Thank you for the story about the crosswalk at Brittany Court. The fact that this has been a problem for 30 years is very important and it’s not just about the illegal crossing, it’s more about crosswalk awareness. In speaking with a lot of Gardner residents, they’ve all expressed concerns about crosswalk safety, all over the city. Drivers need to know that when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, state law requires them to stop. More than once I’ve literally come within inches of being hit by a motorist simply because they weren’t aware of the law. They saw me and my dog as we were “across the center line” of north Center and “more than halfway through the crosswalk.” Some of them looked right at me as they passed and some without even batting an eye. The danger to pedestrians in the crosswalk is from drivers who are in a hurry, staring at their phones or just not paying attention.
I’ve heard the same stories from people all over the city, as one lady told me of her experience on east Madison street; “kids who are trying to cross literally wave their arms, in the hopes that drivers will see them.”
I spoke to one lady who had to pull her car into traffic and lay on her horn, so drivers would notice that there was a child crossing north Center at Shawnee Street. Northbound cars stopped, as southbound cars kept progressing towards the child in the crosswalk. All you have to do is sit near any crosswalk throughout the city, especially during school and/or summertime pool hours and you’ll be amazed at how many drivers don’t stop for your children!
Mayor Chris Morrow mentioned having someone write an editorial piece to talk about this issue and bring it to light, but so far no one has stepped up to the plate. You would think the issue would be on the public’s mind a lot more than it is, especially with the death of an elementary school student in 2010. After being hit by a car while crossing Madison at the end of the school day, residents took more notice of crosswalks, but that was four years ago. The Gardner Police responded to the requests by me and other residents by making a mention of crosswalk safety on their Facebook page. Mentioning the issue on social media hasn’t done much. I asked if someone within the department could contact the paper and possibly write an editorial about the issue, but nothing came from my request. In speaking to both Sgt. Jay Belcher and Sgt. Steve Benz of the Gardner Police Department, they admit little can be done to catch someone in the act, and I agree. Police aren’t always in the right place at the right time.
What needs to happen is some sort of awareness program that the Gardner News and other media outlets can get behind. The solution is as simple as publishing a picture of a sign (Pictured, above right.) that reminds drivers that there is a state law with monetary punishment for failing to stop, or at the very least yield, to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
The 30-year problem with the residents of Brittany Court is just that, getting people to pay attention to the fact that someone is wanting to cross the street. Technically, when a pedestrian enters the dish, or access ramp leading to a crosswalk, they are in the crosswalk. That 30-year problem has seen elderly and disabled residents of Brittany Court waiting patiently for drivers to take notice of them. During rain or shine, in inclement weather and at night, drivers simply choose to ignore their responsibility and the residents of BC are left out in the cold, waiting for someone to take notice of their intention to cross the street.
By the way, has anyone noticed that the speed limit on north Center, from Main Street to just past the Aquatic Center, has been lowered to 30 miles per hour? I don’t think the majority of drivers even noticed. In speaking to the Gardner Police, they admit it’s hard to run radar on north Center, there’s just no place to hide. On the few occasions we’ve had a Police presence and drivers have slowed, but soon afterwards it’s back to normal.
I would appreciate seeing a story on all crosswalks throughout the city and the fact that most drivers ignore them. Get out and talk to other residents and ask them about their own experiences, there are far too many. I have a few contacts for you. In your story you mentioned the comments from Doug Cross. What he was trying to point out in his comments to city leaders was the fact that drivers do not pay attention to pedestrians in crosswalks. “Someone will have to be run down for people [drivers] to take notice!”
In your story you also mentioned my ultimatum to the city council, about filing ADA against them. What you forgot to mention was; “I have been working with the city on this issue for many months, trying to find the best solution!” It wasn’t until late August when I found out from an engineer that the crosswalk was illegal, and when I informed the city of this fact, the ball started rolling. Talk to Brian Faust, talk to the Mayor about how I have accommodated the city in finding the best possible solutions. By only mentioning my ultimatum in your story and nothing about what lead up to it, makes me look like a bully, and I am far from that.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: City should work to improve crosswalk safety