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Westfield Walker Makes Strides for Safety at Tamaques Park

After nearly being hit by cyclists, Barbara Ruvolo wrote to the Town Council to improve conditions for pedestrians in Tamaques Park.

Westfield resident and avid walker Barbara Ruvolo has always enjoyed spending time in . But, after nearly being hit by what she called "aggressive cyclists," the Central Avenue resident decided she needed to take steps to ensure the safety of fellow pedestrians. 

Last May, after being taunted by a speeding cyclist, whom she asked to slow down, Ruvolo went home and penned a letter to the Westfield Town Council.

In the letter, Ruvolo writes, "One cyclist came behind me yesterday, May 3, 2011, as I was walking along the pedestrian path three times and nearly ran into me each time. I really was frightened because he was speeding and weaving so much into the pedestrian lane that I thought his time he was going to run into me. On his fourth turn around I stopped him and told him to slow it down. He smirked and said, 'what are you going to do about it?' with a sneer and continued to speed away!"

Ruvolo said she was not just concerned about her own safety but that of the elderly, young mothers with strollers, and people who are walking their dogs in the park, who are subjected to "potentially being run over by these cyclists who have no regard for these pedestrians."

After sending her letter to the Council, Ruvolo waited to hear something. Months passed and she believed her letter had been forgotten until her doorbell rang. Newly-appointed Third Ward Councilman Mark LoGrippo, who had stepped in to fill the seat left vacant by former Councilman Mark Ciarrocca, came to Ruvolo's door to discuss her letter and talk about improving safety for pedestrians in the park.

As a result of Ruvolo's letter and conversations with LoGrippo, signs advising cyclists to stay to the right and travel in the car lane have been added to existing signposts in the park.

At Tuesday evening's Town Council meeting Ruvolo addressed the Council and thanked them for taking her concerns seriously. She did ask, however, if the could enforce the signs.

Following the meeting, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said pedestrians being able to point to the signs was a good start but agreed that additional wording reminding cyclists that they share the same responsibilities as motorists would be helpful. 

"I believe 'when you know better, you do better,'" Ruvolo said. She added that she was also motivated by recalling how fellow by a cyclist, leaving behind a wife and two children.

"When someone gets injured (and believe me it will happen) I would feel terrible if I hadn't spoken up when I had an obligation to especially if it prevented someone from getting hurt," she wrote to the Council in August 2011. 

Ruvolo said the signs are the first step toward improving safety for pedestrians.

"They go like it's the Tour de France," she said. "I just don't want to see someone get hurt." 

