The Importance of Being Relevant

What’s important? Is it pedestrian safety (at the famous “Dummy Light” intersection of Old Post Rd S, and Grand)? Or other problem intersections? Bicycling on village streets (“Slow Down Croton”)? How about the condition of sidewalks? Or solar installations like at the Hudson National Golf Club – yikes! As Billy Joel intoned, “It’s still rock-and-roll to me.” It’s still risk management to me: I just want decisions done right and with clear explanations.

Whether you are determining the best course of action to take in addressing an issue, or deciding which issue needs attention the most, the process you will use – whether you are aware of it or not – will be one of comparing gains and losses. Just like risk management. Only it’s not risk management because comparisons will likely be haphazard.

Making clear assessments means you are following a formal procedure, one that includes listing all the factors that make up an issue – things that represent risk or loss – identifying the factors that need attention, and documenting the process. Whether everyone agrees with the results or not, everyone can at least see all the steps, and all the reasoning for each step taken. Relying on this process will help clarify the actions so everyone can track the development of an idea and understand what the trade-offs may be.

And they can do this without being suspicious of individual motives. Really? Well, mostly – nothing is perfect. But because the gains and losses of an issue become the focus, the decision-makers are mandated to look at these things, instead of supporting conclusions based on preconceived notions. In other words, when you follow a formal process like this, the required comparison of gains and losses is debated, rather than some isolated opinion of an individual.

This is critical, because you have helped to shift the assessment of a proposal from the personal to those factors that make up an issue: reducing the influence individual bias can have on the process.

And now, speaking of individual bias, here’s mine: pedestrian safety on Cleveland Drive between Gerstein and Jacoby Streets. One block that has it all: tight blind S curves; single lane (legally too narrow for marked lanes); no sidewalks, no shoulders, no street lights; heavy vehicle traffic (bypass for Rte. 129); heavily used by bikers, walkers (trail link to Gorge Trail), children going to school (one block from Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School); high 25 MPH speed limit.

An assessment needs to be done that rates each of these factors, and includes vehicle count, clocked speed, and physical observations of conditions at different points of this roadway. Any proposed corrective action will then go through the process of comparing the potential gains and losses of each (including costs).

I think this section of road constitutes a clear and present danger to walkers, bikers, pets, and babies in carriages. That’s what I think, but let’s not just have a discussion; let’s follow a formal procedure that will assure a more fair and unbiased assessment. It’s the clearer thing to do.