Brian Yagoda, 57, was riding his bike the evening of June 14 in the Town of Delafield when he was struck and killed by a 71-year-old driving his car in the same direction on Golf Road. So far this year, three people riding bicycles have been killed in crashes with automobiles, compared to one at this time in 2017.
The crash occurred west of Maple Avenue and both men were heading east. Yagoda was taken to Aurora Summit Hospital where he died of his injuries.
The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for a crash report. They did, however, report that the driver remained on the scene to cooperate with responding officials.
Yagoda was a pediatrician who lived in Delafield and was a husband and father. An obituary posted on Facebook received dozens of comments describing the effect he had on many families in the Waukesha area.
Without a crash report it is hard to say what exactly happened to cause the collision between Yagoda and the driver, but we do know that giving cyclists space and reducing your speed are among two of several ways to avoid tragedies like this one. Statistically, getting hit by a motor vehicle overtaking you is one of the least frequent crash types, but often results in the death of the person on the bicycle. These crashes are more likely to happen in rural or suburban areas where posted speed limits are higher, hence the higher fatality rate. Crashes happen more frequently in urban areas, but because the speed differential is typically much lower, those crashes are less likely to result in death.
When driving you are required to give cyclists three feet of space when you pass them. It is equally important to eliminate any distractions in your car.
Additionally, cyclists are required to ride as far to the right as practical, but not as far to the right as possible. Cyclists can move left to overtake traffic, prepare for a left turn and avoid dangerous conditions. When moving into a lane of traffic it is important to check for vehicles first and, when necessary, use hand signals.
This is especially important on roads with higher speeds, like Golf Road where the speed limit is 45 mph. Statistically speaking few people survive collisions when struck by vehicles traveling at 40 mph or greater.
Even though more can be done to improve safety, it is important to remember 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.