Friday, 17 February 2012 00:00Streets are where we live, play, work, and socialize. They should be safe, attractive, and enjoyable. Over time they have become the province of motorized traffic, both practically and legally. They should be places for us all to enjoy with peace of mind. Yet half of those who drive admit to regularly driving above the current 30 mph speed limit posted on many of our streets. If we were to consider a reduction of the speed limit to 20 mph, it would help encourage people to take to the streets. Reducing traffic speed may be the biggest single measure to make them more safe, vibrant and social places. If hit by a car at 35mph the chances of surviving are 50 percent less than being struck by a car traveling at 20 mph where the survival rate jumps to a significant 97 percent. It also cuts pollution from exhaust fumes and reduces noise. It helps create a people centered environment.
We wish to invite the residents of Great Neck into the decision-making process. The aim is to give a voice to our pedestrians because involving them is central to what Great Neck wants to do, that is, put people first.A recent event arriving in New York’s traffic history has become timed signals. Currently there are approximately 1,100 so-called countdown signals at pedestrian crossings. Sadly, many transportation agencies have prioritized speeding traffic above the safety of the people who inhabit our towns and other vulnerable road users. We must pause and consider this as nationwide pedestrians account for 12 percent of traffic deaths.
In this article I would like for us to ponder welcoming children into the world pedestrian safety. It is an important skill that needs to be developed over time. The process is similar to how teenagers learn to drive. Just as teens must first practice judgment and skills with an adult present and in simple traffic conditions, children need help learning and practicing where and how to walk safely.
To help children become safe walkers, adults must look at the world of traffic from a child’s perspective and have an understanding of how children’s abilities to learn and reason develop over time. This can be facilitated by repeated instruction and modeling of safe traffic crossing behaviors.
Two necessary skills for crossing are attention-switching, by this I mean for them to select the most important parts of a situation such as flashing crosswalks and attention to oncoming cars while trying to ignore distractions and concentration which is also crucial as a child must be able to continue watching for traffic while crossing.
In the future we will take up other critical concepts that help all of us make Great Neck a better and safer place to live.