As illustrated below, a lot of drivers in Dodgeville take a dubious “short cut” from King St. to Iowa/Bequette by way of W. Leffler instead of taking King St. all the way to Iowa/Bequette. Most of the people taking this short cut are leaving Lands’ End and heading to their homes in the Madison metro area. These folks are not Dodgeville / Iowa County taxpayers. Here’s the problem. W. Leffler has been beat all to hell and is badly in need of resurfacing. All that Lands’ End traffic has contributed mightily to the degradation of W. Leffler. Now, as a bicycle commuter trying to get from Lands’ End to most of the rest of Dodgeville (always a dangerous proposition), it makes sense to use W. Leffler to minimize the amount of time I have to ride my bike on busy King St. and very busy Iowa/Bequette. But W. Leffler is so broken up that for safety reasons I need to ride near the middle of the road—but a steady stream of vehicles takes the short cut down W. Leffler instead of staying on King St. up to convenient entrance ramp to Iowa/Bequette. It is a no-win situation for Dodgeville bicyclists. One solution would be to have W. Leffler dead end at King St. with only a bike-path connector between King St. and W. Leffler, though I suspect that would be quite unpopular in our auto-centric community. Another solution would be to resurface W. Leffler and never let it degrade this much again. Is that too much to ask? It is a short street, after all.
I’m not a big fan of roundabouts, but if ever there was a case for one it would be at the intersections of Iowa/Bequette, N. Main, E. Spring, and W. Spring. In my crude map overlay below, it looks like one building would probably have to be removed. The roundabout would need to be designed to easily accommodate the comings and goings of fire trucks from the nearby fire station. Presently, this “octopus” of an intersection is dangerous, and I completely avoid ever making a left turn there. Why not prohibit all dangerous left turns at these intersections by installing a roundabout where every turn will be a right turn?
Quite a few people living in Dodgeville work at Lands’ End, but there really isn’t a safe bicycle route connecting Lands’ End with most of Dodgeville. Right now, we basically have two choices—neither of them are very safe. You can ride down Lehner Rd. to US 18 and then ride along the south shoulder of the highway until you get up to King St., then cross the highway there (no traffic lights and a 55 mph speed limit). Or, alternatively, you can ride on the busiest street in town, N. Bequette St. (Wisconsin Hwy 23) and then follow rubblized W. Leffler St. up to King St.
There’s a large piece of farm land for sale between W. North St. and US 18, and though most of us would prefer that it remain farm land, chances are that it will someday be developed into Dodgeville’s newest residential subdivision. If and when that happens, we should put in an asphalt bike path adjacent to the new road that will almost certainly get built to connect W. Chapel St. to King St. Of course, the W. Chapel / US 18 / King St. intersection will need to have traffic signals. What a wonderful addition this bike path would be for our community!
In the meantime, it would help if Lands’ End constructed a short connector bike path from the north shoulder of US 18 just east of the Lehner Rd. intersection to Lands’ End Lane as shown below. Wisconsin DOT would need to review and approve the project, but it is likely they would be supportive of such a project given the unsafe conditions that exist today.
Another option would be to make use of the City of Dodgeville utility access road already in place on the north side of US 18, just a little west of the Lehner Rd. intersection. A connector bike path could be built to Lands’ End Lane as shown below.
While we’re on the topic of bicycles, has anyone else noticed how much worse condition the streets are in—not just in Dodgeville but everywhere—than they were, say, 40 or 50 years ago? The transverse cracking and alligator cracking on our city streets is as bad as I have ever seen, and certainly must be a major factor in why there are so few bicycle riders in our town.