Earlier this year, the Transportation Research Record published the article, Linking Police and EMS Records: An Approach to Strengthen Bicyclist Injury Reporting. Civiltech Transportation Planner Josie Willman was included as a co-author on this important study. The study explored the value of linking police-reported crash data with emergency medical services (EMS) data, with the base understanding that bicyclist injuries are underreported in police crash databases.

The study was conducted in partnership with Dr. Robert Schneider, a Professor in Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and Dr. Stephen Hargarten at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). After a period of collaborative reviews, the paper was accepted and published. Dr. Hargarten and Dr. Schneider presented the findings in Washington DC at the 2023 Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference in January 2023.

Josie provided research and “data crunching” in 2019 while in graduate school at UWM. In 2022, when the research was concluded and article written, Josie helped review the narrative and refresh graphics.

Josie said that working with such large data sets can sometimes make it easy to lose site that each crash point is an actual person, and any crash experience, especially for more severe crashes, can impact a person’s life in so many ways that are not conveyed in an aggregated database. However, in recognizing that fact, you realize how these studies actually have the potential to positively impact people’s lives. Also, she stated that it was interesting to work with Dr. Hargarten, a medical physician, researcher, and professor, who brought a unique perspective in conjunction with the research and knowledge of Dr. Schneider, an expert in the active and sustainable transportation field.

The main takeaway from the study for practitioners is that the bicycle crash data we use every day in our jobs to inform engineering and planning safety treatment recommendations or improvements is incomplete (and likely true for pedestrian crashes). We are not getting the full picture of the situation, especially for more severe bicycle injuries. However, EMS/hospital databases have the potential to fill some of the gaps that exist in police crash databases.

Prior to this research, Josie had conducted multimodal research and co-authored another published article with Dr. Schneider and partnered with the Office of Sustainability to perform various analyses. Josie also interned with the Planning Department at Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), where she assisted in the development and outreach for MCTS Next, the agency’s system redesign effort, and helped develop MCTS’s first bus stop design guide and service guidelines.

A link to the article is here: