SAUGUS — State money will help the Police Department improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety across town.
Saugus is one of 84 Massachusetts communities to receive funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for pedestrian and bicycle safety through the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The $3,300 grant will allow Saugus Police to work additional overtime and to purchase bicycle helmets and equipment to enhance the visibility of sidewalks.
Bicyclists and pedestrians are at risk because they may not immediately be visible to drivers, and, unlike those in cars, there is nothing to protect them during a crash, said Saugus Police Chief Domenic DiMella.
“We’ll use crash data and community input to identify crosswalks, intersections, and roadways where enforcement efforts can yield the largest impact on pedestrian and bicyclist safety,” said DiMella.
Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016 across the country, according to a statement from Town Manager Scott Crabtree’s office. In Massachusetts, 20 percent of all traffic fatalities were pedestrians.
Pedestrian accidents now account for more traffic fatalities than they have in more than 30 years. Additionally, 840 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2016, which is the most since 1991.
The award is timely because residents will sit down with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the officials from Saugus about improvements to the town’s section of the Northern Strand Community Trail. Many have expressed a need to improve safety along the trail by installing signs and signals that would protect path users.
Members of Bike to the Sea, an organization working to extend the Northern Strand Community Trail from the Charles River to the Lynn waterfront, will also be present.
In January, an elderly couple was walking on the trail when they were struck by a car on Central Street. Both suffered serious injuries and were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
Town Planner Krista Leahy met with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental affairs earlier this year about using some of the $1.5 million grant funding devoted to the trail to implement safety measures such as flashing signs, stop lights, and pedestrian lights.
The meeting will be Thursday night at Saugus Town Hall.