Rabbi Pleased with Crosswalk Changes; Camera Sensors Might Comply with Jewish Law, Make Walkers Safer

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Pantazi

A month after an Orthodox Jewish woman died trying to cross a busy road to attend Yom Kippur services, a Florida Department of Transportation engineer met with local rabbis Monday to talk about whether new safety measures are working.

"I'm pretty encouraged and grateful," said Etz Chaim Rabbi Yaakov Fisch. "They seem to be giving solutions."

Because Jewish law forbids working on the Sabbath or on holy days, Orthodox Jews don't use cars and don't activate electricity during that time. If they leave a light on before sundown, they cannot turn it off. If it is left off, they cannot turn it on.

Most of the Etz Chaim congregants live close enough to the synagogue to walk, but they're not able to push the walk button at San Jose Boulevard and Haley Road. With the button, they would have 49.5 seconds, according to the transportation department. Without it, they have about 11 seconds to cross eight lanes.

A car struck and killed Esther Ohayon while she was walking with her daughter to a Yom Kippur service at Etz Chaim on Sept. 13.

There had already been a microwave sensor on the north side of the walkway that activated when someone walked in its path. This violated the Jewish law, and the Orthodox Jews had to walk around the sensor.

To solve that problem, the transportation department installed a camera sensor last Wednesday on the south side of the intersection that is always operating. It can activate the walking signal when someone walks into its range without the camera sensor turning off and turning on. …