Alder Brian Benford
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Benford’s Updates
East Washington International Speedway! Redux
Hello Friends and Neighbors
I hope that you are well and finding joy. I was woken early Friday morning by a text from the Madison Police Department saying that a bicyclist was struck and killed on East Washington Ave. The second death in two weeks. For the last year I have jokingly called our main thoroughfare into Madison, East Washington Avenue International Speedway. There is nothing funny about people losing their lives to reckless driving behaviors. Having lived on the Avenue for over 25 years, I have never witnessed such reckless speeds, bone jarring noise and thoughtless driving as I am seeing every day, especially weekend nights.
I believe that the Vision Zero campaign to stop all traffic fatalities by 2030 is vital step in a multi-pronged approach to make our streets safer. With East Washington Avenue, sooner than later, ultimately we need to redesign the Avenue to alleviate unsafe speeds and behaviors. Being a state highway, the Wisconsin DOT, along with funding considerations, hinders our ability as a city to make immediate changes; like adding hundreds more trees, bump outs, enhance pedestrian crossings, better timed traffic signals, and additional signage to help create a culture shift in current and future driver's behaviors.
As a new driver growing up in Fort Atkinson WI, I, like many local, small town youth, cruised to Madison to drive around the "big city." In the 1970's, we use to drive up and down the Avenue (two lanes at the time) and loop around the Capitol and State Street (yes State Street was open for traffic, and I am getting old). Before the current crop of Fast and Furious wannabees, the cruising culture didn't give points for drag racing, the longest wheelie or ear shattering exhausts. Additionally, new development along East Washington has created a canyon effect- where noise echoes all the way down the Avenue from the Square. Much has changed since the 70's but it appears that small town living is just as boring now as it was then, and there is still that draw to the big city.
And there is the issue of enforcement. I would suggest that even if we added an army of police officers (which I am not suggesting), we might see dramatic impacts on driving behaviors initially, but until we redesign street elements along the Avenue, we will not see the culture change that will truly make our Avenue safe. I had asked on social media if there might be other neighbors on the Avenue that would join me in direct actions that we can do collectively. If interested, please write to me a email@example.com and you can join others that are deeply concerned.
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