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Thursday, November 27, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 20.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Paper
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Oscar Mayer puts the brakes on north-side bike-path access

Although Madison consistently ranks high on the list of bike-friendly cities, there's one part of town that is notably hostile to bikers: the north side.

The city's remarkable network of bike trails doesn't connect the northern neighborhoods. North-side residents who bike must brave such busy streets as Pennsylvania, Packers and Sherman avenues.

"The north side is pretty underserved by the bike network," says Tony Fernandez of Madison's engineering department. "On Sherman, you're taking your life in your hands."

For years, the city has wanted to build the Sherman Flyer path, which would follow the Yahara River along the rail corridor to Sheridan Drive. But, Fernandez laments, "Union Pacific railroad has been completely unwilling to work with us."

As an alternative, the city proposed a pathway through the Oscar Mayer property, which Kraft Foods controls through a long-term lease. In a Feb. 11, 2010, letter (PDF), Kathy Bullis, Kraft's senior project manager, expressed interest in the idea.

But, says Fernandez, "suddenly they changed their minds. We've tried to find out what their concerns are and if there's some way we can address them, and really have not gotten any communication from them."

Bullis did not return calls from Isthmus.

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