Whitefish Bay, WI Community-Wide Safety Improvements

The Village of Whitefish Bay is an active community near Milwaukee, WI with a population of approximately 14,000. Since 2010, the Village had been experiencing a trend of increasing crashes, including numerous right-angle collisions, run-off-the-road incidents, and many crashes involving non-motorists. In 2015, a woman was killed when a vehicle was rear-ended and pushed into a crosswalk.

Prior to the fatal crash, the Village had been evaluating safety improvement strategies. In 2015, many were set into motion. First, the Village implemented low-cost treatments to make an immediate impact on safety and change the driving culture to be more aware of the presence of – and need to yield to – pedestrians and bicyclists. Improvements included installing dynamic speed feedback signs, supplementing “yield here to pedestrian” signs with $250 fine plaques, and placing the “yield here” signs in advance of crosswalks.

Longer-term design solutions were intended to solidify the safety improvements, and many were financed through federal aid assistance via the Highway Safety Improvement Program and designed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Innovative improvements included a “Danish Offset” pedestrian crossing (first deployed in Denmark, the path of the crossing is offset to enable pedestrians to more directly observe oncoming vehicles), high-friction surface treatment on urban curves, leading pedestrian intervals at signals, and rectangular rapid flashing beacons placed before crosswalks located near curves. Additionally, both systemic and targeted safety solutions were implemented throughout the community, including improved street lighting, updated signal equipment and timing, and high-visibility crosswalks.

Since 2015, crashes community wide have been reduced 39 percent, and all signs point to the downward trend continuing. The cumulative five-year impact is an estimated 257 fewer law enforcement responses, 480 vehicles not damaged, and eight pedestrians or bicyclists spared from being struck by vehicles.

Agency: Village of Whitefish Bay, WI

Project Contacts: John Edlebeck, P.E., Public Works Director
Email: j.edlebeck@wfbvillage.org

Additional Information

FHWA Associate Administrator for Safety Cheryl Walker presented the Village of Whitefish Bay, WI with their Award during the virtual ceremony October 6th.