Unsafe on Foot

A sense of needless loss

   With the hit-and-run death of a nun in Water Mill on Monday, the message is clear that South Fork roads are no place for pedestrians. Only two weeks ago, this community had to digest the news that a high school student was struck and killed as he and several friends made their way on foot from the Amagansett train station to his house. And, although her death did not involve a pedestrian, a Montauk resident was killed when her car apparently went into the path of an oncoming pickup truck on July 4.
    We cannot help but be saddened by each and every one of these deaths. Their frequency adds to the sense of needless loss. Sure, unfortunate things are going to happen when you put pedestrians together with vehicles on roads without shoulders or sidewalks. But that does not make these deaths or any of the more minor incidents acceptable.    Visitors need to remember that the South Fork, if you go by recent summer population estimates, is no bucolic paradise where you can walk wherever you please and drive as fast as you like. Drivers need to keep it slow and watch for surprises around every turn. And local officials must respond by providing sidewalks, and bicycle paths, where they can and regrading roadsides for better visibility where they cannot.


There are real safety issues in East Hampton, but the airport and its million dollar control tower is not one of them.
How are visitors supposed to know when they are engaged in a dangerous walking trip if there are no signs or public information guides to things like optimum bicycling routes, walking routes or behavior while walking or cycling? I have a detailed guide to clamming and piping plovers. Isn't the survival of walkers and cyclists of comparable importance? How are newcomers to East Hampton, or children, to be systematically notified that they should walk facing the traffic, for example? Could we have signage that warns of dangerous turns with no shoulders? Could the Star help with some statistical information from the Town Police on fatalities and hospitalizations by location over time?