- BikeScore 67
- WalkScore 47
- TransitScore 38
- League of American Cyclists Community Rating: Gold
Bike Map (pdf)
A college town at heart, Madison also the state capital of Wisconsin. Wedged on an isthmus between two large beautiful lakes, Madison is teeming with great views and segregated cycle tracks connecting most major areas. It’s a laid-back, mellow town with fantastic food and some incredible breweries, and the infrastructure is good enough to make it easy for even beginners to experience the town by bike without being intimidated.
Similar to Portland, Madison has evolved to the point that doing everyday things by bike is just normal. Unlike Portland, however, Madison has not really used the idea of the bicycle as a means to define itself, so you don’t have the bike-themed extremes, quirks, and oddities that Portland does. It’s just incredibly easy and normal to go do regular things on a bike here. If you’re coming from a place where arriving at work on a bike would cause people to question your sanity, you’ll find it incredibly refreshing.
Hand signals and “On your left” are common but not strictly enforced by peer pressure. As ever, both remain a good idea, and common courtesy. The huge student population on the near-west side means you can expect to find a lot of less-experienced city bikers from State Street out past the University. You can spot them by the bags of groceries dangling precariously from their handlebars, and hear their unloved chains singing out a squeaky song of woe and neglect.
For the most part, your major destinations are well-served by dedicated cycletracks, which means your ineractions with vehicle traffic are minimal. Cars here tend to be more patient and understanding than in some east coast cities, and many of those Madison drivers are also cyclists, which always helps.
Bike racks are pretty easy to find, and bike theft is no better or worse than you’d expect for a city of severl hundred thousand. Use a good U-lock around town, and bring your bike in at night if you can.
Best Bike Rides in Madison
These routes were curated by local Madisonians who wanted to share their #BestBikeRide with you. Print off the map for free!
Spinlister is like the Airbnb of bikes! Use promo code, BIKABOUT, for $10 off
Madison BCycle - $3 for 30 minutes
- Budget Bikes - $10+ daily for hybrid, mountain, road, vintage, trailer, trail-a-bike with helmet, lock and map
- Red Bike Project - FREE bike rental from Budget Bicycle when available
Hop Head Beer Tours - $40 with bike, $62.50 without bike. Tour includes tasting at three downtown breweries.
Amtrak Empire Service (Chicago, Minneapolis) - boxed bikes allowed as checked bags
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