Are the city's new bump-outs leading to safer driving?
By Andrea Albers,2023-05-25
You don't have to look too far to find freshly poured bump-outs or curb extensions in Milwaukee, and the same is true when it comes to different opinions about the projects.
Raymond Cribb often picks two wheels over four.
"I'm a lifelong resident here," he said. "And I've been riding (a) bike for 50 some years — and I have never been as afraid (as I am now) on the street, especially at night on a bike."
He says after dark, he's had close calls.
"I've been like forced off the road and, you know, had to stop. I haven't hurt myself but there have been some scary times."
He's happy to see new infrastructure to encourage safer driving, and is in favor of speed bumps and traffic circles, but wants the city to think twice before installing more bump-outs.
On a bike, to avoid the fresh concrete, he says he's forced into a narrow space — often alongside aggressive drivers.
"This technique, of trying to stop it, is actually going to wind up with more accidents," he worries.
Cribb says he's seen reckless drivers resort to dangerous maneuvers to avoid new bump-outs that block them from passing on the far right side.
"I have seen them go into the other lane (of oncoming traffic)," he explained. "So, in a way, that could be a head-on crash — right?"
We took those concerns to the city engineer, Kevin Muhs who says there is evidence that these new projects are successful.
Milwaukee's Department of Public Works (DPW) says it has data showing reckless driving mitigation projects are changing behaviors.
"The speeding info that we have, before and after, does show a significant decrease in high rates of speeding," added Muhs.
Crash data takes longer to collect. So, DPW will continue to monitor the impact.
"We've not so far seen any significant incidents from a safety perspective that makes us think that we need to second-guess what we're doing," said Muhs.
And while city officials say they are willing to make future modifications, they want you to know, infrastructure has limits to its influence.
"If someone is going to drive into oncoming traffic — that's a significant challenge that engineering and infrastructure is going to struggle to solve no matter what we do."
If you want to be part of the conversation about reckless driving solutions, make plans to attend the next Project Drive Safer Town Hall on June 1. Click here to register.
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