How a Wisconsin suburb is making itself bike-friendly
Fitchburg revised its SmartCode and then did something extra for cyclists.
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Note: May 18 is national Bike to Work Day — the following story shows how one municipality is promoting cycling through physical design.
Fitchburg, a 35-square-mile municipality just south of Madison, Wisconsin, developed for decades in the automobile-dependent manner of most American suburbs. But in the past few years the 25,000-person community has started planning for compact, mixed-use development, rail transit, and plenty of biking.
In October 2012, with the help of a PlaceMakers team led by Susan Henderson, the City of Fitchburg adopted the SmartCode — the first municipal approval of the SmartCode in Wisconsin. Early this year the City took another step, approving code changes aimed at making roads in the “SmartCode District” more accommodating to cyclists.
Madison-based Avante Properties intends to begin development next year of 210 acres in the approximately 400-acre Nine Springs neighborhood — “the largest piece of undeveloped
land in proximity to downtown Madison,” according to Avante President Chris Armstrong. The company will market Nine Springs as a bicycle-friendly development.
“We’ve encircled the development with a multipurpose trail, essentially a bike trail,” Armstrong says of his plan. Besides being connected by that trail, the Nine Springs project will sit at the crossroads of the region’s north-south Fitchburg-Oregon