TOWN OF AMSTERDAM — Safety tips for pedestrians and drivers sharing local roads are the focus of a public awareness campaign launched by area officials and transportation providers as warmer weather arrives.
City officials, local law enforcement, the Greater Amsterdam School District and the Capital District Transportation Authority gathered Monday at Amsterdam High School to unveil the collaborative initiative.
“This is the first day of spring, so we expect an uptick in pedestrian traffic and ridership, people using the bus,” said Lt. Joseph Spencer of the Amsterdam Police Department.
While drivers are used to stopping for school buses with red flashing lights, Montgomery County Sheriff Jeffery Smith said the public awareness campaign largely sprang from residents asking how to react to CDTA buses stopped to pick up students and related scenarios.
“You can pass a CDTA bus while it’s stopped, but use caution and know that there will be people on foot and on bikes traveling in an area getting to that bus stop,” Smith said.
This will be the first full year of CDTA services in Montgomery County after bus routes were launched throughout the city and town of Amsterdam in August. The area had been without public transit since the city eliminated its unprofitable bus service in 2018.
The still-growing local bus service averages around 10,000 riders each month in Montgomery County, according to CDTA CEO Carm Basile.
“We’re pleased, but it’s a building block process, it takes time,” Basile said, “it can take a while to get everybody comfortable. That’s another purpose of this conversation.”
Area officials have lauded CDTA bus services for providing access to essential services and opportunities by boosting mobility for area residents and students. Amsterdam High School students ride free to campus and all destinations on local routes.
“We think it’s been a tremendous benefit to our students,” GASD Superintendent Richard Ruberti said. “Keep an eye out for those students so we don’t have any tragedies or anything happen this year.”
Although there have not been any recent issues, Spencer acknowledged ongoing discussions around pedestrian and traffic safety have taken into account an Oct. 12 incident involving a student who was struck by a car while walking to a CDTA bus stop in order to travel to school.
The student was in a crosswalk traveling to Forest Avenue from Church Street when she was struck around 6 a.m. 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. He was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and not wearing corrective lenses. Poor visibility in the area on the dark morning was cited by police as a contributing factor in the incident.
Both pedestrians and motorists must be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution while traveling on increasingly shared roads to maintain safety, officials said.
“We want our pedestrians to use crosswalks and cross responsibly, but also we want our motorists to use caution,” Smith said.
Drivers are reminded to yield to buses and be aware of pedestrians crossing around public transit stops. Pedestrians and riders should wait until buses have departed to cross streets and should not cross between vehicles in order to ensure visibility.
“Be aware of your surroundings. Your situational awareness is important to safety,” Spencer said. “If you’re going to have your earbuds in, keep them at a level where you can still hear traffic and hear things like buses coming and going.”
Following these basic tips can help keep all pedestrians and motorists safe this year, according to Basile.
“Remember, before bus riders are bus riders, they’re pedestrians and they’re pedestrians after their trip,” Basile said. “If we all work together, watch out for one another, keep our eyes and ears open, it will be a safe spring, a safe summer and a safe fall.”
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.