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20 is Plenty in Long Beach

On the one-year anniversary of Kate Eichen's untimely death, the Long Beach community should join together in slowing down the town.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy exclaims as she’s walking through woods that scare her, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” What do you think pedestrians, bicyclists and skateboarders in Long Beach might feel like shouting at motorists that scare them and continue to put us all at risk?

Would you hear: “Stop and slow down and watch out, oh my?” More likely, “Oh my God" would be part of the shout-out, especially if someone nearly caused an accident or caused a fatality.

Tomorrow, June 11, marks the one-year anniversary of the untimely death of a beloved Long Beach resident. Kate Rose Eichen, 37, lost her life when a motorist hit her on Shore Road.

As I stopped at the newly installed stop sign on the northwest corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Shore Road today, I couldn’t help but think that anniversaries are supposed to be special. But this one reminds us of that horrific day when Kate was taken from her loved ones. If you happen to see any of her family members this weekend, give them a kind gesture to help them continue to cope.

Every traffic accident reminds us how fragile and precious life is. But, unfortunately, our community has many residents and visitors who pay no attention to the rules of the road or simply ignore them.

Why ignore them? Some may view stop signs as an inconvenience. Others may think traffic lights are annoying and speed bumps damage their vehicles. Regardless of the reasons, I feel people are in too much of a rush and need to think about slowing down.

On that note, I am proposing that we seriously consider following a plan that is part of the United Kingdom: “Twenty is Plenty for Us.”

According to the information on their website, there is plenty to make a case for 20 mph speed limits. It will improve traffic safety. There will not be a need to impose speed bumps at this speed limit. Lowering the speed limit to 20 mph increases the average car journey time by just 40 seconds, and the gap between the vehicles shorten, which can lead to an improved traffic flow.

If our community can embrace the concept of 20 is Plenty in Long Beach, we would all have a better quality of life, reducing the noise level and at the same time encourage residents to shift to active modes of transport like walking or bicycling. We would all benefit from 20 mph by extending the life of all who live here, by reducing traffic accidents and tragedies.

Please look at this video and read the information regarding the New York City Department of Transportation plans to experiment with 20 mph zones. Pay particular attention to the end of the video, when the young boy is hit by the car and how the impact of a speeding car can be so dramatic and life threatening.

The City of Long Beach can impose the same plan and see the benefits in our community. Please join me.

