Speeding cars imperil pedestrians
On hot, unforgiving sunny days, I often walk to Homestyle Creamery in Nelsonville to listen to a podcast and buy my favorite ice cream, soft-serve swirl.
Getting there, however, isn’t fun. I am faced with a deadly obstacle: Route 301.
To walk to Homestyle, I follow the south sidewalk on 301, from my house on Pearl Street. The sidewalk mysteriously ends at Peekskill Road, forcing me to the north side of the street as I make my way northeast to Homestyle.
Once I get close to Homestyle, I must deal with a big problem: crossing 301 (aka Main Street), a high-volume road with speeding cars descending a hill as they head toward Cold Spring.
Drivers on Fishkill Road make this even more difficult because, when they merge onto 301, they are mostly focused on the oncoming traffic rather than pedestrians. Because of this, I usually have to wait a minute or two for a break in the traffic and then run across the street. I have had one or two close calls when crossing the street, and I’m not the only one.
Many other people are faced with this challenge, especially people who live on 301. Scout Thakur deBeer, a seventh grader at Haldane Middle School who lives across from Billy’s Way, crosses 301 every afternoon because her 9-year-old brother gets dropped off on the other side of the street by the bus.
She finds it “terrifying that someone’s just going to round the corner at 60 miles per hour and mow us both over.” She is not alone in this fear. Many school-age students live near Homestyle, some neighbors of deBeer and others on Billy’s Way.
Unfortunately, in March, New York State turned down Nelsonville’s request to reduce the 40 mph speed limit on state Route 301 at the eastern edge of the village to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. The state said that its research showed that no crashes occurred in that stretch in a six-year period.
The state Department of Transportation should add a crosswalk connecting Homestyle to the community, but a crosswalk is not enough. There should be better enforcement of the speed limit, which drops from 40 to 30 mph, and better signage for pedestrians and drivers.
With temperatures warming and ice cream season approaching, it is time to think about improved safety. Cold Spring and Nelsonville were built to be walkable communities. We must fight for that.
This astute article hints around two important points: 1) transportation infrastructure and decision making rarely takes into account the perspective of those not behind the windshield. 2) People incur real damages from such poor design and decisions, even when there are few crashes. Being around cars increases stress and anxiety, and discourages people from important community activities, like a walk down Main Street to get ice cream, a visit to a neighbor, a bit of exercise, and the enjoyment of the outdoors.
Car brain is a serious problem affecting America, and unfortunately many urban-planning decisions were made by people infected with car brainitis and the repercussions will be felt for generations. Thank you for shining the light on this issue, Eamon. Kids and adults need to be able to walk and bike around safely so that we can all free ourselves from the cars.
The schools might consider a safer bus stop for the children affected by the obvious danger. This doesn’t solve the problem but I wouldn’t want my child dropped off at that bus stop.
If speed bumps are a possibility, they would certainly help. And kudos to Eamon! Great article.
Maybe the safety issues could have been addressed in Nelsonville before letting a business locate there that attracts more customers driving and walking. The site in the past had nowhere near that kind of use. You can’t blame the business owners, but you have to wonder what the village was thinking when it approved the change of use.
It’s sad that the lame state Department of Transportation won’t do anything until it sees a body count. [via Facebook]
There’s plenty of enforcement — Putnam County sheriff deputies sit there all the time. Complain, complain is all Cold Springers do. [via Facebook]
Much of the often-constant traffic flow is drivers making their way to Peekskill Road, then south, so Route 301 becomes a drag strip for frustrated drivers who are in a hurry. This section of road is dangerous and a major divider in our community. [via Facebook]
It’s quite scary to walk along Main Street in Nelsonville, especially with a child or dog. The speed limit is absolutely not enforced. [via Facebook]
Nobody pays attention to the change in speed limit coming down that hill. When I do, someone will inevitably race up from behind to tailgate, flash their lights and sometimes even pass over the double yellow line. When I used to commute down that road, I’d often encounter cars entering town at 60 mph to 70 mph, likely running late to catch a train. [via Facebook]
Terrific article, Eamon! I always have a lump in my throat when my 10-year-old walks to Homestyle for ice cream with friends. It’s just treacherous to cross the street. [via Facebook]