A “smart” crosswalk is headed to Newtown Lane in East Hampton Village. Pedestrians will be able to press a button to activate lights warning drivers that they’re about to cross the street, as they can already do on Main Street at Huntting Lane and the Circle.
The new lights are to be installed at the crosswalk between Sam’s restaurant and Scoop Du Jour. The tentative 2013-14 village budget factors in $80,000 to put them in, and Village Administrator Larry Cantwell said a good goal would be to get them in before the summer of 2014, but he added, “Let’s get the budget adopted first.”
Because Main Street is part of Montauk Highway, a state road, the State Department of Transportation paid for the flashing amber lights at the two crosswalks at Huntting Lane and the Circle, which were completed in time for the summer of 2012. The village pays to maintain them and supply them with electricity.
“I think they’re a big help,” said Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen. “They definitely help make motorists aware that there’s a crosswalk there, especially at night,” he said. The crosswalks light up 24/7 if the pedestrian presses a button before stepping off the sidewalk.
The Village Board first discussed the idea of illuminating crosswalks after two pedestrians were struck on Main Street in 2008. Chief Larsen said at the time that more people were struck by cars in crosswalks than outside of them because pedestrians get a false sense of security.
There was one pedestrian struck last August, he said this week, although the injury was not serious.
The public’s response to the Main Street walkways has been positive, from what Mr. Cantwell has heard. “Those lighted crosswalks are an incremental improvement in pedestrian safety,” he said, although he added that they don’t guarantee it.
“It’s definitely a safety improvement to not having them, and at night that’s especially true,” he said. In addition to lights lining the crosswalk itself, there is a symbol of a pedestrian that illuminates as well.
The crosswalks on Main Street were the first to be installed on Long Island by the DOT, Eileen Peters, a public information officer for the agency, said last year.