Take A Walk On The Safe Side


Pedestrian safety woes aren’t unique to Baristaville — state pedestrian fatality rates are almost double the national rate. Governor Corzine is determined to take walking in New Jersey off the hazardous activity list. Last week, Corzine announced a $74 million Pedestrian Safety Initiative which promises to enable safer walking conditions through better enforcement, education and engineering.
Montclair Town Manager Joe Hartnett says he’s ready to jump on the pedestrian safety bandwagon. “We had already begun collecting traffic data and mapping current signage for such improvements,” says Hartnett. “We will be ready to go when we receive the application information from the state.”
Meanwhile, we were happy to see the above DOT banner two Saturdays ago in Upper Montclair, but wonder why it’s now gone. Hartnett didn’t know why, but told us the town has won a grant to make crossing in front of the Valley Road Starbuck’s safer – by installing a new crosswalk with embedded flashing lights.
Sure, folks hopped up on caffeine may need a little more help crossing the street, but what about a grant to make crossing at Watchung Plaza safer, for those brave souls who still dare to attempt it?

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  1. I definately think something needs to be done about the crossswalh near Starbucks. Drivers totally ignore the fact that they have to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. My mother-in-law was hit by a car while using the crosswalk. The driver was issued a summons, but that did little for her and the recovery she had to go through. I also think something needs to be done about cars coming out of the driveway along side Starbucks. Some people don’t care that they have to share the road with pedestrians. Pedestrians always have the right of way.

  2. The two worst intersections in Montclair are the corner of Bellevue and Valley Road and the one at Watchung Plaza. You take your life in your hands when you cross at these two spots. I stood at Bellevue and Valley one day and saw a truck literally almost run down a woman with a baby in a stroller. There is simply no regard for pedestrians. There definitely needs to be more enforcement of laws to protect those that are walking and crossing our streets.

  3. “… the town has won a grant to make crossing in front of the Valley Road Starbuck’s safer…”
    was that from the Starbuck’s Foundation?

  4. This is a very troubling issue. Many have tried to get the Montclair Town Council, and the MPD, to move the issue of pedestrian safety to a list of “priorities” for the township. We’ve met with little success.
    Similarly, there have been editorials in the Montclair Times. Again, little success.
    Children have been injured, some seriously.
    On Wednesday of this week I was stopped by one of the notorious crosswalks on Valley, near Bellevue. There was a car in front of me stopped and several in the opposite direction. A woman pushing a baby carriage was in the middle of the crosswalk, when a car passed me, and the car in front of me, ON THE RIGHT, and sped through the crosswalk narrowly missing the mom and child.
    Now, you may say, this happens all the time. But what made this different is that in the opposite direction, the second vehicle stopped was a marked police vehicle. It is likely the officer witnessed the entire near accident.
    We need direction. From the Town Council to the MPD that pedestrian safety is an issue. Year round. Not when we get a one month grant.
    MPD officers should be directed to aggressively issue summons. The driver in the case above should have been pulled over and ticketed for multiple, moving violations (passing on the right, failure to yield in a crosswalk, unsafe operation, etc.).
    Yet letter after letter from many, asking for action and enforcement, goes ignored.
    What has to happen? Injuries have already happened. Is it going to take fatalities?
    Why do we have to continue to hear “we’re working on a solution” or see only a handful of cheap signs go up when we get a grant?
    We have many challenges in this community. Rising taxes, the achievement gap, recycling, and so on. Here is a problem whose definition we can all agree on. We also have in hand a solution, with a revenue opportunity (fines). Why can’t we make this happen?

  5. Well said, Carya. More energy should be focused on prosecuting drivers such as the one you describe above than on raising the fees for parking.
    This goes for Verona, too, specifically Bloomfield Avenue, which is in desperate need of Pedestrian Crossing signs.

  6. I still mystifies me why there isn’t a traffic light at the busy intersection where Park and Watchung meet. Yes it would show down traffic and produce ridiculous backups during rush hour. But that might be the price to pay for the poor design of Watchung Plaza.

  7. Bloomfield ave is like playing frogger. How about enforcement? Use those parking slugs and have them write tickets. Just think: $28 for a parking offense compared to the over $100 ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Close the budget gap this way!

