Bicycle, Pedestrian Safety Program Announced
MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey this week announced the beginning of a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Awareness and Enforcement Program to reduce the number of crashes involving bicycles and pedestrians and enhance safe travel.
The program in the first year will provide a total of $461,851 in federal highway safety funding to support partnerships with Regional Planning Agencies, local officials and police departments in 12 communities statewide, with additional communities to be included in future years. The initial 12 communities were identified based upon several factors, including the highest number of reported non-motorist crashes per capita and high proportion of trips made by bicycles and walking.
This initiative responds to MassDOT's 2013 Healthy Transportation Policy Directive to dramatically increase transportation by walking, cycling, and public transit and the State Highway Safety Plan goal of reducing fatalities and injuries by 20% in five years.
"We have made safe travel regardless of transportation mode a priority, and we have work to do on many fronts," said Secretary Davey. "We seek greater awareness among the traveling public to create a share-the-road approach and heightened enforcement of the rules of the road, and we must invest strategically in smart infrastructure choices that improve safety. This program will combine these efforts in coordination with our state, regional and local partners."
The Bicycle and Safety Awareness and Enforcement Program will provide funds for stepped-up enforcement and increased involvement with police departments regarding pedestrian and bicycle issues. Citations and warnings issued to drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians would be used to increase safe travel and to gather important information and feedback about local infrastructure issues. Examples could include using feedback from traffic stops, citations and warnings to identify trouble spots, such as poor lighting at intersections or lack of pedestrian or bicycle crosswalk protection.
The program will include a comprehensive awareness campaign targeted at all motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Outreach will be provided about changes in transportation infrastructure and policy, such as the introduction of sharrows, bike boxes, bike lanes, and pedestrian countdowns. Police and local officials will distribute “Sharing the Road” guides, along with additional training materials developed by the state Department of Public Health working with MassBike and WalkBoston. Awareness materials will include information on rules of the road, new signs, signals and other equipment related to bicycles and pedestrians, safety tips, and health benefits of walking and biking. MassDOT’s Safe Routes to Schools program will include bicycle and pedestrian safety awareness and training in schools, in addition to a video competition aimed at the high school age students.
Feedback from enforcement and awareness will allow for identification of infrastructure improvements that are needed to improve safe travel for all modes in each community. MassDOT will assist local communities to make the infrastructure improvements in future years.
The 12 communities participating in the program this year include the following:
Brockton, Cambridge, Fall River, Haverhill, Lynn, New Bedford, Newton, Pittsfield, Quincy, Salem, Somerville, Watertown