To the editor (regarding “”):
Two tragedies occurred on June 10 of this year, both of which may have been avoidable.
In the first, Janet Martinez, a cyclist who, according to a family member’s statement at the Orangetown Board Meeting in June, had little knowledge of the dangerous conditions along a certain stretch of Route 9W, was struck and killed in that stretch, by a motorist.
In the second, a young woman driving a car along 9W struck and killed Ms. Martinez, forever changing her own life. I cannot imagine the horror she must now have to live with forever, that of having inadvertently killed another human being.
I grieve for both the family and the driver.
Those of us who live along 9W, especially in the stretch between Ash Street in Piermont and North Broadway in Grandview, are far too familiar with the dangers of this road. The 40 mph speed limit may as well not exist for the blur of vehicles rushing by. The shoulder is nearly non-existent in some areas, with no hope for widening; this is all steep-slope area, and cannot be touched under current laws. Repairs for potholes and other dangerous obstacles take forever.
And most important, the sharp curves hide oncoming traffic from drivers. Those of us who know this road may know when to slow down, know what might come around the next corner—but this is a state highway, filled, especially on weekends, with strangers who have no idea what to expect, and believing that a posted speed limit means that said level of speed is acceptable.
When cyclists—with no shoulder to ride on—are added to this mix, the situation can become lethal. Vehicles have nowhere to go but the center of the road—and if someone is coming from the other direction, with cyclists in their lanes as well, an even bigger tragedy is in the making.
Much has been said about the right to use the roads, by all sides. But rights and reason are often two different things, and this is especially true in this case. This stretch of road is dangerous. People die on it (including two cases in the last decade where cars went flying off the hill, into yards below). This stretch is no place for cyclists, plain and simple. In fact, the official cycling maps even underscore this fact, calling out the river road as the correct route, accessible northbound before the Sparkill Bridge and at Ash Street.
Finally, even those of us motorists who do believe in sharing the road—who recognizes the benefits of having people explore our towns via bicycle, who see the health benefits, who are cyclists, ourselves—are still in danger of facing a head-on collision.
The posting of the new signs once again demonstrates the tone-deafness of politicians. While much was made about taking action, little has actually been accomplished. The signs that have been posted do nothing to alert either uninformed cyclists or motorists to the the dangers of a particular stretch of road that is neither an approved cycling route nor an easily navigated set of blind curves.
Action, especially when it comes to safety, is more than a bunch of carefully prepared press releases and generic signs. It is the careful consideration of the real issues, followed by actual progress in creating better results, clearly demonstrating the real situation.
Far more needs to be done to prevent any future tragedies, for anyone.
—Pat Esgate, Piermont