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Cranford Woman Cited in Latest Crosswalk Accident in Westfield

The Saturday, Dec. 15, accident was the latest on the troubled crosswalk outside Lord & Taylor

Westfield Police Capt. Scott Rodger confirmed a 36-year-old woman from Parlin, NJ was hit by a car in the crosswalk on North Avenue West in front of Lord & Taylor at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15. She was transported to the hospital by the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad.

The driver, a 21-year-old Cranford woman, was issued a summons for failure to yield to a pedestrian in crosswalk. 

The crosswalk, which allows employees access to the off-site parking lot, has been the scene of several accidents involving pedestrians. In August 2009, a Lord & Taylor employee crossing from the parking lot to the store was hit by a car driven by a suspected drunk driver. The employee, 25-year-old Clark resident Gina Marrotta, received head injuries and broken bones in the accident, and resulted in the arrest of Westfield resident Leslie Boughner. Several years earlier, a Lord & Taylor employee was killed while crossing in that crosswalk.

In April of 2012, the Westfield Town Council passed a resolution supporting the efforts of Lord & Taylor’s property management company, National Realty and Development Corp., to install a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) pedestrian-activated signal at the location. From design to construction and maintenance, the cost of the light will be borne by Lord & Taylor.  

Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan, chair of the public safety, transportation and parking committee introduced the resolution and said that the committee had been working with the county, as that portion of North Avenue is a county road, and Lord & Taylor since 2010 to improve safety in that area.

Neylan cited a traffic report prepared by Gordon Meth on March 3, 2012 that concluded that a HAWK signal is recommended at that location. The County of Union engaged the firm of Pennoni Associates Inc. to review the report prepared by Meth and concurred with his findings. 

Westfield residents have asked Patch why, eight months later, the light has yet to be installed. Councilman Keith Loughlin, vice chair of the public safety, transportation and parking committee, explained that while the Town of Westfield has signed off on everything, the light's installation requires final approval from the County.

"The ball is rolling," Loughlin said. "We are optimistic that we'll see that light installed in the early months of 2013. It's much-needed and we hope it will make it much safer." 

In the Oct. 11, 2012 edition of The Westfield Leader it was reported that the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders considered a resolution to support the installation of the HAWK signal at the Lord & Taylor crosswalk at its Oct. 4 agenda-setting meeting. At the time, Jerry Bermingham, a representative of National Realty and Development Corp., told The Leader the corporation hoped to have the pedestrian light installed by Thanksgiving, although he noted that it would require an “aggressive construction schedule.” 

At the Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, Dec. 11, Westfield resident Pamela Orbach spoke of the need for public safety improvements. She suggested that the police department target offenses such as failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, if only to issue warnings in an effort to increase awareness.

Cidda December 21, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I have also noticed that a majority of pedestrians in Cranford jaywalk, or cross when they are not supposed to.
Donald December 21, 2012 at 07:09 PM
The fact that a young Cranford woman was responsible for the latest accident at that Westfield location caught my eye. For decades, I have seen -- as well as been a pedestrian during -- innumerable instances in Cranford where cars ignored the presence of people in crosswalks, even where there was an applicable stop sign (e.g., between the town's parking deck and the railroad station, and at the four-way stop at the post office). From my observation, the vast majority of local drivers treat a pedestrian in a crosswalk no differently than one seen jaywalking -- that is, try to avoid hitting him, without stopping, just like it was a video game where you would lose points. I have never seen a Cranford police officer give so much as an oral warning for a failure to stop at a crosswalk, let alone a ticket. Indeed, I have seen Cranford police cars similarly ignore pedestrians in crosswalks, as well as stop signs. The state's toughening of the crosswalk law several years ago to explicitly require ALL motor vehicles come to a COMPLETE stop -- for the ENTIRE time a pedestrian is lawfully in a crosswalk -- has made no difference, at least in Cranford. I suspect most drivers are not even aware of the law (although it was well covered in the press). Perhaps some police enforcement of the new law would educate the public, if not deter violations, and save a few lives.
Private Citizen December 21, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I have seen plenty of people in Cranford get tickets for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Private Citizen December 21, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I have seen plenty of people in Cranford get tickets for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Donald December 21, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I have noticed that, too, Cidda. I have little sympathy for pedestrians who jaywalk, especially when there is a nearby crosswalk. In the past, when I have posted on this topic, someone raises the same issue as you -- and rightfully so. However, my remarks are ONLY directed to those drivers who ignore pedestrians lawfully in crosswalks, such as the poor Parlin woman who was struck by the Cranford driver in Westfield, as reported in this news story.
Donald December 21, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Well, I stand corrected, IF that's true. I have lived in town for almost a half century, and have never seen a single instance of such police action, even though I have seen drivers blow through active crosswalks almost daily -- usually with me in the crosswalk -- during that time. As I said above, this is all "from my observation." In fact, I have brought a few such incidents to the attention of nearby officers, and they just shrugged, including once several years ago when the car actually struck me (lightly) while I was lawfully in a crosswalk in the center of Cranford. I even provided the nearby police officer with the vehicle's license plate number, and offered to be a witness. He said he "would take care of it"; I never heard anything further. A fellow NYC commuter had a similar incident here in town, with the same result.
Sammy December 23, 2012 at 12:57 AM
why don't they just build a pedestrian overpass at the Lord and Taylor crosswalk.
Hugh Smith December 23, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Donald-I agree. The Police in Cranford don't seem to be concerned with speeders or drivers who fail to yield. I guess it's too much trouble for them to enforce the laws.
Jim December 24, 2012 at 04:13 AM
I completely agree!!! Can you dip into your retirement fund to help pay for it? How about we just hold people for their own irresponsibility? They have had a cop out directing traffic every time I've been by this week. Forget that. How about we stick a cop in the lot and start writing tickets for people who fail to yield to pedestrians. It'll probably pay for itself pretty quick and break people of that habit.
Ted January 16, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Well, here's yet another example of a pedestrian hit on North Ave. W. Have you tried walking or biking around town lately? Do you feel safe or do you feel like an accident waiting to happen? Despite what the town will tell you, Westfield is NOT a pedestrian- and bike-friendly downtown. Oh, and just try to find a bike parking rack downtown (not including the train station). I think there are two locations where racks can collectively hold maybe 8 bikes. WF should consider relatively low-cost pedestrian and bike amenities that could encourage more walking and biking and reduce vehicle speeds in town. And, if enough local folks walk and bike to and from town, that leaves more room in the lots for out-of-town visitors who want to spend their money here. I don't hear or see the town even considering options like this, and it's too bad.

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