Mt. Lebanon commissioners Monday night unanimously approved an ordinance that requires pedestrians to cross the street at marked crosswalks or face fines.
Commissioner John Bendel introduced the measure, designed to be part of a new “Heads Up” safety initiative aimed at pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
Police Chief Aaron Lauth said pedestrians are responsible for more than half of all accidents because of jaywalking, darting into traffic and disregarding walk signals at intersections.
Those are the people who will be targeted in an education and awareness campaign patterned after similar initiatives in Ocean City, Md., and Boulder, Colo.
“We’re hoping that a warning will lead to better behavior,” but the initiative “needs teeth” to get people to comply, the chief said.
The ordinance will be enforced through warnings at first and people should start noticing changes within weeks, Chief Lauth said.
“Ultimately, this is going to be a safe-streets campaign,” said Chief Lauth, who reminded commissioners that most of the dozen or so pedestrian accidents each year occur in the business districts of Cochran and Washington roads.
There hasn’t been a pedestrian fatality in Mt. Lebanon in about four years, Chief Lauth said, but the number of pedestrian accidents hasn’t changed much over the 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 warnings don’t do the trick, Chief Lauth believes the $25 fine — which could rise to about $300 with associated costs — will persuade pedestrians to take safety seriously.
“Walkers have a responsibility — you’re responsible for your own safety,” he said. “I think it’s a regional problem. We have a lot of pedestrian entitlement here.”
Janice Crompton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1159.
First Published February 22, 2016 10:05 PM