School has started. Children are out and about. So are careless drivers. The summonses issued in Fair Haven lately tell what is known as a familiar tale around town.
To send a strong message about protecting and serving the children and other pedestrians, especially during school season, Fair Haven police on a vigilant mission to rid the roads of inattentive and speeding drivers.
In an attempt to drive the message home and down the town’s main thoroughfare — River Road — police in the past few days alone have issued 31 summonses involving “violations of pedestrian crosswalks and cell phone uses” as well as speeding, Councilman Rowland Wilhelm, police liaison, reported.
“Beware folks,” Wilhelm said at Monday’s Borough Council meeting. “Kids are in school. Slow down.”
The enforcement issue is one that has been met with appreciation by some parents.
“I personally have noticed a big change, so thank you very much,” Councilwoman and parent Susan Sorensen said.
Resident Ruth Blaser said that she thinks the students traveling to and from school also compromise their own safety by not obeying pedestrian rules.
“They have to obey the traffic laws too, because they tend to just go and do their thing without looking … they make it dangerous,” she said.
The pedestrian safety and traffic enforcement issue has been a common thread of concern, running down River Road into Rumson.
Rumson resident on the road.
From Fair Haven to Rumson and vice versa, , with sudden changes near Sugar Maple Lane in Rumson and on the bend by Doughty Lane in Fair Haven.
Fair Haven officials mentioned that they feel the borough’s Streetscape program's road stenciling creates an illusion of a more narrow road, which tends to slow drivers down.
Residents in both towns have expressed that, in addition to disregard for traffic laws, the abrupt changes in the limit are contributing factors to the problem.
But River Road is a county road, and as such, any changes concerning it must meet county approval. A speed limit sign, for instance, cannot be altered or moved without going through an involved approval process.
Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl has said that he has approached Monmouth County officials about getting the limit changed to a uniform 35 miles per hour to avoid the quick changes and, perhaps, quell the speeding problem with more consistency in the limit.
Whether or not drivers will obey a lowered limit is in question, Fair Haven officials discussed at the Monday night meeting.
“Since you had such a high hit rate (in enforcement with the 31 summonses), is that something you can repeat until the message is driven home?” asked Councilman Eric Jaeger.
Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge, who was sitting in the audience at the meeting, gave a “yes” nod.
Reiswig, for Rumson, has continued to push for similarly stiffer enforcement and the change in the limit.
He recently sent the following letter to the county:
My name is Ron Reiswig. I'm a resident of Rumson, living on the west edge of town at Third Street and River Road.
Many of the downtown residents, including myself are dismayed at the amount of traffic and the speeding along river road coming into the west end of town — often destined for the beaches, Ferry terminals, etc.
After talking to numerous residents, the Mayor, incoming Police Chief Lt. (Scott) Paterson, all have encouraged me to do what I can to raise awareness with county officials.
So, I've taken up the effort to see what we can do together.
My understanding was (that) a petition was submitted, by Rumson officials, to the county to lower the county road speed limit from 40 to 35 mph between Fair Haven and Rumson.
This is a good first step if approved, but additional steps are needed.
Specifically, I'd like to work with the right county decision makers to add a 30 mile per hour sign on the outside edge of town west of Sugar Maple (Lane).
The effort here is to slow care down before they hit the residential section —transitioning from 40 to 30. With houses right up on River Road, sidewalks and kids start at about Sugar Maple and especially at Third Street.
Today cars don't often slow down below 30 until well into town and don't stop for pedestrians attempting to cross the sidewalks. We believe the costs for these two near-term steps are nominal.
Secondly, adding an additional 30 mph size on River heading West at First or Second streets to remind drivers to not speed up until they fully exit the residential section (would help).
Thank you for the attention and I look forward to hearing from you on how best to proceed.
Also planning to address this at next Freeholders meeting next week.