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Is It Safe To Cross The Street In Hicksville?

Pedestrian deaths may have residents

thinking twice about traveling on foot

Though Hicksville is home to some of Nassau County’s most desirable shopping destinations, the trip may literally cost you more than an arm and a leg.

“There are places I recommend never crossing, like where the roads run together between IKEA and Sears. It is impossible for someone on foot – it’s a nightmare,” said John O’Brien, whose four children are between 9 and 15 years old.

O’Brien’s home is minutes from Route 106 (Newbridge Road) and Elmira Street – the site of a fatal accident that resulted in the death of Hicksville resident Leema Karnati, 48, last month.

“She goes to our church [Holy Family]. She got out of the 5:30 p.m. mass, tried to cross the street and got hit. My son is in the class with her daughter. It’s a fine, upstanding religious family. They volunteered for everything. It’s just sad,” O’Brien said.

Karnati’s death wasn’t the only tragedy that shook the Hicksville community during the holidays. Rose Tantillo, 84, of Melville, passed away after a vehicle struck her following a service at Hicksville’s Our Lady of Mercy Church on South Oyster Bay Road.

While Nassau County Police Department 2nd Squad detectives noted that no criminality was involved in either case (and that Karnati did not utilize the crosswalk), distracted drivers and poorly lit roads may still present potentially deadly conditions for pedestrians.

“On busy routes, I think many drivers go into an automatic-pilot mode. Drivers either are not thinking or have forgotten what it’s like to walk places,” O’Brien added.

Old Country Road is especially difficult to cross, O’Brien said – notably for those who happen to move a little slower.

“I have a bad knee and can only cross half the street. At Old Country Road, I have to hold my hands out like a cop at an intersection. I’m holding one hand toward the cars and the other is waving my kids along to move faster,” O’Brien explained. “It’s the same at the Hicksville train station.”

Mayer Horn, a traffic engineer affiliated with Metropolitan Section Institute of Transportation Engineers, noted the level of ease increases when crossing road that feature an island in the center of the road.

“One of the things that’s been found to be helpful for pedestrian safety is having to cross fewer lanes at a time, or a ‘shelter’ in the middle. You’re dealing with something relatively easier there than if you’re trying to cross somewhere like Old Country Road,” Horn said.

Horn’s grandchildren attend Syosset’s Midway Jewish Center on South Oyster Bay Road, slightly north of Hicksville.

“The Midway entrance and exit is controlled by a traffic signal. If that’s a frequent phenomenon where pedestrians are present and vehicles are turning in and out, maybe that’s something that warrants a study,” Horn said.

According to the Nassau County Police Department’s public information office, 35 pedestrians were involved in vehicular accidents from Nov. 1, 2011 to Nov. 1, 2012. More than 5,600 vehicular accidents took place in Hicksville from Nov. 1, 2009 to Nov. 1, 2012, police noted.  

“I still hold my children’s hands crossing these roads and in parking lots. This embarrasses the older girls but it makes me feel better. There is room for improvement, like better lighting in some places, which helps pedestrians as well as drivers, and better intersection planning for turns at locations like Old Country Road,” said O’Brien.

Kathleen Seaman lives near Route 106 and Levittown Parkway and her two children will soon be crossing Newbridge Road on foot once they start attending Hicksville High School.

“I have instructed my kids to cross at the crosswalks at the light. I hope and pray that they do. With the amount of traffic on the roads lately, I think people need to be educated more about crossing only at designated areas and not to try to ‘beat’ the traffic,” said Seaman, adding, “Sometimes it leads to tragic results.”