County Partners with City of Fitchburg to Improve Cyclist, Motorist Safety Along Heavily Traveled Intersections of Badger State Bike Trail
October 17, 2013
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive’s 2014 Budget Includes $1.3 Million for Development of New Off-Road Trails
The county is partnering with the City of Fitchburg to increase safety for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists at two heavily traveled intersections of the Badger State Trail at County Highways PD (McKee Road) and M, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.
The need for increased safety measures come in the wake of four reported crashes at the intersection of the Badger State Trail and McKee Road, including one incident of a crossing cyclist being struck by a vehicle that passed to the left of a stopped car. McKee Road is a four lane divided road with a posted speed limit of 40 mph.
The other intersection, CTH M, is a two lane road with a posted speed limit of 55 mph that sees an average daily traffic count of 6,800 cars. Traffic that is sure to increase as more commuters use CTH M as a detour around the ongoing multi-year Verona Road construction project.
“With more people choosing to travel by bike, the need for safety measures for cyclists and motorists has increased,” said Parisi. “This investment will create a safe crossing for everyone who shares these heavily traveled routes, and will help raise awareness for the rules of the road throughout Dane County.”
“Today marks an even better day to bike in Fitchburg,” said Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff, “Bicycle and pedestrian safety is a top issue in Fitchburg and we’re proud to be part of a solution that improves safety for all users including bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.”
The intersections at McKee Road and M have been outfitted with innovative, highly visible safety signage called Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs). The RRFBs will allow those traveling the Badger State Trail on foot or bike to signal to motorists when they’d like to cross with the push of a button, similar to a crossing signal at a stop light.
Once the crossing button is pushed, the RRFBs will flash in a pattern similar to that of lights on emergency vehicles. Drivers will see the flashing lights, know that a cyclist or pedestrian is trying to cross the road, and slow to a stop to let them pass safely.
RRFBs are proven safety enhancements. Studies have shown that RRFBs improve compliance to “yield to pedestrian” laws, increase visibility and awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists who wish to cross the street, and clearly communicate with approaching motorists that there may be someone in the marked crosswalk when the beacons are flashing.
The introduction of RRFBs does not change the rules of the road for any user. Cyclists and pedestrians must still watch for traffic to slow down or yield, before entering the crosswalk. Motorists must still yield to cyclists and pedestrians who are in the crosswalk.
For more detailed information about RRFBs and how they work, please see the “RRFB Frequently Asked Questions” flyer on the City of Fitchburg’s website: www.city.fitchburg.wi.us.
The increased safety measures were made possible through $20,000 in funding from the county, and funding from the City of Fitchburg.
Increasing safety for everyone who shares the county’s roads remains a priority for Dane County. The County Executive’s recently released 2014 budget includes $1.3 million for the creation of additional off-road pedestrian and bike trails next year.
In partnership with the Town of Westport, Village of Waunakee, and City of Middleton, the County Executive’s budget includes $350,000 in county dollars to develop a new off-road trail north of Lake Mendota, parallel to Highway M. There have been safety concerns with current on road bike facilities, and a cyclist was tragically killed on this stretch of road last summer.
In early 2013, the County Executive announced one of the largest land acquisitions in the county’s history, more than 450 acres south of Verona along the Sugar River. Parisi’s 2014 budget includes $300,000 to build a new trail from the north end of the property south to Paoli, winding along 2.5 miles of the Sugar River.
The County Executive’s budget also includes $600,000 for the county’s share of developing the next phase of the Lower Yahara Trail linking the southeast side of Madison to McFarland and Stoughton. With federal and state support for this project, construction can start in 2014.
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