College seeks more crosswalks in village

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew David Kuczkowski Many bars are located on Main Street in Fredonia. Every weekend, the street is filled with cars and bar goers, though the street becomes dangerous as they return to their vehicles or hop to the next location. Dark areas and hindered abilities raise the probability for injuries.

Fredonia’s Main Street is a night-life hub for college students and area partiers. On weekends, cars line the street as bars and local eateries fill. Though after a night of fun, Main Street, also known as Route 20, isn’t the safest place to cross nor are other local busy roadways like Central Avenue.

The State University of New York at Fredonia asked the Fredonia Village Board for assistance as it put forth the idea of implementing crosswalks and yield signs. The proposition has three crosswalks on Brigham Road and two on Temple Street. However, the issue has prominence throughout many parts of the village.

The worst-case scenario of a crosswalk mishaps happened several years ago, Fredonia Police Chief Brad Meyers recalled.

“It was a rainy night and a student was crossing the road on Central Avenue in the crosswalk and the other student (driving) had come off of Maple Avenue and was traveling north towards Dunkirk,” Meyers said. “And (the driver) didn’t see the student, who was dressed in dark clothing at the same time in the rain, in the dark. The student didn’t see the motorist because she was wearing a hood.”

There were no serious injuries he added. During the village board meeting on Monday, Meyers stated the village changed its downtown with the removal of many street lights decades ago. The incidents have a few commonalities, especially downtown.

“Most of this stuff where we had incidents were linked after dark, late night, downtown district, where individuals have been drinking and not paying attention or they’re caught up in the excitement of the moment and not paying attention to the signal,” Meyers said. “Literally, running across on green lights or not running across when the pedestrian crosswalk indicator that tells them when it’s time to cross.”

Although, the solution did not encourage the Fredonia chief. SUNY Fredonia’s concept had mid-block crosswalks, which are crosswalks that aren’t at intersections.

The three crosswalk proposals projected for Brigham Road are dangerous, the chief noted, as drivers going southbound on Brigham, from Dunkirk, are going on the New York State Thruway overpass and then driving downhill. The speed limit also is dropping from a 40 mile per hour zone to a 30, though Meyers knows that drivers aren’t dropping to that speed with immediacy.

With the addition of crosswalks, the fallacy for safety rises in his view.

“Mid-block crosswalks often lead to a false sense of security, especially with young adults,” Meyers said. “They just seem to think that the second they step off that curb, cars are going to stop and frequently, it doesn’t happen that way. Cars either can’t stop or they aren’t even aware that there is an individual crossing the street or they’re not paying attention.”

Chief Meyers suggested that, instead of more mid-block crosswalks, the village and college should work towards amber light crossings. Some could be solar powered and would be create a large visual flashing light for drivers to see and halt their driving for the pedestrian.

Deception of interpreting a street light rises more problems as well. Many believe that when the light is red on their side street light, that it is safe to cross because the opposing traffic has a red light as well. Though, that is not true.

Those, especially people who cannot cross the street swiftly, are of high risk.

“It can actually be red on your side facing you and green on the other side for oncoming traffic,” Meyers said. “The traffic signals have really developed and are very complicated, so you really have to pay attention to the pedestrian cross walk signal and not the traffic signal.”

Fredonia Police are taking action against hazardous crossing as college students come for the fall semester. Ticketing for illegal crossing will boost to ensure security.

“That includes pedestrians not utilizing crosswalks, where there are crosswalks available,” Meyers stated. “An example is Brigham Road; there are no crosswalks. So, there’s nothing illegal about a pedestrian crossing there.”

Ticketing more will promote safe transportation in high-risk areas, though the plausibility of another incident happening like the one “several years ago” may reoccur any weekend. All of the symptoms can materialize at any rainy, dark party night.

Twitter: @Kuczkowski95