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Thursday, July 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 74.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Ride the Drive returns to downtown Madison for fall 2011


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Mayor Paul Soglin's honeymoon with the city came to an abrupt end when he canceled the Ride the Drive event scheduled for September.

Soglin said that many stores and restaurants complained that the event -- which closes downtown streets to vehicles, allowing people to use them for biking, skateboarding and walking -- disrupted business.

But after canceling the event, several city alders complained that the mayor didn't consult with them. And after attending the June 5 Ride the Drive -- the Wisconsin State Journal quoted one cyclists shouting "boo, Mr. Mayor" at Soglin -- the mayor has had a change of heart.

City staff are planning to hold a fall Ride the Drive in downtown Madison after all, though a date has not been finalized, says Kevin Briski, Madison's parks superintendent. Some 30,000 people attended the June 5 Ride, which is typical (though the Sept. 29, 2010 Ride brought out 50,000 people, thanks in part to an appearance by Lance Armstrong).

Briski says the city's idea for the event is simple: "The idea is to see the streets of Madison from another point of view," whether it be on "bicycles, skateboards or roller blades."

The city continues to tweak the event and, Briski says, for the June event, it did a better job of managing traffic flow around the cyclists, even though cyclists at times "cued up" intersections. "We were moving traffic much more fluidly," he says.

The city plans to continue making changes so that Ride the Drive doesn't prevent motorists from visiting downtown during the day.

For next year, the city plans to have two Ride the Drives, one downtown and a second on the northeast side of town. In future years, the plan is to hold the fall Ride in a different part of town.

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