The passing of Bucks County resident Sharon Rearick’s son, John, after a hit-and-run on July 22, 2012 became the catalyst that lead to safer sidewalks in her neighborhood. Now, Rearick is accepting a Community Service Award from TMA Bucks for her exhaustive efforts to promote pedestrian safety and bring sidewalks to New Falls Road in the Middleton and Bristol townships.
Tragedy Turns to Advocacy
Justice was served in a small part when officers located and charged the hit-and-run driver, Jonathan Simmons, with John’s death and driving with a suspended license. He served a two-year sentence in state prison. Determined not to let her son’s death be in vain, Rearick began lobbying for sidewalks on the stretch of road where the fatal accident occurred.
Four months after her son’s death, Rearick founded the Sidewalks Are For Everyone (SAFE) campaign with the goal of installing sidewalks in her son’s honor. She started a contact campaign and sought guidance from the local township governments. Finally, a Middletown Township official gave her a small lead — instructions on how to request a traffic study of New Falls Road from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
SAFE quickly established an online petition to call for action and collected more than 100 signatures on the first day. She held numerous fundraisers, awareness events, and educational meetings to promote the sidewalk project, but government conflict blocked progress. The townships and state could not agree on who would be responsible for overseeing sidewalk installations.
Finally, in December of 2015, Rearick received the contact that would change her life. After Rearick contacted the Secretary of PennDOT, Leslie Richards, on her Facebook page, Richards responded and told Rearick she would hear her story before the planning staff in the region.
A Mother’s Efforts Pay Off for Her Community
That single correspondence put the wheels in motion and before the year was over, Rearick had confirmation that PennDOT allocated $1.7 million to building sidewalks on New Falls Road between Durham Road and Oxford Valley Road. The townships that govern this stretch of road have given their approval, and the sidewalk work will begin June 17, 2017.
It is a great thing too. The PennDOT traffic study found four pedestrians were struck and killed along New Falls Road in a five-year period. While this stretch of road will soon see safety improvements, there are still thousands of miles of roads lacking safe sidewalks for pedestrians.
There are many safety tips to help protect pedestrians, but it takes the commitment of drivers and community leaders to make our roads safe for everyone. If you or a loved one suffered an injury while walking, contact a pedestrian accident attorney at Cordisco & Saile LLC. Contact us online or call us at 215-791-8911 to schedule a FREE consultation regarding your case.