Police conduct pedestrian safety campaign
Police conduct pedestrian safety campaign
Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri said he doesn’t know whether it’s gratifying or horrifying that officers in his department wrote 62 tickets in five hours during a February pedestrian crosswalk sting.
The department is stepping up its efforts to make sure pedestrians cross Alameda’s streets safely and to let the public know the department takes pedestrian safety seriously, and the periodic stings are one of several strategies it’s employing. Other efforts will include safety messages on the department’s Twitter account and Facebook page, a poster contest for Alameda’s students and “May You Arrive Safely,” a safety walk scheduled for May 3.
“At some point, motorists have to be responsible for what they’re doing. But as a public safety agency, we do have a duty to educate people,” Rolleri said.
Rolleri said the department’s efforts are part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness about pedestrian safety rules in order to combat vehicle pedestrians with collisions. The department has investigated about 40 such collisions over each of the past few years, and eight in just the first month of 2014.
Of the 41 pedestrian collisions the department investigated in 2013, drivers in 36 were found to be at fault, 26 of them for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
“In a perfect scenario, we wouldn’t have pedestrian collisions or crosswalk violations,” he said.
The city has engaged in a range of efforts to make its streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrian safety improvements are in the works for Park Street and at two schools – Encinal High School and Will C. Wood Middle School – as is a dedicated cycle track along much of the Island’s shore. Even Mayor Marie Gilmore has gotten in on the act, starring in a pedestrian safety public service announcement that’s airing at the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex.
Police told The Alamedan in 2013 that they were preparing to add motorcycle officers who could help broaden the department’s effort to enforce pedestrian safety laws and also, some additional crossing guards for schools.
For the stings, police are sending decoys into crosswalks where collisions have occurred as drivers approach. Drivers who stop for the pedestrians “pass,” Rolleri said; those who honk at the decoy or drive through as they’re crossing “fail” and are ticketed, he said. So far, the decoys have been sent through crosswalks at Park and Webster streets, he said; data provided by the department show those streets were where many of last year's collisions occurred. Additional enforcement efforts will also be conducted in some school zones, he said.
While the enforcement effort is focused on schooling drivers, Rolleri said he hopes pedestrians and cyclists will take some lessons away from the department’s safety effort too. (In 2013, The Alamedan documented unsafe conditions perpetuated by drivers and pedestrians at Henry Haight Elementary School.) All too often, Rolleri said, he sees pedestrians focused on their cell phones as they cross the street, instead of traffic.
“I’d like for people to be safe,” he said.
The safety walk will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 3. Participants can start the walk at either of Alameda’s two ferry terminals, and it will end at City Hall. Registration for the event is free, and is being conducted online.
The Alameda Police Department is offering the following safety rules and tips for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Slow down in school zones. Traditionally, during the school year, parents and children have daily routines and become rushed. Many times they leave for school late and are rushing to drop their kids off at school so they too can get to work on time. When you realize this is what you’re doing, take that opportunity to remind yourself to drive slowly and safely to your destination. Plan the next day to start 15 minutes earlier.
Watch for crosswalks and crossing guards on your path of travel. Remember – when pedestrians are crossing the street, ALL vehicles must yield the right of way until the pedestrians are a safe distance away. Pay attention to the directions given by the crossing guards. You must remain stopped when the “STOP” paddle is displayed.
Pedestrians must enter a crosswalk only when it is safe to do so. Adults can teach and model the proper way to do this for their children. Even if your child does not walk to school on a normal basis, having proper instruction from an adult will help keep them safe when they do start.
Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving.
Enter school zones on full alert. Be on the lookout for children running into traffic from between parked cars. Be aware of all pedestrian traffic when entering and exiting driveways, particularly the ones that lead in and out of schools. When you approach a school bus that is stopping, or has stopped, watch for flashing bus lights and extended bus “STOP” signs. Passing a bus with its red lights flashing or “STOP” sign extended is against the law.
When a bicycle is ridden on the roadway, the rider of the bike must follow all of the same rules that a motor vehicle driver must follow. It is recommended that cyclists entering a crosswalk walk, rather than ride, their bike through the crosswalk. Even though the law requires all riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet, it is highly recommended that all riders wear one.