SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The city of Sioux Falls and the state Department of Corrections are looking at ways to improve safety on the road that leads to South Dakota’s largest prison.

The city painted a bike lane and narrowed driving lanes this spring along the road to the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Sioux Falls will collect data over the next month with traffic counters to see if the changes make a difference in average speeds, the Argus Leader reported .

Warden Darin Young said he began thinking more seriously about safety last September after a teenage driver struck an inmate on a bicycle. He said that between 60 and 70 inmates on work release often face speeding drivers when they ride to and from the state prison’s Unit C every day.

“I feel responsible for the safety of everyone that’s coming on to this campus and leaving from it,” Young said.

He said that lower speeds could also make the road safer for pedestrians and drivers.

The Sioux Falls Police Department reported that there have been 50 vehicle collisions along the road over the past five years. There were no bicycle collisions on the road — the September collision happened a few blocks south of it.

Traffic engineer Heath Hoftiezer said the city uses speed studies to decide whether a lower speed limit would make a difference. Limits are generally set at the highest speed 85 percent of drivers using a road use.

“People are going to drive a stretch of road as fast as they feel comfortable driving that stretch of road,” Hoftiezer said.

The curved road’s speed limit is 35 miles per hour. Hoftiezer said that if the city finds speeds are pushing 40 miles per hour during the data collection period, then the traffic department can lower the limit.

He said he expects the city to make a decision over the next month.


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com