In Irvington…Safety on the Streets to the Sidewalks

The plethora of signs dotting roads in Irvington, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow all tell motorists to “Slow Down Rivertowns.” Now the attention has expanded to include pedestrians in a “Walk Safe” program that also has its genesis in Irvington. In speaking with Larry Schopfer, the Village’s Administrator, and Mark Gilliland, a Village Trustee who is the liaison to the Traffic Calming Committee headed by Walter Montgomery, it is apparent that education matters not only with drivers but for feet on the street as well. At the end of the 2015 school year PSA videos produced by students at the High School were shown on both local cable networks and Facebook. Currently these videos continue to run on Channel 75 at Cablevision and on Channel 40 at FIOS, Gilliland noted. The theme of safety coincided with the Automobile Association of America’s recognition of Irvington for 50 Years without a traffic fatality.

Irvington had always wanted to address more than simply drivers, hence, the focus on pedestrians. It is a concerted effort that is reflected in signage, posters and bumper stickers. However, education is simply not enough and law enforcement along with data collection will ultimately determine whether behaviors of both drivers and pedestrians will change in a positive manner of increasing safety. Gilliland mentioned that he notices, and people report, excessive speed on Main Street during commuting hours. There is also a sense that some drivers exhibit impolite behavior towards pedestrians in crosswalks by trying to get around them before they are in the middle of the street. Passing garbage trucks and crossing into oncoming traffic, along with not allowing cars to back out of parking spaces, are all signs of drivers in a hurry with their own needs placed above what the situation demands, namely patience and safety.

The Board of Trustees has allotted $7,000 for this fiscal year to promote safety through education and outreach. The public is asked to walk with their heads up and to pay attention to their surroundings. In all cases that means giving up using their cellphones while crossing streets. Residents interested in joining the committee chaired by Walter Montgomery, which meets twice a month, can email slowdownirvington@gmail.com. Ideas and participation are always welcomed.

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