So it happened again: Somebody was almost hit by a speeding driver. Sometimes it is a speeding pickup truck, other times it is a speeding BMW. Either way if you have ever tried to walk across Verplanck Avenue at a busy time, you know you are taking your life into your hands.
About a year ago, I wrote to Council Member Molly Rhodes after a car ended up in somebody’s front yard on Verplanck. She was very nice, but nothing has changed. The danger is especially high at North Walnut and Verplanck where North Walnut has a slight kink in it and going westward there is a small but steep hill.
Visibility is low going eastward and going westward drivers are in a hurry to beat the light at Matteawan in the mad dash to get to the middle or high school. When I wrote to Rhodes, I asked her to put help with placing a four-way stop sign at North Walnut and Verplanck to slow down the traffic, to permit walkers to cross Verplanck and to permit eastbound traffic on Verplanck that want to safely make the steep turn onto North Walnut to slow down without being rear-ended. In many ways this is an accident waiting to happen.
Ten years ago Beaconites went through the same problem driving south on North Walnut past Church Street. It was an adventure because of speeding cars and the cars parked on both sides of the street on Church. It took a major accident and then the city acted by placing stop signs in the appropriate places. I hope we won’t go down the road of waiting for an accident before acting because that intersection is the site of a bus stop and a route that many kids who walk take to go to school.
Please don’t suggest that students walk to Matteawan to cross at the light. That is an adventure all its own where, once again, people heading south bound on Matteawan drive like they were insulted that someone would cross Verplank when they want to make a right turn and the Verplanck traffic speed up when they see a yellow light. Placing a crossing guard there would help the kids, but for the many dog walkers and exercisers who are out at other times the guard wouldn’t help.
Of course, if people drove in a more sane manner none of this would be necessary, but given the path Beacon has taken with development and the frenzy people feel all the time, the stop signs are probably the only way to increase the safety of pedestrians and our children.
If this letter makes you angry, let me ask, “What is so important that you need to fly down Verplanck Avenue at 50 mph on a Sunday morning?” The police could write a lot more tickets for failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, speeding, running red lights, rolling stops and to the many delivery trucks that create hazards by parking on Verplanck, a street with clearly labeled no parking signs.
Rich Dambra, Beacon