The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department released the name of the second person killed riding a bicycle in two years on County A, just north of State Road 28. Colton King, 22, of Sheboygan, was traveling north on County Road A just north of State Road 28 around 6:30 a.m. when he was hit by a northbound pickup truck. Flight for Life took King to St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, but he died Monday afternoon as a result of his injuries.
King was a UWM Student majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Physics, and was bicycling to work at the nearby Kohler Company where he was in their Cast Iron Co-op, an internship with credit toward graduation and experience in the field of engineering. He also was an active member of the UWM Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Sadly, this is the second fatal crash at that location involving a person on a bicycle that I have had to report about. In 2013, I reported in this post that Allen Redensek, 55, of Sheboygan, was killed riding in almost the exact same spot. While the point of that post, titled Another fatal crash; why we care – why you shouldn’t worry, was to emphasize that fatal crashes are very rare and bicycling in very safe in general, clearly two fatal crashes in the same spot means people should take extra caution or even consider not riding on this section of road.
Traffic safety depends on good engineering, educated road users, enforcement of laws and encouragement efforts to get people to share the road with other users. In this situation, the Bike Fed has already contacted the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Sheboygan County to advocate that they pave the shoulders on County Road A. I am happy to report the Sheboygan is already looking into this:
I share your concern with these tragic events. We are currently gathering data and are looking into our options, the HSIP funds being one option, or funding the project locally the other option. I’m sure you are well aware of the time that is associated with obtaining these HSIP funds, we may be better off from a timing standpoint to fund it locally. I can tell you that our scope of future work on CTH A will include paved shoulders, whether the shoulders are added to the existing pavement or if we pulverize the current pavement, re-grade, and pave a consistent cross section.
On the educational portion on your email, I am the wrong person to be talking to; however I do feel our community could benefit from the Share & Be Aware program. In speaking with Planning Director, Aaron Brault and Emily Vetting from his department, I would recommend you contact Aaron; I have copied him in on this email for your information.
Sheboygan County Transportation Department
The Bike Fed has also offered to work with Sheboygan County and local law enforcement to do additional safety education and provide safety materials to address the education and encouragement “Es” that are part of every transportation safety equation. The crash is still under investigation, so we cannot comment on other aspects of this tragedy, but we will keep our members updated on progress as we have more information. We got a quick response back from Aaron Brault, Sheboygan County Director of Planning & Conservation. He is open to our offer to help. He also noted Sheboygan’s bicycle crash rate has been falling over the last ten years or so, like crash rates across Wisconsin. Finally, Mr. Brault reaffirmed Sheboygan County’s policy to add paved shoulders when roads are reconstructed, which is great for bicycling, but also dramatically extends road life.
Of course that is of little comfort to those touched by the terrible death of Colton King, but it is good to get a helpful response back from Sheboygan County leadership.
In the meantime, remember bicycling remains a very safe thing to do, maybe even safer than driving if you factor in the health benefits. That said, we can all do our part to make our roads even safer by obeying all rules of the road no matter if we are walking, bicycling or behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. When we are in a motor vehicle, we should all pay full attention to the act of driving and take extra care when we are sharing the road with more vulnerable users, like people on foot or on a bicycle.
Please keep Colton, his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.