Bikes, Beers, and no Cars. Coming soon to a trail near you (assuming you live in Madison, Wisconsin)

creative commons photo from mrmatt on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmatt/2936181715/A restaurant owner in Madison wants to create a low-impact, seasonal eatery smack dab in the middle of the local human-powered trail system. Entry to the proposed eatery would require  walking, skating, biking or … whatever. Just no cars allowed.

Described as “a hobbit hole meets the American Players Theatre meets a 1950s National Park recreational area,” the “Badger Den” would be a “bike-in” bar and grill open from April through October.

The best part about it is they don’t even have permission to use the space. Instead they are launching a little PR campaign (which I’m now helping, if Seattle PR does any good for a business that is yet to exist half-way across the country) to build public support so the city will have to approve the plan. And it seems to be working:

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said the cafe would be consistent with what the city has been doing to encourage bicycling. “I think it’s fascinating idea,” Cieslewicz said. “We’d love to work with him on it.”

Ha! I’d like to see more of this action-based planning here Seattle.

Overall the plan sounds lovely to me, though I’m a little ho-hum on the idea of bringing in supplies via golf cart. If they are really serious about this as a no car thing, how about using some cargo bikes instead?

Read the actual article for the full scoop. And if you’re planning to open one of these somewhere along the Burke (though the Sammamish River Trail is probably the more pastoral choice), let me know when to show up with my mug and tree-stump chair!

-Tim

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5 responses to “Bikes, Beers, and no Cars. Coming soon to a trail near you (assuming you live in Madison, Wisconsin)

  1. A quick response from a Madison resident: When we saw this story break in yesterday’s news, we were struck with some degree of ambivalence.

    On the plus side:

    1. Chris Berge has a great history with Madison restaurants. He owns some of our favorite places. If anyone can make this successful, it’s him.

    2. The proposed site is in a VERY bike-friendly neighborhood. Lots of Trek/Planet Bike/Saris/Felt/Pacific Cycle employees and executives living within a ten-block radius.

    3. It’s close to us, so we’d go there a lot!

    On the glass-half-empty side:

    1. The proposed site is basically in a friend of ours’ back yard. Lots of families with small kids living along the path. How will the restaurant cope with noise in the early evenings, when parents are trying to get their kids to sleep?

    2. The bike path is pretty crowded at the proposed site. Will there be a mechanism for managing bottlenecks there?

    3. How will they keep the mosquitoes at bay?

    Overall, a great development–I hope they can work out the kinks!

    • Thanks for the comment and perspective, Richard.

      All good points. There’s always a downside w/ these kinds of things and I wasn’t trying to brush them under the rug. I get bummed when my neighbors do backyard movie night too many evenings in a row. Having a bar-restaurant in what was once a quiet trail environment would play havoc w/ the kids and bedtime. Of course the article didn’t mention that close-by neighbors, instead giving the impression this spot was out in the middle of nowhere.

      As for the mosquitoes. Yikes. I hear you’ve got some blood-sucking lunkers out there.

  2. My wife has mentioned something similar in regards to soccer games. She always feels a coffee cart would do well at them. It’s not a bad idea. Sure, beer would be nice too, if you could do it legally (which I’m not too sure about). You know the deal. But coffee and sports drinks, why not? And I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them on the biking trails. Ice cream too.

  3. Also a Madison resident who sometimes eats in Chris Berge’s restaurants and passes the proposed site of this one every time I ride to work.

    I concur with Richard’s plus comments and would add that this would be probably the only destination of its kind in the country. Big opportunity for Madison.

    I also recognize the arguments against, and would also agree with the neighborhood associations that it would interfere somewhat with the relatively wild character of the site. The only great-horned owl I’ve seen in Madison was along this stretch, where I regularly see Cooper’s Hawks and wild turkeys.

    That said, if I understand it correctly, the site plan posted with the linked article shows a plaza at the level of the bike path, with the cafe below. I would assume that traffic stopping at the café would be directed off the path and onto the plaza.

    The plan as shown would also direct most of the sound to the cemetery on the right of the diagram, with the living neighbors with young children on the opposite side of the berm at the left.

    As for the mosquitoes, there is no managing them after the 8 inches of rain we got almost two weeks ago. Step out of almost any door in southern Wisconsin and you’ll be mobbed within 30 seconds. Stay out too long and you’ll need a transfusion. All part of the fun in Chedderland.

    • Writerdude: exactly. There seems to be much we could do with street food to make our streets and community places more human scaled. Think of all the people who leave soccer games and drive to fast food for a treat. Wouldn’t it be to server those needs in a community building fashion?

      Michael: thanks for your local knowledge on this. Please keep us posted on how this unfolds.

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