Some citizen activists in Hudson, New York are facing charges after painting their own crosswalks at a crosswalk in the city.
It seemed like a reasonable ideal: in late September, city of Hudson residents, including Peter Spear had, complained to the Department of Public Works and the Common Council about the lack of crosswalks at the intersection of State and Third streets. "My concern about the safety of intersections in Hudson coincided with new data. Nationwide, pedestrian fatalities have increased to a startling degree in the past 10 years."
Nothing was immediately done, so a Spear joined other activists who took it upon themselves to paint two crosswalks.
Turns out, it's illegal to that. Rob Perry is city DPW Superintendent: "In this instance there was a month or so delay, which was not uncommon. Apparently that was unsatisfactory to a number of local residents and local officials. So they decided to go get some spray paint from Lowe's and some kind of paint machine from where I don't know and make their own lines, creating their own kinda pseudo wannabe crosswalk."
From that point it became a legal matter, a violation of city code, and the charge was "graffiti," a misdemeanor. Violators could be fined, made to pay restitution for removal costs; even sent to county jail for up to a year.
Spear is now known as one of the so-called "Crosswalk Four," whose story was soon picked up by the Hudson Register-Star. A new father, he remains concerned about the safety of people walking in Hudson. "I'm on the subcommittee of the DPW to being 'Complete Streets' policy to Hudson, so you know I'd like to think I'm a responsible member of my community. One of the other members is a County Supervisor, and another is a pastor. We're all good people."
Perry says however well-meaning, by taking matters into their own hands, the activists acted out of turn. 3 "By creating the crosswalks without the proper dimensions and without the appropriate materials it actually put the city in a greater liability. And the citizenry, the residents, it created a dangerous situation for them, more than pre-existed. So, we put the crosswalks in and they've been in for maybe three weeks."
Perry hopes in the future residents will give government time to react. "The reality is that there are dozens of projects that we're working on, all of them require specific materials, equipment, manpower, timing, the weather. Any number of factors that come into play. We hear your request." but because something doesn't get done instantly... you know, if I say I am not sure when it's gonna take place, that's based on fact."
The "Crosswalk Four" are due back in Hudson city court November 8th.