Bike Ban on the Table for Picnic Point; Some Say Not So Fast

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

A place known for its picturesque views could become off limits to those who bicycle through it. A proposal to close Picnic Point to bicyclists is on the table, but some say not so fast.
Whether walking, jogging or riding ... people consider Picnic Point one of Madison's most pristine spots.
Bill Cronon, chair of the natural areas committee overseeing the trails, says "l certainly number it among my half dozen most sacred landscapes in the world ... so there's a huge public interest and passion for this land. The reason why we're discussing this has to do with different ways people love it."
Some people love to walk its gravel path but hate those close calls with bicyclists.
Walker Ruth Bock says, "it's not much fun, it's not a comfortable walk."
Bock has walked this trail for fifty years.
She says, "if there's one bike going by, it's not bad. When there's two side by side, it throws us off."
So much so, some have called to keep bikes off this path.
Bicyclist Matt Zimmerman says, "I'm neutral. I really don't think there's a big problem. Maybe regulating people off trail, but on main gravel trail, I see no problem."
Others say the problem could rest with the trail's signs.
This one reads, consider parking your bicycle here and enjoy walking.
City Alder Robbie Webber works for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.
Webber says, "the racks that currently exist cannot be used with a u-lock and they cannot be used with bikes with fenders. For a lot of people, they're not visible."
The same sign also says if you must ride, ride slow.
"You need to be very clear telling people what's expected. Do not ride faster than a fast jogger. Always give warning well before you pass someone. Don't pass until it's safe," Webber says.
Cronon says a clear cut message might make everybody better off, by keeping everyone on picnic point.
"I certainly hope that whatever gets decided about bicycles everybody will under what we're doing here is trying to take care of land that we all love," Cronon says.
The natural areas committee will discuss the issue at its meeting on Monday.

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