Tight layout slows traffic, increases safety

— From Google Earth

A 20-foot wide roadway between parking at Altamont Oaks has caused at least one resident to call for “Slow Down” signs.

To the Editor:

Base child (and adult) safety on facts, not perceptions.

A few weeks ago there was a letter to the editor titled Stewart’s is “an accident waiting to happen” [The Altamont Enterprise, Oct. 17, 2019] Actually — the exact opposite is true!  

Let’s start with what is known. Concerned Severson Citizens (CSN) and a majority of village residents object to the Stewart’s expansion for numerous reasons. Foremost, of course, is the irreversible change to the “character, uniqueness and charm of Altamont.” This assessment of the village is a quote from Nan Stolzenberg, the consultant that oversaw the creation of the village’s comprehensive plan.  

In addition to the damage to the character of the village, the large sea of asphalt has other issues. CSN is very concerned about the issue of safety with the new Stewart’s plan. We have asked the village on numerous occasions to present a police report about any accidents that have happened at Stewart’s. There have been none! 

As you read the following two items from experts in the field, picture kids riding their bikes and skateboards to Stewart’s, going in and out getting ice cream, playing and horsing around with their friends. Because of the tight layout of the current Stewart’s, traffic moves very slowly, adding to their safety. 

We know that the principle of traffic calming is a recognized tool for preventing vehicle and pedestrian accidents. The Institute of Transportation Engineers did a study in 2017 titled “Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety in Parking Facilities.” Here is the essence of that study: “As populations continue to grow in dense urban locations, pedestrians will be exposed to dangers of vehicles in parking lots. Studies show that about one in four pedestrian-related accidents occurs in parking lots. Many of these incidents occur in grocery stores, apartment complexes, and other parking lot.”

We know that the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration has stated the following: “A variety of definitions are commonly used in the traffic calming field and although the exact wording may differ, the essence remains; traffic calming reduces automobile speeds or volumes, mainly through the use of physical measures, to improve the quality of life in both residential and commercial areas and increase the safety and comfort of walking and bicycling.”

 We know that the Department of Transportation also states in its literature item 2.3 Importance of Traffic Calming: “The importance of reducing vehicle speeds cannot be overstated in an area where there is potential for conflict between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle. The slower the speed of the motor vehicle, the greater the chances are for survival for the pedestrian.” 

We know that a couple of months ago, an Altamont Oaks resident posted a request on the Altamont Facebook page, asking for contributions or actual “Slow Down” type signs for Altamont Oaks. This image from Google Earth shows an overview of Altamont Oaks. The area where the resident is concerned is only about 20 to 22 feet wide and is the yellow line between the parking spaces. It’s not a big area, yet people speed through there to the point that the resident is asking for help with slow-down signs. 

Harvey Vlahos


Editor’s note: Harvey Vlahos is a member of Concerned Severson Neighbors, which filed an Article 78 proceeding in Albany County Supreme Court, challenging the Altamont Village Board’s decision to change the zoning of 107-109 Helderberg Ave. from residential to commercial.

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