Pedestrian deaths spike; steps being taken in Milwaukee for safer streets

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- Pedestrian deaths are rising across the country. In Wisconsin, there's been a spike of nearly 10%, according to researchers at the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The problem is all too familiar in Milwaukee. Most recently, a young man was killed crossing the street near Fiserv Forum on Sunday.

As reckless driving remains an issue across Milwaukee, experts in transportation say streets need to be redesigned and speed limits reduced.

Professor Robert Schneider works in Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He's been a traffic safety researcher for more than 20 years, specializing in pedestrian and bicycle transportation safety. 

"I have been working with a number of groups throughout the city to really explore how people perceive safety in their neighborhoods and also how the city can potentially take action to make our streets safer," said Prof. Schneider.

Data shows pedestrian fatalities are nearing the highest number in the last 40 years. Redesigning streets is a way to make roads less dangerous, given that human behavior is difficult to control, according to Schneider.

One project where this is in the works is happening near the corner of Humboldt Boulevard and Meineke, where the curb is being extended six feet. This will make for a shorter distance in the crosswalk for pedestrians and it also makes it impossible for cars on the right side to speed up and pass traffic in the left lane near the crosswalk. 

"What that also does is it narrows the roadway so that drivers feel like they should be going slower," said Schneider.

These are small but meaningful steps toward change he explained.

"It's important for us to make these safety improvements so people do feel safe out taking advantage of these opportunities for transportation and recreation," said Schneider.

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