Protecting pedestrians on Central Ave.

Posted at: 05/11/2013 12:54 AM
Updated at: 05/11/2013 10:33 AM
By: Steve Flamisch

ALBANY -- Close to three months after Kathryn Parker was struck and fatally injured by a minivan while crossing Central Ave., her friends are still waiting for the city to improve pedestrian safety in that area.

Parker, a young single mother raising a 10 year-old son, was hit on February 21 while crossing at the intersection with King Ave., near the Dunkin’ Donuts. She died in the hospital the next day.

On February 22, as mourners gathered near the scene of the accident to remember Parker, another pedestrian was struck and injured one block away.

"I hope Albany gets it together before somebody else gets hurt out here," Parker's friend, Tameeka Cowley, told NewsChannel 13. "I think they need to worry more about the pedestrians."

The city will soon be unveiling a new public awareness campaign warning drivers and pedestrians to be careful on Central Ave., but a long-term study of traffic safety in that corridor has not been initiated, an aide to Mayor Jerry Jennings said Friday.

A study may still be "in the pipeline," the aide said.

By contrast, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) is already reviewing the section of Central Ave. under its jurisdiction, a spokesman said. In Colonie and Niskayuna, state DOT engineers are studying everything from the placement of crosswalks to the timing of traffic lights.

"Safety is state DOT's number one priority," DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani said. "We are continuing to look at ways to make our corridors safer for everyone: motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike."

Since 2009, eight pedestrians have been struck and killed while crossing the approximately 15-mile stretch of Route 5 known as Central Ave. in Albany, Colonie, and Niskayuna, and known as State St. in Schenectady, according to DOT statistics first reported by the Times Union. More than 300 people have been injured.

Joey Hutton, who witnessed the accident in which Kathryn Parker was fatally injured, said the time for change is now.

"They've got to crack down on the places that actually need it," Hutton said.

The driver who hit Parker was ticketed for failing to yield the right-of-way.