Antigo Bike & Ski Club member killed in crash in Langlade County

Wisconsin Bike Fed
 
One of the leaders of the Antigo Bike & Ski Club was hit by a car and killed Tuesday while she rode her bicycle on a rural highway north of the Peters Marsh State Wildlife Area, according to local media reports.

Michelle Koss, 53, led group rides for the bike club and was the mother of Brady Koss, club president.

According to news accounts, a car driven southbound by an 80-year-old man crashed into Koss on County Road A about 1:50 p.m. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

Koss becomes the third person to be killed in Wisconsin while riding a bicycle this year.

The road she died on did not provide a paved shoulder, forcing people on bikes to ride in the traffic lane or the gravel. Thomas Bickel, a 59-year-old grandfather, was killed near Oconto while biking to work on Feb. 26, also on a rural road without a paved shoulder.

County Highway A in Langlade County, near the crash location.

Initial reports suggest the motorists in both crashes had ample time to see and react to the people on bikes ahead of them. The deaths also highlight the need for investment in safer roads that accommodate people on bicycles.

In recent years, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has spent less than half of the $16 million made available for walking and biking improvements through Federal Highway Administration. Instead, legislators and the governor redirected about $9 million of the potential Transportation Alternatives money to road projects and other uses.

Overall, the $$7 million the state does allocate for walking and biking improvements through TAP represents roughly 1% of the $677 million it receives for transportation purposes.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed continues to advocate for safer roads and a more cautious approach while biking, driving and walking. Of the 15 fatalities involving bicyclists in 2015, 12 of them involved drivers who did not see or react to cyclists in front of them.

The Share & Be Aware Program directed by the Wisconsin DOT Bureau of Transportation Safety encourages drivers to slow down and be prepared to encounter people walking and on bikes at any time in their travels. State law requires that people driving cars provide at least three feet of clearance when passing a person on a bicycle.

3 thoughts on “Antigo Bike & Ski Club member killed in crash in Langlade County

  1. Tragic news for sure. Thoughts go out to the family of Ms Koss, and to the club.

    FWIW, the family of this 80 year-old driver (if there were any in the area) who was likely age-impaired as a driver (there are few 80-year old’s who are sufficiently skilled and reactive without vision issues who are capable of driving) bears some responsibility. Obviously not civil or criminal, but rather more a moral responsibility.

    When you have a parent or grandparent who is aged you need to intervene and prevent them from driving. Find them a way to get to where they need to be as opposed to letting them drive and hoping all goes well. That it has to come to this for that bit of common sense to be recognized is truly sad.

    I don’t say this as a pot shot at the elderly, I say this to protect both the elderly and those on the roads who must deal with their idiosyncratic driving. IMHO, in the vast majority of cases, 80 is simply too old to operate a motor vehicle at highway speeds.

  2. Looking at the Wisconsin Bike Map for that area, if the crash occurred south of County S, the road is listed as moderately suitable for bicycling. North of County S, County A received an unsuitable rating in Langlade County. When a crash occurs on a state or county highway in a rural area, I would like to see BFW also list the suitability rating on the Wis Bike Map for that stretch or road.

  3. My condolences to the family of Michelle Koss after this tragedy. Without commenting on the competence (or lack thereof), or negligence of the elderly driver involved in this fatality, I encourage all cyclists to do everything in their power to tilt the odds for survival in their favor. That includes wearing high visibility cycling clothing and gear (helmet/shoes/etc.) EVERY time they cycle on the road. In addition to brightly colored clothing, using a flashing rear light, even during daylight hours, might be the difference in making it home after your next ride. While depressing to think about, if you are hit during daylight hours while wearing highly visible gear and rear lighting, a driver’s claim that “I just didn’t see the cyclist” may also be more difficult to defend in a court of law.

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