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RBPD SEEKS ‘DECOY’ PEDESTRIAN FUNDS

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Cross5From top, as Elizabeth Schwartz tries to cross Broad Street, both a northbound black Jeep and a southbound white pickup truck continue through the crosswalk. The silver pickup was waiting to turn when she entered the crosswalk. (Click to enlarge)

Cross the streets of downtown Red Bank on foot often enough, and it can seem they're ignored at least as often as they're honored.

We're talking about those moveable yield-to-pedestrian signs placed in the center line of Broad, Front and other streets.

redbankgreen recently stood and watched, camera in hand, as numerous motorists ignored both the yield signs and the human beings whose rights — and safety — they're meant to protect.

"It definitely bothers me," says Elizabeth Schwartz, of Shrewsbury, after we watched her get cut off crossing Broad Street in both directions. "That's what they're there for — everyone should know that by now."

A Riverview Medical Center employee who declined to give her name because she's not authorized to speak for the hospital tells us that she's even had police cars and parking authority vehicles roll by while she was in the crosswalk.

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Despite the presence of four Riverview Medical Center employees in the crosswalk, and two signs, this motorist kept on rolling. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank police do issue summonses for the violation, but don't keep data on such, police Capt. Darren McConnell tells us.

But it does seem time for an enforcement refresher. McConnell, who heads the traffic safety bureau, tells us the department is applying for a state grant to fund a decoy operation in which a plainclothes officer would cross streets and radio another officer to flag down violators.

Police used grant money in 2006 to bolster enforcement and in 2007 to add signage and bolder crosswalk markings, both in response to a rising number of accidents involving pedestrians.

The number of such accidents declined from 19 in 2006 to 12 last year, McConnell says.

He says there were over 700 summonses for failure to yield and other pedestrian-safety related violations issued in 2006, but "I imagine the number has dropped since then" because the grant paid for extra policing devoted to those issues.

As for complaints from pedestrians, the department gets them, "but not nearly as many as we used to," he says. He says he hasn't received any reports of police or other borough employees ignoring pedestrian rights.

"That's something we would take very seriously," McConnell says.

For the record, the yield signs are advisory only, McConnell adds. State statutes require motorists to stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks, whether or not there's a pedestrian yield sign, as long as there's no traffic light at that location, he says.

Some pedestrians shrug the matter off to varying degrees.

"It doesn't trouble me," a Freehold woman told us. "But it should trouble someone who lives here and comes here often."

For others, there's no issue.

"I didn't even notice," Sam Wallace, of Newark, say when asked his opinion of being cut off in the crosswalk at Broad and Wallace.

"I didn't get run over, and I've got both my legs, so…"

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