MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison is known for being a bike-friendly city, and now that attitude will extend from the city to the Illinois border.
Soon, bicyclists will be able to ride from Madison to Illinois without leaving the safety and comfort of a bike path.
The federal government has awarded Wisconsin $1 million in transportation funds to connect the Badger State Trail in Fitchburg to the Capital City Trail in downtown Madison, Rep. Spencer Black (D-Madison) announced Monday.
For many people, not much beats a bike ride on a beautiful day. And as the weather gets even nicer, the new bike trail will change many cyclists' experience from a dangerous road-sharing trek to a peaceful, car-free ride.
"You can go from one place to another and not be afraid to get hit by a car," said cyclist Calli Thompson.
"I think it's really exciting. I think a lot of people who live down in Fitchburg will be more likely to bike into Madison, rather than drive," said Madison cyclist Anne Ooms.
The six-mile paved path will connect the Badger State Trail, which runs from Fitchburg to the Illinois border, to the Capital City Trail in downtown Madison.
Currently, the fastest way to get between the two trails is to ride along this busy stretch of Seminole Highway. With no paths or trails, bikers are forced to the shoulder of the road, riding right alongside cars going up to 50 miles per hour.
"I haven't [biked] it in a long time because I don't want to. It's terrifying," said Ooms.
Not all bikers think the new trail is necessary. Tony Smick of Madison prefers the road.
"There's more variety in the terrain and wind directions. If you're recreationally riding, you're not restricted to the same 10 feet," said Smick.
Others wonder whether this project is worth the million dollars in federal money, plus nearly $500,000 more from the state.
But Black, who is an avid biker himself, calls the deal a "transportation bargain."
"What it would cost to build six miles of bike trail wouldn't even pay for a few feet of highway," said Black.
Black has been pushing for this connector trail for more than 13 years. He says he expects about 250,000 people will use the trail each year and says this is a major step toward giving more people the incentive to ride their bikes to work instead of drive.
Construction is expected to begin in May and last about two months.
According to madison representative spencer black, the biking industry generates more than $1.6 billion nationwide.
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