On April 18, 2006, a parent's worst nightmare came true for my wife and I.
Our son Jarrid, then 10 years old and a student at Midland Elementary School, was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk around our block—as he always did. Jarrid loved riding his bicycle. Nobody really knows what happened that day, but Jarrid went into the street on his bicycle and was struck by a van driven by an 82-year-old man. The man was not speeding — as most people do on this street.
We believe that a stop sign at the intersection of Midland Avenue and Palisade Road where the accident occurred would have saved Jarrid's life. In June of that year my wife and I went to our City Council to request a stop sign. We are still fighting for the installment of that very stop sign today!
I hope the incoming mayor and City Council members act quickly to put a stop sign at the intersection where Jarrid was killed. Toward that end, I have just launched a new Web site about pedestrian safety, dedicated to Jarrid: www.stopforjarrid.org.
Everyone on the City Council —past and present—has been living in Rye for at least 12 years. They all know the traffic dangers and hot spots and it's up to them to step to the plate. We have a Traffic Transportation Commission, and I've requested to become a member. I've already been to a few commission meetings, and I hear a lot of what we can't and won't do. That has to change.
Three pedestrians were struck by oncoming traffic after Jarrid's accident. Two were children, one of whom was in the crosswalk when the accident occurred. One adult also was hit by a car while walking in the crosswalk. These three locations, along with the site of Jarrid's accident, should be evaluated and safety changes should be implemented.
Midland Avenue, in particular, is a long stretch of road with NOTHING to slow incoming traffic. Midland Avenue is home to countless activities. Our largest park and an elementary school are on this avenue.
Boston Post Road and Sonn Drive, near Osborn Elementary School, are also streets that could use safety improvements. Forest Avenue, Milton Road and the intersection of Theodore Fremd Avenue and Orchard Street are also in this category.
We could also extend crossing guard duty. A crossing guard is on duty in the morning in front of Rye High School, at the intersection of Milton Road and Apawamis Avenue. However, there is no crossing guard in the afternoon when children are leaving school. Something needs to be done about this.
The Rotary at the top of Palisade Road also needs better signage. Some people don't know the law, while others ignore it or don't see the signs!
We have a lot of work to do!
Our appointed council members are responsible for making sure our roads are as safe as can be, but we as parents can not sit back and wait for them to do their job. As parents, we also are responsible for educating our children against the dangers of the roadways. We can only hope that we have done enough and that at the end of each day our children make it home safely.
Below are some safety tips for parents to teach their children:
Drivers remember: "Behind every bouncing ball comes a running kid."
- STOP at the curb or edge of the road.
- NEVER run into a street.
- LISTEN and LOOK for traffic to the left, to the right, and to the left again.
- Teach children who don't know left from right to look "this way," "that way," and "this way."
- WAIT until the street is clear.
- KEEP LOOKING until you've crossed the street safely.
- ACCOMPANY your children until they can show you that they are safe pedestrians.
- Many of the children who die of traffic injuries are killed while playing, running, walking or crossing a street. Cross the street hundreds of times with your children before letting them cross alone.
Young children (ages 5-9) are at risk crossing a street alone because:
- They "dart out" into traffic.
- They believe if they can see the driver, the driver can see them.
- They believe cars can stop quickly.
- They can't tell which direction sound is coming from.
- Their peripheral vision is only 1/3 of an adult.
- They don't recognize danger or react to it.
- They can't tell how fast a car is traveling or how far away it is.
Remind older children to:
- USE sidewalks.
- KEEP to the left and walk facing traffic where there are no sidewalks.
- BE seen at night. Trim clothing with materials that reflect light.
- Ride with the traffic and obey all traffic rules.
- Wear a helmet.
- Keep your bicycle in good repair.
Walk your bike across the street — DO NOT ride it.