Diane Carlson, whose brother Robert was struck and killed by a motor vehicle while trying to cross Partition Street in January 2014, told the Saugerties village board’s Monday, May 15 meeting that enough was not being done to protect pedestrians on Partition and Main streets.
Mayor William Murphy told Carlson that he believes the village had done quite a bit to make the center of Saugerties safer for pedestrians and motorists. “We’ve made plenty of changes,” he said. “The state put up a bunch of yellow signs at the crosswalks warning of pedestrians. I disagree that we have done nothing.”
Carlson said that vehicles were turning right on red at the intersection of Main and Partition streets even though there are signs that say ‘No Turn on Red,’ and pedestrians are not always crossing through the intersection despite the crosswalk signs saying not to cross. “Traffic is going too fast through there,” Carlson added.
She did note the pedestrian crossing controls at the intersection were there because of her brother’s death and the action of the trustees and Saugerties police department in getting the state to install the ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk’ signs.
She said the lone, battered sign in the middle of Main Street that reminds drivers to stop for pedestrians was not enough.
Mayor Murphy said that at one time there had been two, but motorists kept running over the signs and one became too damaged to use. He added that Partition was a congested street, but it is also a state road and the village did not have the authority to make many changes there.
Carlson suggested eliminating some parking, but Murphy said any time that suggestion has been made the merchants along the street have protested.
“You can’t fix stupid,” the mayor said about pedestrians not paying attention to traffic, “especially when people walk out between cars to cross the street.”
Trustee Jeff Helmuth added the state DOT installed the traffic lights at the intersection in a way that made them difficult to see from vehicles. He said the lights should be over the road and not over the crosswalks.
“I’ve been a police officer for 30 years,” said police chief Joseph Sinagra, “and most adults and kids know that you have to look both ways when crossing the street.”
Pedestrians know enough to push the buttons at the crosswalks to get across the street but then they cross before the ‘Walk’ sign comes on. “The need to wait for the sign,” Sinagra said.
“We’re also doing more traffic safety education,” Sinagra noted, but the police can’t make people pay attention.
Carlson said she wasn’t sure what the solution to the problem is, but urged trustees and police to try and do more. “I don’t want my brother’s death to have been in vain,” she added.