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.
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.