Arya Vaughn, 4, of Oshkosh was the second person to be struck a killed by a driver while riding their bike this year. The collision occurred May 3 in the 1300 block of South Park Ave. Last year at this time there were no fatal motor vehicle crashes with bicycles.
According to the Oshkosh Police Department, drugs and alcohol were not likely a factor in the crash. The person driving was not identified but did give a blood sample to the police. The department found there was no criminal nature to the crash, but a crash report is not available at this time.
What is known is that the speed limit on the road is 35 mph and the child entered the street accidentally while being supervised by a parent. She was a student at Richard’s School of the Dance and is survived by both parents, her brother and her grandparents. Her funeral service was held May 9.
It is important to remember that the young and the elderly are especially vulnerable on our roadways. In areas where families are present, it is important to drive slow and pay close attention to the road as well as those both on and near it. Though the exact nature of this crash isn’t known, it has always been clear that slower speeds can save lives.
There is a growing international movement for reducing posted and statutory speed limits in residential neighborhoods to 25mph or even lower. Speed limits are set by state statute, so local communities cannot reduce posted speed limits below 25mph unless state law is changed.
In 2013, a multi-year campaign by Washington Bikes led to the passage of a state law that gave local governments more control of regulating traffic speeds on their streets. Thanks to that effort, in 2016 Seattle was able to lower its default speed limit on neighborhood streets to 20 mph.
Wisconsin’s statutory speed limits that apply when not otherwise posted are as follows:
- 15 miles per hour: Within a school zone (or school crossing) when children and/or a crossing guard are present, in an alley, or passing a safety zone where a bus has stopped to load or unload.
- 25miles per hour: On residential streets.
- 35 miles per hour: In outlying parts of cities or villages, or semi-urban districts outside cities or villages.
- 55 miles per hour: On any highway or freeway in Wisconsin, except on multi-lane freeways and expressways posted for 65 or 70 miles per hour.
- 65 miles per hour: On rural interstate highways, and some posted freeways and expressways. Look for speed limit signs.
- 70 miles per hour: On some posted freeways and expressways. Look for speed limit signs.
Other reminders about speed, according to Wisconsin Statute – (see §346.57):
- Speed limits represent the maximum allowable speed for the roadway in question.
- A driver is required to drive a “reasonable and prudent” speed at all times, particularly when navigating potential hazards and road conditions. Examples include inclement weather, curves, hills, intersections, presence of pedestrians and bicycles, construction zones, and many more. If a motorist is involved in a crash when such hazards (or road conditions) are present, an investigating officer mayissue a citation, if it is determined the motorist was driving too fast for conditions.
- A driver cannot exceed the speed limit to pass another vehicle.
The Wisconsin Bike Fed is considering a campaign to ask the state legislature to allow local communities to reduce the speed limit on residential streets to 20mph.
Even with room for improvement, it is important to remember to cycling remains a safe and healthy activity. The rate of cyclist deaths in Wisconsin has declined significantly since 1970.
The ultimate goal of the Wisconsin Bike Federation and Share & Be Aware is to end fatalities on our roads. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to worry about any road users dying while recreating or traveling. 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. With your help we can protect daughters, brothers, mothers, fathers and everyone else.