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Sioux Falls street safety effort prompts warnings

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Sioux Falls police issued warnings to about two dozen people each day during the first week of a campaign to enhance safety on city streets.

The push to change behavior was prompted by a summer of fatal accidents involving motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. There have been 16 accidents in Sioux Falls this year involving vehicles and bicycles, including the death of a 22-year-old woman on a bike about a month ago, according to KDLT-TV.

Officers this week will stop issuing warnings in favor of tickets that carry fines, such as $25 for jaywalking or $120 for a motorist not yielding to a pedestrian.

"Hopefully, the people we've contacted will change their habits, so when we start giving out tickets we see those numbers go down," police spokesman Sam Clemens told the Argus Leader newspaper.

Gretchen Johnson, 32, prefers to bike or run to work and said the daily commute had become nerve-wracking. Since the start of the education patrol, she has seen a change in behavior, she said.

"I've seen more cars watching out," Johnson said. "But I think it's been going both ways, with more bikers and runners watching out."

Police planned a Monday night forum at the downtown library to review the rules of the road with the public and discuss changes in their approach to making the streets safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.