Officials Eye Citywide Pedestrian Safety Initiative | News, Sports, Jobs

City officials are in the process of implementing the “Vision Zero” campaign to eliminate accidents between vehicles and pedestrians. Pictured is the crosswalk outside UPMC Chautauqua in Jamestown. PJ photo by Dennis Phillips

With an increase in the number of pedestrians being struck by vehicles — not just near schools but citywide — Jamestown officials are working on a new initiative to try and eliminate the accidents.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist in his State of the City report discussed the “Vision Zero” campaign in an effort to eliminate all vehicle/pedestrian accidents. He said several city departments — including Public Works, public safety, planning, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, development, as well as the chairs of the Jamestown City Council Public Safety (Brent Sheldon, Ward 1 councilman) and Public Works (Randall Daversa, At-Large councilman) committees — have been meeting to create the Vision Zero policy.

“They’ve looked at what other cities have done to adopt similar policies,” he said. “It’s an extension of the complete streets policy. It adds additional components for education to the public about how to watch out for pedestrians and it’s about how do we all share the street and public ways together?”

Sundquist said, in the past, the design of streets usually just involved the city Public Works Department. However, by including public safety officials from the police and fire departments, as while as planning and development departments, data can be used to make improvements that promote safety.

“We need to meet the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and folks in wheelchairs,” the mayor said. “We’re making streets and walkways a full team effort.”

Sundquist said city officials will be meeting again next month to continue creating the Vision Zero policy. Following that meeting, he said city officials will present the policy to the Jamestown City Council. He said after the presentation, the council will hopefully adopt the initiative and it will become part of the city’s complete streets policy.

“We’ve seen fatalities downtown and around schools zones, and any of those are too many,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can as far as design to prevent any fatalities and injury.”

Along with the citywide Vision Zero initiative, Sundquist said city officials are also working with the state Department of Transportation on the Safe Routes to School initiative.

“We’re working with the state DOT to improve areas around school zones,” he said. “We just put together the data around school zones and working with the Department of Development for funding.”

Last month, the council approved a resolution on a new agreement with the Jamestown Public Schools District to offer more pay to part-time crossing guard workers. Since the start of the pandemic, Sundquist said the number of crossing guards in the city has decreased significantly.

“We had a good number of crossing guards, but given COVID and the increase in the minimum wage for other jobs, we’ve seen a decrease,” he said. “With only needing (crossing guards) a couple of hours a day, they have found other opportunities or chosen not to come back.”

Sundquist said city and school officials are still working on the final contract, so it’s unknown how much the pay for crossing guards will increase. He said, either around the end of the school year or during the summer before the start of the next school year, city officials will start the search to hire more crossing guards. He added that under the new agreement, the school district will be funding the cost of crossing guards well in the past the city had allocated the money.

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