Madison officials have long hoped to build a bike path connecting the city's north side to the downtown. A segment was added two years ago, along the Yahara River to East Johnson, but plans to extend it further have been stymied.
In late 2006, the state thumbed its nose at a funding request and, in recent years, Union Pacific railroad has rebuffed city offers and overtures, even those from Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. Says Tony Fernandez of city engineering, "It's just been a total stonewall."
So now the city is pursuing a more modest path, between Commercial and Aberg Avenues, to run behind Oscar Mayer. Instead of the original "Sherman Flyer," the shorter proposed route - which would provide an alternative to the most harrowing section of Sherman Avenue - is called the "Ruskin Cutoff."
"[Former city engineer] Larry Nelson, bless him, was very good at giving potential bike paths catchy names," says Fernandez. But, he adds, "Who knows what it will be called if we build it?"
The city has come up with several possible routes through the Oscar property. "As long as it gets us from Point A to Point B, we'll be happy," says Fernandez, noting that Oscar officials have agreed to a meeting on Oct. 14. "At this point, we're seeing them as a partner."
C'mon all, let's give it a try:
"Our bike path has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R. Our bike path has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R. Oh, we love to ride it every day, and if you ask us why we'll say ... 'Cuz Oscar Mayer has a way with B-I-K-E-P-A-T-H!"