Tag Archives: pedestrians

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.

Go, Gordon Davis, go!!!

Drivers, Pedestrians and Worcester Politicians
By Gordon Davis

One of the issues debated by the mayoral candidates at Mechanics Hall recently was public safety. It came up several times in regards to crime, gangs and panhandling. What never came up for discussion was pedestrian safety. There has been what seems to be an increase in the number of pedestrians hit by cars and killed in Worcester. Just recently a pedestrian was killed on Lincoln Street by a driver charged with DUI.

However, it is not only DUI drivers we pedestrians have to worry about. I am legally blind, and I am dependent on cross walks and signaled pedestrian crossings to get around the city. Not only those with disabilities are dependent on cross walks and pedestrian crossing signals; many able people need them to just walk from place to place.  Just look at the intersection of Foster and Front streets.

Recently, I was assaulted and battered by the occupant of a car that nearly ran me down at the intersection of Lake Ave. and Sunderland Road. I called the driver a “fucking asshole” and I continued to cross the street. A man from the car got out, followed me across the street and hit me with a soda bottle.  There was a witness who called the police. We gave the police the license plate, but so far nothing has happened. I don’t think it is being taken seriously.

Pedestrians have become second-class citizens in Worcester. 
According to Massachusetts statutes, drivers are required to YIELD to pedestrians, especially in cross walks and when there is a pedestrian signal activated. 
It has been my experience that many drivers making turns on red lights do not even look for pedestrians. This is the case about half of the time at Lake Ave. and Sunderland Road. Even my sighted wife is hesitant to cross that intersection.

Some drivers do not look for pedestrians. Other drivers see pedestrians but refuse to yield. It is clear that city officials do not think this to be a serious issue, despite the numerous pedestrian injuries and deaths in Worcester. It seems that the police will bend over backwards not to charge a driver with pedestrian accidents, instead looking to see whether the pedestrian was at fault.

I found it almost laughable, if it were not so sad, at the mayoral debate that Mayor Petty and Councilor Gaffney defended Worcester’s anti-panhandling ordinance based on the so called safety issue. It’s especially remarkable that Councilor Gaffney had sympathy for the “mother and child” whose car strikes and kills a panhandler as mother and child’s lives would be made miserable. Councilor Gaffney did not have the same sympathy for the panhandler. I am happy that candidate Coleman did not get caught in that trap and spoke of helping homeless people.

There should be new legislation that makes it clearer that turning right on red through an activated pedestrian cross walk signal is prohibited. Violations of this new statute would precipitate automatic tickets and at fault status. The penalties should be high enough to get the driving public to pay attention and yield to pedestrians.
To some extent there is a low-income and racial element to pedestrian deaths on Massachusetts and Worcester streets. Low-income people and a large proportion of so called minority people do not have cars and are compelled to take busses and walk. Like with many issues in Worcester, we are not taken seriously. This has to change. 

Walking in Worcester

By Sue Moynagh

This is a car- driving society, and non- drivers seem few and far between, but we are here and I would like to tell you what it is like to make your way in Worcester without a car. First I would like to explain that there are various reasons why people don’t drive. Many choose not to own a car because they are too expensive to own and operate. Some prefer not to drive because they respect the environment. Walking for them provides health benefits and does not pollute. Many of these individuals also own bicycles for longer distances. Some people cannot drive a car for health reasons. It is hard to drive if you cannot see clearly or if your body cannot react fast enough to maneuver a vehicle through heavy traffic. And yes, there are people who would like to be driving but have lost their licenses. So how do we get around? I would like to relate my own experiences to show how challenging it is when you don’t drive.

Urban layout is much different than when I was a youngster. Then, everything was pretty much within walking distance. Now, with suburban and exurban sprawl, nothing is localized anymore. Most people look confused when I say I don’t drive a car. They can’t believe that in this day and age, some people have to rely on other forms of transportation. If you don’t drive, they ask, how do you function? Well, if you don’t drive, you have several options: take the bus, take a cab, ask for rides or walk.

It is not always easy being a non- driver in Worcester. It can be challenging but also rewarding to plan your daily activities to be efficient and effective without a car. Drivers also have to schedule shopping trips, work, medical and business visits, and social functions, but they also get more done than non- drivers do. I would say that a driver can do all of my weekly errands in one day or maybe two. My first step is to list what I have to accomplish during the week. I need to shop for food, pet supplies and household items. I may have a medical appointment that week or a number of meetings scheduled that I must attend. When I worked, and I hope to soon, these necessary chores usually had to wait for weekends or evening hours. Then you have to know what the weather is going to be like in the next few days. Major storms mean fewer days in which to get things done. Most important of all, I have to determine how will I get to these places? Do I need to ask for a ride? Check bus schedules?