Bill May 14, 2012 at 04:04 PM
How about we take the Central Ave light and move it to the loop intersection with the playground/tennis court entrance. NR9, Kasko? Anything?
Elena May 14, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I used to try and jog there but had to stop last year because I was sick of being cut by speeding cyclists. I think the signs are a great idea. Thank you Barbara!
KWC May 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Great work, Barbara. I really appreciate your efforts. Unfortunately we can't stop jerks from being jerks, but this is a positive step.
TLH May 14, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I m not sure I understand this woman's complaint. Was she almost run over while walking on the path or while she walked in the roadway? The road way is for cars and cyclists and the path is for walkers. If you walk in the road you walk at your own risk.
JRC May 14, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I'm a cyclist & Westfielder too. I support the signage & abide by it, & hope others do too. Please understand that the majority of cyclist are polite & considerate & not aggressive. Don't let this one rude incident ruin it for the rest of us riders. We are enjoying our sport as you are enjoying yours; & we can enjoy the outdoor beauty in harmony !
Julie May 14, 2012 at 06:22 PM
So when I take my first grader biking in the park I'm supposed to ride with him in the car lane? That makes me very nervous. What is the difference between the path and the lane in the road? Before the signs I had always assumed the path was for walkers/joggers and the lane in the road was for bikers, but I guess I was wrong.
NR9 May 14, 2012 at 06:46 PM
@Bill. Besides not being funny (I think that's what you were attempting to do), your comment doesn't even make any sense. Please clarify what your comment means. Thanks.
Bill May 14, 2012 at 07:51 PM
@NR9. Lighten up.
Peachyp May 14, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Yes Julie you were right bu the walker now wants more so the road is theirs also. Next up they should ban cars from the park
Peachyp May 14, 2012 at 09:41 PM
How did you get cut? Is there a knife wielding cyclist we should know about?
NR9 May 14, 2012 at 10:02 PM
@Bill. So what was your original point?????
Funny or Die May 15, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Anyone else find it interesting that this women lives on Central Ave and isn't concerned about the placement of a certain traffic light? Especially when she is clearly concerned about road safety?
NR9 May 15, 2012 at 04:30 AM
@Funny or Die… Actually, I’ll tell you what DOES seem interesting about the connection you are making with Central Ave. At the Cambridge/Clover section of Central Ave., we have a KNOWN section of roadway that has proven itself to be extremely dangerous (SIXTEEN! accidents in the 21 months subsequent to the start of equipment installation- approximately Jul 1, 2010 to the most recent accident on Apr 12, 2012). THREE individuals (Mrs. E, Mrs. C and Mr. K) have repeatedly been asking the town council TO INSTALL a STANDARD TRAFFIC LIGHT at the INTERSECTION OF CLOVER which is EXACTLY what was recommended by the Town of Westfield’s own traffic safety expert (Gordon Meth) AND Union County’s traffic safety expert (Pennoni Associates). Meanwhile, Ms. Ruvolo got a friendly visit and a thank you from a town council member (who also got a great photo opportunity) while the other three individuals, ALSO SEEKING TO MAKE OUR STREETS SAFER, and in accordance with documented recommendations from professional traffic safety experts, have been vilified by the mayor and town council. That’s the interesting connection. (IN NO WAY, is my comment meant to diminish the great safety contribution made by Ms. Ruvolo. I’m simply responding to the comment from “Funny or Die.” Well done Ms. Ruvolo!).
Elena May 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM
No Julie, the article was not about kids and adults leisurely riding rec bikes, it's a about cyclists on road bikes flying at 50 mph. If they are going faster than the cars, they can certainly stay in the car lane. You're right, I'd be uncomfortable with my second grader riding in the car lane too, but no one is saying that. Peachyp needs to calm down.
Julie May 16, 2012 at 11:46 AM
@Elena - but making kids ride in the car lane seems to be exactly what the unintended consequence of the new signs has ended up. The signs clearly show bikes with cars in the right lane and walkers in the left. Maybe I need to send a note to Mark LoGrippo and ask him to clarify.
runner2 May 16, 2012 at 03:34 PM
As a respectful biker and runner in tamaques, I have to say that there are at least as many disrespectful walkers in the park! Social walkers in groups of 3 or more, with or without dogs, insist on taking up the entire width of the lane. Oblivious to their surroundings, they make it impossible for a runner or young child on a bike to pass without being forced into the car/bike lane.
sally cohen-alameno May 18, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Stuart Gruskin left 2 wonderful kids, not 3....
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) May 18, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Hi Sally, thank you for pointing that out. The story has been corrected.
Sally McBride May 18, 2012 at 06:35 PM
anytime someone makes a good comment at one of NR9's usernames, (s)he comes back with a "that doesnt make sense". I am starting to believe this person really doesn't understand much
Sally McBride May 18, 2012 at 06:37 PM
NR9, do you type the same comments over and over, or do you cut an paste them?
NR9 May 18, 2012 at 07:06 PM
@Sally McBride. But it doesn't make any sense, and if humor is what Bill was trying to show, it doesn't have any of that either. He wrote: "How about we take the Central Ave light and move it to the loop intersection with the playground/tennis court entrance." What part of that makes any sense? What part of that is funny (if that's what he's driving at). He asked for me, by name, to respond, and so I did... I asked for clarification. If you understand what he meant, please clarify for us. Thanks.
NR9 May 18, 2012 at 07:11 PM
@Sally McBride. Yes. Sometimes, when it makes sense to do so, I cut and paste. It's a handy and useful feature on most computer programs.
Sally McBride May 23, 2012 at 09:00 PM
NR9, I see your problem. You have a hard time understanding anyone that does not agree with you. You probably will not understand this either
Sally McBride May 23, 2012 at 09:01 PM
and cuting and pasting is useful for people that have nothing new to say
NR9 May 23, 2012 at 09:11 PM
@Sally McBride. Then, if you understand it, please explain it to the rest of us (as I requested of you last Friday- see above). You still have not explained what it means. Was it a joke? If so, which part was funny and why? If it was serious, well, what did it mean? Please enlighten us with your vast knowledge.

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