DOT seeing decline in bicycle vs. vehicle crashes in Wisconsin

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 6:26 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Vehicle vs bicycle crashes have seen a 46% drop across the state of Wisconsin and a 62 percent drop in the North Central Wisconsin area. The reason—there are more bikes and fewer cars on the streets.

“I think that’s great,” John Nowaczyk, the store manager at the Trek Store Wausau, said

With fewer people driving, there’s more room on the road for cyclists. In fact, with more cyclists, that may actually lead to more awareness of the rider.

“The more the bicycles are out there, the more the motorists can see them,” Grand Supervisor for the Wisconsin Bureau of Transportation Larry Corsi said.

In 2018, there were 422 cyclists crashes in the state of Wisconsin and 34 in the North Central Wisconsin Region up to July 14. This year, there are 226 statewide and 12 regionally

There's been a 46 percent drop statewide, and a 62 percent drop in the North Central Wisconsin...
There's been a 46 percent drop statewide, and a 62 percent drop in the North Central Wisconsin region.(WSAW)

“It’s good to see the reduction in crashes even though more bikes are out there,” Corsi said.

But crashes didn’t just go down this year. They also decreased by about 40% from 2018 to 2019.

“I think there’s quite a bit of education and people are realizing that they need to be safe out there,” Corsi added.

It’s that education that the Department of Transportation and Safe Kids Wisconsin is providing to those around the state.

According to the DOT, 80-90 percent of crashes involve operator error and a third of bicycle and motor vehicle crashes are because bikes are going the wrong way.

“We try to educate the rules of the road and making sure that you’re going along with traffic and not against it,” Libbe Slavin, the injury prevention program manager at Safe Kids Wisconsin, said.

But there’s one important note. This is taking into account crashes involving vehicles, not where cyclists crash without a vehicle involved

“It’s not capturing the child or adult or whoever just falling off of the bike or potentially running into say, a tree or a telephone pole,” Slavin explained

Just 10-20% of crashes involve a motor vehicle. It’s for that reason that cyclists still need to be vigilant and use safety.

Lights, helmets, and visibility are key. But still, know that many accidents can be avoided.

“Accidents happen, but just don’t be afraid, be aware,” Nowaczyk said.

In order to be safe, Nowacyk urges cyclists to drive with traffic, make yourself visible by using a light or bright clothing, and to wear a helmet because you never know when you will need it.

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