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Will New Crosswalks Improve Safety Downtown?

Number of pedestrian strikes in Ridgewood down in 2012; will more visible crosswalks improve safety further?

The village is finishing up work on remodeling its downtown crosswalks in the hope that brighter, bolder patterns heighten driver awareness and reduce the number of pedestrians hit by cars.

Long delayed, the . When all is said and done, 24 crosswalks between Broad to Maple (most on E. Ridgewood Ave) will be cast in thermoplastic designed to look like brick. 

"What we're hoping is this will enhance the crosswalks so the pedestrians crossing become more safe because of the contrast," former Mayor Keith Killion said in December.

The project will run an approximate $148,000.

The village typically , with most occurring in the downtown corridor. Drivers often fail to yield to pedestrians and it's not exactly a one-way street – jaywalking remains a problem on the pedestrian side.

Strikes are down measurably in 2012, totalling just seven thus far. The two most serious incidents also occurred nowhere near the business district.

Police claim a 15-year-old girl from Florida illegally crossed Linwood and Paramus and was struck by a Jeep last Tuesday, suffering considerable injuries and losing consciousness. In late April, a New York woman suffered severe head injuries after being struck crossing at Ackerman and Doremus.

Officers and officials say they remain committed to making the downtown safer and believe progress has been made.

Police Chief John Ward has (actually officers) to nab drivers not abiding by the law, and more recently instituted the return of an officer dedicated to walking the downtown during the summer.

Aside from the downtown, there are been programs designed to improve pedestrian safety near the schools.

Joint community initiatives like the between the village, the HSAs and schools aims to teach children basic crossing safety tenants while subtly reminding parents to be more cognizant as they drive and walk.

So what do you think – is the village on the right track to curb pedestrian safety issues? Are the crosswalks and other assorted initiatives making or will make a difference? Comment below and share your thoughts.

J.D. Luke July 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM
I have come to believe that having crosswalks at intersections is inherently unsafe in a busy environment like the CBD. It's hard enough to navigate through town avoiding vehicular traffic, particularly when one must make a left hand turn. Pedestrians just add to the cognitive load with which drivers must cope. A while back someone here suggested moving crosswalks to mid-block locations, and I now believe that this is indeed the best way to handle things. Drivers need only deal with what is in front of them, pedestrians must only deal with traffic in two directions.
News Man July 16, 2012 at 10:31 AM
I agree J.D. Luke, a well marked street crossing at the Daily Treat location would be one helpful location. Even Captain Ward thought that could work there. Are there other possibilities?
jp1 July 16, 2012 at 12:23 PM
When are we going to enforce jay-walking laws?
News Man July 16, 2012 at 03:08 PM
jp1... can someone please define what "jay-walking laws" are other than crossing against the light? It's a little confusing sometimes.
jp1 July 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
How about stepping out between parked cars with children in tow or a cup of coffee, or talking on a cell phone and not paying attention. As you yourself probably see in town when passing thru.
News Man July 16, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Those tickets issued would have to be quite specific (in detail) and probably easily challenged, don't you think? Can our Village officers do that and how often have they issued such a ticket? What would they recommend?
jp1 July 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM
As far as i know the village does not give out such tickets but maybe they should if it prevents a serious injury or worse.
Ridgewood Mom 26 July 16, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I just refuse to drive on E. Ridgewood Avenue, altogether. It's like a land-mine or obstacle course situation. The only way to protect yourself and get where you need to go is to drive all the way around the CBD. Anything else is asking for trouble. People are just not paying attention there!
J.D. Luke July 16, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Anne, I can completely understand how on one's first drive through a town with non-standard crosswalk locations, drivers could potentially be confused. Certainly the kind of visibility improvements being made right now to the existing crosswalks would be a necessity for relocated ones as well. I suppose appropriate signage would be a requirement as well, although I suspect a lot of drivers just don't read signs as they move along. At least that's the only explanation I have for some of what I see on the road. If we could get people used to it, though, I really do think it would be an improvement. I've certainly found myself waiting and waiting for a gap in traffic so that I could make a left turn, only to be confronted by pedestrians crossing at "just the wrong time". That's the sort of situation which, combined with darkness, rain, or other low-visibility conditions, can lead to very sad outcomes. In the final analysis though, you're right, we should spend our money in whatever way the numbers indicate give us the greatest safety for the lowest cost. Perhaps a trial block could be established, such as Franklin between Chestnut and Broad streets. I realize we (fortunately) don't have enough pedestrian strikes to get great statistics, but perhaps traffic flow could be analyzed and people could be surveyed.
Anne LaGrange Loving July 16, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I have suggested mid-block crosswalks to the two previous Councils. It seems, as you so clearly stated, to make excellent sense. However, I have also read that in some cases it turns out that mid-block crosswalks can be more dangerous, as drivers are not expecting them. Before the business-district crosswalks could be moved, it would make sense to actually gather data on whether they have been shown, overall, to improve pedestrian safety. Data mining and analysis require money . . . and the Council has many requests for funding that they have to weed through. In any case, making the crosswalks more visible is a great idea. It can .only help
Marco Maric July 16, 2012 at 07:21 PM
It's ironic that the town doesn't have the money set aside to properly fix the flood problems, but will invest 148,000 so people can cross the street more effectively. Can we have an unedited patch so we can express our opinions with proper jersey slang
Bill Connor July 16, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Mid Block Crosswalks will require a substantial Carve out of Current Parking spaces to create the visability needed to make this a less Hazardous initiative.Ridgewood Ave CBD is actually too narrow today for the Buses Trucks and large SUV's Turning onto plowing down Ridgewood Avenue/into Car Doors opening as Drivers enter exit vehicles/Most corners have visibility Problems for Drivers as one Car parking space too many exisits today to easily see those waiting to cross safely into the walks today.Its Broken on many levels of safety today/
Geary Wittmann1 July 22, 2012 at 04:50 AM
We should be retested every 2 years by Motor vehicle to remind people to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. I think a lot of people forget this law. And pedestrians crossing- use your heads and wait for the car to stop and wave you on to cross before you step out into the street.

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