Case Studies

Wisconsin: Train Officers

In 2007, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation updated its bicycle-training program for law-enforcement officers, which had been created in 1995 through a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant, to include pedestrian statutes and crash-prevention techniques. The course is designed to give law- enforcement officers the basic knowledge, tools, and resources to create safe walking and bicycling environments in their districts. The two-day course includes classroom, walking, and on-bike components, and is taught by staff of the transportation-consulting firm WE BIKE. Topics covered include definitions, state laws and statutes relating to pedestrian and bicycle safety, the causes of common crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists, how to investigate and report those crashes, sample enforcement guidelines and actions, as well as relevant organizations and contacts. All training participants also receive a manual summarizing the course materials. Training costs are currently covered by an NHTSA grant, but the program hopes to be self- sustaining through course fees.

A challenge of the program, however, is finding police departments with enough staff and resources to be able to spare officers for two days in order to attend these trainings. As a result, WisDOT and the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin created 10-minute training sessions for law-enforcement officers as part of their recent “Share & Be Aware” Campaign for road safety (which was funded by the federal Transportation Enhancements program). These 10-minute trainings will be given during police precinct roll calls either by Share & Be Aware bicycle ambassadors or through DVD presentations.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.