PUBLIC SAFETY: A town-wide campaign to better protect pedestrians moves into the educational phase tomorrow night with a Pedestrian Safety Seminar at the borough Community Center.
With the number of pedestrian accidents — and deaths — continue to rise, Chief Keith Bendul has scheduled the seminar and others like it, while his officers crack down on jaywalkers and drivers who aren’t mindful of pedestrians.
Undercover officers have been acting as “decoy pedestrians” and then ticketing motorists who don’t yield to those in crosswalks.
A third leg of the program involves enhancing crosswalk signs and signals.
But there’s more:
Using confiscated drug money, Fort Lee police have bought clip-on reflector lights for pedestrians — which can go on anything from jackets to backpacks to purses to briefcases — to make people more visible to motorists. Whistles are also available. All can be picked up at police headquarters 24/7.
For motorists, police are distributing “See for Safety” ice scrapers. As Bendul noted: “Limited vision increases the risk of the driver striking a pedestrian or another car.”
The “Be Seen, Be Safe” Pedestrian Safety Campaign has the “full support” of the mayor and council, a response to a dozen struck pedestrians – one of them killed – in the first two months of 2013, Bendul said.
This comes after a particularly nasty year for pedestrians in the town’s busy, congested commercial district near the George Washington Bridge.
A similar campaign last year led to a host of summonses.
The “Be Seen, Be Safe” campaign is focusing on what Bendul called “the Three E(s) of traffic safety:
“Community Policing Officer Kim and Traffic Bureau Officer Bialoblocki already conducted two seminars in January and in March at the Fort Lee Senior Center to educate senior residents on how to remain aware of their surroundings while walking to increase their safety,” said Bendul, who joined Traffic Supervisor Ricky Mirkovic for a building meeting on pedestrian safety last month.
Additional seminars are scheduled:
March 27 (7 p.m.): TOMORROW NIGHT — Fort Lee Community Center
April 10 (10:30 a.m.): Fort Lee Senior Center (FL Seniors only)
Police are also conducting safety seminars in the schools. Youngsters are receiving lights, blue rulers, and safety coloring books.
“Every uniformed officer is assigned a pedestrian detail or a traffic enforcement assignment on each shift,” Bendul said.
Jaywalkers will be ticketed – although, in some cases, police will issue a safety pamphlet or reflector instead, according to the chief.
Bendul also said the department “will conduct decoy pedestrian details throughout town where an officer in plain clothes will cross the street. Drivers [who] violate the statute by failing to stop for the pedestrian in the crosswalk with be stopped and [given] summonses by officers down the block.
“Individual officers in marked patrol cars, stealth cars and unmarked cars are employed in various traffic enforcement details 24/7/365.”
Working with the Fort Lee DPW, police are surveying all stop signs, pedestrian crosswalk signs, and painted crosswalks in town.
“The locations are being reviewed and compared to the collision data in an effort to identify methods to increase visibility of the signs and crosswalks,” Bendul said.
“Last year the two departments worked together on a pilot program where crosswalks were illuminated with flashing lights,” the chief added. “An expansion of this program may be implemented once the winter weather is behind us and the devices can be installed.
“With the support of the Mayor & Council, the two departments are examining installing reflective sign post covers on specific stop sign posts and pedestrian sign posts in areas where there are pedestrian volume of pedestrians or a high number of collisions.”
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