Tracy June 10, 2011 at 08:16 PM
I think 20 in our city would be great. People see/think 35 and rev it up to 45. I've almost been hit by cars on my bike several times in only a month of riding around town. One was terrifyingly close. Ironically, I was almost hit by a car that ran a stop sign on Walnut trying to get around the accident on Park Avenue where a 12 year old girl was hit by a car. The truth is the only way to slow people down would be speed bumps since there is no real traffic enforcement as it is. I love this city and one reason is because I can ride my bike for errands and not have to take my car. I would love to feel safer when riding around. My sincerest condolences to Kate Eichen's family.
Earthling June 10, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Hey, what about promoting driver courtesy, it goes a long way. I guess we can rule this one out, its too civilized. I am always perplexed by drivers who honk their car's horn at me, when they can clearly see I am letting an old lady or kids go by. It also happened at Lido pkwy, when I stopped for the geese, drivers were upset that I was holding the traffic, mind you it took less than a minute. I recall being told when I went for my learners permit, that pedestrian have the right of way, always. The reason, a car, can kill. It was good enough reason for me.
Dan Draddy June 10, 2011 at 09:22 PM
I mean no disrespect to any involved here but excess speed was not a factor in the accident that took this woman's life. I was there, this accident was a result of a careless person's poor performance behind the wheel of a car. Focusing any efforts on changing speed limits is wrong headed and does no justice to this woman. If you would like to address the problem that resulted in this tragedy you would be better served pursuing efforts to improve driving skills and reduce the incidence of careless and distracted drivers. That effort would be a more appropriate memorial to her.
Dan Draddy June 10, 2011 at 09:28 PM
On the separate issue of the speed limit question, I would be entirely in favor of a 20-25 MPH limit on many of the smaller roads here in Long Beach.
Baghdad Bob June 11, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Omar, a pedestrian has the right of way at a crosswalk not controlled by a traffic light. They do not have the right of way simply because they are pedestrians. Many pedestrians cross against traffic lights, or mid block, and expect cars to magically yield to them. I certainly agree that many people who drive in Long Beach are discourteous, but depending on the circumstances honking is not unreasonable. Are you letting pedestrians cross who have the right of way, or are you stopping traffic every time a pedestrian appears? I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, but if you are constantly having other drivers honk at you, maybe something else is going on.
Baghdad Bob June 11, 2011 at 01:29 AM
I agree with Dan: The 20 mph speed limit on side streets sounds like a good idea, although I don't know what effect that would have had on the accident in question. This accident appears to have been caused by the driver not paying attention and drifting to the side of the road. Many people overlook the fact that many accidents involving pedestrians are in large part the fault of the pedestrians- again possibly not applicable in this instance. I am all for reasonable measures to improve traffic safety, but we must be cautious not to clamor for change simply because a tragedy has happened without first using due diligence to ensure that the proposed change will have the outcome desired, and is not just a knee-jerk reaction to "do something" after a tragedy has occurred.
kevin sturm June 11, 2011 at 01:41 AM
I think 20 mph on the side streets is a great idea....but ...I've said it before and Ill say it again...without police enforcement its all for nothing...how about we get our police to step up enforcement on the side streets ..the town put up all these new stop signs an many people blow through them .so I thnk a stronger police presents will do a much better job ..the town will make $ the streets will be safer ..and we will have more police on the job..no down side
Katie June 11, 2011 at 11:21 AM
I am in favor of 20 mph. I live right outside the canals, where it is 15 mph, People come out of the canals and literally fly down my block. We have Children that play in the Street. I think it should be 20 mph on every small block,
JEFFREY RUBINSTEIN June 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM
JEFF You can hardly move in Long Beach now. Why not just ban cars and insist people only use bikes? But then bikes might also be too fast. I feel the best way to keep cars at a proper speed is to give the public a safe way to move without frustrating the driver with endlessly long traffic light stops. SOME IDEAS: Time the lights on Park and Broadway so that a car can go through town at the proper speed because the traffic lights are timed and coordinated. With todays technology this is achievable at reasonable cost. On the side streets, their should not be 4 way stop signs at every corner. One direction should have the right of way and the other direction should have a stop signs in a rational and predictable way. A few signs should be put up around town explaining to the pedestrians that the final responsibility for their safety is in their hands. If they simply LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE CROSSING, AND 300 POUND OR LESS PEDESTRIANS SHOULD GIVE SHOULD GIVE 2000 POUND MOVING CARS A LITTLE RESPECT, there would be no fatalities. Having said that, we all know that this is not a perfect world where all pedestrians and all drivers do rational things all of the time. So just trying to slow traffic to a crawl and wasting everyones time, every day, is surely not the answer.
Gerald Cymbalsky June 11, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Flower pots!..... Concret flower pots making driver slow down to negotiate a slight "S" drive threw an area like Walnut Street. One ten feet from the south curb and the other fifteen from the north curb, spaced thirty feet apart. They use this in Europe to slow cars down, cars are smaller there though. Speedbumps. I Like that idea too....