  8. Here’s why the town is doing nothing about pedestrian safety.
    Pedestrian safety is YOUR issue.
    YOU brought it up, YOU developed it, YOU came up with the idea.
    It was not THEIR idea.
    And furthermore, it’s YOUR priority, not THEIRS.
    YOU elected them, they’ll tell you, so THEY decide what gets worked on.
    Here are THEIR priorities:
    $750,000 Wayfinding projects with fat consulting contracts
    $700,000 move the ball field 17 feet projects
    New parking garages that can’t pay for themselves
    No bid contracts

  9. If the problem is not having enough police officers to enforce the law, perhaps we could do some of the “shared” services stuff and invite Glen Ridge Police to come in and ticket scofflaws. I’m sure the revenue from the fines would pay the salaries!

  10. Why couldn’t we just offer our own police “overtime?” Would that be a good thing for them? The overtime would be paid for by the fines.
    Hey, we’re currently adopting all sorts of loser schemes to have outside services share in fines, such as the false alarm deal, why not this?

  11. —“Corzine announced a $74 million”…… = TAX
    —“Montclair Town Manager Joe Hartnett says he’s ready to jump on the pedestrian safety bandwagon. “We had already begun collecting traffic data and mapping current signage for such improvements,” says Hartnett”……= SPEND
    —“DOT banner two Saturdays ago in Upper Montclair, but wonder why it’s now gone. Hartnett didn’t know why”…. = OF COURSE HE DOESN’T KNOW WHY. HE’S THE TOWN MANAGER.
    —“But what about a grant to make crossing at Watchung Plaza safer”… = THAT HAPPENED A FEW YEARS AGO. REMEMBER CURB KNOCKOUTS.

  12. I walk up Bellevue from the train station to Highland and can tell you that not a day goes by that I do not almost get hit by car going more that the speed limit with a driver on a cell phone who couldn’t care less about pedestrians.
    One recent evening I almost got hit in the crosswalk at North Mountain and Bellevue by a man dialing on his cell phone. I literally reach out and touched the hood of his SUV. He looked up at me and shouted I SAW YOU. To which I replied “hang up the phone-it’s illegal to use a cell phone while driving”. He said and I quote ” Oh yeah, well it’s illegal to be as stupid as you√¢‚Ǩ¬ù.
    I was shocked. No apology just an aggressive sense of entitlement. And the debating skills of a 3 year old to boot! And all I was trying to do was cross the darn street.

  13. My fave is the little plastic pedestrian-yield signs.
    They put one under the Watchung Train trestle- where there is no crosswalk!!
    So now folks walk through the intersection wherever they want. (Making it more like Asteroids).
    (or was it a teenaged prank??…..)

  14. We also need to teach our kids to cross with the light and re-teach ourselves as well. I have had to yield countless times as adults and kids and adults with their kids are crossing when the vehicles have the green! Including yesterday when a crossing guard during morning traffic came out from behind a double parked SUV at the Montclair Pre K and crossed kids over to Hiillside against the light… and I had to slam on my brakes (screeching halt) She looked at me and yelled for me to watch and take it slow.. I was going slow and pointed out the green light and said you came out from behind the doubleparked car!… and instead of saying oops.. she continued to scream at me!
    Furthermore, I had one of those “entitled” drivers behind me honking for me to speed up …. so I was intentionally (annoying him) taking it slow….. However, if he had been on his own there would have been another pedestrian accident yesterday….
    I think there should be actual traffic cops at high impact times and locations to monitor double parked cars dropping off their kids and alleviate speeding through the intersections as well.
    I have a child that walks in this town and I had flashbacks all day from the above close call.

  15. The Montclair police never set up patrols at traffic signals, where drivers routinely run red lights. I frequently cross Walnut and Claremont Streets at Park Road, and there’s almost always someone entering the intersection after the light has turned red. At the Watchung/North Fullerton intersection, the same thing happens. The police are never present at these intersections.
    To control automobile and pedestrian traffic at the really crazy crossing points – Watchung Plaza and underneath the Park/Watchung railroad trestle – how about some good old traffic cops, to move cars and pedestrians in an orderly way?

  16. I was in downtown Metuchen recently where they have installed “hi-tech” crosswalks with raised flashing lights that are triggered by a motion sensor when someone is in the crosswalk. As a driver, it really gets your attention. If this is what’s coming to the intersection by Starbucks, it’ll be a great improvement.

  17. Here’s a novel thought, Montclair.
    Instead of coming up with exotic ways to fleece the taxpayers, why don’t you enforce the traffic laws and get revenue that way?

