New Capitol Police initiative aims to improve pedestrian safety in downtown Richmond

Local News

Capitol Police is beefing up its presence at intersections around Capitol Square. It’s part of a new campaign aimed at keeping pedestrians safe.

As part of the campaign, Richmonders and those traveling through downtown can expect to see officers assisting pedestrians crossing the street.

Authorities say one particular intersection — 14th and Bank streets — is especially problematic. Surrounded by five parking decks and a GRTC bus stop, it’s a busy hub that’s seen more than a few close calls.

“I almost have been hit by a car,” Anne McMillan said.

Arlissa Washington added, “I jumped like, ‘wait a minute,’ because I know as a driver you’re trying to beat the light, but you’re turning into a walking lane.”

Capitol Police said while the intersection at 14th and Bank streets is the focus, they will be patrolling others as well.

“We have noticed that more and more people are starting to get more aggressive and we’re getting complaints,” Capitol Police spokesperson Joe Macenka told 8News.

Officers will be out directing traffic during the morning and evening rush-hour commutes. Message boards will also be placed around the city to educate drivers on pedestrian rules.

“You need to stay out of the box,” Macenka explained. “You say, ‘What is the box?’ The box is essentially the pedestrian walkways that ring each intersection.”

Macenka said there have been issues with drivers rolling into the box, intruding into pedestrians’ safety zone. 8News’ cameras were rolling as numerous drivers did just said, which Macenka reminded was breaking the law.

Police won’t necessarily be issuing tickets to every offender, but drivers can expect their presence to remain, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I do feel safe because usually when I’m walking I’m looking back over my shoulder making sure, but with them they step out into the street and make sure you get across.”

Capitol Police will be enforcing this new initiative over the next few months. They’re urging all drivers to put away the distractions behind the wheel and watch out for all pedestrians.

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