There’s no question that children occasionally get hit by cars while chasing ice-cream trucks. But so do they — and adults — while crossing streets in other pursuits, playing ball, riding bicycles, etc. The point being: No childhood pastime is entirely safe, and it seems unfair to single out mobile ice cream vendors for the relatively rare accident they cause.
But ice cream trucks were banned in Niskayuna and Rotterdam a generation ago, after a couple such accidents, and the bans have endured. A similar one in Schenectady — a more densely populated municipality with more cars lining its residential streets — was overturned in the late 1980s, with no subsequent problem. Indeed, an Internet search for accidents involving ice-cream trucks across New York produces a paucity of hits.
So maybe it’s time for these Schenectady County towns — believed to be the only two in the region to have given these vendors a cold shoulder — to reconsider.
In a Sunday Gazette story, Brian Collis, longtime operator of the region’s 67 Mr. Ding-a-Ling trucks, cited numerous safety improvements since the 1980s — including flashing lights and swing-out caution signs — as well as his driver safety training program, to justify the second chance he’d like the towns to give him. A petition signed by 61 Niskayuna primary schoolers, presented to the town board recently, is evidence of the demand for Mr. Ding-a-Ling’s services.
The legislators are thinking of approving a trial run for the trucks later this summer — with restrictions like Schenectady’s that limit them to side streets and prohibit them from interfering with vehicular traffic. That seems like a reasonable enough approach. In the meantime, parents need to prepare their children for what to do — and what not to do — when they hear that siren song.