Letter: Danger at Crosswalks

A crosswalk is a kind of promise. When we step into the street, we believe that drivers will stop. The white lines are a promise that we will be safe. The Highway Department takes care to re-paint the lines every year or so. The crosswalks ask us to trust one another. Those lines are useless, or even worse, an actual hazard, unless we can.

About 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, I was driving north on Chestnut Street and saw a young man about to enter the crosswalk at the corner of Oak. I stopped, as did the driver of a southbound vehicle. The man started into the walk, when, suddenly, a silver-gray SUV bolted around me. The pedestrian saved himself only by leaping backward. The SUV tore north to the light and headed east on 301.

If you live in the village, odds are high that you have seen similar incidents. Far too often, pedestrians are menaced by reckless drivers. Our efforts to stop this kind of behavior are not working. By now, we should all know we cannot rely on a single police officer patrolling the streets to be at the right spot at the right time to observe every offense and respond, especially not when the nation is awash in weapons and those officers are being asked to take their lives into their hands with every traffic stop.

We need to redirect a big portion of the $500,000 Cold Spring spends every year for police salaries, cars and uniforms into an investment in pedestrian crossing lights and — importantly — traffic cameras at pedestrian crossings and the stop lights. We must make dangerous, uncivil behavior much riskier, but we need to do this thoughtfully, using technology to keep all citizens safe, including the police.

Michael Armstrong, Cold Spring

4 thoughts on “Letter: Danger at Crosswalks

  1. Sometimes pedestrians seem to come out of nowhere and cross here, there and everywhere, expecting two plus tons to come to an immediate stop. It is up to us, the expecting drivers, to think ahead and plan on stopping when we notice a pedestrian at or near to a white-lined crosswalk. However something should be done in the way of fines to the jaywalkers who cavalierly believe the world is their oyster and they can cross whenever they feel like it, then, walk slower than a snail. Some irritated drivers could possibly lack a responsible attitude and bang-go! We have a situation of possible tragedy via two wrongs.

    • Pedestrian controlled crossing lights would give a yellow light alert to the driver before turning red, and not show green for the pedestrian until the light has turned red for the driver. This works.

    • I’ve spent many years walking the streets of Cold Spring and not once have I seen a pedestrian blithely commit to a designated crosswalk without carefully observing the actions of oncoming automobiles….why? Because we are not suicidal — in fact we walk to improve our health, not be crushed by the drivers blithely pointing two tons of metal at us — sometimes visually unaware of the crosswalk, sometimes simply not paying attention in that they are not even aware a crosswalk requires them to stop for pedestrians.

      The cheap and effective way to raise awareness is out an orange traffic cone on the lane dividing line square in the middle of the side way with a sign on it. That raises visual awareness. And costs very little. And could be done tomorrow.

      It’s commonly understood that the jaywalker takes responsibility for their actions. Michael Armstrong’s comments regarding crosswalks have nothing to do with jaywalking. Jaywalking issues should not be used to water down the legitimate issues surrounding designated pedestrian sidewalks.

  2. Using crosswalks in the village does not feel as safe as it should, especially with young children. A simple fix would be to install RRFBs (flashing LED beacons activated by pedestrians). These immediately alert drivers to the presence and intention of pedestrians and have been shown to drastically reduce accidents.