MADISON (WKOW) -- Following two recent deaths involving bicyclists, we take a look at bike safety. Madison police say accidents like these can be prevented, and officers are working to make that happen.
On Monday, a 37-year-old woman was killed while riding her bike on County Highway M in the town of Westport. A truck veered off the road and hit her on the paved shoulder. Last week on Wednesday, Tyler Knipfer, 21, was riding his bike when he collided with a car at the intersection of Aberg Avenue and Huxley Street in Madison. He died at UW Hospital over the weekend.
Changing the culture of the relationship between drivers and bikers is something Madison police have been struggling with for a long time.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), 60 percent of adult bike crashes are caused by a motorist, but bikers are to blame too. Wrong-way cycling leads to a third of bike crashes.
The Madison Police Department is working to put an end to these accidents with a new plan launched in August-- the Pedestrian Bicycle Ambassador program.
"We really are looking at engaging our community in a more meaningful way to get the word out so that they understand what those rules of the road are," says Lt. David Jugovich, who oversees the program.
Two ambassadors, Zachary Barnes and Jennifer Laack, hit the streets of Madison where bikers and pedestrians are found most and go to events, to teach the public about basic safety.
The ambassadors remind cyclists that they have to follow the same rules as drivers, like stopping at stop signs or traffic signals, and remind drivers to share the roads.
Jugovich says it's a way to get the word out through education, rather than enforcement, which doesn't always have a lasting change on the culture of driving in the city. Police are hoping to bring to light the idea that everyone has to share the road, and stop tragedies before they happen.
"It's really having that mutual respect, because everyone has the right to use those areas within the city, it's just how do we manage that reduce the conflict and improve traffic safety," says Jugovich.
Madison police are planning to target pedestrian and bike traffic at the University Avenue and Park Street intersection sometime this month. The plan is to show UW students the importance of following traffic signals in such a busy area, where cars have trouble getting through the crowds of pedestrians.
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