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Greensboro police to use sidewalk art to make pedestrians safer in downtown

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Pedestrian deaths are up across the country and are rising faster than deaths of drivers. Last year there were 6,000 pedestrians killed in the US.

North Carolina is not immune to that. Pedestrian deaths are up 24.7 percent when you compare the first six months of 2016 to same period of 2015.

Greensboro police are hoping to draw attention to the serious problem with a new grant the department received in conjunction with the Greensboro Police Foundation.

The grant will partially fund sidewalk art leading to a crosswalk on West Washington Street in downtown. The crosswalk is directly in front of the Melvin Municipal Building.

"Try to figure out a unique way to make people aware of pedestrian--vehicle crashes and how dangerous it is to the pedestrian," said Chris Walker, the executive director of the Greensboro Police Foundation and a former officer.

"This artwork may get people to pay attention and then maybe the attention of drivers to slow down to be prepared for someone to walk out at anytime," he said.

Courtney Hemphill, grant analyst for the department, says they plan to work with local arts programs at Dudley High School and UNC Greensboro to incorporate local artists.

"We are looking for the art to provide way-finding for the pedestrians in this area, guiding them and encouraging them to use our crosswalk facilities versus crossing within the middle of the street," Hemphill said.

The department has funding from the Action Greensboro and Downtown Greensboro Inc. Spark Grant, but they are still looking for more funding. If you are interested in helping out, visit the Greensboro Police Foundation website.

The plan is for officers to launch the program during the summer. They will also plan to reward people who use the crosswalk by handing out "good behavior tickets" and promotional items.