NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WWLP) – The Northampton Police Department received a grant to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
In a news release sent to 22News, the grant was given to improve traffic safety for pedestrians and bicyclists on local roads.
According to Northampton Police Department Spokesman Sergeant Brian Letzeisen, a total of over $700,000 was awarded to 93 police departments across the Commonwealth, with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Pedestrians account for a larger proportion of traffic fatalities now than they have in the past 33 years. The rate is higher in Massachusetts with pedestrians representing more than 20% of all traffic fatalities. Bicyclists are dying at higher rates nationally.
“We’ll use crash data and community input to identify crosswalks, intersections, and roadways where our enforcement efforts can yield the largest impact on pedestrian and bicyclist safety,” Sgt. Letzeisen said.
Under the grant, departments will pay for overtime enforcement to increase compliance with traffic laws by all road users. Departments can also purchase equipment to improve the visibility of crosswalks and to buy bicycle helmets.
“Yes, we need pedestrian walkways that are flashing, that are visible, that are safe,” said Pam Porter of Heath.
Porter knows all too well how dangerous it can be to cross the street. One of her friends was hit by a car because the driver didn’t see her.
“She was walking, she was trying to cross the street, it was not lit up,” Porter explained. “It was in the evening, it was very hard for the driver to see. Her life has completely changed from that experience.”
Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016 across the country. In Massachusetts, pedestrians represent more than 20 percent of all traffic deaths.
“I could also see a few blinking lights would help in places there aren’t any,” Porter added.
Departments are also eligible to purchase equipment to enhance the visibility of crosswalks.