Sean Norton: Crosswalks a question of equal access to public space



Last modified: Monday, December 30, 2013

To the editor:

I am very frustrated by a recent letter to the Gazette that calls for the removal of the crosswalk at the back of Pulaski Park, across New South Street.

Based on what evidence does the writer doubt the crosswalk gets enough pedestrian traffic? I use that crosswalk every day, in part because I need to cross there, and also because it is much safer than either of the two adjacent crosswalks. True, it was not a particularly safe crossing before a man was killed there last year, but the subsequent alteration has made it safe.

It has been such a mental relief for me to have an alternative option to cross at Pulaski since those barrels were put in place. Cars at the Old South Street intersection and the Academy of Music intersection blast through the walk sign every time the light changes. The proposed changes at the Academy intersection, while good, will not stop people from running red lights there. I am also mystified as to why the writer calls for two lanes of traffic on New South Street. Elsewhere on this road we have gone to great lengths to restrict it to one lane, to reduce speeding and to make the street safer for bicycles. The particular stretch in question is already dangerously narrow for bikes. I understand that driving congestion is frustrating, but I humbly ask the writer to consider the predicament of those of us such as myself, who are forced to walk due to medical conditions.

We are in a different time and space zone from those who can drive. The “half-block” he refers to would become a full block without that intersection, and “block” in this case is a fungible unit — it’s very long block. The existence of this crosswalk is not simply a matter of convenience for us, it’s a matter of equal access to public space.

Sean Norton

Northampton


 


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