Wanting to alert the local community about the dangers for pedestrians crossing Plandome Road, two local women— Seval LaRocca and Katie Miller— decided to do something to make the area safer, especially for children and the elderly. LaRocca’s mother had previously been hit and badly injured by a large automobile on Plandome Road as she was pushing a stroller with her grandchild in it; miraculously, the child was unhurt.
Putting their ideas and talents together, the two women launched the Coalition for a Safer Manhasset (CSM) in 2005. Gratified by enthusiastic support from local residents, they built a network of supporters, volunteers and a committee that raised funds and began promoting road safety through education and publicity. CSM credits its success to the incredible dedication and devotion of its countless volunteers and partners and is grateful for the financial support of local individuals, women’s clubs and businesses.
Winners of the CSM logo contest in 2005 were siblings Blake and Emma Goodwin, designers of the orange and blue oval image of an adult and child holding hands and using a crosswalk. Most popular is the CSM logo magnet, seen on many cars around town, followed by the vinyl logos on doors of local stores and businesses.
The first CSM Safety Day in 2005 in Mary Jane Davies Park drew interested visitors to hear the message of road and traffic safety, invited people to pledge to be safe drivers and engaged children in play activities with a safety message. Additional Safety Day events were held in subsequent years and CSM also participated in street fairs, other safety events, and many sidewalk sweeps of Plandome Road. CSM aim to be a visible presence in Manhasset, reminding people to be safe, to follow rules of the road as both pedestrians and drivers, not to use cell phones to text or talk while driving, and to demonstrate good driving skills to their children. “We remind people that children emulate adult behavior and will grow up to be excellent and safe drivers if parents drive that way too,” points out Miller.
Because not all accidents are reported in the media, Manhasset’s roads may be more dangerous than local residents realize. CSM promotes responsibility on the part of drivers and pedestrians alike and it especially promotes the safety of young children.
During these eight years, CSM has remained very active in all aspects of road safety along Plandome Road. It lobbies for additional road signs and road markings to better protect pedestrians and drivers alike, and collaborates with elected officials, staff of the Town of North Hempstead, members of the Nassau County Police Department, local schools, houses of worship, and Manhasset Greater Council.
CSM welcomes local school children as volunteers at events and even for larger projects. Girl scouts have linked with CSM to earn Girl Scout Gold Awards: Anjali Vora designed a road safety education program and booklet and held classes to teach safety rules and tips to many groups of young children and Elizabeth Russo planned and held a bike safety day, enlisting the help of H.S. volunteers to teach safe cycling skills to the young participants and arranged bike tune-ups by Brickwell Cycling Store. Manhasset H.S. Senior Mark Herberger built the first CSM website in 2009 as his Senior Service Project. When that free website was no longer available to CSM in 2012, Manhasset H.S. Senior Elizabeth Russo re-built and re-designed the current CSM website.
Popular among readers of the Manhasset Press is CSM’s column How Can We Fix This Picture, illustrating and discussing local road safety issues, many being submitted by residents. Co-Chairs have appeared on PATV and have been interviewed by local media to talk about CSM’s goals, and initiatives such as the Annual Community Courtesy Campaign. In 2006, CSM was awarded the Smart Growth Award by Vision Long Island for promoting pedestrian safety along Plandome Road.
Together with the Manhasset Youth Council, CSM held an essay contest that invited students to identify unsafe traffic situations and propose solutions; essays of merit were printed in the Manhasset Press. To learn more about CSM and how to volunteer, visit the websitehttp://coalitionforasafermanhasset.sharepoint.com or contact