FORT PIERCE, Fla. — St. Lucie County ranks in the top third of all Florida counties when it comes to serious or deadly pedestrian and bicycle crashes.
So a new partnership between police and the Department of Transportation is looking to put a dent in those numbers.
Fort Pierce police officer Daniel Femminello’s assignment on Wednesday was traffic safety, beyond the cars and trucks. He spotted Jeffrey Nickerson walking along U.S. 1.
"Black one is for the front, red one is for the back," Femminello told Nickerson, who's normally on a bike.
"I try to stay on sidewalk because I’ve seen so many accidents here on U.S. 1," Nickerson said.
This four-mile stretch north of Midway Road is where police are conducting their "Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow" high visibility enforcement effort, which runs through May.
"Drivers knowing pedestrian rights, pedestrians knowing drivers rights," Femminello said.
In the last year, there have been 14 crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists on this stretch of road, three of them fatal.
"A lot of concerns, people don’t pay attention," Nickerson said. "There isn’t a barrier between the rider and the cars."
So police are giving out bike lights and helmets, along with pamphlets outlining the rules of the road.
"With bicyclists, we want to make sure they’re following laws of road too," said Sgt. Brian McNaught. "We want to make sure when they’re out at night, they have lights affixed to their bicycle and riding with flow of traffic not against flow of traffic."
"Obviously it explains how bike lanes work," said Tom Russell, who's he’s glad for the new bike lights, especially this time of year. "It gets dark earlier. She gets off at 5 o’clock. I keep telling her we need lights for the bicycles, and now we’ve got them."