Calls on Pelham Manor board of trustees to make Pelham safer for pedestrians

To the editor:

Mayor Jennifer Monachino-Lapey and the Village of Pelham Manor Board of Trustees were kind enough to let me read this during public comments.

They’re aware that I’m sharing this with you as well.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. I’m here to ask for your support on a “life-or-death” issue within Pelham.

For the record and as context, my name is Todd Cross. I am a 12-year resident of the Village of Pelham. A full-time dad with two children in Pelham schools, I coach youth sports teams, assist Troop 1 Boy Scouts, serve on the boards of directors of the Pelham Civic Association and Pelham Together and organize the annual Pelham Half Marathon & 10K.

I’m also an outspoken advocate on the issue of pedestrian safety and traffic control. It’s personal. For the past four years, I have been pleading for improvements at the intersection of Sparks Avenue and Wolfs Lane. In February, a car hit my 12-year-old daughter while she was walking to Pelham Middle School near that intersection. She was fortunate and walked away.

Others in Pelham have not been as fortunate; we know the horrific stories. Some see these as unfortunate traffic accidents. I refuse to accept that dismissive point of view.

Residents of Pelham Manor have come to you with similar concerns about pedestrian safety. I’m sharing my story to lend support and to ask for your commitment to making Pelham safer for pedestrians. To partner with the Village of Pelham, Pelham schools and hundreds of Pelham parents who are eager to help.

To be clear, this is not about blame or finding fault. It’s about safety, calming traffic and ensuring Pelham remains the most walkable sidewalk community in Westchester.

The design of our roads dates to the era of horse-drawn carriages and Model T Fords. Today, we’re faced with the effect of a growing national problem. Here are just a few data points:

  1. Pedestrian fatalities have risen 35% since 2008 and are at their highest level since 1990.
  2. SUVs are responsible for 50% of the increase in pedestrian fatalities.
  3. SUVs represent 60% of registered passenger vehicles in zip code 10803.
  4. Pedestrian survival rates are just 10% from a 40 mph impact and 90% at 20 mph.
  5. More than 90% of U.S. consumers ages 50 and younger use smartphone navigation apps, which frequently direct traffic from congested highways to residential streets.

We witness the impact of these conditions daily in Pelham in the form of congestion, aggressive driving, traffic delays, frenetic drivers “running late,” disregard for others and disregard for the law. Many of the worst offenders are residents of Pelham.

In communities similar to ours, including Mamaroneck and Irvington, elected officials and residents are working together to improve infrastructure, enforcement and public awareness.

I want to leave you with one last thought. Consider the safety measures we deploy for 800 runners of the Pelham Half Marathon & 10K, including several Westchester County police officers. Not one runner has been injured by a vehicle during a race.

Nearly 3,000 Pelham children walk or drive to our schools daily. Almost 700 are Pelham Manor children traveling to PMS and Pelham Memorial High School. Let’s not accept anything short of a perfect safety record with our kids, or wait for another accident to make the adjustments we know we need to make.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

Todd Cross

5 Manning Circle