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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tucson police increasing enforcement on bicycle traffic and jaywalkers after receiving state grant

Mike+Christy+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ACyclists+and+pedestrians+navigate+the+bike+paths+and+walkways+along+the+UA+Mall+Tuesday%2C+Aug.+31%2C+2010%2C+in+Tucson%2C+Ariz.+UAPD+will+begin+cracking+down+on+jay-walkers+and+bicyclists+who+fail+to+follow+traffic+laws+on+campus.+%0A
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Cyclists and pedestrians navigate the bike paths and walkways along the UA Mall Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010, in Tucson, Ariz. UAPD will begin cracking down on jay-walkers and bicyclists who fail to follow traffic laws on campus.

Bicyclists and jaywalkers run an increased risk of being cited because of new efforts by the Tucson Police Department to step up enforcement.

TPD increased enforcement to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety in Tucson

“”We have bicycle accidents every day,”” TPD spokesman Sgt. James Scott said.

The increase in enforcement is provided for by a $44,000 grant from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The grant pays officers to work overtime specifically to enforce bicycle and pedestrian safety laws, Scott said.

 ””It’s a good idea,”” UA biochemistry junior Michael Piatt, who commutes daily to and from campus via bicycle, said. “”It’s so frustrating to see another biker almost cause an accident by not hand signaling or turning blindly.””

Other commuters disagreed with having a grant specifically targeted towards this kind of enforcement.

“”I’m OK with tightening up enforcement,”” UA history professor Richard Eaton said. “”But, the city needs to work to make roads more bike friendly than they already are.””

Another major goal of the state grant is to provide preventative safety education.

“”Ultimately, we’d like to give no citations,”” Scott said

TPD is already working with the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee to provide education courses in safe bicycling. The BAC can also help get certain bicycle citations dismissed if the cycler will agree to attend classes provided by the committee.

The state grant also provides for the enforcement of jaywalking.

“”There are many pedestrian fatalities per year,”” Scott said.

Police specifically look for reckless jaywalking in front of traffic or crossing a road outside of a nearby crosswalk.

“”I hand out a bunch of tickets for jaywalking,”” Scott said.

Jaywalking violations currently carry a $161 fine per offense.

Yet, reviews of jaywalking enforcement are mixed.

“”It’ll never happen – you just can’t enforce it,”” Eaton said. “”Work within the bounds of what’s possible.””

UA interdisciplinary studies senior Aaron King, however, liked the idea of enforcing jaywalking.

“”It keeps pedestrians safe; Tucson is a pedestrian city,”” King said.

But King disputed the necessity of a grant to enforce this seemingly minor issue.

“”Don’t they have money to spend on other important things like illegal immigration or crime prevention?”” King asked.

This increase in enforcement has not only been taken on by TPD, but the University of Arizona Police Department also received a similar grant.

The grant issued to UAPD, also from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, applies to enforcement of alcohol, DUI, and traffic laws on campus, according to a bulletin issued by police.

“”The first stage is to provide education,”” UAPD public information officer Sgt. Juan Alvarez said. “”The second is targeted enforcement.””

UAPD is stressing the education aspect of bicycle safety through a series of information stations on campus in the upcoming weeks. UA Parking and Transportation Services will also be working with UAPD at these stations.

“”This is not strictly an enforcement goal, but an education goal,”” Alvarez said. “”Ultimately we want people to voluntarily comply with traffic laws.””

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