Just as a driver tries to fit as many errands in during one drive, I have to get as much done during one day’s excursion. If I have a Weight Watcher’s Meeting on Thursday morning, I can walk to the Worcester shop (it takes approximately 50 minutes). Then I can shop at Walmart or take the bus to Blackstone Shoppes to get to PetSmart for pet supplies. If necessary, I can walk or take the bus down Greenwood Street to the Plaza. There I can do banking, shop for clothes and food, and stop in the bakery. If the purchases are light, I can walk home (one and a half hours). If I buy a lot of canned goods, I take the bus. The same goes for medical visits. If I go to the optometrist downtown, I try to arrange the time to fit in any business that has to be taken care of, such as banking or prescription pickup. Sometimes I catch the bus to Auburn mall, do some shopping, and then catch the bus home. This has to be carefully timed and orchestrated. If you miss the bus, there may be a long wait. If it was the last bus, you either walk or call a cab.

Bus service has improved somewhat in the past few years. Most bus drivers are friendly and courteous, although one or two could use an attitude change. There is even a way to track buses en route with your smart phone or telephone. If you call 508-296-TRAK (8725), and give the operator the name or number of the bus stop, you can find out when the bus will arrive. Buses are usually on time or close to schedule, unless the weather is very bad or there is a bus that breaks down and has to be replaced. There are issues with bus service, usually involving schedules and transfers.

Schedules for some routes change about three times a year. Sometimes the route itself changes as it did a few years ago, when the number 4 bus no longer stopped at Crompton Park, but rather continued to the Plaza at the end of Greenwood Street. Then it changed again, to go to Walmart and then to the Blackstone Shoppes in Millbury. Great for me, but many people who were not aware of the change went for an extra ride, and most were very angry about this waste of their time. Transfers can be a problem, however, because some buses only run once an hour. If you can’t make the transfer, there is an hour wait, not fun if you have frozen foods in your shopping bag and the temperature is 90˚. The long wait between buses is not fun if you have to stand in rain, snow or wind and there is no shelter. Most drivers are aware of their stops, even if signs are missing, but on occasion, the bus driver has gone by. Sometimes stops are eliminated altogether. For instance, the Green Street bus stops near Ash Street were eliminated, so now I have to walk either to Kelley Square or near Temple Street. This is no big deal when I catch the bus empty- handed, but a nightmare when I have twenty to thirty pounds of groceries in my bags and have extra blocks to walk, plus the Harrison Street hill. This occurs about two or three times a week. I swear my arms are getting longer from lugging those bags.

Recently, there was a meeting discussing bus service times. Service ends early for some routes, and those who have to get to jobs or return home late at night are having difficulty dealing with keeping work. There are also concerns with the new bus Hub near Union Station. How will this affect the few businesses downtown? It is more convenient for people taking the out of town buses or trains, but what about downtown workers? I know I have had to pass up good job opportunities because there was no bus service at nights or on weekends.

I very seldom ask people for rides, but I will accept a ride if offered at night or I have a lot of heavy items to carry. I am very grateful to those who take the time to give me a ride. I try to offer money for gasoline, or I may treat them to a coffee or even a meal to say thank you. Most of these people are kind and gracious, even offering to help me with my bags. However, some people feel that they have a right to interfere in your personal business because they are doing you a favor. I have had to put up with rude and intrusive comments and questions during rides because I felt at the mercy of these people. I have had to endure “advice” about my ratty hair, my weight problem, my education choices, my home life, and best of all, the inevitable, “did it ever occur to you to learn how to drive so that you don’t have to bother people for rides?” How do you tell someone to mind their own business when you’re halfway to another town with a carrier occupied by a howling, terrified animal who has to get to the vet? You shut up and feel your blood pressure go up. Now I take cabs to get to the vet.

Cab service in Worcester is great, but I seldom take cabs because of income limitations. Cabs are an option if I have to be somewhere very early in the morning before buses run, or if I have too many heavy items to carry home. And of course, vet trips are easier in a taxi.

