April 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Let’s Make Our Dark Streets and Hard-to-See Crosswalks Safer on Shabbat

We feel as though it is time to insist that the communities that we live in install street lights and also make the crosswalk areas safer so that one does not have to feel that they are risking their lives each time they cross the street.

Walking home from dinner at our daughter’s home on (the now-famous) Highgate Terrace, we are frightened by the ominous darkness that pervades many of the streets around us. The little street of Westminster Gate does not have one light on it between Highgate and Westminster. Literally, we walk in fear of falling due to the fact that we cannot see anything. It will only get worse when the leaves begin to fall and of course, when the ice and snow begin to line the streets. One could easily think that it would be better to walk on the sidewalk but there is no sidewalk! Again, this is a tragedy waiting to happen. One can fall and hit their head and who knows what the results would be?

This issue of lack of lights seems to exist in most areas around. Walking from a home on Dudley Drive on Friday night, again we worried that we would fall and because it is so dark no one would even notice us. Are there not enough people in the community that would be willing to speak up who are affected by this? This problem exists in all of the communities around us. As the days become shorter and people are walking on pitch-black streets, especially on Shabbat, it is our hope that by approaching our local councils a solution can be found before others are injured by not being able to see where they are going.

On Shabbat afternoon we were walking near the Roemer shul. When we were trying to cross the street there were many others waiting as well. Obviously on Shabbat none of us were able to push the button for the light to change. A police car driven by a Teaneck police officer slowed down and pulled his car to the side. The officer got out of his car and immediately stopped the traffic so that everyone could cross the street. It was a welcome gesture that we all appreciated.

Later in the afternoon Nina observed a man exiting from the side entrance of Beth Abraham following Maariv. The man had about six boys with him. He was not in the crosswalk and suddenly took a brave (or foolish) dart into New Bridge Road with the hope that the bus driving down the street would stop. Fortunately for all, the bus did, but what if it had not? What type of a lesson is this teaching our children? It was pure mazel that the bus came to a stop, especially since it was not directly at the corner. There is no way that we can assume that any car, bus or truck would stop. It is possible to stand there for 10 minutes, or more, just waiting.

The answer to this particular problem is not an easy one. We have been told that traffic lights are placed within a certain distance of each other and the corner of New Bridge and Westminster is not eligible because of the close proximity to the light at the corner of South Prospect. We have seen in other cities crossing signs that are lit up in the shape of a stop sign with a picture of a person crossing. Certainly this would be more visible than lines on the street and a small sign that is placed in the middle of a street that is constantly ignored.

Is there a way for us to figure out a solution to this problem before another tragedy occurs on
either Teaneck or Bergenfield streets? We need to badger our councils until they get it. We would be happy to park on a dark corner or in the height of daylight with a member of either council in order for them to observe the frustration of those trying to cross the streets.

Please let us know if you would be interested in working on making our streets more safe.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

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