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Traffic safety campaign aims to get drivers' attention

Pedestrian wearing bubble suit makes his way through crosswalk at State and Main Streets.
Beth Adams/WXXI News
Pedestrian wearing bubble suit makes his way through crosswalk at State and Main Streets.

A group of people dressed in unusual props got the attention of drivers as they walked through the intersection of Main and State Streets Tuesday morning.

And that was the idea.

Causewave Community Partners and Common Ground Health are getting ready to launch an awareness campaign to educate drivers about the rules of the road when it comes to making way for pedestrians and bicyclists.

One man made his way through the crosswalk wearing a giant bubble suit. Another was getting ready to cross the intersection on a bike wrapped in Christmas tree lights.

"To really show the extremes to which someone might have to go to be noticed when they're crossing the road," explained Mary Hadley, senior program manager at Causewave.

A camera crew was recording the scenes for use in the upcoming Drive 2B Better campaign, which is scheduled to start later this summer.

"Around the city, we've had an increasing number of crashes that involve bicycles and automobiles as well as pedestrians and automobiles,” Hadley said. “We really are trying to have it be such that people feel safe when they walk, they feel safe when they're bicycling, and frankly, that drivers also understand what the rules are so that they also feel safe when they're around pedestrians and bicyclists.

Darren Washington of Rochester was passing by on his bike during the filming. He likes the message of the campaign and thinks drivers do need to be more aware of what's going on around them.

"You know how they turn, and the light is red?  They just keep going and I almost got hit a few times."

Data from local hospital emergency departments show in some parts of Rochester, pedestrians and cyclists are involved in crashes with motor vehicles at an average rate as high as 362 per 100,000 residents.

Some communities that have promoted driver-pedestrian-cyclist safety have seen their crash rates decline, according to Mike Bulger, a project coordinator for Common Ground Health.

"We know that unsafe streets are a barrier for people being physically active, whether they're walking, biking or playing in their neighborhoods,” he said. “We aim to promote traffic safety as a means of keeping our neighborhoods safe."