Prince William Supervisor Frank J. Principi recently launched the Street Smart Spring Campaign with the aim of keeping county bicyclists and pedestrians safe.
Principi held the event at the intersection of Opitz Boulevard and Montgomery Avenue where Sally Ann Okuly, a 59-year-old Woodbridge woman, died in November when she was hit by a car as she crossed Opitz Boulevard.
Okuly’s friend, Patricia Pennington, said Okuly, who was walking to a local convenience store to buy a Sunday paper, was obeying the rules when she was hit by a driver making a left turn. “Sally was doing everything right. She was crossing the street with a green light using the crosswalk.”
As she spoke at the event, Pennington said “far too many” people in the community die in traffic accidents and asked people to try and pay attention. “Whether you’re walking, riding a bike or driving a car, I beg of you to be more alert. Pay attention to your surroundings. Ask yourself if saving a few seconds by running a red light or walking against the light is worth the loss of a life.”
The campaign to raise safety awareness among motorist, bicyclists and pedestrians, asks pedestrians use crosswalks, watch for turning vehicles and use signal buttons and cross when the sign says to cross and to wear bright clothing after dark and in bad weather.
Bicyclists should obey all traffic signs, never ride against traffic, use hand signals, ride a car door’s width away from parked cars, wear a helmet and use lights at night.
Motorists should stop for pedestrians, obey speed limits, yield to pedestrians and cyclists and allow three feet when passing cyclists.
Prince William Police Lt. Carlos Robles also spoke at the event and said everyone has a part to play. “As drivers we need to be aware of bicyclists and pedestrians, but pedestrians and bicyclists need to obey all signs.”
Prince William Supervisor John D. Jenkins said that 26 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed in traffic accidents in Prince William County since 2010
“Anytime you lose anyone is too much,” Jenkins said. “We have a lot of work to do on safety. I would call your attention to the fact that it’s our responsibility to look out for our neighbors as much as it is for our neighbors to look out for us.”
Kristin James, who rides a bicycle to get around, said she was thrilled that there is a Street Smart Campaign. “I think it’s excellent,” the 24 year-old said. I know that when I’m riding my bike, I have to be very cautious and make sure you’re looking for the cars because they don’t always see you. It’s a great thing that we’re out here campaigning for safety.”
James also said she gets angry when she sees cyclists disobeying the law. “I think bike riders absolutely have some responsibility.”
Principi said if people cooperate everyone will be safer. “It’s my hope that pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists can share the road, and be safer in doing so.”