The Southwest Path, Also known as: "The SW Commuter Path", the "SW Bike-Pedestrian Path", The "SW Multi-Use Path". Some people call the section between Camp Randall and the Beltline the "Owl Path" for short, in deference to those long-term residents of this corridor. This 4-mile-long contiguous strip of mature forest, prairie restorations and seasonal wetland was preserved from agriculture and development first by the sloping terrain and then by the 1880's rail line. In many places, it is an ecological snapshot of the four lakes region prior to European settlement. PHOTOS If you take a good photo on the SW Path please post it here! YOUR INPUT If you notice something detrimental to the safe or shared use of this space, or to its surrounding habitat, send a message or use posts to this page as a forum where path users can together help figure out solutions. For issues involving city agencies or practices, write your alder and ask for some respect for the shared habitat of the Southwest Path: The alders of districts on the section of SW Path between Regent and the Beltline are: Sara Eskrich Arvina Martin Shiva, Bidar-Sielaf Maurice S. Cheeks [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] Here are some recent recommendations for better sharing of the SW Path and its surrounding habitat: LIGHTING - Dim the current fixtures (still 17 lm, eye level) - Replace fixtures with fully shielded styles - Re-do system with 6x as many bollard fixtures Ideally, the city will eventually replace the substandard, widely-spaced, high-glare overhead "deterrent" fixtures with waist-high *path lighting* (bollard fixtures) appropriate for a non-motorized bike-pedestrian path and valuable urban greenspace. Low-glare, uniform lighting would immediately benefit both collision prevention and personal security in a number of ways. The current lighting system is clearly an overall detriment to personal security in this visually-isolated path. The current fixtures are against DOT guidelines and make path users completely blind to the sides of the path while simultaneously making obvious their personal characteristics, possessions and vulnerabilities. POISONING OF ANCIENT HABITATS -The city should not use rock salt except for spot applications. Salt brine pre-treatments should never be used for winter maintenance- it is not necessary, it forms sticky, corrosive slush and consistently results in dangerous glare ice. Brine treatments are also very damaging to bikes, shoes, and paws. SIGNAGE: The green street signs that say "SW BIKE PATH" are misleading and obsolete. They should be replaced with the newer (bike-ped icon) signs that say simply "SW PATH". Although it might not make up for that incident with the steam shovel in 1889 (and other historical atrocities), Re-naming this section of Path the "Sky Spirit Link" would be a fitting tribute to those ancients who walked this same landscape for millennia and who held sacred the amazing view of the Winter Sunrises on the distant South Eastern Horizon. The bird effigy in the cemetary, the head of which would have almost reached the path, is widely accepted as a "Sky Spirit" representation. This particular earthwork is oriented to indicate the winter solstice. Amazing sunrises (and sunsets) are something that modern people can also still appreciate from the SW Path, if not time their seasonal migrations with. Any better suggestions for a link name are more than welcome! OUTREACH If there are other path-related conservation and user groups out there, let's work together to protect these unique and highly-visited linear green spaces, and make them safer for all users, day and night. Elected officials and city staff should be familiar with, and fiercely protective of Madison's green spaces and motor-free transportation corridors. These paths and green-spaces are unique city assets and their unique shared character is socially beneficial on multiple levels.
Owlpath, home of the Southwest Path Alliance: Dedicated to safe use and shared habitat in a unique clean transportation corridor in Madison, WI, USA.