I saved the best for last: walking. I love to walk. Anyone who knows me is aware that I have been fighting the battle of the bulge for a number of years now, and I often walk just for exercise. There are numerous challenges for the pedestrian. There are safety issues, of course, and you have to be aware of your surroundings, especially in the evening. Weather is a big factor. Walking on a nice spring or fall day can be relaxing and delightful, but summer heat and winter ice can be dangerous. Winter snow is beautiful, but trying to stay on sidewalks when one homeowner shovels and the other doesn’t can be a pain. I hate walking in the streets, especially when it is slippery. Some areas are seldom if ever shoveled, such as the McKeon Road extension leading to Walmart, or around the Green Street bridge. But that is not the worse problem for walkers

Many drivers, for some reason, have given up stopping at intersections for red lights. I cannot even count the number of near- misses I have had when some idiot refused to stop at a crosswalk. I know drivers will protest that pedestrians often jump from out of nowhere in front of their moving vehicle, forcing them to slam on the brakes. I do not excuse the pedestrian’s behavior, but my concern is with people who are actually trying to cross streets according to the law. I am frustrated when the light shows “walk” and I have to wait for a line of cars to go by me.

There are ways to get around Worcester, and surrounding towns, without driving a car. It takes creativity and careful planning for the non- driver, but it can be done. I hope those who work in city planning or transportation remember that we are a presence in the city. If Worcester wants to be “pedestrian friendly,” these people have to make sure our needs for safety, ease and efficiency in movement are met, so that we can continue to live, enjoy and get around this city.



Thank you, Worcester Police Department!

editor’s note: I know more than a few good people who have been killed or horribly maimed by cars careening down Worcester streets. PLEASE! Remember what we all learned (or at least what I learned) in driver’s ed: PEDESTRIANS ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY.

Even if they are j-walking, even if they are drunk, even if they are homeless panhandlers, even if they are crawling along …

Anyways, we never ever give a big thumbs up to the Worcester Police Dept. We do today! Thank you, Chief Gemme! And shame on the idiots who are whining about the police stings – and asking where are they and how can we avoid them? These folks have no respect for the inner-city residents of Worcester! Or anyone, for that matter!

This press release from the City of Worcester:

Pedestrian Fatal Accidents Increase over Past Year

Worcester, MA (January 4, 2012) – The Worcester Police report that there have been 6 pedestrian fatalities over the past year, an increase from only 1 in 2010; however, there were 325 pedestrian accidents reported in 2011, a significant decline compared to 384 in 2010.

As a result of the increase in pedestrian fatalities, the Worcester Police Traffic Division increased law enforcement tactics by increasing a plain clothes crosswalk sting operation throughout the city. This operation is known as “Operation Safe Cross.”

This sting involves officers dressed in plain clothes that cross streets in congested areas within marked crosswalks. Meanwhile, marked police cruisers are staged nearby and observe driver behavior. These marked cruisers would then act when a violation is observed. There have been 1,427 crosswalk violations issued in 2011 compared to 769 in the previous year.

The Worcester Police will continue to expand on enforcing cross walk safety for the upcoming year by focusing attention on traditional law enforcement tactics and maintaining the sting operations.

City Councilor Barbara Haller wants you to join her …

editor’s note: District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller has been on inner-city folks’ side for a long time, advocating for all sorts of improvements to our meaner streets. One of her many goals: CLEARLY DEFINED AND FRESHLY PAINTED CROSSWALKS. And (probably more importantly): FINES ($200) for drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians using the crosswalks.

Let’s support her this spring! Here is a press release from Barb and her InCity Times story on pedestrian safety:

From District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller:

Date: Monday, April 5
Time: 1:30 pm
Place: Front entrance to Clark University, 950 Main Street

After years of concern about the dangers of crossing Main Street, residents of Webster Square Towers (1050 and 1060 Main Street), Marble Street Apartments (11 Marble Street), and Clark University (950 Main Street) are taking positive action to improve pedestrian and scooter safety at crosswalks.

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller explains the March 29th event: “Building on the success of the March 17th event at Marble and Main streets, the Crosswalk-Safety Task Force will give an update on its activities. This will be immediately followed by an en mass crossing of Main Street at the front entrance gate to Clark University as a continuing demonstration of its commitment to changing the long-standing culture of ignoring crosswalk regulations.” Continue reading City Councilor Barbara Haller wants you to join her …