A person driving hit and killed a father riding his bike with his 15-year-old son on Friday in Caledonia. Tyler Martinez fled the scene of the fatal crash, but was later found by police after his father called them.
This is the fifth person biking who was killed by a person driving this year and the third hit-and-run. The names of the victim and the suspect haven’t been made available yet, but the most recent reports indicate the person driving had his car impounded and has been charged with hit-and-run causing death. A crash report isn’t available at this time.
The father was hit late Friday and when police arrived at the scene some good samaritans were found giving him CPR at the 5400 block of state Highway 32. He had been traveling south with his son, who was riding on the sidewalk, while he rode in the road.
The speed limit on what is also called Douglas Avenue is 45 mph, more than enough to kill a person riding their bike or a person walking on the side of the road.
Though tragedies like this continue to happen, they continue to happen less often as the years go on. At this time last year, 10 people had been hit and killed while riding bikes compared to four this year. Both injuries and fatalities from crashes like this are down significantly compared to the 1970s. It is also important to remember that biking remains a safe and healthy way to travel and recreate.
A majority of crashes occur in urban areas, unlike in this case, but a majority of deaths occur on rural roads, as in this case. It is also important to note that many fatal crashes involve alcohol. This is an issue that affects all of those who bike in our communities throughout the state. When you get into the car, make sure you are well rested, sober and store all electronic devices; be ready to give your full attention to the task of driving and look for other people on and along the roadway to help further reduce these numbers. And if you are unfortunately involved in a fatal crash or even just a crash, stay at the scene and call for help. Not stopping is a crime and can delay emergency response to the scene of the crash.
The ultimate goal of the Wisconsin Bike Federation and Share & Be Aware is to reduce fatalities to zero. We are working towards this goal by offering classes and information throughout the state through our Share & Be Aware ambassadors. They can come to schools, universities, police stations, driver’s education classes and events. The classes and information are always free.
People driving can make efforts by taking care when driving on any of our roads in Wisconsin, and by actively looking for people biking and giving them at least three feet of space whenever passing them. In turn, people biking should ride in the same direction as traffic while using hand signals to broadcast movements and can make other efforts like using lights and wearing visible clothing. The Wisconsin Bike Federation also recommends the use of helmets.
Those who are interested in learning from or working with an ambassador can reach out to the program at ShareAndBeAware.org for safety tips and free classes. Ambassadors are spread throughout the state and are often willing to do some traveling.
As a citizen of the area you can help by understanding the laws and lead by example by following the speed limit and giving space to those cycling on our roads. In Wisconsin a driver is required to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing. You can also write, call or speak with your local elected officials to support funding for cycling safety improvements.