By Eden Laikin
New federal legislation, if enacted, would offer incentives to municipalities that make additional pedestrian roadway improvements, and provide more Federal assistance for public awareness and educational campaigns promoting pedestrian safety.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano on Hempstead Turnpike today to introduce legislation that would improve safety for pedestrians, particularly children and older adults. The two stood on the sidewalk along with Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island and Catherine Blotiau, coordinator for Safe Kids Nassau. Hempstead Turnpike is among the County’s roadways with the most pedestrian crashes.
Gillibrand’s legislation would authorize local governments to draw on Federal highway safety funds for special pedestrian-safety projects.
Improvements could include pedestrian hybrid beacons, which are enhanced traffic crosswalk signals primarily used on highways and other roads without pedestrian intersections. The signals are only triggered to stop traffic when a pedestrian needs to cross.
Or it could include roadway improvements that provide a separation between pedestrians and motor vehicles, such as pedestrian sidewalks and crossing islands in the middle of a highway. These are particularly important for children, seniors and persons with disabilities who may take a longer time to cross.
The Senator’s bill would also require the Department of Transportation to issue improved car design standards in order to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities and support community outreach efforts on pedestrian safety.
County Executive Mangano said pedestrian safety has always been a major focus of his administration and the County continues to implement new strategies to help keep our roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Last year, Mangano launched Nassau County’s Complete Streets initiative whereby new projects must consider the construction of shared use paths along roadways to help enhance safety and in many cases bolster the local economy. The Mangano administration has replaced traffic signals with LED lights and pedestrian crossing signals. This move has created a more visible signal for both pedestrians and drivers and through its efficient use of energy saved taxpayer dollars. The County has created new bike lanes, including one right outside of Eisenhower Park. Last year, the County launched the WALK SAFE NASSAU CAMPAIGN, which is designed to increase public education of pedestrian safety through printed material and a video featuring families and friends of young people who were killed in crashes. The video was made available to schools, community groups, and local organizations that have issues with pedestrian safety.
Nassau County also played a key role in a collaborative effort to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on Hempstead Turnpike by working with the New York State Department of Transportation, Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and other agencies
These improvements included:
o Pedestrian countdown timers on traffic signals.
o Leading pedestrian intervals on signals (pedestrian gets the walk light before vehicles get the “green” signal).
o Installation of “light up” pedestrian buttons where they do not exist. This will provide feedback to the pedestrian that the “Walk” signal phase has been initiated.
o improved medians to allow pedestrians safe havens if they cannot completely cross the roadway.
o Installation of “No Right on Red” signs at every intersection along Hempstead Turnpike.
o Increased speed enforcement, including placement of “Your Speed Is” signs.