Today, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, and New York State Senator Jack Martins held a press conference highlighting short term pedestrian safety improvements to the Hempstead Turnpike, the follow-up to Commissioner McDonald’s February commitment to improve Nassau County’s most dangerous road for walking.
Massapequa Park community leaders recently reminded the agency that Sunrise Highway—the county’s second most dangerous road—needs attention, too. The road has been the site of frequent pedestrian tragedies, and yesterday around 60 people gathered to rally for a “child safety zone” on a section that some 80 Massapequa Park High School students must cross on school days. These students are ineligible for bus service because they live too close to school, and according to Newsday, the child safety zone would “encourage the district to add those students to existing bus routes,” freeing them of the need to cross the perilous stretch.
Sunrise Highway is the classic arterial road designed to move cars at the expense of pedestrian safety. While busing can serve as a short-term solution to the immediate problem facing students, improved pedestrian infrastructure and initiatives—like more visible crosswalks and other traffic calming measures like pedestrian safety islands—must be added if the stretch is to become safe for all users. If NYSDOT and Nassau County follow through on all of their recommendations for the Hempstead Turnpike, it can become a model of pedestrian safety improvements for Sunrise Highway.