Billed as a car-free and care-free celebration of Madison's bike-friendly reputation, Ride the Drive promises to afford the rare opportunity to enjoy a perspective of the city usually reserved for people in motor vehicles, traveling at 25 miles per hour or more.
Since it was first announced at Olin Park back in May, it has evolved into quite an ambitious and multi-faceted affair. The core of the event remains focused on the transformation of about six miles of downtown streets from busy automotive arteries into something akin to a European-style pedestrian-bicycle mall.
These streets include almost two miles of John Nolen Drive, almost one mile of East Washington, all of State Street and bits of Blair, Pinckney, Mifflin, Lake, Dayton, Bedford and Wilson streets -- all of which will be closed to motorized vehicles and host to many activities from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday, August 30. With motor traffic detoured via Olin Avenue and Park Street to University Avenue, Johnson and Gorham streets, the route will (except at several intersections) offer a sense of what downtown might look and feel like without cars, trucks and SUVs: a kind of Eden for cyclists, in-line skaters, joggers, pedestrians and anyone else devoted to getting around under their own power.
Funded by a Madison Arts Commission BLINK! grant, local artists Kia Karlen and Angela Richardson have organized "Madtown Artists Take to the Streets," a series of public-art installations, demonstrations, activities and performances, swelling the breadth, depth and scope of activities scheduled during Ride the Drive.
Among the key locations and highlights to look for along the route:
- Olin Park at John Nolen Drive and Lakeside Street: Family Park with YMCA YkidzFit obstacle course, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Suzy Favor Hamilton three-mile run walk, 8 a.m.; Madison School-Community Recreation Art Cart, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; Princeton Club classes (Zumba, 1 p.m.; TurboKick, 1 p.m.).
- John Nolen Drive between Olin Park and Machinery Row: Parade Drive with Machinery Row bike rentals; Wisconsin Bike Federation bike decorating (10 a.m.) and parade with the Wheelmen, Madison Art Bikes, Procession of the Species and the Mobile Museum of Material Culture, 11 a.m., John Nolen at Blair Street; Tunes in the Tunnel featuring Mad Hoc French horn quintet (10 a.m.), Sean Michael Dargan, bagpipes (11 a.m.), Michael Brenneis, percussion (noon) and Joanne Pow!ers, saxophone (1 p.m.) in the Monona Terrace underpass; "Fill the Street with Feet," foot-tracing on John Nolen Drive.
- East Washington Avenue between Paterson and Blount streets: Bike Avenue with Kids' Bike Rodeo, helmet fitting, basic tune-ups, BMX tricks & tips, Trek Kids Bike Obstacle Course, Trek Ride+ Electric Assist bike test ride, bike registration, bike maps, Madison Metro Rack & Roll program information, Triple M live broadcast.
- East Washington between Blair & Blount streets: "Eat in the Street," block-long picnic, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with a ginormous tablecloth set up along the median, Burma Shave Ant Display, Procession of the Species, Madtown Liberty Players giant puppets, Oscar Mayer Wienermobile; performances by All That Jazz 19-piece big band (11 a.m.) and Hot Cross Bones trombone/percussion ensemble (noon); Chalk the Walk temporary public art project; WYOU-TV lemonade tent.
- East Washington Avenue's 100 block: Food Cart Avenue featuring Dandelion Vegetarian, Ernie's Kettle Korn, LMNO'Pies, Loose Juice, Natural Juice, Sabores Latinos, Santa Fe Trailer, Silky's Dogs & Brats, Spice Yatra, Taste of Jamaica.
- Mifflin Street at the Capitol from Pinckney to Wisconsin: Dance Square with Mpowering Madison information table and face-painting; Social Life Dance Center ballroom & Latin dance lessons (11 a.m.-2 p.m.).
- Capitol Square: Suzy Favor Hamilton running clinic, 10:30 a.m.
- Capitol Square at Mifflin, Carroll and State streets: Kids Corner with Family Stroller Brigade Mini-Parade (stroller/wagon/bike decorating at noon, mini-parade 1 pm); Saris Bike Valet; MadParkour demonstrations.
- State Street: Participating downtown businesses welcome Ride the Drive with discounts, deals, freebies and other specials during designated hours.
- West Dayton from Lake Street to North Francis: Street Jam in front of the Kohl Center, with Madtown Hoopdown hula hoping, 10 a.m.-noon; and 94.9 WOLX Dancing in the Streets, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Bedford Street at West Main: Bikeford Street, with bike rentals available from Williamson Bicycle Works.
In addition, photographer Angela Richardson, kite aerial photographer Craig Wilson and videographer Brian Standing will fan out along the route to document Ride the Drive's events and activities.
In the interests of safety and enjoyment for all participants, Ride the Drive organizers remind cyclists, pedestrians, skaters and families that event etiquette begins with common courtesy and respect. Among other tips regarding proper manners throughout the day:
- Cyclists and skaters must obey all traffic signals and signs, always yield the right of way to pedestrians, travel at safe speeds and pass on the left.
- Walkers and joggers are cautioned against darting out into the paths of cyclists, and to obey all traffic signs and signals.
- People with dogs are advised to keep their canines on short leashes at all times. Dogs must wear current rabies, license, park permit and owner ID tags. Owners must clean up their dog's feces according to best standards and practices.
Organized by the city of Madison in partnership with Trek bicycles, the event is sponsored by a number of cycling interests (including the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, Pacific Cycle, Planet Bike, Saris Cycling Group, Schwinn and Williamson Bicycle Works), and has also drawn the support of Group Health Cooperative, Isthmus, Oscar Mayer and a handful of local radio stations.
More information about Ride the Drive is available online, including more event details, a map of the route and motor-vehicle traffic detours, volunteer opportunities, tips on how to get to the event, a full primer on proper event etiquette, and videos of similar events in Bogota, New York City, San Francisco and elsewhere.