Betsy Lynn, Teresa Williams, and Jessica Pfleuger of the Dobbs Ferry PTSA Safe Routes Committee stated their case — in detail — for improving pedestrian safety in Dobbs Ferry on Jan. 26, during a meeting of the Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees.
The committee also submitted a letter to the mayor and board stating, “We believe that working together we can improve the safety of Dobbs Ferry streets, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, maintain accessibility for first responders, and preserve the unique character and quality of life we all enjoy.”
The presenters cited a 2018 Pedestrian Safety Study by HVEA Engineers of Spring Valley that tallied 23 pedestrian injuries in Dobbs Ferry from 2012-2017 as well as five Dobbs Ferry students involved in pedestrian or cycling accidents during the 2018-2019 school year. They also recalled two pedestrian fatalities: Paul Golio in 2016 and Rocco DePaolo in 2019.
The committee’s mission aligns with the Village of Dobbs Ferry’s Vision Plan and Climate Action Plan (CAP), as well as the Route 9 Active Transportation Conceptual Design Plan.
“PTSA Safe Routes promotes walking, cycling, and mass transit along with supporting the safe and healthy travel of Dobbs Ferry students,” the committee’s mission statement reads. “From encouraging families to step out of their cars to advocating for needed infrastructure improvements and supporting idling laws, Safe Routes is building community from the street up.”
The 11-member Safe Routes Committee, co-chaired by Lynn and Williams, wants changes to Broadway (Route 9), which the state owns. Broadway is the road most cited by parents as dangerous, according to Lynn.
After the combined efforts of government officials and vocal citizens, the state DOT instituted a 20 mph zone in front of the middle/high school, at 505 Broadway, in 2018. Safe Routes wants the 20 mph speed limit extended to all neighborhood streets, prioritizing “cut-through” streets with student pedestrians.
“The DOT was a roadblock, then Covid hit,” Trustee Donna Cassell responded. “We are beginning the process to enlist the support of county and state leaders to encourage the DOT to work with us.”
To improve safety on Broadway during after-school events, Safe Routes wants the Village to hire crossing guards for outside the middle/high school. In response, village attorney Lori Lee Dickson explained, “Crossing guards can be only under the police budget. If a guard is sick or unable to work, the police budget has to cover it. There are budgeting issues.”
The committee also recommends an assortment of measures, from new traffic signs and street markings, to new street lights and crosswalk lights, to new sidewalks, curb extensions, refuge islands, and bus shelters.
Pflueger suggested tackling issues in clusters, for example, working on sidewalks, then moving on to another issue. She mentioned that the Village of Hastings obtained a Community Development Block Grant for infrastructure improvements. In response, Mayor Vincent Rossillo requested more information.
The committee considers high-impact areas to be school zones, high-traffic streets or neighborhoods, walking routes to main destinations, cut-through routes for drivers, and areas where speeding is an issue. The presentation included approximately 40 specific streets and intersections, including Old Croton Aqueduct Trail crossings, with issues needing to be addressed.
Safe Routes proposes that the board empower the village administrator to prioritize and lead implementation of actions.
The presentation stated the committee’s intentions for their next steps: to offer more details about their ideas, along with their research on funding options, sidewalk priority areas, school bus cameras, and ways to create more walking paths and cut-through trails.
Rossillo asked the committee to return in a few months. “I want to have an ongoing dialog,” he stated. “To constantly keep this in front of us is the way to keep this going. We’re especially interested in sidewalks… but they cost a lot of money.”
Acting village administrator Ed Manly added, “With every new site plan or major renovation of an existing parcel, we make [property owners] put in new sidewalks.”
The mayor told the Safe Routes representatives that the Village is searching for an engineer, and could conduct a traffic study. Cassell added that the police department has been monitoring speeds in certain areas.
Safe Routes’ presentation reflected the Vision Plan’s goals for Dobbs Ferry, to foster “Gateway and greenway connections, sustainable community to support sustainable lifestyle, protections against inappropriate intensification, preservation of open space, and restriction of thru-traffic[sic] on residential roads.”
Rossillo concluded, “Hopefully we can take some of the smaller steps.”
To view the Safe Routes Committee’s presentation, visit dobbsferry.com, click on “Agendas & Minutes,” and then search for the agenda for the Jan. 26 Board of Trustees meeting