(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)
At the time of writing this, it has been 357 days since I woke up lying in the middle of Beacon Street, unable to move my body and afraid to do anything more than wiggle my toes. I was crossing out of Calvin Street on a Wednesday night that just happened to be a little darker and a little rainier than most winter nights. A speeding driver coming down Beacon Street did not see me in the middle of the road. He did not see the white painted lines of the crosswalk being reflected by his headlights. He did not see the sign on the side of the road intended to alert drivers to the presence of a crosswalk. Instead, what he saw was my head as it cracked his windshield, as he drove through the crosswalk (and me) without slowing down. I am writing to request that you repaint the crosswalk, which has since been partially paved over.
The past year has been a tumultuous one filled with surgeries, physical therapy, scars, and a lot of tears as I recovered from what happened to me that night. I have joined organizations such as Walk Boston and Livable Streets, that fight for safety on our roadways, for all of us who use them. Beacon Street is known for being wildly unsafe for bikers and walkers alike, hence the multi-million dollar construction project that is happening as I write this. So, you can imagine my dismay a few weeks ago, when I drove over to Beacon Street to find that nearly all of the crosswalk at 93 Beacon Street had been paved over. Now, I don’t want you to mistake this for a well-thought-out decision to remove the crosswalk from this stretch of Beacon Street. This was pavement poured because of work done on the road. I thought to myself, ‘they know this is dangerous, it will be repainted soon.’ That was a month ago. Every time I drive to spin class in Kendall Square or to my boyfriend’s apartment, I drive through that crosswalk that has yet to be repainted. Every time I drive there, I imagine the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that use that crosswalk every day and I say a little prayer that none of them end up like I did that night, lying in the middle of the road soaking wet, in pain, and frightened for my life. You are not helping them by allowing that crosswalk to be hidden with pavement.
The safety of our community members relies on the quick and appropriate response of those who manage our roadways. Over the past year, I have seen reflector cones go up in the middle of that Beacon Street crosswalk, only to be removed or run over within a few days. Every time, it takes weeks to get a new one out there. This is not to say that that cone would have saved me, and clearly the paint that night was not enough, but it is your job to do everything in your power to ensure the safety of the community members who use the road and this includes making sure that the crosswalks are kept up with. The traffic and parking website notes “T&P coordinates with various city departments, as well as state and local entities, on matters related to traffic and parking, as well as pedestrian and bicycle safety measures.” It also clearly states that painting crosswalks and bike lanes is under their authority and their responsibility. Re-painting this crosswalk at 93 Beacon Street is a critical safety measure. My life was not lost that night, but life as I knew it was. I respectfully implore you to repaint this crosswalk in a timely fashion. It could save a life.
Sincerely, Jennifer Mazzola