Grand Rapids starts multi-year pedestrian-safety program

Grand Rapids is on a mission to make the city a safer place for pedestrians.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH., - City officials in Grand Rapids launched a pedestrian-safety program Monday, Sept. 11, which will be implemented over several years. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning gave a $120,000 grant for the campaign, aimed to promote awareness and reduce injuries.

"We're on a mission to find out not just why, but also who, where and when," said Grand Rapids Traffic Safety Manager Chris Zull. "So that we can educate and inform both the pedestrians and the motorists on their rights and responsibilities, making our community safer for everyone."

Phase one of the program kicked off Monday morning and will run until Sept. 22. Traffic officials tested busy intersections to see how drivers responded to pedestrians. Police officers also stopped drivers to warn and educate them on proper pedestrian-safety laws.

"We think we can make a significant difference gaining more information, rather than just writing citations," said Lt. Dave Schnurstein of the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Related: Grand Rapids launching pedestrian-safety campaign

The campaign is a response to the high rate of accidents involving pedestrians in Kent County. State data shows 439 pedestrian-related crashes occurred in Grand Rapids between 2012 and 2015.

After the observation period, the city will be able to create a better plan that mixes regulations, policy, education and enforcement, said Second Ward City Commissioner Ruth Kelly.

"We have to work together to make Grand Rapids safer for pedestrians, especially with an emphasis on making our neighborhoods and business districts walkable for residents and visitors."

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