More patrols to watch pedestrians, bicyclists

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 31, 2016

The West Palm Beach Police Department will have extra patrols around the city to make sure pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers follow the rules of the road and the sidewalk.

The agency did a study between 2012 and July of 2015 on crashes involving pedestrians, bicyclists and cars.

Between 2012 and July of 2015, nearly 400 pedestrians and bicyclists were injured in crashes with cars.

Eight people died in that time frame due to crashes.

The police department found the hot spots for crashes were along South Dixie Highway, Broadway, Okeechobee Boulevard and downtown West Palm Beach.

Ryan Secord is a traffic homicide investigator with the police department.

He said the city received a $22,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transporation to help make the streets of the city safer.

"When a big vehicle hits you, whether you're a bicyclist or pedestrian, the likelihood of being injured is  a lot higher," Ryan said.

Ryan said that officers will be out looking for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who aren't following the law.

"If you're riding your bike on the sidewalk, you have to follow the rules of a pedestrian. You have to give the right of way to other people on the sidewalks," he said.

While the law says that those 16 and younger need to wear helmets, he encourages everyone to do so.

"The head is what impacts the windshield. The sudden stop of your body going into that windshield. With that helmet, you're still likely going to be injured at some point but it puts that extra layer of protection around the head," Ryan said.

He added that pedestrians don't have to always cross the street at a crosswalk, but when they do cross they need to be aware of traffic.

"People, instead of going to a crosswalk, will slip between a couple cars on the side of the street into the path of a car. Hopefully that car is paying attention and doesn't strike the individual," he said.

The extra enforcement will last through May 30, and will happen in phases.

The first phase involves education. Officers will hand out educational pamphlets to let people know the laws.

Next, officers will issue warnings for those they find breaking the law.

Lastly, West Palm Beach Police officers will give tickets to violators.

The goal is to lower the number of injuries among pedestrians and bicyclists.

"By making the streets safer, we'll have  a better chance of not having anybody get hurt," Ryan said.