GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The city of Glens Falls is taking a close look at its roads. It’s considering the crosswalks, and pondering whether the speed limits in place do the job correctly.
That’s not to say that the city is riddled with accidents, but crashes do happen – most recently last September, when a motorcyclist was killed near Cool Insuring Arena. City officials are now looking at ways of addressing traffic safety that work around human error, and lower the risk of mortality when mistakes get made.
“We’re running into an issue where we look at everything from the perspective of vehicles,” said Glens Falls Ward 4 Councilman Ben Lapham. “There are other people to consider. Everybody is at one point a pedestrian, even if it’s just the walk from your house to your vehicle.”
That means thinking about more than just crashes. At a recent meeting of the city Board of Public Safety, a pair of constituents brought a cumulative list of 69 addresses in the city where snow had never been cleared following the most recent snowstorm. While an overall mild winter means fewer instances of snow left on roads than in some years, the issue remains a safety hazard. Lapham is also concerned about giving pedestrians a dedicated safe walking route, especially as its downtown grows new businesses on Glen and South streets.
A national nonprofit is looking to change the way American cities treat their own roads – a mission Lapham and Mayor Bill Collins are eyeing as conversations grow locally. The Vision Zero Network advocates for the creation of road policies that lessen the risk of fatality and injury to pedestrians and drivers. The organization pushes for changes to roadway environments, policies and other local systems.
Vision Zero cites National Safety Council data reporting 21,450 roadway deaths in the first half of 2021. The group’s goal is to do what the name says: Get that rate down to zero.
“Vision Zero is important to look at, for that perspective of fewer fatality outcomes,” said Lapham. “Someone was hit in South Glens Falls within the last year. There was an awful motorcycle crash in Lake George, around Americade. It’s all around us, and it shouldn’t be so close to us.”
More than 45 communities have committed to Vision Zero, including New York City. Goals for Vision Zero communities include clear casualty elimination goals, strategies, and departments leading the charge to put an end to fatal accidents.
Currently, the city of Glens Falls is working on a Complete Streets plan. The state Department of Transportation defines a “Complete Street” as any road designed and planned in ways to keep everyone safe – pedestrians, motorists, public transit users, bicyclists and anyone else. One star feature of that project is the undertaking of a sidewalk inventory, taking a look at how walkways can serve the public – especially as parts of town go through development changes.
The Complete Street plan is also giving the city a chance to look closely at routes to the five buildings of Glens Falls City Schools. Glens Falls High School has commissioned a study looking at dropoffs and pickups amidst the traffic patterns around the school, especially on Sherman Avenue. The city has recently heard interest from Glens Falls Hospital in assisting with making school transportation safer across the city.
Those who want to get involved in making their streets safer can reach out to their Ward representative in the city. A list of elected officials can be found via the city website.