Letter to the Editor
The Ridgewood News
November 28, 2008
I was disheartened to read Michael Giardina’s impassive article “Local priest cited in pedestrian mishap” (The Ridgewood News; Nov. 21). The article did not convey the seriousness of the incident and seemed to dismiss what, for many of us, is a great fear when strolling the streets of Ridgewood.
I am a friend and neighbor of the Semenchenko family who were involved in the accident at the intersection of Godwin and Sherman place. My understanding of what happened is very different from what was reported in the paper. It was not a “mishap,” but nearly a major tragedy. I would also like to point out that it is a common practice for a person to “push a stroller out in front of them.” Indeed, if there is another method for using a stroller, I’ve not heard of one.
Our small neighborhood is extremely distraught; neighbors are rallying to support the Semenchenko family and wondering what Village of Ridgewood officials will do to remedy the poorly lit, minimally marked crosswalk to prevent a real catastrophe from occurring in the future. Two years ago, at my request, yellow diamond pedestrian crossing signs were installed, but strangely, only at one crosswalk, not both. Obviously, this is insufficient. With frustrated drivers accelerating quickly as they leave the Whole Foods driveway bottleneck going downhill, and equally exasperated drivers coming in the opposite direction from the Monroe/Ackerman/Godwin tangle, those of us who use that crosswalk regularly with our children must be extremely cautious.
Ridgewood is a lovely place to live and one of the finest features is that it is a pedestrian town. We encourage our children to walk to school because it is healthy and good for the environment. We should also encourage our residents and those from neighboring towns to walk around and enjoy our stores and restaurants with well-orchestrated crosswalks, signals and laws. A reputation for ticketing speeders and those who do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks would send a clear message to walkers and poor drivers alike
I strongly encourage the village council, the police department and the safety committee to enforce existing speeding and crosswalk laws and to increase safety standards for pedestrians before a major disaster occurs. I also implore Ridgewood residents to do their part by slowing down, driving 25 mph (the speed limit on most major roads and side streets), refraining from using their cell phones when driving and stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalks, as is the state law.
Note from The Fly: S. Elizabeth Searle, the local minister cited by traffic summons in this accident, has publicly announced her intention to contest the charge that she failed to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.