Now that the weather is warmer and more people are outside, walking safely in and around the Village of Pleasantville is foremost in many residents’ minds.
Last week the village’s Pedestrian Committee held a public forum to update the Village Board and the public about upcoming safety improvements and future plans to ensure pedestrian safety.
“We’re dedicated to improving pedestrian safety, encourage walking for everyone’s health and the health of our planet, to create a culture of mutual respect between pedestrians and drivers,” said Carrie Roberts, chair of the committee that was established in 2018. “We came together because we love the village and love walking. Pedestrian safety affects everyone.”
A survey initiated in 2019 on how to advance pedestrian safety received 653 responses, showing residents wanted more sidewalks and speed bumps and that speeding traffic was a major concern. The survey also indicated problem areas in the village, highlighting three key intersections – Bedford Road and Marble Avenue, the Saw Mill River Parkway exit at Manville Road and the intersection at Manville and Washington Avenue near the Jacob Burns Film Center.
Throughout the almost two-hour live-streamed meeting, residents raised questions about specific streets and crossings. Some residents wanted to know why there couldn’t be more sidewalks and speed bumps on streets frequented by schoolchildren.
Police Chief Erik Grutzner explained that some streets are under the Town of Mount Pleasant’s jurisdiction. However, even for those that are under the control of the town, county or state, the police department can contact the correct office to find potential solutions to safety problems.
Sidewalks for Nannahagan Road, Broadway, Ashland and Church Street were also requested. But Mayor Peter Scherer said there are challenges.
“Putting sidewalks in are problematic,” Scherer said. “Every time it comes up it is fraught with discussion. Many neighbors don’t want a sidewalk in front of their homes because of either privacy or maintenance. As far as Church Street, it certainly is a cause for enforcement and there is a new speed light there for people who may not realize how fast they’re going.”
The committee also suggested more crosswalks on Bedford Road to help students cross at Great Oak Lane and Parkway Terrace.
Pleasantville Avenue resident Michael Gold expressed deep concern for cars making illegal right turns off of the Saw Mill River Parkway onto Grant Street, keeping many pedestrians waiting for an extended time to cross safely. It is a main crossing for children walking to school.
“It’s appalling to see drivers’ complete disregard for pedestrians in that area,” Gold said. “My daughter and I cross there (in the morning) before the crossing guard is there. I’m afraid somebody is going to get hurt. I’ve e-mailed the police and the county and wrote to the state reps and haven’t heard back.”
Other suggestions included installing a traffic camera to record vehicle violations or to build a pedestrian overpass. Roberts suggested starting a petition to build an overpass.
The committee also reviewed accomplishments to date. Two years ago, it launched the “Slow Down Look Up” campaign that highlighted the need for pedestrians and drivers to be alert. Some 300 Slow Down Look Up signs were delivered around town, with many still on residents’ lawns.
Pedestrian safety improvements in the village thus far include a new light with push-button activation at Manville Road and the Saw Mill exit.
Footing has been poured for a new signal at the southwest island at the Manville Road-Pleasantville Road intersection and installation of the signal is expected to be completed soon, according to Jeff Econom, superintendent of Public Works.
New speed signs are scheduled to be installed at Broadway and Church Street, Washington Avenue near the Toll Brothers condominium complex, Manville Road near Soldiers & Sailors Field and on Bedford Road and View Street.
Light sequencing traffic lights with a delayed red light to allow pedestrians to cross are expected for the Bedford Road-Wheeler Avenue crossing, Bedford Road and Marble Avenue and Pleasantville Road near Key Food where there are high-volume pedestrian crossings.
A Community Pride Crosswalk is schedule to be painted bright green at Marble Avenue near Parkway Field within the month, Econom said.
Econom said lights sequencing is to allow for better traffic flow. As a result, the lights will all turn green at the same time to alleviate a lot of the stop-and-go traffic which is in the village,” he said.
The committee proposed a new crossing guard at Bedford Road and Pleasantville Road by the island near Key Food when school resumes in September. The Village Board will consider the request when it reviews the village budget. Pleasantville spends about $100,000 a year on crossing guards.
The committee also encouraged residents to become “neighborhood ambassadors” if a safety issue is identified on their street and to report it to the Pleasantville Police Department at 914-769-1500 or by e-mailing policecheif@Pleasantville-ny.gov.
For more information, visit the Pleasantville Walks Facebook page or e-mail ppc@Pleasantville-ny.gov.