‘That’s not for us’: Safety ambassador encourages Madison Latinos to start bicycling | Politics and Elections

Bicycling changed Baltazar De Anda Santana’s life. For one thing, he stopped living in fear of being pulled over with an expired driver’s license. Plus, he lost 95 pounds.

But as an immigrant originally from Mexico, he doesn’t see many people who look like him on Madison’s famous system of bike trails, and he wants to change that.

De Anda Santana is an ambassador for Share and Be Aware program from the Wisconsin Bike Federation. Share and Be Award is a statewide campaign that offers presentations and classes in English and Spanish about biking, driving and walking safely.

De Anda Santana’s particularly passionate about bringing this message to the local Latino community, which he says is uninformed about the city’s bike trails and may be unfamiliar with local traffic rules.

“I am excited bringing this message to the Spanish-speaking community in Madison,” he said. “It’s for me, very, very important that education is available to everybody.”

Wisconsin is facing a “pedestrian fatality epidemic,” said Jessica Wineberg, program director of Share and Be Aware. So far in 2017, there have been 43 pedestrian deaths in Wisconsin, significantly higher than the 27 that died by this point in 2016. And immigrants are at a higher risk of becoming crash victims in pedestrian and bike crashes, according to a 2012 study looking at New York neighborhoods, Wineberg said.

Sometimes that’s because they may not know the local traffic rules, she said. That was true for De Anda Santana, who said that in Mexico, “pedestrians are not very well respected.”

“When I first came to this country, people never said, ‘Hey, this is how you need to cross the street,’” he said.

So De Anda Santana offers safety presentations around…

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