The following post is by Alex Kent, a coordinator at Drive with Care in Montclair and a community liaison for Montclair Health and Wellness Partnership:
In the first quarter of 2016 the number of incidents where a car hit and injured a pedestrian in Montclair almost doubled from a year earlier, to 18 pedestrian crashes this year versus 10 last year. February was the worst month, with 9 crashes. Also disturbing is the fact that two of the victims were children who were hit near their schools, a 9 year old by Hillside School, and an 11 year old by Bradford School. Both incidents were the drivers’ fault, not the childs’. Drivers were responsible for 15 of the crashes, with 3 being attributed to the pedestrian.
Once again Bloomfield Avenue was the most dangerous street with 3 crashes, followed by Valley Road with 2, and the Mountainside Hospital parking deck with 2.
The Pedestrian Safety Committee is working to encourage drivers to be more aware: put down the phone, don’t speed, and if you are in an area with crosswalks, be pro-active about looking for pedestrians trying to cross.
Grove Street is a prime example of a street where speeding happens all the time, despite the many crosswalks there. The Committee has commissioned an engineering study of Grove Street, which was recently completed. The consultants recommend lowering the speed limit to 30 miles per hour, and more importantly, instituting traffic calming measures such as medians, pedestrian refuge islands, and bike lanes to narrow the roadway and encourage motorists to slow down. The reality is that Montclair does not have enough traffic officers to keep up with the number of speeders. A “road diet” is what is recommended to force motorists to slow down.
The consultants also finished their study of the two intersections in Upper Montclair: Valley/Bellevue and Valley/Lorraine. They recommend that Right on Red should not be allowed at any time at those corners. They would also like to see the traffic signals include a Leading Pedestrian Interval, which means pedestrians are allowed to start crossing about 10 seconds before the traffic moving in the same direction. This means pedestrians can get to the middle of the crosswalk before cars start turning into the crosswalk.
The next step is to work with the Township and the County to start making these changes happen. PLEASE, PLEASE drive with caution in our town. 18 injured pedestrians is too many over 3 months, and hitting two children is indefensible.