NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Local police are going to continue ratcheting up their anti-speeding campaign until reckless and lead-footed drivers get this simple message: The town’s roads are not racetracks.
According to North Salem Police Chief Thomas Howley, a ticket blitz a few months ago appeared to have cut down speeding and racing.
“We thought we had alleviated it, then it reared its ugly head again,” he admitted last week.
Now that fall is here, the town’s “lovely” byways again are attracting a multitude of motorcyclists, bicyclists and others showing off their powerful high-end rides, Supervisor Warren Lucas said last week.
Add the appeal of apple-picking season to the mix and there are more drivers creating more traffic and more noise.
The worst spots seem to be on Titicus, Hardscrabble, Bloomer and June roads, Howley said.
Residents have raised safety issues and complained that their peace and quiet is being routinely disturbed.
Tickets are also being issued by state police in North Salem.
Enjoying all that North Salem has to offer is more than fine with the supervisor—provided everyone obeys the rules of the road.
Police handed out about 40 tickets during a campaign targeting speeders a few months back. They have again been asked to pump up patrols on the weekends, especially when the weather is nice.
Lucas said the town hopes the increased enforcement—and the public’s cooperation—“will make a difference.”
According to Lucas, one of the biggest issue for residents is how loud some motorcycles or cars can be. This is a harder lug nut to crack because state laws are “very liberal” when it comes to muffler noise, Lucas said.
One local business also is waving the yellow flag in the name of safe and considerate driving: Hayfields Market, a café, gift shop and garden center once dubbed an “old-timey oasis” by The New York Times, hosts a Cars & Coffee event the first Sunday of every month.
Since opening five years ago, the Bloomer Road spot has become an undeniable asset to the community. It usually had something special going on every week, from trivia nights and live music to wine tastings and floral workshops, before the pandemic struck.
Cars & Coffee has been able to continue with social distancing guidelines in place. But what started out as an “occasional vintage and historic-car gathering has now gotten a bit out of hand,” owner Renea Dayton of Cars & Coffee on Hayfields’ website recently posted.
Hayfields recently reached out to the event’s enthusiasts to say that while it loves to see “amazing cars” in town, it did “not appreciate or promote unsafe and inconsiderate driving through, in and around the area.”
“North Salem is a small country town and our roads are meant to be driven, not raced,” it said, pointing out that numerous complaints have been made to local and state police.
“Racing is for the racetrack. Don’t ruin a good thing,” it said, asking everyone to drive respectfully, park appropriately, wear masks and social distance.
If things don’t change significantly, inconsiderate patrons might “risk losing the opportunity to come to Hayfields on Sundays,” its Facebook message said.
Dayton told The North Salem News on Thursday, Oct. 1, that Hayfields is “trying to let our car-enthusiast customers know that these are small-town roads and a community and not a racetrack.”
“We hope they will abide and curb their enthusiasm,” she added.
Although not pointing a finger at any one enterprise, establishment, type of driver or part of town, officials and police echoed that sentiment.
“We’re always happy to have people come to North Salem and patronize local businesses,” said Howley. “But they have to be respectful of the rules of the road. This is a residential community.”
Lucas was at tad more succinct: “The message to everyone is: Calm down.”