To demonstrate where streets could be safer for students walking to and from Springhurst Elementary School, Our Streets Dobbs Ferry is leading its first Community Walking Tour on Thursday, Sept. 30, from 8:15-9:15 a.m.
The tour aims to raise awareness, share concerns, brainstorm solutions, and spur officials to improve streets and sidewalks for the wellbeing of not only children, but of all pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.
The Community Walking Tour is open to all members of the public. The organizers invited school district, village, and county officials.
In conjunction with the Westchester Youth Congress, a high school student organization promoting community activism, Our Streets created a video showing the challenges children face en route to Springhurst.
Founded in 2020 by Brianne Lucyk, Rebecca Pitts, Lauren DeVilbiss, Elizabeth Mendez, Jessica Pflueger, Paulette Rivers, and Marjorie Zuniga, Our Streets is a volunteer group of village residents promoting safety and walkability, partly in response to the fact that five students were involved in pedestrian or cycling collisions during the 2018-19 school year (none of the students were seriously injured).
Pitts and DeVilbiss were co-chairs of the Children's Walk to Slow the Cars in November 2019, organized by the Dobbs Ferry PTSA Safe Routes Committee. During that event, adults and children walked to Springhurst, where elected officials encouraged action. With the support of state Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Village lowered the Ashford Avenue speed limit from 30 to 25 mph.
Lucyk, the mother of a kindergartner and a third grader, has a simple reason for being involved. “I walk my younger daughter to school every day. My older daughter walks with her friends,” she said. “Kids are allowed to walk to and from school on their own starting in third grade, which means kids as young as 8. This is another reason why we want to make the streets safer for pedestrians.”
The tour will allow adults to travel the routes children take to school. Portions of those streets lack sidewalks, traffic signals, signage, or sufficient visibility for vehicles. The routes will cover the Walgrove Park neighborhood and a stretch of Broadway and Ashford Avenue; Price Street and Ogden Avenue, with part of Ashford; and the D'Assern housing complex at the Children's Village.
“Many readers might not know that some Children’s Village employees live on site,” Lucyk added. “So they are Dobbs Ferry residents and send their kids to Dobbs schools.”
Lucyk explained that each participant in the walking tour will be equipped with a map and a checklist, and asked to record their observations. The checklist will cover not only sidewalks, street crossings, and intersections, but also driver behavior.
Our Streets plans to compile the information they collect, and share it with the PTSA, school board, and village board. Lucyk noted that the walk is scheduled for the busiest time of day in terms of traffic (2:45-3:45 is also busy).
The walk commences at the end of Springhurst’s driveway (Johnston Court at Walgrove Avenue, at the “Where Eagles Fly” sign). Though a new sidewalk leading to Springhurst was laid this summer, the other side of the street has no sidewalk.
Lucyk cited two intersections as safer crossings: at the top of Beacon Hill Drive, and at Ashford Avenue at Broadway. Both feature crosswalks as well as crossing guards during school hours. In addition, Beacon Hill has speed bumps, and the Ashford/Broadway intersection has a traffic light.
Our Streets hopes its efforts can lead to “easy fixes,” such as painting lines to narrow certain streets, a tactic proven to force motorists to slow down, since wider roads encourage speeding. Our Streets also wants clear signage where children cross.
Another benefit of more “walkability,” Lucyk mentioned, is fostering a sense of community, because, “You can’t meet your neighbors while you’re in a car.”
To register for the walk, visit ourstreetsdobbsferry.com/walk-together.