Earthling June 11, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Typical, blame the victims. You as the driver, have control, and it seems power. Frustrating drivers? Please...realized this, we are comfortably driving in climate control automobiles, outside the temperature could be scorching hot or bitterly cold, and yet when you see a pedestrian, God forbids, he is over 300 pound or less, we expect him or her, to hurry up, how dare they? My time is precious, why should I care for the poor's schmuck time or in this case, his safety. And I'm sorry Mr. Bob Baghdad, or whomever you want to play, but your thinking is troubling. Accidents are the fault of pedestrians? Again, Pleaaassseeee, my God, were you born in an automobile. According to your thinking, if one of these daring pedestrians has the audacity to cross a traffic light when he is not suppose to, or he crosses in mid street, I should run him over, and it will be perfectly ok. If was his fault anyway. I just don' get it. I even brake for animals for Pete's sake. And Mr. Alahki, I have a theory of why sometimes I get honk, I am an immigrant, a latino AMERICAN immigrant, and some people find it repulsive to see a latino doing the right thing, how dare we, we are bad people. I will continue stoping for pedestrian and animals, no mater what the situation. Keep on honking.
CP June 11, 2011 at 01:56 PM
I'm with Keven, I think our Police Department needs to step up its game! ENFORCE, ENFORCE, ENFORCE! Have zero tolerance for speeding, cell phones and stop signs. Since we are our own city we should think about raising our fines. Nassau County is $195.00 for a cell phone make it double here in Long Beach! Hit these people where it hurts! Maybe they will think about it if they have to take a 1/2 a day off from work to go to court and have to make a car payment in fines for driving carelessly. (I stand on my corner every morning with my kids and watch one car after another look right at us and blow the stop sign)!
LLS June 11, 2011 at 02:25 PM
20 is Plenty is a brilliant way of shifting the way people think about the way we use our residential streets. It's really not about giving tickets to drivers who speed, although enforcement is always part of the equation, it's about creating a culture that prioritizes safety and community; a grassroots effort to change behaviors. It saves lives - a person hit by a car traveling at 20mph is much more likely to survive than one hit by a car traveling at 30 - and we know that many cars on our side streets are traveling at speeds greater than that. It begins with people like Michelle getting the idea out there, and others who run with it and create a broad base of supporters. Once adopted, it's a education/PR campaign - including the signs on the streets that let people using our streets know that things are different here. Long Beach, a walkable, bikeable community that attracts large numbers people to its beach and commercial strips - is the perfect place for an iniative like this to have a huge, positive impact. There is no down side. It requires huge buy-in from the community in order to succeed. We can working on that right now - watch this short video and share it with your friends. http://vimeo.com/16990188
Baghdad Bob June 11, 2011 at 03:07 PM
I am not blaming pedestrians in all instances, and I am not advocating intentionally hitting them. Don't be a jackass. My point is that in addition to careless drivers, there are careless pedestrians. Drivers should obey the speed limit, stop signs, traffic lights, etc. Pedestrians should cross at crosswalks, with the signal, walk on sidewalks, etc. How is my thinking troubling? If a driver is obeying all laws and driving reasonably, and a pedestrian or cyclist suddenly darts in front of him, how is the driver to blame? Obviously the driver should do whatever he can to avoid hitting the pedestrian, but sometimes that is not possible. I think the reason that you sometimes "get honk" has less to do with your ethnicity and more to do with you driving like a senile geriatric patient.
brian lavin June 11, 2011 at 04:19 PM
25 on park ave. and 20 on all other roads.....cell phone or texting $200.00 fine, second offence $400.00 and so on.....come on charlie you can get it done....
Goingplaces June 11, 2011 at 04:31 PM
God bless her family & friends, I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers.
Jim H June 11, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Issue drivers and pedestrians automatic wepons and let them fight it out.
fionafee June 11, 2011 at 07:15 PM
The speed limit on the side streets down west are 15 but no one follows it! I live down here so when I am driving down a side st people honk at me or try to drive around me! When I am driving from ny ave down west I do 30 as well. They come through that light to beat the light on Delaware. I told the cops 15 years ago when I was living on park ave to set up a speed trap. It never happens! Generate money for the city by setting up speed traps. Not that difficult! I have worked ems for years, I see what happens to ped struck. Not a pretty sight! It's like a game of frogger if you attempt to ride your bike on park in the west end cause no one comes to a complete stop. Please slow down!
Jim H June 11, 2011 at 08:30 PM
I agree. i'm on Delaware Ave. All weekend long speeders are whipping around the corner. Someone's going to get hurt one day.
Gerald Cymbalsky June 11, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Golly gee wilbur.... people get hit and killed two or three times a year on Park ave. and countless others get hit and survived. Name calling and insults really don't belong. You should try surviving getting hit by a car travelling at 23 mph, tossed 10 feet in the air, and land on you head. I did on Feb. 22, 2007... I lost my right ear. I limp.
Tisizele June 12, 2011 at 12:44 PM
