobody's been killed there yet, there's no problem. They'll cross that bridge when they get to it?

Maybe you guys would have more luck. Seems silly to wait until someone is killed to fix it, when the solution would be so easy.