Following complaints, Saugerties eases up on jaywalking enforcement plan

(Photo by Will Dendis)

(Photo by Will Dendis)

Faced with opposition from village merchants and residents, Police Chief Joseph Sinagra has walked back his pledge to strictly enforce jaywalking laws.

Complaints followed an article detailing the $200-plus cost of a ticket, enforcement with undercover officers posted at village intersections, and the range of activities considered jaywalking, which include walking on the wrong side of the road, not using crosswalks when one is near, crossing the street diagonally rather than perpendicularly in the absence of crosswalks, and crossing against a “do not walk” sign.

Mayor William Murphy said he received calls from merchants saying that issuing tickets would scare off tourists just as the busy season begins.

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Murphy contacted Sinagra and, as a result, plans for enforcement were rolled back.

“In no shape or form are we looking to boot out tourism,” Sinagra said.

Speaking at the May 4 Village Board meeting, Sinagra said officers would instead hand out warnings, ticketing only those who give officers “grief” and those who have already been warned.

He plans to hold a public forum on pedestrian safety; date and place to be announced.

Another arm of the enforcement effort will be undertaken as promised. Sinagra said motorists will be ticketed who fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks without pedestrian “walk” and “do not walk” signage (and in intersections with such signage during “walk” periods).

According to police statistics, last year seven pedestrians were hit by motor vehicles in the town and village with one, Robert Carlson, killed at the intersection of Main and Partition streets. The previous year, 14 pedestrians were hit.

A new traffic light with pedestrian signage will be installed this summer, in part as a response to accidents.

The police department has been running a “See and Be Seen” information campaign concerning laws affecting pedestrians and motorists since last fall. This past weekend that education program continued when police flooded the village business district and brought along local artist Ze’ev Willy Neumann to pass out fake tickets and literature about how to properly cross the street.