Press Release

Gillibrand, Hein Announce Plan to Improve Pedestrian Safety on Hudson Valley Roadways, Reduce Fatalities and Injuries

May 5, 2014

Saugerties, NY – Standing at L.M Cahill Elementary School on Main Street, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, joined by Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra and Cahill Elementary School students, today announced her plan to improve pedestrian safety on Hudson Valley roadways at a time when 23 fatalities and nearly 990 injuries involving pedestrians occurred on Hudson Valley thoroughfares.  In an effort to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, Senator Gillibrand is pushing for legislation she authored that would allow the federal government to fully fund pedestrian safety measures through federal highway safety funds. Federally-backed projects such as traffic crosswalk signals, pedestrian sidewalks, and crossing islands in the middle of a highway would incentivize states to put these measures in place. Senator Gillibrand also co-sponsored a federal measure to ensure that new roads will be designed and built to safely accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists. 

“Too many pedestrians have lost their lives or suffered serious injuries along dangerous roadways on Hudson Valley,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must ensure that our communities have safer streets that protect our children, seniors, and pedestrians. These common-sense federal measures would provide more investment towards safer roadways and help prevent these tragic accidents from happening.”

“Senator Gillibrand has continually been at the forefront of a wide array of issues that affect the lives of the people of Ulster County, and none more important than basic public safety,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.   “For all of her work on national and international issues, she has never lost sight of what is important in the day to day lives of the citizens of New York.  I commend her for bringing forward legislation designed to properly fund pedestrian safety initiatives that will hopefully help avoid the tragedies that occur all too often on our nation’s roadways.”

“Pedestrian safety is no accident; it requires a cognitive presence of both pedestrians and motorists. Pedestrian safety is further achieved through environmental design and industry standards that enhance the preservation of life,” said Joseph A. Sinagra, Chief of Police, Saugerties Police Department.  “Legislation as proposed by Senator Gillibrand is at the heart of addressing these issues which provides safety and protection paradigms for our most treasured community members, our senior citizens and children.”   

“Once again, Saugerties is glad to welcome Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to our fair town, and recalls with appreciation her visit to Elna Magnetics in the past and the economic development initiatives she sponsored at that time,” said Saugerties Town Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel. “Her concern for pedestrian safety  illustrates the range and deep commitment of her interest in the safety and welfare of all New Yorkers, and Saugerties is proud to host the Senator in her work in that regard.”

“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County is committed to fostering healthy community change in passing and implementing Complete Street policies that guide street design so it is safer for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users, and motorists,” said Lydia Reidy, Executive Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. “We have successfully worked with Ulster County communities to pass Complete Streets policies at board or municipal levels in Saugerties, Ellenville, Kingston and Shandaken.  We also continue to support Safe Routes to School projects within the city of Kingston by providing education for walking and biking safety, and will continue our efforts on these types of pedestrian safety programs in other municipalities throughout the county.”

“The legislation proposed by Senator Gillibrand will improve pedestrian safety and also provide New York State with greater access to Federal funding to improve our roadways and sidewalks,” said State Senator Cecilia F. Tkaczyk. “It’s a great measure and I thank Senator Gillibrand for her advocacy and leadership on this important issue.”

In 2012, there were 23 fatalities and nearly 990 injuries involving pedestrians occurred on Hudson Valley:


Pedestrian Fatalities

Pedestrians Injured























Currently, the federal government fully funds certain highway safety projects for states that are mainly focused on motorists and vehicles. Gillibrand’s Pedestrian Safety Act of 2014 would allow states to use these federal highway safety funds towards pedestrian safety projects. Legislation would expand the list of fully federally-funded safety measures to include pedestrian safety projects for states and localities, including:

 ·      Pedestrian hybrid beacons, which are enhanced traffic crosswalk signals primarily used on highways and other roads without pedestrian intersections. The signals are only triggered to stop traffic when a pedestrian needs to cross. 

 ·       Roadway improvements that provide a separation between pedestrians and motor vehicles, such as pedestrian sidewalks and crossing islands in the middle of a highway. These are particularly important for children, seniors and persons with disabilities who may take a longer time to cross.

The Senator’s bill would also require the Department of Transportation to issue improved car design standards in order to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities and support community outreach efforts on pedestrian safety.

Gillibrand also co-sponsored the Safe Streets Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation that will improve the safety of our nation’s roads and expand access for all users. With many roads designed only for cars and busy traffic, the bill will change the approach to the way federally-funded roads are planned, designed, and built, ensuring new roads follow safer policies and accommodating travelers of all ages and abilities, including drivers, transit passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Complete Street policies make sure that sidewalks, crosswalks, and safe transit access are taken into consideration as roadway plans are developed.

The Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension Service, which developed a very successful pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign in nearby Kingston is now developing a program for Saugerties. In Saugerties, the Village and the Town have developed a streetscapes project for Main Street (Route 9W) which is scheduled for construction to begin in May or June.  The streetscape project will include the installation of new pavers at several intersections in the downtown area, clearly marking where pedestrians should cross the streets. New handicapped ramps and pedestrian sensors will also be installed, making it easier for those who have difficulty walking to get into the intersection.  

A traffic light is being installed at the intersection of Main Street and Washington Avenue, which is a high priority for improving pedestrian safety because it includes Cahill Elementary School, a Senior center and housing complex, the Village Diner, and the Saugerties Public Library, all of which generate a large volume of pedestrian traffic, particularly among students and senior citizens. 

The Saugerties Police Department and downtown businesses are promoting a pedestrian education program called “See Be Seen” which is also sponsored by the NYS Department of Health and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. Local businesses have placed posters in their storefront windows throughout Saugerties. They are running public service announcements on local TV and radio stations.