  18. I imagine that all it would take to get people to notice is a month or so of heavy ticketing.
    The drivers around here are among the worst I’ve ever seen (and I drove in Boston for years).

  19. Why spend the money on the crosswalk signs and then a.) put them in absurd locations and b.) not repair or replace them when they get knocked over or moved.
    One of my lovely neighbors at Walnut and Forest decided they didnt like the sign that was there (which made no sense to begin with) and moved it out of the road. No one did anything. Every police and DPW truck that drove by ignored the fact that the sign was up on the sidewalk. I moved it back. It got moved again. Eventually some kids smashed it and now there is one piece of it left. When you drive through Caldwell on Bloomfield Avenue or South Street in Morristown or Main St Madison you HAVE to slow down because the signs are consistent and maintained and at every crosswalk. Spend the same money you’ll spend on one stupid flashing light crossing and buy enough signs for every crosswalk and then tell your lazy ass DPW to do their work for once.

  20. Many crosswalks desperately need to have new coats of paint. The fact that the town doesn’t bother to maintain them tells you worlds about the importance they actually give to crosswalks.

  21. This is Jersey. It’s full of stupid, selfish & aggressive drivers. You see them everywhere, every day, not just in Baristaland.
    I don’t know what the answer to that is, but in the meantime, enforcement of traffic laws is a good idea.

  22. Those banners were ridiculous, way up over your head, twisting in the wind. By the time a driver reads one, they’re involved in an accident.
    A cop in high traffic intersections at rush hour would be a good start. Not to mention ticketing the UPS guy that parks on the crosswalk at Valley & Bellevue EVERY day. Pedesterians also need to be ticketed when crossing against the light; not just the drivers.

  23. “In the UK – a junction like Watchung Plaza would have a roundabout – simple – a lot safer
    Posted by: bb | September 29, 2006 2:16 PM ”
    You must not have experienced the “Roundabout” in Clifton near the home depot- because We have no idea how to drive in them there are YIELD signs all in the wrong places – it’s one of the most dangerous areas that I know to drive in.
    All of the signs distract drivers who do not know or care that the car in the roundabout does not have to yield.

  24. Madison is a good example, because the town makes crossing safety a priority.
    There’s a cop working the crossing at Main and Waverly every day in the morning, at lunch, and after school. A second officer regularly looks after the Green Village and Main crossing and the Atlanta Bread turns. They nail at least one person daily making that illegal turn. Another officer regularly works the train station area.
    Face it, Montclair’s town government does not consider pedestrian safety or speeding an issue. If they did, they’d focus resources on them for a while.
    Maybe Montclair could use some of their (still) unmarked town cars to set up speed traps…

  25. At some of the very busy intersections in Japan (esp those near the subway stops) all the lights will turn red and all traffic must stop to allow pedestrians to cross the intersection — even diagonally. A warning bell notifies the pedestrians that the lights are about to change and that they must complete their crossing. By this method everyone knows that pedestrians have an equal right to use the road. At the same time pedestrians know that they can only cross the road at intersections when traffic is completely stopped.
    Naturally this would not be easy to adopt in this country where pedestrians are use to crossing in the middle of the road and drivers consider anyone in the road fair game.

  26. “Montclair Town Manager Joe Hartnett says he’s ready to jump on the pedestrian safety bandwagon. “We had already begun collecting traffic data and mapping current signage for such improvements,” says Hartnett”
    This really galls me. On the Watercooler, in the Montclair Times, on Baristanet, at the Council Meetings, for at least TWO years people have been asking, simply for SIGNS. People have written, called, emailed, snail mailed.
    We don’t need no study, and Joe? The bandwagon left, in other communities, dozens of years ago!
    What is wrong with this Town Council? Communities surrounding Montclair have signs and after TWO years all you can come up with is a $721,000 Wayfinding project?
    How much could these street crossing signs cost? Fifty bucks a piece? And since some of the roads are county roads, I’ll bet you Montclair doesn’t even have to pay the fifty bucks all by themselves!
    I think another poster was right. You guys just have other priorities. Pedestrian safety just isn’t one of those!

  27. It was suggested no too long ago that any pedestrian hurt in a traffic accidient sue the Town Council personally because of their inaction on this matter.
    I think it’s an idea whose time has come.

