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Milwaukee has made significant investments in our city infrastructure to make it safer, more convenient and more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists to get around. From larger projects like pedestrian scale harp lights and more greenery in business districts to curb extensions that shorten the crossing distance and even simple in-street "Yield to Pedestrians" signs, Milwaukee DPW considers the safety of pedestrians on every project we do and is responsive to the needs of our varied residential neighborhoods and vibrant business districts alike.
These engineering and construction improvements fall into two basic catagories: streetscaping and traffic calming. Streetscaping emphasizes improving the experience of pedestrians in business districts with enhancements such as better lighting, more trees, planters for flowers, attractive stamped and colored concrete, benches and other things that encourage people to walk and shop.
Traffic calming projects are designed to create streets that where cars travel at the speed limit and that are easier and safer for people to cross. Residential neighborhoods often request traffic calming to reduce speeding in areas where children play and quiet is appreciated. But businesses have been asking for traffic calming more and more as higher percentages of people park once and shop by foot. Brady Street is a good example of such a business district that has requested both extensive traffic calming and streetscaping projects.
The photo above shows an in-street yield to pedestrians sign on Brady Street at Astor. These signs are only put on two-lane roads at unsignalized intersections at crosswalks with a high volume of pedestrian traffic. These signs are becoming increasingly in demand because they are quite effective. A recent before and after study conducted in Whitefish Bay by Bay Ridge Consulting found yield rates increased 34% after the signs were put in. And those yield rates rose each year for three years, meaning the signs become more effective over time. Although they are very effective, the signs tend to get hit often and need regular replacement. They also need to be removed for snow plowing.
The photo at the right illustrates two curb bump-outs at Arlington and Brady Streets. These serve to shorten the crossing distance and make pedestrians more visible to motorists. The curb extensions also reduce the ability of drivers to use the parking lane as a passing or travel lane when there are few parked cars. Milwaukee has installed many such curb bump-outs because they are proven to be effective. They are now part of "Streetscaping 101" as Alderman D'Amato likes to say, but they are best done as part of a larger street reconstruction project because the cost to retrofit them is quite high.
If you have questions about a possible streetscaping or traffic calming project in your neighborhood or business district, contact your alderman or the City Engineer's office at 286-2400.