Village, campus look to improve safety measures after car accidents

The Village of Geneseo and the campus hope to enforce safety measures after two students were hit by cars on Main Street and Mary Jemison Drive (pictured above is accident on Mary Jemison Drive). Improvements suggested by the village and the campus include increasing the amount of lighting on Main Street and the amount of enforcement present in these areas. (Courtesy of Village of Geneseo Police Sheriff Eric Osganian)

After two student-car collisions occurred on Main Street and Mary Jemison Drive in the past three weeks, the Village of Geneseo and the Geneseo campus are working to implement measures to improve safety conditions along both roads. 

Geneseo did not release any official statements regarding the two accidents due to the fact that they were reported by the Village of Geneseo Police Department rather than the University Police Department and because the students’ medical information was confidential, according to Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio. 

The campus did reach out to the two drivers and the two students who were hit in order to ensure all involved were emotionally and physically stable as well as to check to see whether they needed any assistance regarding their coursework, according to Dean of Students and Director of Center for Community Leonard Sancilio. 

The New York State Department of Transportation will be installing Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon assemblies at each of the marked crosswalks by the Route 63 bypass in the fall semester. This initiative comes as a result of Bonfiglio’s request to the NYSDOT to improve safety conditions by the bypass after the state declared that it would examine crosswalks in June as part of its initiative to improve pedestrian safety. 

“The federal highway administration considers the beacons to be hugely successful at uncontrolled crosswalks,” Bonfiglio said. “They put beacons at other colleges and you can’t miss them, so I think it’s going to be a plus.”

In addition, the NYSDOT recommended many safety tips to the college to increase pedestrian safety, such as wearing clothing that consist of retro-reflective materials, making eye contact with drivers before crossing the street, staying sober while walking in these areas and refraining from wearing headphones and talking on cellphones when crossing the street. 

University Police Chief Thomas Kilcullen said that UPD hopes to prevent further accidents from occurring by improving visibility and enforcement present in these accident-prone areas. He believes implementing these changes are particularly important as there has been an increase in foot traffic between south campus and main campus due to the construction at Red Jacket. 

“We’ll do some periods of targeted enforcement and we’ll most likely do a traffic study to see when the highest volumes of people are traversing,” Kilcullen said. “During those times of day, we’ll try to have our officers there and be visible and enforcement certainly would be a part of their activity in that area.”

The village is looking to improve the lighting on Main Street surrounding the fountain in order to minimize the number of accidents. 

“We encourage everyone to use the crosswalks at night because the street is a little bit more lit by them and that’s where people are expecting to see folks,” Village Board Trustee Mary Rutigliano said. “But you know accidents happen. We’ve been thinking about ways to light the street more with casting the light on the fountain, but right now any large change to the way Main Street is lit would cost thousands of dollars.”

Rutigliano also stated the village is looking to improve the parking conditions on Main Street by working with the college in order to alleviate some of the traffic and to make the street safer for pedestrians. Currently, the Village Board is taking suggestions from community members and brainstorming possible solutions, according to Village Board Trustee Matthew Cook. 

Cook said he hopes in the future that the campus raises awareness as to where common safety issues have occurred across the village and the Geneseo campus; he encourages student drivers to be watchful for pedestrians as well. 

“Main Street is a bit of a problem from both the standpoint of the pedestrian and the driver,” Cook said. “When you’re at a crosswalk, be conscious that sometimes the driver can’t see you or sometimes the pedestrian can’t see you, so you just have to be aware of that.”

Assistant news editor Mike Powers contributed reporting to this article.