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Mass. police received grant for pedestrian safety after spate of accidents
At least 92 pedestrian accidents have occurred in Quincy this year
The Patriot Ledger
QUINCY, Mass. — Officials are ramping up their focus on pedestrian safety in the city after a rash of accidents this year, three of which have resulted in deaths.
Police have been citing drivers and conducting undercover stings posing as pedestrians, and the city council is calling for hearings on what can be done to reduce the accidents' frequency.
"Something is happening here; something is going on in the City of Quincy that is leading to fatalities," City Councilor Brian Palmucci, chairman of the public safety committee, said during Monday night's council meeting. "Until we do everything we can to explore every possible cause, every possible solution ... we're not doing enough."
After a Nov. 16 accident outside the Kam Man Marketplace on Quincy Avenue, police reported that at least 19 [ correction: 92 ] pedestrian accidents had occurred in Quincy this year. Three were fatal.
Quincy fared poorly in a state analysis, released in October, of intersection clusters with the most pedestrian accidents between 2002 and 2010. A series of accidents at the intersection of Hancock and Granite streets in Quincy Center and points north was ranked the seventh-worst cluster in the state.
"This is probably the most important public safety issue facing us," city council President Michael McFarland said.
The city launched a public education campaign about pedestrian safety earlier this year after a particularly bad January and February. On May 1, the police department received a $5,000 state grant to help pay for pedestrian safety enforcement and education.
James Fatseas, Mayor Thomas Koch's chief of staff, told the city council Monday that police stopped 242 motorists between May 1 and the expiration of the grant on Sept. 30, and that 181 citations were issued.
Fatseas said police have since kept up the enforcement at high-volume intersections. One action, he said, involves an undercover female officer pushing an empty baby carriage across a crosswalk. If a driver blows through the crosswalk without yielding, an officer positioned farther up the road stops the driver.
"We are taking this very seriously," Fatseas said.
Some city councilors called for more creative approaches. They suggested partnering with business owners to pay for safety upgrades outside their businesses, teaching safe driving practices in schools so children will impress them on their parents, and exploring luminescent signs and crosswalk treatments.
"Sometimes it takes engineering and technology, not just education and enforcement," City Councilor Douglas Gutro said.
There was discussion about whether blame for the accidents skews more toward walkers or drivers. City Councilor Kevin Coughlin said that while drivers' habits contribute, walkers are equally culpable.
"No one seems to pay attention to the fact that we have crosswalks," he said.
Copyright 2012 The Patriot Ledger