New Initiative Intended To Improve Downtown Summer Safety

SFPD: 'Pedestrian and foot traffic is everywhere.'

If you’re on social media at all and follow the Sioux Falls Police Department or Downtown Sioux Falls, you’ll be seeing a new slogan. ‘Slow Down Through Downtown’ will be used a lot this month on both their Twitter and Facebook Pages. Police say they’ll also be increasing bike, foot and traffic patrols to help make the area safer.

Downtown Sioux Falls has at least one event each week during the summer months.

Downtown Sioux Falls Communications and Membership Director Brienne Maner said, “First Fridays, our Downtown RiverFest Event, Hot Harley Summer Nights which is coming up this week and expanding to Thursday¬† nights as well with our Rock Island Block Parties and Rooftop Cinema.”

At those events, they’re seeing an increase in attendance.¬† At the First Friday Block Party on July 1, they hosted a record number 3,300 people. They’ve also seen a lot of new development.

Maner said, “We’ve seen two incredible anchor stores open in downtown Sioux Falls with McKenzie River and Duluth Trading Co. Which has added to the foot traffic and the vibrancy of downtown Sioux Falls.”

But with success comes concern.

“On even a non-event weekend, pedestrian and foot traffic is everywhere and motor vehicle traffic is even higher,” said Sioux Falls Police Department Sgt. Jonathan Thum.

While doing foot patrol downtown, Sioux Falls Police say people will walk between crosswalks and don’t even notice them there.

Thum said, “We just took some time at the 8th Street Block Party to monitor crosswalks and within a short order had handed out eight warnings on crosswalk violations.”

Motorists also need to slow down. The biggest problems police see is on 10th and 11th Streets.

“Especially coming through downtown, people sometimes forget that because it comes from higher speed limits that it slows down to 20 miles per hour there,” said Thum.

Police hope that more officers and more reminders will make a difference as the area experiences more growth.

Police say they’ll likely just be handing out warnings. They want the campaign that will run through the month of July to be more about education rather than enforcement.