2015-03-12 / Opinion

Police Can Do More

To the Editor:

It's quite dangerous to walk or ride a bike on Aquidneck Island. The numbers don't lie: five fatalities have happened here since 2012. One is too many. All were caused by drivers and by that I mean the pedestrians and cyclists were obeying the traffic laws.

Clearly something needs to change. There was good work by the city and Bike Newport on changing the traffic pattern on Route 138 (Easton's Beach) and also on the pedestrian survey.

We're not there yet. And please, no more proclamations from the City Council. Equally disappointing was the quote in Newport This Week from Police Lt. William Fitzgerald: "These streets were never made for the kind of vehicles or pedestrian traffic we have here. They were made for horses and buggies." I admire Lt. Fitzgerald for his consistency, as he made the same statement to me in 2012. Yet, how can a police department fix a problem if this is the attitude of the leadership?

Here are some ideas:

–Visible police presence on roads with high traffic volume, e.g. Memorial Speedway, Annandale Road, Ocean Drive. The goal is not to give tickets, but to CALM traffic!

–Visible police presence during peak hours: 7-8:30 a.m., 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., 3-5 p.m.

–Enforce the three-foot rule (Rhode Island state law) for motorists passing cyclists.

–Pass and enforce a law requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

–Measure the traffic intensity and speed in high interest areas.

We live in an amazing city, with a dedicated and professional police department. We can make this a city that welcomes pedestrians and cyclists too. Yes, cyclists need help observing the laws, too. But let's work on the drivers first.

Chuck Albrecht
Newport

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