Time for Lee to address its dangerous crosswalks
To the editor:
In the U.S., pedestrian fatalities account for three quarters of a million deaths per year. Recorded from January to June in 2013, Massachusetts alone had 28 pedestrian deaths and injuries. If this pattern continued for the following six months of the year, Massachusetts would have 56 deaths caused by traffic fatalities. This number is much too high and something needs to be done to fix this problem.
Specially in Lee there is a need to reduce the number of injuries that have occurred and could occur on roadsides and crosswalks. Traveling throughout town one usually does not notice the rustic brick laid crosswalks along Main, Park and Housatonic streets. In daylight, these crossways are difficult to notice, but nearly impossible to see at night, especially in bad weather.
One major concern I have is the crosswalk on Park Street in front of the CIP campus buildings. One evening on a rainy night, I witnessed a CIP student who was almost struck by a vehicle crossing in front of the Rite Aid Plaza. This is just one example of the many places these students are in danger.
A few years ago, a man was crossing the road on Main Street and was struck by a vehicle and was flung along the road. Luckily, this man survived, but not without lifelong injuries and many months of recovering.
There are many more stories about the crosswalks and lack of safety in our town. Lee needs to notice the hazards associated with its crosswalks and create a plan for change. Many states have been making valiant efforts. Berkshire County has also been making changes to raise awareness for pedestrians. Pittsfield has incorporated flashing lights to a variety of their crosswalks along North Street. In downtown Great Barrington, they have painted their crosswalks bright red and white striped, after an accident Memorial Day weekend involving four victims who were struck by a vehicle.
Even though highlighting the crosswalks with bright colors is not the ideal aesthetic look, it will raise awareness that there is a crossway in the road. If the crosswalks were outlined with a reflective paint, they would be visible in bad weather or during evening hours. A more effective method would be to install crossing lights at the most traveled crosswalks. These should be located on Park Street in front of the CIP campus buildings, at least one on Main Street as well as one on the busiest section of Housatonic street.
The problems with the crosswalks have been a topic of complaint among the townspeople for much too long and it is time someone made an effort to do something. The town must protect the welfare of its citizens
Anita Curtin, Lee