Milwaukee Is Redesigning Local Streets for Pedestrian, Biker and Driver Safety

With an uptick in pedestrian traffic, the city is making some changes.

The City of Milwaukee started its Traffic Safety Improvement Series this week. 

The Department of Public Works has selected five different streets to focus on: S. 43rd Sreet, E. Oklahoma Avenue, N. Lake Drive, W. Grantosa Drive/N. 68th Street and S. Howell Avenue. The former four streets will be restriped from four lanes to two lanes and will include new pavement markings for bike lanes, crosswalks and turn lanes. The fifth street will be restriped with narrower travel lanes, high-visibility crosswalks and bike lanes. 

DPW chose these streets because they have received a plethora of complaints about issues such as speeding, dangerous and difficult crossing and crashes according to Mike Amsden, the DPW multi-module transportation manager. Additionally, Amsden pointed out that these streets connect people to popular green spaces, which results in a high level of pedestrian traffic.

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The city hopes to complete the project by the week of Aug. 31. 

This project is meant to address community safety concerns such as speeding and reckless driving. These changes are especially important due to the uptick in pedestrian activity due to coronavirus. 

The restriping of roads, also known as a “road diet,” has been proven successful in reducing speed and the number of crashes. National research says that roads that have undergone “road diets” reduce their number of crashes by 30-40%, according to Amsden. 

In Milwaukee, restriped streets, such as North Avenue and Locust Street near the Milwaukee River, have seen a 45-70% reduction in high-end speeds. This is critical, said Amsden, as the likelihood of injury or fatality in a car crash dramatically increases when the car is moving 40 miles per hour or more. 

Amsden said that the DPW has created a Pedestrian Plan and that the department has “identified roughly 100 miles of streets that we know where serious crashes are more likely to occur” and will be focusing on those areas into the future. The Pedestrian Plan ensures that improvements take into account all users of the street: pedestrians, bikers, drivers and other forms of transportation. 

 

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Marla Hiller is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine. She is a junior at Boston University majoring in international relations and minoring in journalism