GR surveys residents on pedestrian safety

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids says the first phase of its pedestrian safety campaign found the majority of people say they are acting safely when they’re crossing the road.

Over 351 hours between Aug. 24 and Sept. 7, officers in nine enforcement zones stopped 2,077 vehicles as part of the campaign. They gave warnings and educated drivers about pedestrian safety laws. A survey was also conducted to gage the public’s awareness of pedestrian safety laws.

Sixty percent of the 376 greater Grand Rapids residents surveyed said they considered themselves “very familiar” with rules drivers must follow when encountering pedestrians. Only 40 percent considered themselves “very familiar” with the rules pedestrians must follow.

Seventy percent of respondents said they know pedestrians should walk against traffic if they must walk in the road. However, 30 percent still thought walking with the flow of traffic like a bicycle is also correct.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed “strongly” or “somewhat agree” that Grand Rapids’ walking infrastructure is adequate.

Ninety-three percent of those surveyed said they use sidewalks when available. Ninety-seven percent said they look both ways before crossing a road. However, other safety behaviors are less universal: Only 72 percent said they always or usually make eye contact with a driver before crossing a road.

“This was a great first step in our ongoing effort to create a culture of respect for all road users, pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers,” Grand Rapids Traffic Safety Manager Chris Zull said in a statement Monday.

He said the information gathered in the study will help the city come up with a plan for pedestrian safety.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning awarded a grant of $120,000 to fund the first phase of the campaign.

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