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Quincy councilors focus on pedestrian safety with renewed vigor

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  December 4, 2012 01:24 PM

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Quincy’s City Council will look at what more can be done to improve pedestrian safety in the city, after pedestrian accidents have continued to crop up all over town.

So far this year, the number of pedestrian accidents had reached 92, outnumbering the totals for 2011 (71 accidents) and 2010 (49 accidents).

Accidents have occurred “on every main road,” said Councilor Doug Gutro, and were severe and frequent enough to require immediate attention.

“People are talking about it, because it’s in all different neighborhoods, and at some point you will know somebody who was impacted,” Gutro said. “You want to make sure you’re doing all we can to have the safest city for pedestrians.”

As a result, Gutro and Councilor Brian Palmucci authored a resolution seeking to host a discussion on pedestrian safety within 45 days; hoping to review all accident reports involving pedestrians and bicycles in 2010, 2011, and 2012; and to come up with education, engineering, and enforcement ideas to ensure those numbers are reduced next year.

Quincy officials have already been trying to deal with the number of accidents in the city. In May, after the city received a $5,000 grant for pedestrian and moped safety, Quincy Police added patrols, targeting high-traffic areas and doing enforcement stings.

In those stings, police officers walked on crosswalks at a half-dozen intersections around town to see if cars stopped; many did not .

According to Jim Fatseas, chief of staff for the mayor’s office, out of 242 motorists stopped, 182 citations were given out in May.

Since then, an additional 150 citations were handed out to motorist who weren’t stopping for pedestrians within crosswalks.

“We do have teams out doing this type of enforcement. It's important to note we will continue to do these stings though the grant is up,” Fatseas said.

Yet some councilors questioned if the motorists were truly at fault.

The numbers give some support to the skepticism. Of the three fatal accidents that occurred in Quincy this year, charges are being sought in only one.

“We probably have an educational component that’s larger than we might like to acknowledge that would help us combat some of this,” said Councilor Brian McNamee, adding that he repeatedly saw pedestrians wearing black while walking about town.

Each councilor seemed to have a story of dangerous driving or pedestrian behavior, and with a jaywalking fine of $1, pedestrian behavior doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon, said Councilor Margaret Laforest.

Palmucci even suggested that if the information could be made readily available in a week, that the council meet sooner than the 45-day mandate.

“This is an issue we all think is very serious. And in my opinion this is probably the top public safety issue facing this city right now,” Palmucci said. “There are others that require long-term strategies, but this is a serious public safety issue. Literally people are dying.

"Something is happening here…that is leading to fatalities. And until we do everything in this body and this government to explore every possible cause, solution, educational measure we can take, we’re not doing enough.”

Although Palmucci complimented public safety officials on working on this issue, because the problem was still occurring, more needed to be done.

Palmucci suggested more school education. Gutro additionally recommended looking at dangerous intersections to see if there were engineering solutions, though some of that is already occurring.

Reaching out to non-English speaking Quincy residents was also a priority.

“This is a problem that impacts all in the city of Quincy. It’s an important time for us to take stock, look at the data together, and [see] what’s happened, what’s planned, and what we can do better,” Gutro said.

The body will meet in a future meeting to further discuss the issues and determine possible solutions.

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