ITHACA, N.Y. — At an open house-style meeting Wednesday night, mostly bicyclists and pedestrians turned out to weigh- in on the redesign of Inlet Island roads.
People discussed accessibility, crosswalks, snow plowing, and bike lanes — all focusing on the safety of pedestrians.
“You just look both ways and run like hell,” said Jerry Wilcox, a 73-year-old Ithacan who lives at the end of Brookfield Road with his wife, and often crosses the West State Street bridge.
“We walk down to Cinemapolis to see movies and walk back, so we make it, but there’s no way now to get across when you’re on that bridge, really safely…” he said. “The traffic flow issues, what are we going to do? We live at the end of a lake…We do not want a flyover like they have going through the middle of Syracuse. No thanks.”
Wilcox and his wife aren’t the only one’s darting across the roadway, either.
He said he sees school-aged children making the dangerous walk, as well, and their safety is more at risk in the winter when the sidewalks are packed with snow.
“You see school kids and other people going across the bridge…they’re just walking in the traffic lane,” he said.
Jan Schwartzberg, 60, said she lives on Hector Street, not too far from Wilcox’s home.
She walks to work in downtown Ithaca throughout the week and said that in addition to the lack of crosswalks in the area, drivers rarely go as slow as the 30 mph speed limit.
“Even though I’m walking on the sidewalk, it’s just pretty hairy sometimes,” she said. “My other big concern is traffic calming — just finding ways to get people to keep their car speed and truck speed down. It’s pretty out of control now, from my point of view.”
The sidewalk can also be unsafe for another reason — bicyclists.
It’s illegal for cyclists to ride on sidewalks, but Schwartzberg said it happens as people ride down Vinegar Hill.
“Most people, especially coming from the Floral Ave. and Elm Street…will bike ride on the sidewalk, which is technically illegal, because traffic — joining the traffic coming down the hill is just too dangerous,” she said.
Liz Bageant,32, and Peter Hyde, 36, are cyclists who ride their bikes to Cornell University from their home near Bostwick Road, though not on the sidewalk.
For more information about the proposed changes, read: City seeks input for redesign of Inlet Island roads
Hyde decides to “do battle” on West State Street so he can ride in a bike lane later, when he’s closer to downtown.
Bageant said, “I go on the (Cayuga) Waterfront Trail and then over the Buffalo Street bridge that has a barrier because I really like that because I don’t have to deal with traffic.”
They are strong advocates for having bike lanes, saying they prefer the plan that has cement barriers in place to separate the pedestrian walkway and bike lane from the roadway.
“A lot of the bike lanes, the line gets worn off pretty much yearly and then your bike lane is pretty much gone. So having actually something permanent would really help that problem,” Hyde said.
Want to weigh in on the issue? Email Director of Engineering Tim Logue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image: First Ward Alderperson Cynthia Brock said talks through some of the proposed plans with a resident during an open house-style meeting Wednesday night.
All photos by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice