ALLENTOWN – The mother of a boy who was struck by a car at the intersection of Main and High streets has a question for Allentown officials.
“Why is Allentown’s historic village (designation) connected to the safety of people?” Therese Wagner asked Mayor Greg Westfall and members of the Borough Council during the governing body’s Nov. 28 meeting.
Public officials and residents were quiet as Wagner described how Maxwell Petrowski, her 11-year-old son, was riding his bicycle on the afternoon of Nov. 21 when he was struck by a car at the busy intersection of High and Main streets.
High Street and Main Street are both Monmouth County roads.
School in Allentown was dismissed early on Nov. 21 and there was no crossing guard at the intersection at the time the incident occurred, 3 p.m., Wagner said.
She said Maxwell was on his bicycle and was trying to cross from one side of High Street to the other at a marked crosswalk. A vehicle was stopped at the stop sign on the same side of the street as the child and the driver was waiting to make a right turn onto Main Street, Wagner said.
At the same instant that Maxwell began to pedal across High Street, the driver of the vehicle accelerated and began to make the right turn and struck the youngster, pinning him under the vehicle, Wagner said.
“He was pinned up to his chest and he was pounding and screaming that he was under the vehicle,” she said.
Luckily for the youngster, the motor vehicle stopped moving. Emergency medical personnel responded to the scene and transported Maxwell to a hospital. He has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of the femur and a tear in his meniscus, Wagner said.
Wagner, whose family moved to Allentown one year ago, said she was attracted to the community in part because she saw children riding their bicycles downtown.
She suggested that the intersection of Main and High streets needs to have a traffic light or a pedestrian-activated blinking light installed. At present there is a stop sign on High Street and traffic on Main Street has the right of way.
Borough officials said the intersection of Main and High streets is operating at a failing level of service.
“Most of our intersections are failing intersections. I think this incident needs to prompt change,” Westfall said.
Wagner said motorists “take their life in their hands when they are making a left turn from High Street to Main Street” and she said, “I have sympathy for the person” who struck her son.
Wagner said that at a minimum, she would like to see a police officer stationed at the intersection when the school day ends in order to direct traffic.
Allentown High School and the Newell Elementary School are on High Street and pedestrians and cars head toward Main Street at the end of the school day.
Resident Linda Cotte spoke after Wagner had described the collision between the vehicle and her child.
“I like that we are a village, but times have changed,” Cotte said.
Traffic that passes through Allentown each day, what Westfall calls “corridor traffic,” has been a topic of discussion between municipal officials and residents this year.
Westfall said the intersection of Church and Main streets is another location where the installation of a traffic light could improve vehicular and pedestrian safety.
Some members of the public have taken issue with the possible installation of traffic lights and other motor vehicle options because, they said, those changes may impinge upon the Allentown’s historic appearance.