Do pedestrian deaths in Milwaukee show a pattern?

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A safe streets advocate used police data to map out pedestrian deaths in Milwaukee in 2021, and he says they show a call to action.

Jake Newborn, Assistant Director for the Wisconsin Bike Fed, sent out a tweet Wednesday, which mapped all 17 on a map of the city. His tweet posed a question, "notice a trend?"

It does appear that at least 10 of the pedestrian fatalities are either on or near State Highway 145, a section of that road is also known as Fond du Lac Avenue.

"Pedestrian injuries along Fond du Lac, Capitol are hot spots," Newborn said.

Newborn says all 17 pedestrian deaths are in predominately minority neighborhoods, a trend that is also happening nationally

"The data jumps out at you when you look at it even from a longer scale than just one year of purely fatal crashes," he said.

Many people think that reckless driving and pedestrian fatalities are linked, so we wondered if police could solve the problem, but Newborn says it is not that simple.

"They've (Milwaukee police) wrote tens of thousands of tickets within the past year or so. I don't know the number offhand, but the numbers aren't going down," he said.

Newborn says a coordinated effort from WisDOT, the city of Milwaukee, and law enforcement will be needed to make the streets safe to walk.

We reached out to Milwaukee's Department of Public Works. We were not able to set up an interview before the story aired, but spokesperson Brian DeNeve sent us this reply:

"We are aware of issues on Fond du Lac Avenue as the vast majority of the roadway south of Hampton is included in the Pedestrian High Injury Network outlined in the City’s pedestrian plan. The data is collected by MPD and released by WisDOT so we defer to them on specifics though.
Bear in mind FDL is State Trunk Highway 145, meaning any changes typically require state approval. We continue conversations with WisDOT on improvements including developing plans to remove the third lane of traffic and install bump outs between Hoyt and Glendale.
Our contribution is part of a multifaceted approach under Mayor Johnson’s S.T.A.N.D. for Safer Streets initiative."

Michael Pyritz with WisDOT also acknowledged that they will be partnering with the city on "Complete Streets" initiatives.

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