FORT MYERS, Fla. — Safety for Cyclists and pedestrians, that's what the new Fort Myers Police Chief Jason Fields said was a top priority when he took the role.
Now Fort Myers Police (FMPD) partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) adding technology to one of the busiest stretches in the City of Palms.
“Specifically on US-41 over the past five years we have had a significant increase in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities," said sergeant Kristi Neroni, who is over FMPD's traffic unit.
An alarming increase catching the attention of not only Fort Myers Police, but also the Florida Department of transportation—when it comes to US-41 (Cleveland Ave.) for pedestrian safety.
“The results say, you need to do something to keep the pedestrians safe," said Janella Newsom, the spokeswoman for FDOT.
FMPD has waited for six months for the day to come and the plan has been in the works for five years, but now it's here.
The first Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons also known as PHB's in Lee County were installed and activated Wednesday morning, and Cleveland and Coronado is a top priority.
"I’m just alarmed at in the short period of time that I’ve been standing here, I’ve watched adults as well as some of the students take risky chances," Newsom said.
“During the morning time and afternoon hours you can have up to 50 to 150 kids trying to cross us-41," Sgt. Neroni said.
That's because Coronado Middle and High school sits right next to the crosswalk.
FMPD allowed Fox 4's Briana Brownleeto tag along as they activated the system and we got a close up look at what it does.
Here is how it works for drivers, when the lights are black, traffic is free to go. The other colors are familiar – yellow to slow down, red to stop, blinking red to proceed but ensure no one is in the walkway. Police say they’re not issuing citations yet as drivers learn… but that step will come.
“If we can just bring down our bicycle and pedestrian fatalities down by one it’s a success, we want it to be a lot more than just one, " Sgt. Neroni said.
“Statistically we found out that if we could implement these phbs we will reduce and probably even eliminate folks from serious injuries and even death by 69 percent," Newsom said.
There were four PHB's installed along Cleveland Ave. and FMPD said there are more to come. The locations FMPD and FDOT are considering are Palm Beach BLVD and Fowler Street where there is a high population.