Dangerous Drivers Cause Concern for Citizens and Downtown Businesses

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Tyreen Reuter is the President of the BIL and a hard-working member of the community and a mother of young children. She believes in supporting local businesses and frequents Main Street for as many of her family's needs as possible. However, that may all change, due to the continuing issue of inconsiderate drivers here in the Brainy Boro. Here's the information she sent to the police after this last incident. If you've had a close call like this, let MM know (either here or on Facebook). Maybe we can all work together towards a solution for this dangerous situation. Thanks to Tyreen for sharing (the picture is her son, whom she dresses in reflective clothing on walks downtown just to make sure they can be seen!! (MM is glad you're okay!)

Dear Office Bauer,

It's Tyreen Reuter again - I dropped off a letter last week about a traffic/crosswalk incident that happened the day before Thanksgiving, and I appreciate your follow-up phonecall afterwards.  It was really great to have such a speedy and considerate response.

Unfortunately, this afternoon I was out with both my boys, and experienced another extremely serious incident.  Perhaps this is just my bad luck to have two such dramatic incidents in less than one month, but honestly, I feel so unsafe at this point that I have decided I will no longer risk our lives by walking downtown.  I don't say this lightly; in the past year I have worked on a few of volunteer efforts specifically designed to attract people to our downtown (the Historic Architectural Scavenger Hunt, Junebug volunteer, Zombie Walk, Hometown Holidays guide, etc.) 

At about 2pm today, I was crossing Main Street in the flashing crosswalk at Highland Avenue, from the "Fresco" side to the "Cartridge World" side.  Both my six-year-old and two-year-old sons were wearing their bright yellow reflective safety vests and "safety cone orange" winter hats.  The younger one was in the stroller.  Again, I waited until cars stopped in both directions, and then carefully entered the crosswalk.  Suddenly, a black sports sedan that was waiting at the light in northbound traffic (about in front of Smoker's Haven, but also partially blocking Highland Avenue) started to accelerate BACKWARDS towards the crosswalk where my sons and I were still crossing.  I started to scream for her to stop, pulled the stroller closer to the car that had stopped for us, and yanked my older son backwards.  There were a couple of other pedestrians on the "Fresco side" that started to yell at her as well, and she finally stopped WITHIN the crosswalk itself.  She then pulled towards her left and quickly made off for the green turn signal at 27/Middlesex Avenue.  I realized later she must have seen the light was about to turn green and decided to make a left instead of going straight or right, and was racing to change lanes in order to make the left turn signal.  Regardless, she was only two or three inches from my son's stroller by the time she finally stopped, even with us trying to get out of the way.  Honestly, if I hadn't been so hyper-alert about cars around me ever since the incident before Thanksgiving, I might never have seen this car until it was too late.  It was pretty clear she didn't check behind her before backing up - and I am sure she didn't realize we were there until everyone started yelling.


Probably because it was compounded with what happened before, I was hysterical.  One of the people who had stopped for me got out of his car with his wife and got me the rest of the way across the crosswalk.  Then, a Metuchen woman I know who had been further down the street heard something going on and came to see what it was, and ended up walking me and the boys the rest of the way home.  I wish I hadn't gotten so emotional, but realistically, the driver was gone before the light even turned again, so there was no way I could have stopped her.

I am not sure there is anything you can do, but I wanted to let you know about this incident also.  There won't be any more incidents for me to report, as I will NOT be walking downtown anymore; I am starting to think it just doesn't matter how careful you are - a lot of people drive like idiots and I am not sure anything is going to change that.  It is unreasonable to expect the Metuchen Police to be at every intersection at all times of the day, but I think I won't feel safe again unless there IS an officer present.  I lived, worked and commuted on foot in Manhattan for more than 10 years - I am no stranger to how pedestrians and cars interface - but NEVER had any close calls like this in all those years, or in the 13 years since I moved here to Metuchen - and this has been TWO in only a couple of weeks.  

I really do love this adopted town of mine, and have tried to do what I can to promote its advantages. But it has gotten to the point where I feel I can in no good conscience personally encourage people to visit our downtown when I myself don't even feel safe on the street.  If there is something that I, the Borough Improvement League (of which I am president), or another of the volunteer groups I am involved with can do to help with any pedestrian safety initiatives, please let me know - if I am going to complain about something, then I feel I better try to do what I can to help the situation!  I have cc'd the mayor and council persons for whom I have email addresses in case there is anything they can think of that the public can do as well.

All the best to you, and please let me know if you have any questions, etc.

Tyreen Reuter

3 Comments

I am a runner on the side walk only these days. I have been almost hit about 7 or 8 times in the past 12 years, Examples, I have had the "bird" displayed to me by a local mother (an obvious transplanted NYer)with child in car when she rolled over the white stripe at a stop sign onto Middlesex; missed by two inches by a young female driver who made a sweeping left turn at speed from Main on to Pearl and verbally abused by a guy in a white magnum station wagon who was honking his horn violently at the guy in front of him who yielded to me at the yield sign by Highland and Grove.

I hate to tell you but I was pretty sure this guy was a cop from another town. He was so out of control that I was waiting for him to draw his gun. And, I and the rest of us have seen way too many immigrants with the worst driving skills imaginable short of being in a foreign country.

I tell you what is going to happen here and I pray to God I don't see it. That is mob violence. If this keeps up much longer someone is gong to get dragged from a car and worked over or worse. I have seen it too many times in my life. People are going to take the law in their own hands.

The way to correct this is to work with the police in a community policing program. Report law breakers. Get their license plates, report them to the police and for our police to maintain their aggressive stance at massive ticketing blitzes. I don't care what the people of Edison, South Plainfield, and Woodbridge feel about Metuchen Police. I have heard the complaints and say too bad. I am willing to fund an increase in an aggressive traffic safety program with my tax money to do it and I hope you all are too.

this post couldnt have come at a better time. i walk from central ave to the train station every morning between 6 - 630 am and every evening between 6-630 pm.i mostly use the crosswalk near breezes on main street or the one on rte 27 near the BP station. drivers absolutely dont care even when the lights are flashing -- its not out of the ordinary for a half dozen cars to whiz past before i am "allowed" to cross. the problem is magnified at night. am thinking of taking pictures of the offenders and posting them publicly..

Sorry to hear about your experience.

The disregard for pedestrians is pretty bad here. People speed down the side streets all of the time. Crossing the street when someone is making a right can be pretty scary too. I don't know if it's more of the people passing through town (on 27 or Central) but they certainly don't heed the pedestrian crossing lights. We need those to be red. I have seen them in downtown areas where instead of a flashing yellow light there is a red light.

BTW the pedestrian crossing light on Central has been out for weeks. Please call Public Works to get them to fix it... again.

Thanks for posting about this.

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