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Police Chief Urges Pedestrians to Use Extra Caution, Citing Recent Accidents

Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas O. Ripoli issued a statement to Fort Lee residents regarding pedestrian safety.

In light of a recent increase in motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians in the borough, Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas O. Ripoli issued a statement to residents Tuesday urging them to take proper safety precautions “while navigating our streets.”

Ripoli’s message comes in part in response to two serious accidents this week alone—one on Edwin Avenue, and one on Lemoine Avenue at Whiteman Street.

“Simple practices adopted by those on foot can significantly decrease the chance of being involved in an accident,” Ripoli says in the statement.

Included among those practices are the following:

  • Use crosswalks and obey traffic lights
  • Avoid using cell phones and headphones when crossing the street
  • Wear bright-colored clothing if possible or add something reflective to darker clothing often worn in winter
  • Be vigilant of your surroundings, traffic and cars pulling out of driveways, especially when walking familiar routes
  • Parents should teach their kids proper pedestrian safety
  • Kids should obey crossing guards

Ripoli goes on to remind residents that the borough participates in the state’s Pedestrian Safety grant, which he says is “designed to target motorists who do not observe a pedestrian’s right of way.”

But he also warns that Fort Lee police will be keeping a specific eye on pedestrians “in the coming weeks” to ensure that they too are following traffic laws, especially those related to crosswalks.

Residents with specific concerns like “dimly lit or potentially dangerous intersections,” are asked to contact the Fort Lee Police Department’s traffic division at 201-592-3515.

Below is Ripoli’s message to the community in its entirety:

On a daily basis, the traffic volume in Fort Lee leaves pedestrian traffic in danger of increased risk of injury. However, simple practices adopted by those on foot can significantly decrease the chance of being involved in an accident. First and foremost, please use crosswalks. The intersections in Fort Lee are well lit and cars expect to see pedestrians within the crosswalks, as opposed to someone crossing midblock.  Also, please walk in accordance with the light cycles. 

Pedestrians need to resist talking on their cell phones and/or taking their headphones off while crossing a street. These distractions can be catastrophic to the pedestrian who is too distracted to notice if a car is coming in their direction. It would also be beneficial to wear some kind of bright colored clothing.  Most coats and jackets are in darker shades during the winter, but adding something that could reflect a headlight would increase the chance for a driver to see you during the night time hours. 

Know your surroundings. Most of us take the same route to work everyday and tend to relax and be less vigilant when taking a familiar route. Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings and look for cars exiting driveways, as they are more concerned with watching for other cars rather than people on foot. 

Parents should be diligent in educating their children in these common pedestrian safety practices. We have often seen children leaving school and ignoring crossing guards putting themselves at risk of injury. 

The State of New Jersey offers a Pedestrian Safety grant, which the Borough of Fort participates in. This grant is typically designed to target motorists who do not observe a pedestrian’s right of way. As the Chief, I am instructing my officers in the coming weeks to focus not only on the motorists, but also on the pedestrians for enforcement of traffic laws, more specifically J-Walking (crossing mid block and not using crosswalks). 

If there are any intersections that raise a public concern (such as dimly lit or potentially dangerous intersections) please contact our traffic division at 201-592-3515.  The Fort Lee Police Department will work with the County and State Agencies in order to rectify any problems. As always, the safety of our residents is the Police Department’s primary concern. Please stay safe and stay aware.

Thomas O. Ripoli

Chief of Police

Led Seplaki February 29, 2012 at 01:18 PM
A very thoughtful, constructive and life saving message to our community. Thank you. Les Seplaki, PhD JD
john ready February 29, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Yes, very thoughtful and constructive, but coming in the wake of friend Arya Jenkins' statements to the mayor and council on at least two occasions that I'm aware of -- about the dangerous lighting for pedestrians in Fort Lee, and about perilous pedestrian crossings in the town -- and the need for accountability, not only on the part of those driving vehicles, but pedestrians, what has the mayor and council done to ensure, for example, that no more accidents take place at the Lemoine Avenue and Bruce Reynolds intersection, where it appears that pedestrian killings are narrowly avoided every day, or the intersection of Plateau and Anderson, which is dangerous as well? The mayor agreed on one occasion where Ms. Jenkins spoke to the council that the light on Lemoine for pedestrians is too quick to turn. What has he done about that? What will it take before the most obvious and elemental procedures are implemented? It often seems as if signs of concern are verbalized in Fort Lee, but action must be taken, and as the cliche goes, it most certainly speaks louder than words.
john ready February 29, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Incidentally, Ms. Jenkins spoke to the mayor and council on these very issues last year. Not just yesterday.
Nancy Dougherty March 01, 2012 at 12:25 AM
I don't think vehicular right turns on red should be permitted at the intersections around the GWB, especially the ones at Bridge Plaza North and South. There is a high volume of pedestrians at those locations throughout the day, and I have lost count of the number of drivers I see who make right turns on red without bothering to stop for pedestrians. Dangerous!
William Mays March 01, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Yeah, but if you've read the Record's article on the incident on Lemoine and Whiteman, you'd see that the cops suspect that she was on the phone. So why should the drivers have to sacrifice their right to a red light turn because someone can't get off the phone when she's walking across the street?
john ready March 01, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I concur with Nancy D. I have attended a peace vigil at the corner of Lemoine and Bruce Reynolds Boulevard, where I was honestly quite surprised to see no pedestrians killed during the one hour I stood there with my sign. Drivers making a right onto Lemoine are virtually all on their phones, smoking and/or talking, and in a hurry, and neither mindful or caring about the needs of pedestrians to get across the street safely. Why are there no cops monitoring and helping out at the rush hour? Why can't the Port Authority and Fort Lee authorities get together, rather than pass off blame and responsibility on this issue of traffic and pedestrian safety?
john ready March 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Well, Billy, because it's best not to kill people. A, B, C. a) if you do, you might kill someone and wind up in jail b) people mourn their loved ones and hate you for the rest of your life, c) you thus ruin many lives.
Anna March 01, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Lemoine and Bridge Plaza North is one of the worst intersections in town and should have a full-time police officer there, especially with the 1,000 high school kids wandering around.
William Mays March 01, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Yes, I'm sure that everyone that turns on a red light LEGALLY, kills someone.

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