The New York State project to install light-up crosswalks in two locations on East Hampton Main Street is a welcome experiment. But experiment it is — and pedestrians will still need to keep their wits about them.
No one can know until the work is done how drivers, especially those unfamiliar with the village, will react. Nor will the new crosswalks address the bigger problem of walkers darting across the street near the movie theater or making the Starbucks sprint in the morning while traffic is at its highest.
East Hampton Main Street is more a slow-speed, four-lane highway than a rural road. Drivers who obey the law and stop for crossing pedestrians block the view for other motorists, as well as the people on foot, and near-accidents are the rule. The light-up crosswalks may help, but then again, they may not. The Federal Highway Administration has reported that the rate of injury is actually higher in crosswalks on multi-lane roads.
One significant risk is that pedestrians will gain false confidence from the new lights and start their passage without being certain they are being seen by oncoming drivers. Caution is key, no matter how fancy the technology.