Friday, March 2, 2007

Woodland Road to get speed tables

It was a remarkable meeting last night.

With Kevin Flaherty's sister and parents in the front row, Mayor Cohen promised a whole host of pedestrian-focused safety improvements to Woodland Road, the centerpiece of which are raised intersections (or speed tables) at Woodland and Cheswick and Woodland and Lake. (Kevin Flaherty is the Lasell College student who was struck and killed by a motorist on Woodland Road.) If built, they would be the first
speed tables in Newton.

From the engineers' report (PDF), to the mayor's commitment to implement the engineers' recommendations, to the aldercritter response (Sangiolo and Harney in attendance), to the neighborood support, the focus was on pedestrian safety, comfort, and convenience.

If the recommendations are implemented, particularly the speed tables, it will represent a very important early step in efforts to recognize that pedestrians have an equal right to at least some of the city's 300 miles of street and that pedestrian concerns -- and not just vehicle throughput -- should be a critical factor in roadway design.

The high profile of the meeting reflects Mr. Flaherty's death and the efforts of his friend Randy Stillman to organize Lasell students to press for change. Not every pedestrian issue is going to get this kind of attention, mayoral attention in particular.

I hope that the city's responsiveness is not solely a function of Kevin Flaherty's death and that similar efforts will be made across the city.

The process isn't over, yet. The aldercritters have to approve hizzoner's appropriation request for the changes. (Mayor Cohen promised to have the request docketed today.) Undoubtedly, there will be questions about the speed tables. As that time approaches, I'll have more thoughts and information about speed tables and some of the issues related to their installation.

At least for now, good work Mr. Mayor. Good work Mr. Stillman.

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