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City looks to improve road safety after traffic deaths in Madison nearly double in 2020

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 6:29 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The NBC15 News team is taking a closer look at the number of motorcycle crashes in Madison.

Viewers sent in comments and concerns about the lack of safety and amount of noise, caused from motorcycles on the streets.

Documents from the Madison Police Department (MPD) show more than 800 traffic complaints for motorcycles and cars were filed with police spanning from July 1 through Sept. 24.

“We see it in certain parts of the city during the cycling months, where like cars, motorcycles can travel too fast and they can engage in problematic behavior,” Madison Police Capt. Jason Freedman said.

NBC15 Investigates obtained records from the MPD and found between July 1 and Sept. 24 officers responded to 19 motorcycle crashes in the city.

Eleven of those incidents occurred in July. One of the most recent crashes in September resulted in the death of a driver.

“It’s certainly something we’re concerned about,” Capt. Freedman said. “Because of the likelihood of somebody getting seriously injured or killed when engaging in reckless [activity].”

The Investigates team asked Madison’s Traffic Engineer Alexandra Heinritz about the spike. Heinritz said it goes beyond motorcycles; fifteen people have died from motor vehicle crashes so far, in 2020. That’s almost twice as many in 2019, when Madison reported eight for the entire year.

“Fifteen may seem like a small amount, compared to bigger cities,” Heinritz said, “But it’s big for Madison, and 15 lives are 15 lives,” she emphasized.

“We’re looking to make improvements in those corridors where people have had those life-changing incidents, or they’re killed, or they’re not going to go back to life the way it was before that crash,” Renee Callaway, Madison’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Administrator said.

On Monday, Sept. 28, the city lowered the speed limit along a three-mile stretch of East Washington Ave.

Those two main locations are Pinckney St. to Baldwin St., where the speed limit the limit dropped from 35 mph to 25 mph; as well as Baldwin St. to Marquette St., where the limit dropped from 35 mph to 30 mph.

Investigates Reporter Elise Romas asked Callaway if five miles an hour could make a difference as the city looks at solving this issue further.

“It does make a difference in how the outcome of that crash may look for you,” Callaway answered. “Those 5 miles per hour could be all it takes for you to not get up from that crash and go about your life.”

These city efforts are all a part of the Vision Zero campaign. Plans to lower more speed limits across the city are expected later in 2020. Here is a complete list from Madison employees of those upcoming locations:

· Gammon Road from Watts Road to Colony will change from 30 mph to 25 mph

· Milwaukee Street from Stoughton Road to Thompson Drive will change from 35 mph to 25 mph

· Prairie Road from Raymond Road to Maple Grove Rd from 30 mph to 25 mph

· McKenna Boulevard from Raymond Road to Watts Road will change from 35 mph to 30 mph

· Post Road from Fish Hatchery Road to Irvington Way from 30 mph to 25 mph

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