Saugerties pedestrians keep bumping up against the same problem. The crosswalk: you know the one—located at the corner of Partition and Main streets. Police Chief Joe Sinagra has called it an “accident waiting to happen” because there aren’t any walk and do not walk signs.
Saugerties residents and visitors agree it’s dangerous.
Chloe Saban-Mayer, who lives within walking distance of town and together with her three-year-old son, makes two or three trips in a day, says she does worry. “I never know when it’s my turn,” she said. “It seems like something is always turning, someone else’s light is always green… When you have a child and you’re pushing a stroller, the stroller always goes out before you do—it’s the first thing in the street.”
State law says pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk, but most drivers don’t know this. For them, green means go. When asked if he knew about protocol at the crosswalk, a driver waiting to turn down Partition St. said, “But it’s my light. This isn’t a crosswalk, it’s an intersection. They [pedestrians] need to wait for me.”
For motorists operating under this belief, there is little reason beyond courtesy to yield.
Metha Little, visiting from out of town, says, “It’s just common courtesy to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. I always stop if someone is waiting to cross. Even if the light is green. It’s just what you do.” But when asked about the law, she responded, “Well, don’t pedestrians always have the right of way? No matter what?”
At Slices, the Partition St. pizza place, customers watch from the windows as the traffic moves past. “This [intersection] isn’t the safest,” says one diner. “I’ve been watching; pedestrians step out, sometimes tentatively, sometimes carelessly. They aren’t always looking. They think it’s a crosswalk. They think they’re safe.”
Another diner says, “Cars are coming in one direction, tractor trailers block the view, and walkers can’t see what’s coming at them.”
The high volume of large commercial vehicles that regularly pass through town does exacerbate the problem. “They [the trucks] make it really hard to see what’s coming,” said Zack Liberman, who works at The Computer Guys. Though Liberman has never witnessed an accident from his perch behind the plate glass window of his shop, he hears a lot of honking.
Some say the village needs to get tough about enforcing crosswalk laws. New Paltz and Woodstock have had success with signs in the middle of the road reminding motorists of the right-of-way. But then, those towns don’t sit in the middle of a major truck route.
According to the police chief and village officials, the best solution would be to replace the timer-driven traffic light with a sensor-driven light. That way, the “walk” and “do not walk” signs could be installed without causing massive backups on Partition St. But that will cost up to $500,000 and it’s the state’s decision.
Until then, watch your step.