Tag Archives: drivers

For Worcester: Zero Pedestrian Deaths!

In Piedmont: Painting faded Worcester crosswalks guides pedestrians – and drivers! pic:R.T.

By Gordon Davis

The City of Boston has recently lowered the speed limit for streets in its “urban areas” – which include business districts and residential dwellings with less than 100 feet between dwellings for a distance of at least one-eighth of a mile. The reason for this law is to reduce accidents and pedestrian deaths.

The Boston City Council and Boston representatives in the State House were concerned about drivers using local Boston roads as short cuts around State and Federal highways.

In Massachusetts during the last three years of record keeping there have been 75 pedestrian deaths by automobiles. The issue also affects Worcester. The last pedestrian death in Worcester was Patricia LeMay who was killed on July 14, 2016.

Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an amendment to Bill H 4331 which allows cities and town to lower the default speed limit from 30 miles per hours to 25 miles per hours in urban areas.

This means that the Worcester City Council can bypass the entire Home Rule bureaucracy and by majority vote lower the speed limit for most streets in Worcester to 25 miles per hour.

Worcester too should strive to have zero pedestrian deaths or death of bicyclists or children at play. Lowering the speed limit not only reduces the number of accidents, but it also increases the likelihood of pedestrian survival.

Most pedestrians are relatively poorer people or disabled in some way – or both.

Getting the Worcester City Council to do something against drivers might be like trying to get Congress to pass gun control. No driver wants to give up the right to make pedestrians get out of his way. I am reminded of the complaint against a city of Worcester high ranking employee who was accused of using profanity and a racial slur as he was exiting the Worcesyer City Hall garage.

To some extent it is also a racial issue as even Trump acknowledges there are racial economic disparities. Besides not having cars and walking, many poorer people live within the definition of urban areas as found in the Bill H. 4331.

Given these facts on the ground, it is unlikely that the Worcester City Council will enact an emergency ordinance like they did with the dirt bikes.

I am pretty sure cars kill more people than dirt bikes. The dirt bike riders were mostly Hispanic young men.

Dirt bikes are certainly a nuisance, but the way the ordinance was enforced raises civil liberties issues.

It is also unlikely that a champion will come forward on this speed limit issue like councillor Rosen has done for the doggies’ owners.

The first step for safer reduced speed streets in Worcester is to have public hearings by the City Council. The councilor this task would naturally fall to is Councilor Kate Toomey, chair of the Public Safety Committee. However, given the social economic class of motorists as a group, no one on our City Council will most likely do anything. Many in City Council will repeat the mantra, “The City police dept. is doing a good job. We should not question what they do. Chief Sargent meets with Crime Watch groups. We are not racist.”

This is the time to lower the speed limit in urban areas and make the effort to attain the goal of zero pedestrian deaths!

Senator Chandler Defends Unsafe, Arrogant Drivers  

By Gordon Davis
Harriet Chandler is the Majority Leader in the Massachusetts Senate. She has a lot of power, but seemingly she does not now have common sense. This is a condition that happens to many long-time politicians.

Senator Chandler has proposed an increase in the fines for “jaywalking.” These fines are obviously directed at poor working people and people with handicaps.  Many of us can not afford a car. Some of us cannot drive a car due to a handicap.

The proposal is downright stupid given the fact that in the winter time pedestrians walk in the streets because the sidewalks are not cleared by property owners.

The City of Worcester has never cleared the sidewalk at the corner of Lake Ave. and Sunderland Road, a property which is owned by the City. There is no break down lane there and pedestrians have to enter the travel lane to get to the corner.  Perhaps Senator Chandler can increases the fines for not shoveling sidewalks.

In Worcester there is about one death or hit and run of a pedestrian per week. 

Let me be clear about this: Not one driver was injured. When hit the pedestrian did not run away.

There is a rule that the driver is fully responsible for the control of his vehicle and that the driver is obliged to YIELD to pedestrians.

Senator Chandler’s efforts are misguided. It is not pedestrians who are the major safety issue that needs fixing. It is drivers who do not yield to pedestrians, especially arrogant drivers.

An arrogant driver drives 80 miles an hour down Lake Ave., Mill Street and Chandler Street.

An arrogant driver will turn on red through a pedestrian cross walk signal.

An arrogant driver will exceed the speed limit of 30 miles an hour on congested streets.

An arrogant driver will pass on the right, endangering pedestrians. 

An arrogant driver will text while driving.

Let us look at the death of one of the young soccer players I coached. He was riding his skate board when he was struck and killed by a car.

The driver said that the youngster “came out of nowhere.” She was found not responsible. Yet she should have had full control of the car. There should have been some fine for striking the youngster.

A child chasing a ball into the street is dependent on the driver to control his car. This concept should be driven into the minds of all drivers; the driver should be fully in control of his car at all times.

The driver must yield to pedestrians and non-drivers.

The problem is arrogant drivers. A possible solution is an automatic charge of $200 for every car accident involving a pedestrian regardless of fault.

This will make drivers more aware and cautious of pedestrians. It hopefully would reduce aggressive and unsafe driving practices of arrogant drivers.

From my experience the police always look for a way to blame the most vulnerable, the pedestrians. Senator Chandler has fallen into the same blame-the-victim mentality.

Perhaps her next proposal will be more balanced.