Congratulations to our Bristol town leaders on their successful efforts to restore some of the parking spaces on Hope Street from RIPTA. (Bristol Phoenix Sept. 26)
I now hope that they will put that same amount of energy if not more into restoring some of the crosswalks also lost during the Hope Street renovation. Apparently the reason is that Hope Street / Rte. 114 is under jurisdiction of federal law which limits crosswalks to one per intersection. This law makes sense for a major thoroughfare not for a road through a historic once pedestrian friendly downtown. We all know laws can be changed.
I recently participated in Vision for Bristol and two of the major reasons residents love Bristol: there is a ‘real’ downtown and it is a ‘walking town”. Both of these extremely valuable attributes are seriously at risk since the removal of many of our downtown crosswalks.
The appeal of an accessible downtown is for pedestrians to feel safe walking around downtown. Hope Street is not just about parking spaces for more cars. It is about the safety of the people who park, get out and walk across the streets to do their errands, go to the library, the post office, shop and eat locally.
Not only is there now just one crosswalk at the intersections, there are no crosswalks on the side streets. I.e. crossing State Street on either side of Hope Street there is a white stripe on the street pavement at the Stop sign. The Crosswalk is a universal symbol: it means stop for the pedestrian and it is also a visible indication to the driver that people cross the street. This replacement of insipid white stripes appears to be up to interpretation for most drivers who ignore it and ignore the pedestrian. It is bad enough the abundance of distracted drivers on the roads but now they do not even see crosswalks.
Our downtown grammar school Colt Andrews has a daily population of more than 400 children, many of whom live walking distance to school. Who can blame the parents if they prefer to drive their children to school? As a daily walker with our third grader sometimes I wish I had driven instead of trying to negotiate the crossing of streets. And the removal of a crosswalk in front of the library and post office the hub of downtown activity was ridiculous. More crosswalks the better. The message should be if drivers don’t want to stop for walkers then Hope Street is not for them.
I urge our town leaders to work together on this issue and restore the crosswalks and make pedestrian safety a priority for our “walking town.”
142 High Street