To help make walking safer and more enjoyable, the Wisconsin Bike Fed will coordinate events across the state throughout the month of October, and participate in International Walk and Bike to School Day on Oct. 5.
This is the second Wisconsin Walks month sponsored by the advocacy group, which is broadening its mission to reduce crashes involving people on bikes and people on foot.
The renewed emphasis on sharing the road safely is vitally important to counter an increase in pedestrian deaths in 2015, a trend that has continued in 2016. To date, 33 people have been killed while walking on Wisconsin roads, and the state is on pace to again exceed the average of 46 pedestrians killed due to carelessness, distracted driving, alcohol and speeding.
The deaths this year include 12-year-old Justin Johnson, hit by a bus while walking home from his school in Kaukauna; and Christa Pittman, an 83-year-old woman killed in Milwaukee while pushing a grocery cart through a crosswalk.
In addition to the fatalities, roughly 1,200 people are hit by cars and injured in Wisconsin each year, resulting in lost wages and medical bills averaging nearly $60,000 each.
Working to make walking safer for everyone, will increase residents’ independence, make our neighborhoods more vibrant and engaging and offset the rise in obesity across the state.
“Most of us find ourselves traveling by foot at some point each day,” says Jennifer Laack, Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Program Manager in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. “Improving the safety of pedestrians is an important goal for the Bureau of Transportation Safety.”
To join the effort to make Wisconsin roads safer, go for a walk. Studies have found motorists become more watchful and safety conscious when they see pedestrians regularly.
Laack advises people walking to avoid distractions, especially cell phone use, and actively pay attention to their surroundings. With daylight hours decreasing, pedestrians should increase their visibility by wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing at night.
People crossing streets can improve their safety by using crosswalks whenever possible and making themselves visible to motorists. More than half of the people killed while walking in Wisconsin in a three-year period were crossing between intersections.
While behind the wheel, remember that every natural sidewalk connection is a crosswalk – whether it is marked or not. Drivers are required by law to yield to people entering and walking through crosswalks.
Of course, people crossing streets need to allow a reasonable time for a motorist to slow or stop.
Just as important: slow down. It takes about 40 feet to stop a vehicle going 20 mph hour, and nearly twice that distance – 75 feet – for a vehicle traveling 30 mph. At 40 mph, the stopping distance grows to 120 feet and creates a greater risk of death.
A person hit by a car going 40 mph will be killed in 85 percent of those crashes. The fatality rate drops to 5 percent if the vehicle is traveling 20 mph.
Please join your neighbors and the Wisconsin Bike Fed in making October a safe month, and extend those life-saving practices of sharing the road year-round. Check out the Bike Fed Share & Be Aware Page and contact our ambassadors to request a pedestrian action.