Aventura / Sunny Isles


Aventura to use safety grant to educate pedestrians, cyclists


Special to the Miami Herald

Aventura police will use a state grant to give out warnings, tickets and safety information to pedestrians and bicyclists who put themselves at risk on the city’s streets.

The Florida Department of Transportation will issue the $9,360 grant to pay overtime for city police officers to implement a safety campaign through education and enforcement. Officers will distribute safety materials as well as warnings and citations to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Some of the behaviors the city is looking to curb are bicyclists who run red lights or stop signs and don’t ride properly on the right-hand side of the road, Police Chief Steven Steinberg said. Officers also will approach pedestrians who jaywalk and cross against the stoplight.

“The program is designed to make pedestrians and bicyclists aware that they are putting their safety in jeopardy and they are subject to restrictions, Steinberg said.

West County Club Drive and Biscayne Boulevard, are among the streets the city will target with a six-man traffic unit, Steinberg said.

Aventura police responded to one accident involving a car and a bicycle and 70 involving cars and pedestrians near Country Club Drive and Biscayne Boulevard in 2012, according to police records.

“It is educational more so than a program for citations,” Steinberg said. “It is just to make people aware that you can get hurt crossing the street or riding your bicycle improperly.”

Officers will stop bicyclists or pedestrians breaking the law and give them an oral warning or written citation and provide safety education, which includes passing out fliers and brochures issued through the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research, which has worked with the state for the past two years on the campaign.

After the safety campaign, the university will evaluate if there has been any change in awareness or behavior.

A start date has not yet been determined pending the receipt of the funding, Steinberg said.

The state’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan focuses resources on areas that have the greatest opportunity to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities, injuries and crashes.

Funding for the program was available for the top 10 counties in the state with high pedestrian and bicycle injuries and fatalities including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

According to FDOT, nearly 2,500 cyclists and 7,000 pedestrians were injured or killed in Miami-Dade County between 2007-2011, making it the No. 1 county in the state for such accidents.

Municipalities within the top 10 counties are eligible to apply for the grant. Hallandale Beach and Miami Beach also are participating.

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