  28. I hate how they get in my way. Why don’t they drive too? They are slow and when they have strollers they are even slower. I have places to go to and they block my passage. No doubt they leave their houses unlocked and complain when people break in.

  29. The fact is, the police department is trying to address this issue, we simply just don’t have the manpower to do it effectively. For the person that posted that the officer didn’t stop the car that passed on the right… I cant say for certain, but many times we are on the way to another call for service and can’t break from that to stop a car. Of course I cant say that was the case in your instance, but it does occurr, often. We are trying to address the manpower problem with Hartnett, we have devised a new schedule where we would work longer hours in a day, but the total hours per year would be the same as required in our contract. This new schedule would increase the number of officers on the street from seven to twelve. Almost double the amount of officers on the street to cover issues like traffic safety and or burglary problem. To this day, the town manager has not taken the time to meet with us on this issue. Think about it… more officers on the street, for the same cost, and will cut overtime in the process, a win situation for the town, but we cant get them to meet with us!

  30. Tpr. Truth,
    Sounds typical for Hartnett. He doesn’t return e-mails or phone calls from town residents either.
    He reports to the town council, yet when questions are asked of the Mayor we are refered back to Hartnett who doesn’t respond to our calls.
    We need new town government that is responsive to the needs of the townspeople instead being just responsive to the needs of developers.
    Thank you for validation our concerns.
    I guess it’s going to take a horrific accident and lawsuits to get the Town Council’s attention.

  31. Dear Tpr,
    Here’s what you need to do. You need to bring this to the editor of The Montclair Times.
    Then, you need to attend a council meeting, or have someone attend in your place, and read the post you just wrote.
    What this town needs, but doesn’t want, is to have all this bs exposed.

  32. I think that the Montclair Times is a Remsen Tool.
    Tpr. Truth- take your post and information to PHil Read and the Star Ledger.
    It does good to embarass the Remsen Regime – they usually respond to embarassing information the isn’t just buried in the Montclair Time. Do it in the Star Ledger so that all of Essex sees- who know it may be picked up by the NYTimes.

  33. “I think that the Montclair Times is a Remsen Tool.”
    Read this past week’s Montclair Times, then come back and tell me the same thing?
    Are you kidding? The Montclair Times “goes after” the Council this week, and usually does every week, on numbers of issues that are important to the Township residents!
    So, don’t discount the MT!

  34. and if a portion of it was given to residents who filmed to offending cars we wouldn’t need a grant either.

  35. This is for the lady in the tan minivan who was speeding to the intersection of Spring and James in Bloomfield this morning while gabbing on her cel and who only screeched to a jarring stop when she saw me in the crosswalk. There is a clear stop sign at the intersection and I wish you would consider the fact that you could have killed me or some other pedestrian with your inattentiveness. But no, you proceeded to yell out your window that you “didn’t have to stop.” Hope the image of you hitting someone with your damn minivan haunts your dreams. &*%#$@ YOU!

  36. I saw someone get pulled over in Watchung Plaza last week. I think the problem is the inability to apply it consistently. Should a driver have to yield in the middle of Bloomfield ave. vs. Watchung Plaza or Valley Rd. and Cooper? I’d love to see drivers slow down and be more curteuos, but not sure how to effect this one.

  37. How about just installing traffic lights which are triggered by pedestrians pushing a button? E.g. for Watchung/Park and multiple locations on Grove (which I find the most scary BTW). Is such a solution really that expensive?
    Other than that I would consider automatic speed traps all over town to raise revenue.
    I also feel that traffic laws are not enforced enough: New Jersey left, speeding etc.

  38. I have 2 tickets to Tonight’s performance of Tosca at the Met. Free. First come first serve. CAll me ASAP at 973 434 3836

  39. How about a real traffic control device (e.g., traffic lights at Watchung Plaza). The intersection is so poorly designed that motorists are unable to see the edge of certain crosswalks now deemed targeted enforcement areas.
    Also, are the Montclair Police above the law? Why is it that we see Montclair Police officers driving throughout town on a daily basis talking on their cell phones while driving?

  40. This morning I was driving down Valley when I saw two women standing at a cross walk waiting to cross. One woman had a large box in her hands – I stopped to let them cross, as I am supposed to do. While they were trying to cross a car passed me on the right and two other cars – INCLUDING A COP – just continued to drive on down the road causing the two women to jump back onto the side walk!

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