- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Metro yesterday issued thousands of blinking red lights to bus riders, hoping to emphasize pedestrian safety as daylight wanes and officials count an increasing number of accidents involving buses.

Bus drivers distributed 3,000 safety lights on routes throughout the system, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said.

The battery-operated lights are about the size of a campaign button with the message “Look Before You Cross,” and can be clipped to jackets or other clothing. They cost Metro 96 cents apiece.

“It’ll make it easier for pedestrians and those waiting for buses in the dark to ID themselves to bus operators and other motorists,” Mr. Taubenkibel said.

Sixteen pedestrians have been killed in the District this year, the Metropolitan Police Department reported. Last year, 16 pedestrian deaths were reported, up from 10 in 2004.

“Pedestrian safety is of critical importance,” Mr. Taubenkibel said. “The purpose of us doing this was to provide a signal light for early morning and late-night bus users going to and from bus stops to do so safely, especially now with the time change and the recent incidents” of bus-related accidents.

Metro officials said that in the past 22 months, five fatal pedestrian accidents have involved buses.

The most recent occurred Sept. 4, when a man died after being hit by a Metrobus in Northwest. The man was running to catch the No. 70 bus at Seventh and P streets, when he slipped and fell under the right front wheel.

In June, a Metrobus struck and killed Emily S. Fenichel, 64, of Northwest, who was crossing Wisconsin Avenue near the Friendship Heights stop.

In July, an 11-year-old boy was hit by a Metrobus while riding his bicycle through an intersection of Georgia Avenue and Decatur Street in Northwest. He was treated and released from Children’s Hospital.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey last month proposed analyses of the placement of streetlights and Metro’s bus stops as well as increased public education on pedestrian, driving and biking safety.

Studies of D.C. intersections where the incidence of pedestrian accidents is high show that fewer than half of drivers yield to people in a crosswalk.

At least eight of the 16 pedestrians killed last year were at fault, the police department said.

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