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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shabbat Pedestrian Safety

Via YeshivaWorld, this article about changes being made to traffic lights in Australia to accommodate Sabbath observers:
AUSTRALIA'S first kosher pedestrian crossings will feature hi-tech detection sensors, allowing Orthodox Jews to cross busy Sydney streets safely during the Sabbath.

Waverley and Woollahra councils are expected to install the devices at two intersections in Old South Head Rd at a cost of $19,800, after the Roads and Traffic Authority rejected a plan to re-program traffic lights.

The RTA has offered to pay one-third of the total cost, however, with the two councils sharing the rest.

Pressing a button on the Sabbath - the period of rest between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday - is considered a breach of religious law by Orthodox Jews.

This has created safety fears as members of eastern Sydney's large Orthodox community dodge traffic on the way to and from local synagogues.
There are actually a few local intersections where the lights only change if a pedestrian presses a button. Usually, when I see people crossing at those intersections on Shabbos, when they can't press the buttons, it looks like a mad dash to the other side between passing cars. Which can be pretty scary when the pedestrians are a bunch of not-quite-teenaged kids, or a mother with a stroller and/or numerous small children on feet.

The article points out that in many high-traffic locations, creating automatic timed intervals for the traffic light to change from red to green would cause untenable traffic delays, counting that out as a solution. The solution outlined in the article above seems to be a reasonable if expensive one (I'm sure the question will also come up whether stepping into the field of a motion-sensor is halachically permissible on Shabbos - I've heard varied opinions on the subject).A solution that I have seen in other communities - a crossing guard at peak pedestrian hours (as shuls let out, perhaps), is probably quite financially prohibitive as well. However, as the community grows, and Saturday foot traffic at these types of intersections gets heavier, the potential risk to these pedestrians' safety becomes greater and greater.

Anyone know of any other solutions that have been utilized in other communities to deal with this potential safety risk?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In far rockaway there is a crossing guard at the 878 intersection. Its a very dangerous intersection with a complicated turning pattern I assume the town of lawrence pays for the guard to be there.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

In Cleveland Heights, an officer used to stand by the light on Taylor Road and press the button when people would come.

Now, they've arranged it that the light only changes when the crossing streets have cars there - it senses when a car gets to the light on the side street. If nobody ever came, it would never change, but the longest wait is generally a couple of minutes. (It only stays red on the main street for about 15-20 seconds - enough time to cross, not too long to affect traffic.)

In Beachwood, I believe they have an officer at the Green Road intersection who controls the traffic and the light.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, after a number of years of effort, the County reprogramed a number of local traffic signals, to simulate the pressing of the pedestreian sensor button (meaning the computer is programmed to assume the button was pressed every 100 seconds, giving the longer pedestrian crossing time vs. the shorter vehicle only time or no change at all). These include lights in Lawrence near Beth Shalom and YI Law/Ced and in Woodmere Near YI Woodmere, Edward and Island.

But even at these intersections, the uneducated pedestrians still risk their lives and run accross busy streets. They also run out in the middle of the street. When I was young they taught us cross at the green not in between.

Missing a kaddish for a loved one is better then having kaddish said for the unlucky soul who risked all by running accross.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thornhill, Ontario - N suburb of Toronto. The traffic/pederstrian signals in the vicinity of the BAYT (huge O neighbourhood shul) are all automatically programmed on shabbat and chagim to change automatically every few minutes, courtesy of City of Vaughan.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

We have automatic programmed lights.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

teaneck has crossing guards

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real problem basically occurs during one 4-hour block of time, once a week - 8AM-12PM on Saterday morning.
A simple solution would be to put a traffic signal at the problematic intersections. The signal will blink YELLOW all week and on Shabbos morning, during these hours it will turn red every few minutes so that pedestrians can safely cross.
By the way, I think this would be a terrific solution for the West Broadway and Oakland intersection in Cedarhurst (Across from the Red Shul). This intersection is a disaster waiting to happen and I think the above described solution would be a very fair and effective way to address the problem.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the Blogjacking OM but this seemed right up your alley:
Speaking to a "friend" of mine who is following the advice of the Rabbinate in the neighborhood and no longer shopping at GG. 
His wife was a regular GG shopper.  She USED to go to Super Sol until she noticed something horrible imprinted into the cement in front of the back door (parking lot) entrance.  Right in front of the door, etched into the slab, was a vicious anti-Semitic slur -"F--K You Jews!"
Horrified by the sight, she immediately notified the manager who, also obviously concerned, confidently assured her that it would be “removed immediately”.
The following week she again went to Super Sol and, lo and behold, the racial slur had not yet been removed.  She again approached the manager, this time speaking a bit more sternly, and informed him in no uncertain terms that she was no longer inclined to patronize the store because of this gross failure on their part and that she intended to try some of the other local supermarkets.  She discovered GG and was a very happy and satisfied customer there UNTIL … when we all know … so … that was a few years ago…
Because of the recent GG issues, she has again started to shop at Super Sol.  To her shock and dismay, the racial slur is STILL THERE, etched in the cement by the back door of Super Sol.  She is really dumbfounded by the phenomenon, and frankly I agree.
A simple patch of cement would cover up a highly offensive racial epithet right at the heart of a major Jewish shopping center.
The cycle and the charade have not changed a bit since she last left Super Sol – a furrowed brow, and a look of shock and feigned concern on the part of the manager followed by quick and direct orders to Juan, Emilio, or whomever happens to be nearby, to “Go get the cement mix from the basement and cover that up”.
It’s STILL THERE.  It’s horrible and offensive.  It’s easily remedied – See it for yourselves and DEMAND THAT SUPER SOL REMOVE IT NOW!!!

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in maryland the pedestrian crossing signals are set to automatically go on during shabbos whereas during the week you need to push the button. not sure why they can't just do that instead of these 'detection' sensors.

12:32 AM  
Blogger joel rich said...

West Orange,NJ (the Vilna of Essex county) has both crossing guards at heavy usage times and reprogrammed main light for shabbat. I'm curious how this sensor will not be considered psik reisha dnicha lei?

5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regards to Red Shul issue.

Don't cross at an non controlled intersection. Crossing guards will not cross you there either. Cross at the green not in between.

As a more general idea for all locations, get permission from the county to have a "private" crossing guard (maybe your shul porter), to stop yhe traffic with a stop sign. Why can't inovative solutions be found that don't cost a lot of public $.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

In far rockaway there is a crossing guard at the 878 intersection. Its a very dangerous intersection with a complicated turning pattern I assume the town of lawrence pays for the guard to be there."

why would the town of lawrence pay for a crossing guard at an intersection in far rockaway?

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because it is not in Far Rockaway. The 878 part that comes off of Rockaway Blvd is entirely in Nassau county. The intersection referred to above is in the village of Lawrence.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 878 intersection has also been equipped with a timer showing you how much time you have until the light changes green. I believe it is 30-45 seconds. It is a great idea!!!

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is that there are safe, but less convienent places to cross streets.

People in the 5 towns, have chosen convience over safety for far to long.

I have seen women (Hot Channies and others) who push their baby carriage in front of them to expidite their crossing, as they challange cars and trucks. They should be arrested for child endangerment.

We have seen people killed for corssing in between instead of at the corner.

Enough complaining, and more sachel when crossing.

3:56 PM  
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4:45 AM  
Blogger Ruthie said...

The Jews, especially Orthodox ones, certainly take their Sabbath seriously.

Sometimes, the extent to which they do alarms others. :)

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Cerita Panas said...

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8:37 PM  
Anonymous Sandraqugy said...

teaneck has crossing guards

2:45 PM  

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