Last week in this space we expressed regret that we hadn’t been more vocal in registering our concerns about pedestrian safety at the corner of Nassau Street, Vandeventer Avenue, and Washington Road. Our concern, printed in the August, 2016, issue of our sister newspaper, the Princeton Echo, was that the walk/don’t walk signals at that intersection do not change automatically along with the lights controlling vehicular traffic. Unless a pedestrian pushes the button, the “don’t walk” command will remain in force through cycle after cycle. Pedestrians become confused, wondering if their turn will ever come.
We don’t know if that confusion contributed to the pedestrian fatality on October 10 — as of October 24 police had released no further information about the accident. But the accident did prompt us to sound the alarm again in our October 18 edition, and then e-mail the article to Princeton’s mayor, administrator, police chief, and engineer. As of press time for this issue, we had received no responses.
But we did read that the town council will ask the state to change the intersection to an “all-way” walk zone so pedestrians can all cross at once. And we noticed new posters taped to the posts supporting the walk/don’t walk signals. The new signs declare it a “Pedestrian Safety Zone” and orders pedestrians to “Wait for the Walk.” In small letters, three-eighths of an inch high, and located 6-feet-7 inches above ground, the sign also notes, “Push Button for Walk Signal.” In a crowded streetscape, the words are not easy to detect.
It’s a first step. In the meantime motorists: Drive defensively. Pedestrians: Walk defensively.