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Downtown La Crosse to increase bike, pedestrian safety

An $87,000 grant from Wisconsin's Department of Transportation will help fund safety improvement measures in downtown La Crosse. The money has been earmarked to make our streets and sidewalks safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Last year alone, two pedestrians were killed and four others were seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents.

Avid bike riders attended a La Crosse Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan workshop on Saturday. Citizens were able to identify several roads and traffic patterns that could use improvements to make them more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Reducing the number of accidents was a priority, particularly in the downtown area where bikes are not allowed on the sidewalks and there are no bicycle lanes available.

Crossing Losey Boulevard safely is extremely difficult and a hot spot for accidents. While many tout La Crosse as bicycle-friendly, our city planner admitted the trails and lanes are somewhat disjointed. Adding safety improvements like adding bicycle lanes to Monitor and Clinton Streets were also suggested.

In some municipalities, the addition of bike lanes on city streets means additional police interaction. No longer able to get by with an abbreviated report for bike or pedestrian accidents, some cities now require police officers to investigate and file complete accident reports whenever bicycles are involved in any moving vehicle accident. The authorities do not often take bike or pedestrian accidents very seriously unless a victim has sustained a life-threatening injury.

According to current Wisconsin statutes, the bicycle is actually defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists are operators of vehicles and subject to the same rights and duties as the drivers of any over vehicle.

Source: News8000.com, "City works to make streets safer for bikers and walkers," Pauleen Le, April 14, 2012

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