I am terribly sorry to kick off Wisconsin Bike Week with this sad report that a 20-year-old South Milwaukee man is being held on on suspicion of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle after he hit and killed two men bicycling early Saturday morning on HWY 36 in Muskego, according to the Muskego Police Department.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting the victims were Paul Brown, 45, of Franklin, and Anthony Oliver, 54, of Oak Creek. The two were riding south on HWY 36, just past Muskego Dam Road at about 6:35 Saturday morning when they were hit by an SUV. Brown died at the scene, and Oliver died later at Froedtert Hospital.
Brown had been a Bike Fed member and both men worked at Northwestern Mutual, which has a large cycling club that makes safety education an important part of their activities. The crash remains under investigation, but according to police, both men were wearing helmets and properly positioned near the far right side of HWY 36. Police also report the driver stopped after the crash and cooperated with police at the scene.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and coworkers of both men. The crash remains under investigation by Muskego Police and the Wisconsin State Patrol crash reconstruction team. Without the MV4000 crash report or more details, we can’t say too much more, but it is telling that the driver is being held on serious charges.
I am personally very familiar with that section of road as I biked on it every morning when I headed from my Milwaukee home to work at Waterford Precision Cycles. The rumble strips on that shoulder are older and positioned in the center of the paved shoulder. Modern, more bicycle friendly fog line rumble strips are installed closer to the edge of the motor vehicle travel lane to give drivers who drift out of their travel lane an immediate warning and still leave room for bicycles to ride comfortably on the other side.
I can also testify from experience that those rumble strips on HWY 36 will really shake you up if you try to ride over them on a road bike. Again, more modern bicycle friendly rumble strips are more recessed, so they still warn drifting motorists, but people on bicycles can ride over them without loosening their fillings.
There is a crushed limestone path along HWy 36 that switches from the North side of the road to the south side at Muskego Dam Road, but it is poorly maintained and almost too soft to ride on for most people with road bikes. I occasionally road on the trail, but it was pretty slow going.
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We will keep you updated as we get more information about this tragic crash. These two deaths bring our fatal crash number to four, compared to one this time last year. Notice motor vehicle crashes are up significantly too in 2015 compared to 2014. Because we generally have 10 or fewer fatal bicycle crashes, it is too early to tell how the year will end, but this is not a good way to start the summer cycling season. Despite the statistics so far, it helps to remember that in general, bicycling is a very safe activity and it keeps getting safer every year as more people ride, as the two graphs below illustrate.
Not that in the graph above, it was common to have 30-40 fatal bicycle crashes in the 1970s and today we average around ten. We have bike lanes and education to thank for the huge reduction in fatal crashes. In fact, our Share & Be Aware Program is one of the biggest programs we run at the Wisconsin Bike Fed. Our regional S&BA staff teach classes, work with Drivers Ed instructors, and share safety information at hundreds of events around the state all summer long.
If you would like to request one of our S&BA Ambassadors for a class or to table an event, make your request online here. We can also give you free safety information to share in your community or at you employer.