Warning lights added at McKee, bike path intersection
Drivers on McKee Road have another signal to pay attention to, though this one is focused on protecting bikers more than directing traffic.
The county and City of Fitchburg partnered to install new Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at the intersection of McKee and the Badger State Trail, a popular bike trail that leads through Fitchburg.
The lights, which sit on both sides of the road and on the median, flash when a biker or walker pushes the button to alert the system someone is going to be in the crosswalk.
“The rules of the road apply,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said at a press conference unveiling the lights. “Bicycles have right of way, cars have their rights too.”
Parisi was joined at the press conference by Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff, alder Steve Arnold and bike advocate Tom Klein, and all of them expressed excitement about the increased safety they hope the lights will bring.
The investment of $20,000 of county money follows four recently reported crashes between bicyclists and cars.
“We take bicycling very seriously in Fitchburg,” Pfaff said. “This is a serious part of Dane County’s economy and quality of life.”
Klein, the Dane County Director for the Wisconsin Bike Federation, cited statistics from preliminary installations of RRFBs around the country showing yielding by cars improving from 40 percent to 90 percent, though the numbers are still “experimental.”
“It’s important we accommodate all road users equally,” he said.
All of them advised anyone with questions to look up the state laws on crosswalks and right of way on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website.
Following the press conference, Arnold, who had biked there even through the rain Thursday morning, demonstrated the lights, with drivers on McKee responsive.
“(The lights) do not change any laws, they just alert motorists,” Arnold said.