Amsterdam reviewing pedestrian safety after student walking to bus stop was hit by car

A crosswalk on Miami Avenue used by pedestrians to reach Amsterdam High School in Amsterdam on Dec. 2, 2021.

A crosswalk on Miami Avenue used by pedestrians to reach Amsterdam High School in Amsterdam on Dec. 2, 2021.

AMSTERDAM — Measures to bolster pedestrian safety around the area of Forest Avenue and Church Street are being considered by Amsterdam officials after a student was hit by a car this week while walking to a bus stop to travel to school.

“It makes me sick that anyone was hit on a city street, especially going to school,” Mayor Michael Cinquanti said Friday. “I am very concerned about the situation in terms of how it happened and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.”

The student, who was not identified by police due to her age, was making her way across Forest Avenue from Church Street using the crosswalk when she was struck shortly after 6 a.m. on Wednesday.

Police described her injuries as serious, but not life-threatening. She was taken to Albany Medical Center for treatment.

The driver, Tyler J. Lampron, 26, of Gloversville, stopped at the scene and cooperated with police following the incident. He was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and not wearing corrective lenses.

While the incident remains under investigation, police said no additional charges are expected at this time. Neither drugs nor alcohol were involved and speed was not a factor.

Both Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Richard Ruberti and Cinquanti discussed the crash with Amsterdam Police Chief John Thomas this week seeking possible options to address safety concerns in the area.

Although posting crossing guards along the stretch was ruled out as unfeasible, Ruberti said district officials and police are exploring precautionary measures that can be taken moving forward. He did not go into specifics about the still preliminary notions.

School staff will be talking about the crash with students in the days ahead and steps they can take to stay safe when walking to bus stops or to school by wearing bright clothing and looking both ways when crossing the street, Ruberti said.

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“It was a very unfortunate accident in the very early morning,” Ruberti said.

Poor visibility in the area on the dark morning was cited by police as a contributing factor in the incident. A crosswalk and related signage were present in the area after having been recently installed during the city’s Church Street reconstruction project.

Cinquanti plans to get a sense of the conditions at the time of the crash firsthand by visiting the site in the morning hours to inform ongoing discussions with city officials about whether any actions are needed to help prevent recurrences in the future.

“Our city can’t control the weather, but we do have to do everything possible to prevent things happening,” Cinquanti said.

There are several streetlights around the site that police earlier this week indicated would be checked to ensure they are in working order and to determine if more fixtures should be added in the area.

Ruberti will also discuss student safety with Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) staff after the girl was struck crossing the street on her way to one of the agency’s nearby bus stops.

“I will talk to CDTA to see if there is anything on their end, things they’ve done to address these things in other cities,” Ruberti said.

While the new service that rolled out in August transports students to Amsterdam High School, Ruberti acknowledged that CDTA could not avoid placing stops that also serve the public in areas requiring people to cross busy streets. That deviates from the district’s practice for mapping its own school bus routes.

“When you look at bus routes, especially at the elementary level, we don’t have students crossing major streets,” Ruberti said. “With CDTA we don’t have that option.”

Still, some residents in the area had raised safety concerns over pedestrians crossing Church Street to reach bus stops when signs were first installed by CDTA over the summer.

Yet, the authority would likely only review the location of stops in the area if requested to do so by school officials or law enforcement, according to Jaime Kazlo, director of corporate communications for CDTA.

CDTA works with local officials and police to determine where to place stops, seeking sites near pedestrian infrastructure like crosswalks to promote safety in urban areas where riders often have to cross roads, Kazlo noted.

“We do our best,” Kazlo said. “We’re only a month into [service], it probably needs a little more time to see if any stops or locations would need to be altered at all.”

While some residents had pushed against allowing buses to stop at all on heavily traveled Church Street, Cinquanti suggested CDTA buses traveling and stopping along the busy road could have a calming effect on traffic that could help ease safety concerns as locals become more accustomed to the new service over time.

“If anything, buses on narrow streets like Church Street are going to slow traffic,” Cinquanti said. “I don’t think a bus stopping should be a hazard, I think it’s a point of caution for people.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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