Easthampton police step up crosswalk enforcement
Cross walk on Main street Easthampton in front in front of Young World Child Care.
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Cross walk on Main street Easthampton in front in front of Young World Child Care. Purchase photo reprints »
EASTHAMPTON — Police have stepped up enforcement around downtown crosswalks following an accident that injured a student and complaints from parents.
Police Chief Bruce McMahon said Monday that in the last two weeks, officers have been parking downtown several times a day to observe problem crosswalks and remind motorists to be mindful of pedestrians. They’ve handed out five tickets and given more than 20 verbal warnings, he said.
“We’re doing proactive enforcement, a lot of people are getting warnings and it seems to be getting the word out pretty quick,” McMahon said. “I think just seeing the police cruisers downtown helps.”
McMahon said an October accident involving a student from the Williston Northampton School and complaints from pedestrians prompted the action.
Police have been monitoring crosswalks on Main, Union, Cottage and Railroad streets, Park Street in front of Pepin School and Payson Avenue and Park Street near the Williston Northampton School.
The crosswalk on Park Street by Phillips Stevens Chapel is where a female Williston student was struck by a car Oct. 11. She was treated at Baystate Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries. The school and police didn’t release her name. The driver of the car, Karen Lague, 58, of 391 Main St., told police she did not see the girl. She was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
The most troublesome crosswalk, judging by the number of complaints, is the one on Main Street between Bank of America and the Old Town Hall. Parents whose children attend the Young World Child Care Center have reported being worried about crossing the street with their children because cars do not stop.
Marissa Carrere of Easthampton said she was very pleased to see police officers keeping an eye on the crosswalk because she has had trouble using it to pick up her 5-year-old son, Oliver Oparowski, at Young World.
“It is kind of a dangerous intersection,” Carrere said while buckling Oliver into his car seat Monday afternoon. “It seems like maybe some lighting would be helpful too.”
McMahon said a number of factors seem to contribute to motorists’ failure to stop at the crosswalk, including that the road is wide, vehicles are turning into driveways or Campus Lane, and pedestrians entering the crosswalk can be hidden by parked cars. Downtown Northampton, although it also has a wide, multi-lane thoroughfare, has islands that divide the road and drivers that are more accustomed to pedestrian traffic, he said.
McMahon said many of the crosswalks were also repainted during the summer and fall, which helps with visibility.
Rebecca Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.