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Reengineering streets could help curb reckless driving in Milwaukee

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Improving street design can help guide drivers to behave more responsibly.

Road safety is one of the top issues facing Milwaukeeans today. Reckless driving has been on the rise, endangering pedestrians, cyclists and drivers themselves. The City of Milwaukee is looking at a number of solutions, including reinvigorating driver education programs, but one of the main solutions is looking at the streets themselves — improving street design to help guide drivers to behave more responsibly.

"It reduces the speed that people travel on any given street," says Rob Schneider, a professor of urban planning at UW-Milwaukee.

He continues, "If you imagine a street that has four lanes and a higher speed limit and very wide lanes that people just feel like they can drive very fast on, versus a much narrower two-lane street that may have things like curb extensions or median islands to help provide more access for pedestrians to cross it, maybe it has bike lanes or even protected bike lanes that are on the other side of on-street parking or raised up from the roadway surface then at the sidewalk level. All those types of of pedestrian or bicycle facilities on a narrower roadway can make drivers feel like they should be driving slower."

Currently, deaths caused by reckless driving on are on the rise in Milwaukee. Schneider points to the Vision Zero Resolution as a way of looking at these deaths differently.

"We shouldn’t accept a system that we’ve developed that does result in people dying simply trying to cross the street or simply driving to the grocery store," he says.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson signed onto the Vision Zero Resolution earlier this year, and Schneider says the City of Milwaukee has already begun testing different engineering solutions to curb reckless driving on artillery roads throughout the city.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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