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IT'S TIME TO START OBSERVING CROSSWALK LAW

They are learning in the Village of Springville that just marking a pedestrian crosswalk on the street is no guarantee drivers will actually stop for walkers. The new crosswalk on Main Street in the middle of the business district is not being observed. Motorists roll on by anyway.

The fact of the matter is that Western New York motorists have no tradition of complying with a state law that requires a driver to stop whenever a pedestrian enters a crosswalk on the driver's side of the road. Most people are probably unaware of the law. It's on the books as Section 1151 of the State Vehicle and Traffic Law. Similar laws in some other states readily bring drivers to a stop for pedestrians, but around here the law is much ignored.

In the case at hand, Springville might learn something from the Village of Hamburg. In late 1997, the village put a portable sign in the middle of a Main Street crosswalk telling drivers to stop when pedestrians enter their side of the street. Signs have been stolen and hit, but the good news is that such an in-your-face recitation of the law really works. Village Mayor John S. Thomas says cars are stopping as they are supposed to.

Through the years, pedestrian safety has been pretty much an afterthought in traffic planning around here. Movement of vehicles has taken substantial precedence. But if motorists could be taught to observe the simple courtesies of the crosswalk law, it would be a good beginning toward a healthy change. Springville -- and other places with similar problems -- should try that middle-of-the-road sign that worked in Hamburg.

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