Niagara Falls Police started enforcement Thursday of a specific vehicle and traffic law which forbids people from walking along in the streets if sidewalks are provided.
Captain Salvatore Pino of the department's Traffic Unit says they have ignored the law for too long and they have seen too many people hurt when they were struck by cars while walking in the street parallel to the sidewalk. Pino says there was also a problem with walkers just blocking the traffic flow in some streets.
So now Pino says anyone caught walking in the street could be handed a $150 dollar ticket for a first time offense, just like any motorist who drives through a stop sign or red light.
Police did hand out about 80 so - called courtesy tickets or warnings to those walking in the street last year. They hoped that would send the message to stop it. But Pino says they are seeing more and more of what can be a very dangerous situation so they decided to actually enforce the law.
The crackdown is not specifically aimed at jaywalking which is defined as crossing in the middle of block instead of a corner or crosswalk. But Pino says jaywalking enforcement could be added if they see more accidents caused by that practice. The captain notes that cities like New York City and Las Vegas aggressively ticket those who walk in the street or jaywalk.
Pino stresses that this crackdown is not tied to the terrible hit and run accident from earlier this week where a woman suffered fatal injuries when she and her son were struck. That accident occurred as the woman was crossing the street at a corner.