Pedestrian safety really is the issue

I

n William Chandler’s letter to the editor (March 24), his personal attack against a writer who complained of dangerous crosswalks seemed to belittle the need for pedestrian safety issues to be addressed. I am a mother who, with a small toddler, chooses to walk around Red Bank because it is convenient. I do not add to the growing congestion nor battle other motorists for parking spaces. I am enjoying an asset that many towns do not have: Sidewalks with access to a thriving downtown.

In my travels, I have been nearly hit by cars numerous times, been cut off by oblivious drivers and cursed out rudely; this all while crossing with the walk signal. It seems that a number of people who drive through Red Bank are ignorant of the state law that upholds a pedestrian’s right of way. In essence, the might-makes-right mentality prevails, forcing the pedestrian to become secondary to the stream of vehicles that pour into Red Bank.

Ensuring public safety is the major role of government. When I have to dodge out of the way of a large vehicle bearing down on me and my toddler in the crosswalk, I believe government must step in. To rely on the goodwill and patience of others is a naive and ineffectual method for maintaining a safe, public space.

If banning skateboarding downtown is a priority to the Borough Council, why isn’t enforcing traffic laws? Certainly a car striking a person can do much more damage than a kid on a skateboard.

Rather than "quake in fear trying to cross the street," I take action.

During the past few months, I have been devoting myself to pedestrian safety issues, one intersection at a time. I have already been in contact with the county’s Department of Transportation regarding intersections they control. While the county investigates matters, I have written letters to various public officials including Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr., Capt. Ernest Van Pelt of the Traffic Safety Office, and Police Chief James Clayton urging enforcement. Surely the mere presence of a traffic officer (on foot) could do more than any sign, light or crosswalk could in protecting pedestrian rights. I am hoping that they will respond in turn and take action. My correspondence with RiverCenter has been received enthusiastically and with support. Hopefully, some improvement will be on the way.

We are fortunate in Red Bank to have sidewalks. It is a wonderful thing to be able to walk to our stores, banks, parks and restaurants. When I tell people where I live, they usually comment on how great it is that I can leave the car behind and walk into town. This aspect of our community should be treasured and encouraged.

Janet MacFarlane

Red Bank