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Hudson talks enhanced safety for city pedestrians

Jan 14, 2011 6:20 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Warren Street in Hudson hosts several intersections that are reportedly problems for pedestrians, along with much of the city's downtown area."][/caption]The subject of pedestrian safety on the city streets of Hudson came up this week in what the Register Star termed a "startling announcement" by the Rev. Ed Cross, a Democratic city council member from the second ward, at the Common Council's January 10 meeting that he had been struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident, which then prompted several other officials to begin sharing their own stories, prompting ever further discussion as to what should be done about an allegedly escalating number of pedestrian-versus-car incidents in the city.

Cross said he was walking down State Street near the intersection with North Fourth Street around 8 a.m. Dec. 22 when a man exiting the John L. Edwards Primary School driveway proceeded to turn right onto State Street. As the driver attempted to make a right onto State Street, he was looking left, Cross said, and proceeded to strike Cross with his vehicle. “He was in the crosswalk, I stepped around the car, and that’s when he turned right,” said Cross. “I put my hands out, I stumbled, and he kept going.” Cross said he saw the man again the next day, in the same spot, and confronted him. “When I stopped him, he said, ‘Oh, you’re the guy who ran into my car,’” said Cross. “I told him we see things differently.” Cross said he did not file a police report about the incident, but did alert the crossing guard manning the intersection right after it happened. The crossing guard was “doing her job” and did not witness Cross being hit, he said.

Ensuring discussion centered on specific intersections that pose problems for pedestrians, including that of Fourth and Warren streets and Third and Columbia streets, as well as a general call for greater police surveillance... and more study as to ways of promoting driver awareness that Hudson is a walking town. The Register Star earlier alluded to another surprise announcement regarding Mayor Rick Scalera at the same meeting.

“Maybe I’m unlucky,” Cross said, “but I don’t think so.”

Cross’ rehashing of his experience prompted several other elected officials to share stories of almost getting hit by cars in Hudson, or knowing people who have been hit by cars: Common Council President Don Moore said his wife was hit by a car at the intersection of Fifth and Warren streets, while Alderman Chris Wagoner, D-Hudson3, said a guest at his inn, the Union Street Guest House, was also hit by a car on Warren Street and sustained a head injury as a result.

Alderwoman Ellen Thurston, D-Hudson3, said the city “needs some police action on this.”

“People are not used to the crosswalks,” said Thurston. “I make a point of getting into the crosswalk to force the car to stop.”

She added, “The corner of Fourth and State is particularly bad.”

Alderwoman Sheila Ramsey echoed Cross’ assertion that the problem mostly stems from drivers turning right, especially at red lights, without surveying crosswalks and looking carefully in both directions.

Mayor Rick Scalera agreed with Ramsey.

“Aldeman Ramsey hit it on the head,” he said. “The bigger issue is going right on red.”

Hudson Police Chief Ellis C. Richardson said several conversations have taken place throughout many city administrations about the intersection of Fourth and State streets. In August 2008, the city replaced the blinking red light which had graced the intersection for several years with a full-fledged traffic signal.

“They’ve always tried to change the way the traffic lights operate for better functionality with respect to the traffic flow,” Richardson told the Register-Star about the intersection. “There have been so many different dialogues in regard to that particular area — I can’t confirm nor deny whether or not (pedestrians getting hit by cars) was the reason for the change ... There have been a lot of issues up there, and in some respects, it has always been somewhat problematic to one degree or another.”

Richardson said he wasn’t aware of a particularly high volume of car-versus-pedestrian accidents in Hudson, or whether the number of incidents had fluctuated in recent years.

“We could come up with some statistics, but what do you compare those statistics to?” Richardson asked. He said he would gather information as to the frequency of pedestrian-versus-car incidents in the city.

Moore and other members of the Common Council said the topic should be brought up at the city’s next police committee meeting.

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