Traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in Madison decreased by 17% in 2021 and 13% in 2022, according to a study conducted by the Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study tracked the number of serious injuries and fatalities in Madison since 2019.
The pandemic led to a drastic surge in traffic accidents, according to the study.
The Madison Common Council implemented the “Vision Zero” initiative in 2020 to improve traffic safety, especially as the city’s population is expected to increase by 43,000 between 2010 and 2040. Emphasizing local public health and the needs of city residents, Vision Zero reforms failing structures that pose safety risks to both drivers and pedestrians.
City of Madison Traffic Engineer Yang Tao said Vision Zero will continue operating this year.
“In 2023, the City will continue to take a systematic approach to improve traffic safety, including engineering, speed management, education and enforcement measures,” Tao said in an email.
Ultimately, the city said improvement projects will optimize safety. Projects may include increasing visibility with better signage or road markings, altering roads to control speed, upgrading bike paths and crosswalks and facilitating the accessibility of pedestrian modes of transit.
Currently underway is a project on Atwood Avenue to construct new walking and bike paths along frequented roadways.
Tao said the city takes into account concerns from residents when deciding which areas to improve.
“All resident concerns are taken into consideration when we develop improvement projects,” Tao said. “We also developed a new program called Safe Streets Madison to help address and prioritize residents' requests.”
Collaborating with the city’s engineering division, Safe Streets Madison provides a forum for local residents to voice suggestions for traffic-control and safety. Similarly, the program “Let's Talk Streets” aims to engage residents, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods, about streets or intersections that cause traffic safety concerns, providing direct input to the city on which specific locations most require changes, according to the city.
In December 2022, the Common Council also passed the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) ordinance. The TDM aims to increase accessibility to rideshare, biking and public transport options to reduce the number of individually-operated vehicles on the road.
Reflecting on last week’s project update, Tao said Madison’s road to safety is not over.
“Even with this promising data, there is much more work to be done,” he said. “We will not stop working till we reach our goal of zero preventable fatalities and serious injuries.”