May 15, 2023, Mayor's Column

In a change of pace, I thought I would devote a column to the most frequently asked questions fielded at Village Hall.

Clearly number one with no competition: Why do the parking enforcement officers watch drivers cross double yellow lines or engage in other driving infractions and do nothing about it?

The parking enforcement officers, or PEO‘s are not police officers, nor even Peace Officers and are only authorized by law and trained to issue parking tickets. Trained police officers can only enforce New York State Vehicle and Traffic laws. The rationale being that traffic stops of any kind are actually the most dangerous duty of a police officer because stops can lead to more serious charges, such as stolen cars, outstanding criminal warrants or aggressive behavior and a PEO has none of the training needed to handle these situations.

The follow-up question is then: Why do we not have a beat officer on Pondfield Road on a daily basis?

Quite simply the police department lost three officers due to the unexpected injury of two and an early retirement of the third, so our police power went down dramatically in a 20-person force. We have since been able to hire a transfer from New York City and have another officer soon graduating from the Police Academy, so hopefully our foot patrols can be resumed as planned in the coming weeks. Many of you all believe that significant revenue is lost as a by product.

The most frequent question of late is: Why did we install the overhead light signals at Pondfield Road and Midland Avenue when everyone, including those in government, preferred the more quaint globe lighting?

In essence, it was a safety issue. As we encourage walkability throughout the Village, we heard from dozens of you, especially those with children, that the intersection could be safer to cross and was particularly difficult for young students to navigate to get to the Bronxville School.

As is custom, we consulted with our Police Department and brought in traffic professionals to evaluate everyone’s concerns and they all concurred with the need for upgrades to that intersection to increase safety. Enormously helpful will be the PED crossings for those of us always on foot at that intersection.  As with anything re-built in New York, especially in the traffic realm, new regulations apply from the New York State Department of Transportation. The configuration you see is simply required by law. As you can imagine, any deviation from following state instructions can expose us to increased liability. Unfortunately, in this case safety and regulations did trump the aesthetics.

Staying in the Midland Avenue environs, many have asked: Why is there a crossing guard at Masterton Road and not near the library or at the intersection of Midland Avenue and Pondfield Road?

The Village adheres to federally promulgated safety standards to guide us in all areas of traffic and pedestrian safety.

Per their directive, crossing guards should only be placed at an intersection that has a high volume of children; is a significant distance from the nearest intersection controlled by a traffic light and the route the children would have to take to reach that traffic light intersection is without proper sidewalks, such as the condition along Crows Nest Road. Hence the need for a guard at Masterton Road.

Crossing guards are never to be placed at an intersection controlled by a traffic light due to the dangerous confusion that can be caused when a driver sees, perhaps a green light, but simultaneously a guard waving a child across the intersection and the dueling authorities make for a potentially dangerous situation.

Many residents concerned about perceived speeding on Midland Avenue, as well as other Village streets, have also asked: Why don’t we think of having speed bumps or humps, rumble strips, or “rough” roads placed throughout the Village to reduce speed?

Again, we follow state and federal standards on the issue of any traffic calming devices. Before any speed hump or bump is installed, a traffic engineering study must be undertaken to determine both its necessity and proper location with verifiable data on traffic volume, speeds and accident rates. Incorrectly installed bumps have opened municipalities to significant liability.

For example, a bump too close to a curve in a road does not provide adequate warning to the unfamiliar driver and can result in increased accidents at that location. In addition, even if a bump would be helpful, a series of signs must be placed in both directions and the bump and the road markings leading up to it must be brightly painted. Speed bumps that you see without this signage and paint are incorrectly installed, thus exposing a municipality to additional liability.

As for rumble strips or roughing of the road, there is no study that has proven they are an effective traffic calming device. In addition, the noise made by the autos crossing these rough spots is extremely loud and incessant to neighboring dwellings.

Other frequently asked questions in various categories include:  

How do I report potholes/street lights that are out?

Go to the Village website under the Public Works link to report potholes and street light issues.

Who is responsible to maintain sidewalks?
As a homeowner, you are responsible to maintain your property from your house to the street, including the sidewalks, as well as making sure bushes and hedges don’t overhang onto the sidewalk restricting passage and that bushes, especially on corners , be trimmed back to provide needed site lines for drivers and pedestrians.

Finally, with the warm weather here and in some cases, folks congregating in the Village at night, with seemingly no purpose, many of you have asked why we don’t enforce a loitering law.

A person is only guilty of loitering in New York State when he remains in a public place for the purpose of gambling with cards, dice or other gambling paraphernalia; for the solicitation of prostitution or unlawfully using or possessing an illegal controlled substance.

There is no law prohibiting those to simply gather on a sidewalk to socialize.