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4-year-old petitions for safer crosswalk near Robbins Library

Capitol Theatre logoGreta Hagen of Arlington tells why she and her son, holding flag in photo, seek a better crosswalk design.

Meet the future of pedestrian safety: A 4-year-old resident and his mom are on a mission to make the crosswalk near Robbins Library safer for all. They are submitting a formal request to the Select Board and seeking support from Arlington residents.

The boy feels unsafe crossing Mass. Ave. — and with good reason. He and his family have almost been hit more than once.

"I'm sure you're thinking we put him up to this, but being fearful of crossing the street started the gears turning in his little mind," his mother, Greta, told YourArlington. "We're not transportation advocates, we're just following his lead."

She said the boy considered several alternatives — such as hiring a bear for a crossing guard, or converting Mass. Ave. to a park — before settling on a design.

He and his father looked up safer crosswalks and found one that fit the intersection by Robbins. It's a staggered crosswalk design with a pedestrian refuge island.

This way, pedestrians cross to a protected area in the median, crossing just two lanes of traffic at a time. Beacons would light the crosswalk. The design preserves all the parking spots in the area.

As is town procedure, the Select Board is expected to delegate the request to a working group of staff for consideration. The working group includes staff from the planning, public works, police, and fire departments, along with the town manager's office. To advance the proposal, the working group may seek the Select Board and/or Transportation Advisory Committee's approval. Town officials are expected to respond to the family's request within three weeks of submission.

The request to the town -- which you can read online here >> – has received support from parents and community members. Signatures are being collected until the end of June. 

Staggered crosswalks with pedestrian refuge islands are a proven safety measure that can significantly reduce pedestrian accidents. By dividing the crossing into two stages, it allows pedestrians to cross in smaller sections, making it easier to judge traffic flow. The refuge island provides a safe waiting area in the middle of the road, reducing the distance pedestrians need to be in moving traffic. 

This plea was published Sunday, May 12, 2024. The writer is director of development and external relations for Jane Doe Inc., in Boston. 

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Monday, 24 June 2024

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