Late afternoon on Saturday, June 25, 2022, residents of Sleepy and Hollow and Tarrytown gathered at the end of Millard Avenue where it meets Broadway. Most of the two dozen or so attendees had biked there after meeting at the Morse School and riding slowly through downtown Sleepy Hollow, escorted by members of the Village’s police department.
The purpose of the bike procession and the gathering were to remember the life and death of Luis Ángel Zhizhpon Quinde. Ten years ago, on the night of June 25, 2012, a car struck and killed the 28-year-old Sleep Hollow resident as he rode his bicycle on Broadway (Route 9) while returning from work at a restaurant.
One of Luis Zhizpon’s uncles, Humberto Quinde, opened the brief ceremony by thanking those in attendance for coming and the Sleepy Hollow Police Department for their assistance. He also expressed his gratitude for Bike Tarrytown’s donation of a ghost bike, a roadside memorial placed near the location where Zhizhpon was hit.
José Quinde, another uncle, called the ghost bike “a symbol for life, not just for now.” Speaking in Spanish, he expressed hope that people maintain the memorial and gather there each year to remember his nephew and the tragedy that befell him.
According to Dan Convissor, the head of Bike Tarrytown, the Sleepy Hollow stretch of Broadway averages twenty-four crashes and seventeen injuries each year. While many residents of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown want to ride bicycles in and between the two villages, dangerous roads, he asserted, “make people too scared to bike.”
Ten years ago, in the wake of Zhizhpon’s killing, Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray called the stretch of Broadway a “death trap,” according to the Tarrytown Sleepy Hollow Daily Voice. “Wray noted several intersections are particularly dangerous, including a five-way intersection of Beekman, Route 9, Route 448, Webber Park and Hudson Terrace,” reported the online publication.
Ten years later, that five-way intersection and Broadway/Route 9 remain as dangerous as ever.
For such reasons, Dan Convissor urged those in attendance on Saturday to support the Route 9 Active Transportation Project. The Village of Sleepy Hollow, he pointed out, has a plan to improve Route 9, but it falls far short of what is need, covering only a two-block area and without addressing the needs of cyclists. “So, I encourage you to push Sleepy Hollow to build a Broadway for everybody,” he said.
The ghost bike, a simultaneously beautiful and poignant tribute to the memory of Luis Ángel Zhizhpon Quinde, sits at the end of Millard Avenue, just across from the site on Broadway where he was struck on June 25, 2012.
It is past time for another memorial: a re-designed Broadway, one safe for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as for drivers.
Ensuring safe streets for all is central to the work of Livable Tarrytowns. Of particular concern is the well-being of the most vulnerable: our seniors, children, and individuals with mobility challenges. It was for this reason that our first public presentation—to the Tarrytown Transportation and Mobility Council on January 28, 2021—focused on improving the safety of crosswalks, particularly those on Main Street, not least because drivers often block the crosswalks by parking on them.
Since September 2017 (see “Background” section below), there have been plastic bollards—off and on—at the crosswalk on Main at Kaldenberg Place and John Street, as well as on John Street at Main. The bollards were originally intended as a temporary measure to test their utility. When they’re in place, the bollards generally work. The problem is, they are often not in place as people move them or motor vehicles damage them. At the time of the meeting, no temporary bollards were present on Main Street.
For such reasons, we asked the Transportation and Mobility Council to move beyond this temporary intervention and take permanent measures to provide robust protection and to enhance the visibility of the crosswalks. We provided various suggestions on how to do so (see “What Other Places Do” below).
The Council’s position—and that of Village officials who were present—was that permanent changes (e.g., bollards attached to the ground, sidewalk extensions in the form of bulb-outs) were not necessary. Instead, they advocated more of the same: moveable plastic bollards.
In July 2021, the new plastic bollards finally arrived on Main Street. The results are not encouraging in terms of crosswalk protection and pedestrian safety. Rarely are the bollards where they are supposed to be. As has happened in the past, people are moving them and Village officials do not ensure that the bollards are put back in place. The result is unprotected and less visible crosswalks and persistent pedestrian vulnerability.
Here are photos from two different days that illustrate the problem.
These images (ones that are hardly unique to the two days illustrated above) show—once again— that moveable bollards are inadequate (in addition to a waste of money).
Beyond the Main Street crosswalks, there is a need for a broad program of pedestrian safety and infrastructure. In many places in the Village, crosswalks are unsafe. Bike Tarrytown and the Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council (TEAC) have made this known in recent years, but the Village has done little in response.
Enhanced crosswalks are beneficial for reasons of pedestrian safety, but they also make walking more attractive. This is is good for air pollution, climate change, and our local businesses—as people who walk a lot are more likely to conduct their business nearby.
As suggested by the images in the next section, there are viable alternatives to the unsafe-crosswalk status quo. Livable Tarrytowns will work with our neighbors and officials in both Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow to identify these alternatives and bring about the necessary changes.
What Other Places Do
Several years ago, the Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council worked on a “Complete Streets” initiative. This included a walking audit of streets in and the downtown area with a goal of making them safe, attractive, and environmentally sound. Out of this initiative grew an effort to improve the crosswalks on Main Street—especially because drivers often blocked them.
As an interim measure, TEAC members proposed to the Village that temporary bollards be installed to protect the crosswalks with an eye toward some sort of permanent change. The response of the Village was more or less twofold: we don’t have the money for bollards and we’re not convinced that pedestrian safety is a issue at the crosswalks. So, with a small grant related to Complete Streets, TEAC purchased the bollards and a couple of TEAC members gathered data; this involved three one-hour “studies” of Main Street crosswalks on three different days to demonstrate the need for the installation of bollards to the Village. When TEAC presented the results to Village officials, they agreed to the installation of temporary bollards.
Below is a small sample of the photos taken from two of the “study” days.