That would be an excellent idea,"20". Some drivers while taking the road test do every thing to pass the road test, and once they pass the test, it's like SUCKERS. In my opinion (this is coming from a non driver), drivers need to alway act as if they r taking the road test. The instructor is sitting right beside him or her. Or how about realizing the rules of the road. Or u can injure or kill someone. If u have no patience, don't drive, walk! Or if u are running late, leave an hour before time.
LBtruth June 12, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Long Beach is very dangerous in the summer, for pedestrians. Has anyone noticed how many people are on their cell phone or texting while driving? As usual, lots of people not only speed on our streets, but speed going THE WRONG WAY on one way streets like Olive and Walnut. 20 is plenty is a great idea. But how about everyone stop texting while driving? (THAT MEANS YOU, TEENAGERS AND WOMEN OF ALL AGES) How about stop talking on a cell phone that is not hands free? (THAT MEANS YOU, EVERY MAN AND WOMAN, OF ALL AGES)
Misty June 13, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Let's all agree that distracted driving is probably the leading cause of a majority of accidents. For the people who talk on the phone or text while driving - YOU'RE NOT THAT IMPORTANT - if you were, you'd have a driver. Slow down and be courteous. You will actually get to your destination quicker and with less angst.
Donna Pisacano Brown June 13, 2011 at 01:39 PM
I agree with you Michele and "completely support" the "20 is plenty in Long Beach." However, if I may, I would like to share this one thought. That it is from my very personal and humble opinion that I believe people must to take the PRIVILEGE of driving more seriously. To take seriously, the mindset that the road is shared by all and that each and every person behind the wheel has a responsibility as a driver, to drive as safe as possible for sake of all. It's about taking personal responsibility for the greater good and safety of all. Thank you!
Margarita June 13, 2011 at 02:10 PM
I agree with a 20mph speed limit; however, those people that speed will not obey any speed limit. I live on East Penn Street and people drive down the block in excess of 40mph daily. I think the only answer is to install speed bumps. That is the only way a driver will be forced to slow down. Our children's lives (as well as our own) are at risk. Something needs to be done soon!
Ann Rose June 18, 2011 at 01:34 PM
20 is PLENTY in ANY residential community. Speed bumps would also slow down offenders. While speed or cell phone use was not confirmed in the horrific death of my sister Kate on June 11, 2010, the accident was senseless and could have been avoided. Why NOT slow down when we know people are on the streets? Provided the laws are enforced, the 20 mph limit could potentially reduce the risk of similar accidents, as well as make the community more pleasurable for our residents!
Michele Reinbach June 20, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Ann, my heart goes out to you and your family. Kate's death was senseless, and though speed was not confirmed, she was thrown many feet when hit by the vehicle. If the motorist was going much slower, as I have stated in another column, she might have suffered enormous injuries, but would still be alive. Driving 30 mph unfortunately translates in our city to 35 to 40 mph. 20 is Plenty and it is pure logic that people should take responsibility and slow down when we know people are on the streets. On another note, you mentioned that cell phone use was not confirmed. Even if the driver was not on her cell phone, she was clearly not paying attention or would not have hit Kate. According to a witness, "the driver's poor performance behind the wheel of the car," caused the horrific tragedy that afternoon. His suggestion of "improving driving skills, reducing the incidence of careless and distracted drivers as a fitting memorial" to Kate. I agree with Mr. Draddy, but still feel that reducing the speed limit to 20 mph will also save lives in the future.
MikeC. November 07, 2011 at 07:50 PM
No matter how much publicity is given to the problem of handheld devices while driving, no one seems to pay attention. I've walked across Park at Neptune at 3:45 PM while a crossing guard is crossing schoolchildren. EVERY driver stopped was on his or her phone. This is a law that people will not obey willingly. Maybe it's just a sign of the times, maybe it is a way of saying "not me", but whatever it is, it's time for some serious teeth to be put in this law. A $500. fine and 5 points on your license for first offense would be a good starting point. One year loss of license for uh-oh #2.
Michele Reinbach November 07, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Mike, unfortunately your statement about how much publicity is given to the problem of handheld devices, no one seems to pay attention..." is the sad reality of our beautiful city. I am just as frustrated to see countless motorists holding their phones while driving and wonder, just how many are ticketed by our LBPD. Would a $500 fine, points on their license for offense #1 be the "ticket" to put down their phone? Or is it going to take more accidents and horrific tragedies to get people to pay attention to this law? We are all neighbors. So I ask those reading this comment, the following questions? Would your neighbor who suffered a personal tragedy be forgiving of the motorist who spoke on their handheld cell phone while they were attending to a loved one in the hospital or choosing a coffin for them? Would the neighbor who caused the accident or tragedy hold that cell phone again when driving? I very much doubt it. Does it have to come to this to pay attention to our traffic laws? Since tomorrow is Election Day, I ask you to vote for the candidates who you feel will take this serious infraction SERIOUSLY and put into place more enforcement by our LBPD and stiffer consequences. If you would like to become more involved with this traffic safety issue and others, please email me @ slowdownthetown@yahoo.com.

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