‘We have a long way to go’: Madison officials start Bike Week on somber note after fatal crash

MADISON, Wis. — The City of Madison kicked off Bike Week Tuesday, though the celebration was dampened by a fatal crash that occurred just hours before.

A bicyclist was killed after a woman allegedly hit him with her vehicle, Madison police officials said. The woman was arrested and faces charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

RELATED: Cyclist killed in fatal crash on Mineral Point Road

For city officials, who are looking to make Madison more accessible for bicyclists, the crash was a sign that there’s more work to do.

“Although Madison has made strides, we have a long way to go,” Madison Bikes board member Robbie Webber said. “But I do want to acknowledge that things have gotten so much better in Madison in the last 25 years.”

Officials said they are concerned about high safety ratings being given to large vehicles. Specifically, officials took issue with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to give five-star safety ratings to larger SUVs.

“The vehicles on our roads are getting bigger and heavier,” Madison Traffic Division’s Yang Thao said. “There should be safety considerations given to people outside the vehicles as well when safety ratings are given.”

Still, officials including Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway hailed bikes as a great way to travel and pledged to take steps to make things safer.

“We are committed to building a bike network that reaches the entire city,” Rhodes-Conway said. “We are addressing gaps in that network to improve usability of the system.”

Rhodes-Conway said that Madison is one of just five cities in the U.S. recognized as a Platinum Biking Community and touted multiple projects that the city has completed to help bicyclists, including the Madison Bike Center. She also reiterated the city’s Vision Zero efforts.

“The City of Madison and myself, personally, are committed to eliminating serious and fatal crashes on our streets,” she said. “We’re committed to making streets safer for bikers and for everyone.”

RELATED: Two years after launching plan, Madison officially part of Vision Zero Network

Madison Bikes still has plenty of events planned for Bike Week. You can find a calendar on their website.