City begins ‘Pedestrians First’ initiative

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow says inconsistent adherence to traffic rules like pedestrian right-of-way, as noted in the sign above on West First Street, pushed the city to begin a new safety initiative.

OSWEGO — Port City leadership is rolling out a new advocacy program to curb what they say is an increase in motor vehicle vs. pedestrian accidents.

Mayor Billy Barlow on Tuesday announced the launch of his “Pedestrians First” campaign: a multi-faceted approach he hopes will improve overall safety and avoid preventable tragedies.

Barlow said the city will focus on specifically educating motorists to stop at crosswalks, give pedestrians the right-of-way and properly stop at stop signs in the downtown Oswego area and in school zones.

“Our “Pedestrian’s First” initiative builds on the work we’ve done already to make Oswego a safer, more accessible community for all,” Barlow said. “We’ve converted more intersections to be safe and accessible for those with physical disabilities, added pedestrian crosswalks throughout downtown and lowered neighborhood speed limits to better protect pedestrians and cyclists.”

The downtown corridor of West First Street and the surrounding several blocks have seen an explosion of new construction and renovations in the past 12 months, but with that activity has also come a spike in danger.

“With the increase in development in our downtown corridor along with our growing business districts, we’ve seen an increase in pedestrian traffic. With this increase, we’ve also seen a rise in accidents,” said Oswego Police Department (OPD) Chief Phil Cady. Drivers need to yield the right of way to pedestrians in cross walks and should check their surroundings several times before entering intersections or making turns. Pedestrians are reminded to not cross against the signal, use designated crosswalks and be mindful when entering intersections.”

Speed limits for all Oswego City School District school zones are now lowered to 15 miles per hour beginning Wednesday, Oct. 7. Superintendent Dr. Mathis Calvin III thanked Barlow, OPD and the Oswego Fire Department (OFD) for “ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff through this special project.”

“In cooperation with this initiative we ask that our community partner with all of us to make certain that our students are safe when they come to school each day,” Calvin said.  “The community's help with this initiative keeps our student’s health and safety at the forefront of all our minds. We strongly support this initiative and thank all community members who are willing to join in and support this special project."

The “Pedestrians First” campaign launched with a Kyle Ridlon Productions video showcasing how to effectively and safely navigate Oswego’s city streets, which can be viewed on the city’s social media pages.

OFD Chief Randy Griffin said driver and pedestrian safety has been a “key priority” recently, but stressed the role of civic engagement for any effort of this type to be successful.

“Everyone must do their part,” Griffin said. “We must see and be seen when traveling through Oswego. We all have a role to play."

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