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Slow down, be aware — human life is at stake - Main Line Media News

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Slow down, be aware — human life is at stake
Wednesday, May 5, 2010 By Carla Zambelli

Traffic, cyclist and pedestrian safety on the Main Line is a self-admitted pet peeve of mine. However, having seen far too many accident scenes I certainly wasn’t looking for, I keep on writing about what I see because there needs to be a heightened sense of awareness in this “me first” world we live in. I always say that I wish people would slow down, take an extra five minutes, and be more careful and aware because someday it is going to be someone’s kid that someone else knows who is in that accident. Well, that was exactly what has happened in Haverford. On Sunday, May 2, at about 5:30 p.m. there was yet another accident on Lancaster Avenue in Haverford. The danger zone that disturbs many residents with regard to Lancaster Avenue begins at the Penn Street intersection through to the Haverford Station Road intersection. The accident location was proximate to Lancaster Avenue and Booth Lane in front of the Haverford School. This is what the official police report says as per what has been forwarded to residents courtesy of the kindness of one of the Lower Merion commissioners: “On Sunday, May 2, at 5:39 p.m. a pedestrian was struck by a car on Lancaster Avenue at Booth Lane. The pedestrian, a 17-year-old male, was crossing Lancaster Avenue from the south side... The pedestrian was flown by PennSTAR helicopter to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania...” What is not mentioned is how this looked. I happened upon the scene shortly after the EMS and police arrived on scene. What I saw was an empty car facing oncoming traffic on the wrong side of Lancaster with the door ajar and the windshield shattered on the passenger side. Accident scenes are a cacophony of sound. As I heard the intermingled sounds of crying, talking, police and EMTs working, there, prone on the ground of Lancaster Avenue, was a teenage boy. That is a sight you soon don’t forget. The boy was restrained on a backboard and taken by ambulance around the corner to one of the grass fields off Buck Lane on the Haverford School’s property. From there the PennSTAR helicopter took him to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Neighbors poured out of their homes from blocks away. Traffic on Lancaster was halted. And off to the side was the driver of the car, equally young. The driver was wide-eyed, crying and terrified and that is when it hit me: she is the other victim this day, and as was the case with the boy flown to HUP her life will also be irrevocably changed. This editorial is not to assign blame, and I think when all is said and done, this will probably be a horrible accident. But something must be done with regard to traffic.


Slow down, be aware — human life is at stake - Main Line Media News

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Living in a small neighborhood sandwiched between the two major arteries, I am naturally sensitive to what I see with regard to traffic. Our neighborhood is also a major cut-through, and when people are cutting through they more often than not disregard stop signs — and sometimes pedestrians. And when traffic is rerouted from either Montgomery or Lancaster due to an accident it is even worse because the drivers seem so annoyed that an accident has inconvenienced them. By now there should be more than sufficient accident data to address the problems of Lancaster Avenue whether we are speaking of accidents at the “improved” intersection of Haverford Station Road and Lancaster, Penn Street and Lancaster, North Buck and Lancaster, Booth and Lancaster or any place in between. Our sidewalks are littered with little bits of cars, buses and trucks long after an accident scene has been cleaned up. We’ve seen motorist-on-motorist accidents and motorist-on-pedestrian accidents. And that uninterrupted straightaway between Penn and Booth on Lancaster is tempting not only to drivers building speed but to pedestrians who basically have to jaywalk because there aren’t enough safe places to cross Lancaster Avenue. The police do their best to take care of traffic, but realistically this is not the only problem area in Lower Merion. So what else can be done? Can this stretch of road get an additional traffic signal at Old Buck and Lancaster or at North Buck and Lancaster? Can a proper pedestrian crosswalk be implemented at Haverford Station and Lancaster? This neighborhood is once again facing development. If the developer’s plan gets off the ground, from construction to completion, traffic will only increase. After all, with density, volume always goes up and never goes down. We have also seen an increase in truck traffic as those big trucks are also bypassing Lancaster and Montgomery avenues by cutting through the neighborhood. This is a neighborhood full of children as well as adults, and we have none to spare. Sunday’s accident reminds us of this, and that in addition to the need for greater traffic-calming we need drivers to be aware of their surroundings. Likewise pedestrians and cyclists must have the same awareness. Sunday the accident involved the children of other people. Tomorrow’s accident could hit a little closer to home. The point is you just don’t know. Carla Zambelli lives in Haverford.


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