In October, a mother and daughter crossing Route 112 were hit by a car; the 2-year-old girl died. Another pedestrian was hit just a few weeks later and remained in a coma.
The Village of Patchogue has recently launched a pedestrian education program in collaboration with the Patchogue-Medford Library and Suffolk County Police Department. The goal was originally to purchase 200 vests.
Thus far, according to the leader of the program, CDA executive director and COAD co-convener Marian Russo, the village has received a total of 500 vests as well as a few reflective armbands and blinking lights.
“The vests are for people who walk and ride their bikes,” Russo explained. “We really want to increase visibility, particularly after what happened on Route 112.”
About 300 of those vests were given to the Suffolk County Police Department’s COPE officers, who have been handing them out, and the rest have been packaged at the Patchogue-Medford Library.
“The safety of everyone—drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists—on our roadways is among the top priorities for the Suffolk County Police Department,” said Fifth Precinct deputy inspector Robert Monten. “We hope the availability of these vests will encourage those on foot or bicycles to wear them to increase their visibility and, in turn, create safer roadways for all.”
Donations have been provided by Richard’s Stride Rite of Sayville and Joe Romeo from Industrial Coverage in Patchogue. Stride Rite has also provided 40 children’s vests, and IC gave reflective armbands and blinking lights.
“We here at Richard’s Stride Rite of Sayville have heard about the tragic events that have happened in Patchogue,” store owner Richard Carrier wrote in his donation letter. “We care very much about the residents of our sister village of Patchogue, especially their children.”
Vest donations were also provided by Balfor Property Restoration, Long Island Quilts for Kids, Rosemar Construction, the LiRo Group, H2M Architects & Engineers, CYA, EW Howell, U.A. Plumbers Local Union No. 200, Kiwanis, Industrial Coverage, Advance Industrial, DeAl Concrete Corp. and EOC of Suffolk.
“We are all pedestrians at some point of the day, so pedestrian safety affects us all,” said library community engagement manager Jessica Oelcher of the donations. “Unfortunately, traveling on foot or bicycle can be dangerous, particularly after nightfall, as demonstrated by the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in our community.”
Many of the accidents that have occurred, she explained, have one critical factor in common: visibility.
“The library is committed to fostering the health and safety of our community, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the Village of Patchogue and Suffolk County Police Department to be the distribution point for the donated safety vests, with the goal of helping community members be seen and reduce their risk when traveling alongside vehicle traffic,” she added.
Vests are available in various sizes, from child all the way up to 3XL, and come with bilingual safety information provided by the SCPD.
As a team, Patchogue Village trustee Lizbeth Carrillo said the village is working towards the safety of the community’s pedestrians. She hopes to continue to work with businesses to provide vests for walkers in the community so that drivers can see them at nighttime. However, the struggle, she said, is finding a way to make wearing the reflective yellow vests “popular.”
Additionally, trustee Joe Keyes, who has been working on pedestrian safety for a number of years, said the village is also working on additional measures, including changes to the streetscape to help slow traffic.
According to information obtained from the Suffolk County Police Department, the number of fatal pedestrian crashes in villages of the South Shore including Bay Shore, Sayville and Patchogue, have been increasing from 2019 to 2021:
Bay Shore had zero fatalities in 2019, three in 2020 and four in 2021.
East Patchogue had a total of 1 for 2019 and 2020.
North Bay Shore had a total of 1 for all three years.
Patchogue had 1 in 2019, zero in 2020 and three in 2021.
Sayville had zero in 2019 and 2020 and two in 2021.
A total of three and four pedestrian deaths were calculated in those areas for 2019 and 2020, respectively, whereas a total of 11 were reported, last year, in 2021.
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