Crossing the street in Mt. Lebanon may soon be a little safer if a proposed ordinance is approved in two weeks.
Commissioners Tuesday approved the first reading of a bill that would amend current regulations by requiring pedestrians to cross the street at marked crosswalks and provides penalties and fines of between $5 to $300 for scofflaws.
Commissioner John Bendel introduced the measure, which commissioners are expected to vote on Feb. 22.
Police Chief Aaron Lauth recommended the changes as part of an initiative to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
"Right now, we don't have the ability to cite pedestrians, especially in the business districts, unless they cause a crash," said Chief Lauth, who wants to prevent jaywalking and people darting out into the street between parked cars.
The ordinance would be enforced through warnings in the beginning and the municipality will launch an educational and awareness campaign similar to the "Walk Smart" campaign started in Ocean City, Md.
That initiative uses education, enforcement and engineering to decrease the number of pedestrian accidents. The city partners with schools and businesses to deliver its message through the use of billboards, restaurant place mats, signs and other forms of advertising.
"We really want to try to get the word out," said Chief Lauth, who added there are about a dozen pedestrian accidents each year in Mt. Lebanon. Most of them occur at the business district on Washington and Cochran roads. Pedestrians and drivers are equally responsible for most accidents, he said. There hasn't been a pedestrian fatality in about four years.
"The number of vehicle-passenger injuries has gone down over the years thanks to technology, but pedestrian injury and death rates have stayed flat," Chief Lauth said.
If the measure is approved, Chief Lauth said, pedestrians should start noticing changes soon.
"We're looking to have a huge public information campaign," he said.
Janice Crompton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1159.