Two key questions remain to be answered about the recently installed crosswalk, mid-block on Welwyn Road between the Shop Delight food market and the Park District parking lot that’s been used as an alternate parking site for the store’s customers since March.
The first question is, will pedestrians consistently use the crosswalk that Great Neck Plaza installed to improve their safety, and the second question is, will motorists respect the crossing by stopping for pedestrians as required by state law?
Prior to the new crosswalk installation, Welwyn Road crossers have usually chosen to cross at any spot that they felt was most convenient to them rather than use the existing crosswalks by the post office or the traffic circle at Barstow Road.
But pedestrians who use the other crosswalks in the village, despite exercising extreme caution, haven’t been always able to confidently depend on motorists actually stopping their vehicles or even being aware that they must stop.
Jaywalking, lack of adequate parking and traffic congestion in the area surrounding the store have been serious concerns as the store’s popularity has grown greatly over the past eight years. “The crosswalk painted by our department of public works is part of a joint effort with the Great Neck Park District…to remediate the traffic congestion and parking issues in that area,” said Plaza Mayor Jean Celender.
“We are concerned about pedestrian safety and want to ensure persons crossing Welwyn Road at this busy spot have a visible crosswalk for improved safety,” she explained.
“Shop Delight agreed to fund the crosswalk construction and associated work of approximately $8,000,” the mayor added. The crosswalk also has pedestrian ramps at both ends and ramp delineaters and a sign warning motorists that the law states that they must yield whenever a pedestrian is within the crosswalk itself.
The Park District is considering the removal of part of its fence so that pedestrians can enter the lot directly when they reach the end of the crosswalk. The construction did cause the loss of one street parking spot on the north side of Welwyn.
The crosswalk project is just the first of several projects that the village is planning in regard to safety.
“Additional pedestrian safety and other enhancements are forthcoming and in the planning phase of a Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) grant of $840,000 that the village secured within the last year for Shoreward Drive and Welwyn Road,” Celender said.
“The village’s goal in the TEP is to enhance overall pedestrian and bicyclist activity, improve connectivity and safety to shopping, increase pedestrian walkability and enhance the general aesthetics and downtown economic activity,” Celender said. “The TEP project is part of a comprehensive plan developed by the mayor and board of trustees to promote pedestrian and bicycle accessibility and safety throughout the downtown.”
Last May, the Park District and Shop Delight entered into a five-year agreement that allows shoppers to park in the commuter lot, leave their keys with an attendant and walk across the intersection of Welwyn and Shoreward Drive to the store. The park district will receive approximately $52,000 a year from Shop Delight and the store also has the right to renew the contract with the district with a five percent increase.
The park district lot is within the boundaries of the Plaza, but the Plaza is not involved in the agreement. Still, the Plaza has expressed its concern over how the agreement would impact on the village itself from the very beginning.