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Bicyclists demand the city take action to make East Washington Ave. safe

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Bicyclists demand the city take action to make East Washington Avenue safe

Madison (WKOW) -- A bicyclist and a pedestrian have died on East Washington Ave. this summer, and bicyclist groups rallied Saturday to demand the city do more to protect people.

Dayna Long is with Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America and helped organize the demonstration.

"There need to be real structural changes in order to make that space safer," she said.

After recent deaths on the road, demonstrators said they don't feel safe traveling on that highway.

"I've almost been hit by cars," bicyclist Jon Zeaman said. "Middle-aged ladies driving SUVs with their knees while they're texting with both hands going right to the intersection."

East Washington is difficult to change because it's a state highway. Nonetheless, those at the rally shared their ideas to make that road safer.

"We could put in protected bike lanes," Robbie Webber, a Madison Bikes board member, said.

She also said speeding makes it hard for all people to navigate East Washington.

"Children have to cross East Washington to get to school," she said. "People who are physically disabled, have visual problems [or] are older and not able to move quickly."

MPD has stepped up enforcement but bicyclists say that's not enough.

"It's not really a policing matter," Zeaman added. "It's a structural matter."

Advocates say the city should have better traffic control measures.

"Things like narrowing streets, timing lights to slow down traffic [and] reducing the number of lanes would help," Lang Schmitt with Freewheel Bikes said.

Fewer lanes mean fewer cars on East Washington, which organizers hope will reduce the number of accidents.

"People being out there signals to drivers that this is a place where they have to slow down," Webber said. "The people who walk, bike and take transit, they're the priority on that road."

Activists said the proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) project would help reduce the number of cars traveling on the busy corridor. Construction for BRT is expected to begin in 2023 with a targeted start date of fall 2024.

27 News reached out to the mayor's office for comment on the changes activists are demanding and has not yet heard back.

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Rhonda Foxx

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