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Hopewell Valley area residents are calling for more pedestrian and cyclist safety. Following a few incidents and near-misses, locals flocked to the Hopewell Pennington Update page on Facebook to express concerns and share ideas about how to make the area safer from those behind the wheel. In particular, Hopewell Borough residents expressed concerns about the dwindling walkability of the close-knit town and also shared those concerns with the Hopewell Township Police Department and Hopewell Borough elected officials.

Hopewell Borough resident and father of three, Jed Kornbluh, shared with MercerMe a letter he the Hopewell Township police. “Two of our three children walk or ride their bikes to school each day from our home on West Broad Street, and usually both my wife and I, along with our 5-year-old, will join them. We have noticed…[some] alarming issues occurring daily at the corner of Greenwood and Broad Streets, usually just after…the crossing guard is no longer observing traffic.”

The list of concerns includes excessive speeding, cars running red lights from the east, west, and northern directions, vehicles ‘pushing’ pedestrians through the crosswalk, drivers on or looking at their phones while driving, and most notably cars cutting between pedestrians in the crosswalk in an attempt to get through the intersection faster.

“I’m not complaining about lack of police in town,” Kornbluh wrote to the Hopewell Township Police Department, “Your force is doing an excellent job… but this situation is getting much worse…”

Daniel Opdyke, a Hopewell Borough resident and parent shared similar concerns to with the Hopewell Township Police Department. “I am a Hopewell Borough resident and I’ve been happy seeing more of a police presence in the borough. Lately, I have been noticing an increase in traffic and more specifically people speeding. As a father, I am concerned about the children who walk to school everyday and would really appreciate your help with this,” said Opdyke.

Sheila Reynterson, mother of two children and the president of the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, also expressed her concerns in a letter to the Hopewell Township Police Department. “One of my main jobs [with the Board of Health] is to improve the walkability of our town. How can I possibly encourage more families to walk to town and school when there is a menacing driving environment in the heart of our borough?” said Sheila Reynertson. “I implore you to do as much as you can to get this message out to area drivers: Hopewell has zero tolerance for dangerous and reckless driving.”

Here is the statement Hopewell Township Police Chief Lance Maloney sent MercerMe in response to the letters received last week:

After receiving multiple traffic complaints from Hopewell Borough residents this past week, Operations Lieutenant Kascik has advised our patrol and traffic officers to increase their directed traffic enforcement details throughout Hopewell Borough as manpower and calls for service allow. Our officers have also been advised to remain vigilant in enforcing crosswalk, speeding and distracted driving violations.

The department’s traffic sign will also be deployed periodically throughout the Borough to remind motorists to drive safely.

Parents are encouraged to reinforce safety issues with their children on a daily basis such as always crossing within a crosswalk with the traffic light. They should also make sure that cars are completely stopped before attempting to cross a street. When exercising or walking at night, bright or reflective clothing is highly recommended to help motorists in spotting pedestrians.

Citizens are encouraged to call the Hopewell Township Police Department via 9-1-1 or at 609-737-3100 ext. 0 to report any in progress reckless driving that they witness.

Pedestrian/road safety issues were also addressed at the Hopewell Borough Council meeting last Thursday night after some individuals sent letters of concern to the council and one Borough resident appeared to bring the issue forth in person to the council.

“I worry about the kids on the crosswalks. Just because they push the button doesn’t mean the traffic will stop for them,” said Melissa Cookman, Hopewell Borough resident and owner of Twine. on East Broad Street.

“None [of the recent accidents were] related to speeding. It was due to driver in attentiveness, cyclists not following rules. The county has rejected speed bumps on a county road and rejected bump-outs on the curb,” said Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano. “We’ve discussed this issue somewhat extensively. We are staying on top of it and if there is something else we can do, we’re open to it. We’ve done pretty much what we can.”

Some council members shared that they think it will still take time for the measures already taken in the Borough to quell speeding and improve pedestrian road-crossing. Another also urged caution to those on foot.

“Pedestrians need to take some responsibility,” said Council member Sky Morehouse. “It is a question of being smart and paying attention.”

The conversation also touched on attempting to reduce the “site pollution” in the crosswalk area of East Broad in front of Boro Bean. “What the prosecutor has told me, said Mayor Anzano, “is that there are issues with prosecuting cases by Seminary and Broad Street because there is site pollution. I think the Borough needs to revisit this and figure out what to do make the site more navigable for drivers.”

Mayor Anzano suggests that Hopewell Borough residents attend meetings. “We’ve discussed this issue so long and so regularly. If you come to the meetings, we discuss this and the council is well versed in this issue and prepared to talk about it.”

MercerMe has covered pedestrian and walkability in the following articles:

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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