The Whitehall Town Board met on Jan. 19 and heard Barbara Spoor’s concern about a lack of lighting on County Route 12 that she says is posing a hazard to Amish buggies that travel the road.
“A couple of weeks ago there was a bad accident on County Route 12 in front of my house. It involved a vehicle and an Amish buggy. I have only lived there for the past year and a half and I have noticed how dark it can be when driving at night and how hard it can be to see the buggies,” she said.
County Route 12 is an active area for not only buggy travel but also vehicles and pedestrians. Just after where the route and Upper Turnpike meet, streetlights no longer light the roads.
“At all times of night, we have kids riding their skateboards, scooters and walking. So, if cars aren’t able to see the buggies, things could end a lot differently. That buggy went three houses down from where it was hit and it was awful,” she said.
Spoor said the issue has become more prevalent in recent years, and she doesn’t want to see another accident involving a buggy. She says it’s important for the safety of everybody in the community who is not familiar with the area.
“I didn’t know if there was something we can do as a town to provide them with more lighting or if we can require more adequate lighting for the buggies. You just can’t see those buggies sometimes when it’s so dark. . . . We know they’re there, but we’re still human and it’s a safety issue for them and us,” she said.
Supervisor John Rozell said there have been some issues regarding the Amish population in Greenwich. Rozell said that Greenwich is having difficulty getting Amish families to use brighter lighting than the lanterns they currently use to light their buggies. Rozell said that isn’t the case in Whitehall.
“They aren’t used to using lighting and they did start using the lighting with the batteries and the reflectors. They did that because it was their decision. As for making them do more, I don’t believe we have the right to make them do more,” he said.
In the corner of County Route 12 and Upper Turnpike, there are many houses with reflectors at the end of their driveways. Spoor says this is something that complicates the situation for drivers.
“A lot of their reflectors look like the same ones at the ends of driveways on Route 12. Sometimes if you’re coming around the corner you think you see that row of seven or eight reflectors but then it’s a buggy. It’s something that I think we need to do something about or look into,” she said.
Board member Christopher Dudley was on the scene of the crash and noted that between the Christmas lights and other distractions it could have been hard to see them.
“There’s not one of those buggies that’s made to match with a 5,000-pound car at 45 miles an hour,” he said.