Pedestrians in Saratoga Springs should feel special.
Walkers have gotten a lot of attention lately as city officials announced increased police patrols to curtail pedestrian/automobile accidents, and installed for the second time in 10 years pedestrian crossing signs.
Police stepped up patrols concerning pedestrian safety at the beginning of Travers Week, said public safety commissioner Ron Kim. The move was made to anticipate the additional 50,000 to 60,000 people the city accommodated during the festivities, as well as a result of two recent traffic incidents.
In June, a Capital District Transportation Authority bus driver was struck by a motorist while walking alongside her bus. In early August, a bicyclist was struck and injured by a motorist. Both incidents occurred near the intersection of Broadway and Congress streets, according to Saratoga Springs police officer Chris Cole.
In addition to the patrols, the city has also installed yellow day-glow pedestrian crossing signs at some downtown intersections. Eighteen signs were installed from Thursday night into Friday morning, said Kim.
They are at six intersections: Broadway and Grove streets, Lake Avenue and Church Street, Caroline Street, Division Street and Washington/Spring streets, and at the corner of Spring and Putnam streets. The signs are bolted to the pavement where the double-yellow line meets the crosswalk.
The project was a joint effort of the city public safety and public works departments, and carried a price tag of $5,000.
Tim Mabee, a member of the pedestrian safety committee strongly recommended the signs be approved. In 1991, Mabee was crossing the street between City Hall and the post office when a car hit him.
"I was walking across the street when it said 'walk,'" he said.
This is the city's second attempt at using the crossing signs. Saratoga Springs first considered, and then installed them on Broadway in 1996. Director of public works William McTygue said the city was one of the first communities to use the signs, and that they were removed because, as he puts it, "the city wasn't ready for them."
Saratoga County had four pedestrian fatalities in 2005, compared to two deaths the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nationwide, the number of fatalities rose 1.4 percent to 43,443 in 2005 from 42,836 in 2004. An increase in pedestrian and motorcycle deaths contributed to the increase, according to the NHTSA.
No major pedestrian accidents have occurred on Broadway in the past few years, according to the police department.""