Safety issues are a concern
Today is my birthday. I am 54 years old and happy to be alive. On Sunday the 20th of November, the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season, I was struck by a car while walking home with my son.
We live on the corner of Valley Street and North Main Road, across the corner from the town playground. It was on this corner that a car, moving much too fast, coming across North Road from the Cumberland Farms parking, lot hit me. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of Liz Perez, who saw what happened and stopped to “guard me” as I lay in the road in considerable pain, I would have been run over by at least three more cars coming around the corner too fast.
I am not writing this letter today to talk about the negligence of the driver who hit me but about the safety issues surrounding this area. I have been concerned for a long time for the safety of the pedestrians and the children in this area. When Anna Erwin heard what happened to me, she spoke to me of her concerns for not only the safety of the children she helps in the mornings and afternoons as a crossing guard in front of the library but also the safety for herself. She tells me there have been a number of times when she has had to jump out of the crosswalk to the safety of the side of the road because traffic was not only not slowing down to stop but not even stopping at all sometimes.
I can’t tell you the amount of times while working in my yard I have heard people putting on the brakes because they were coming onto Valley Street off of North Road way too fast. A lot of the traffic flow is people who don’t even live in the neighborhood but find cutting through a more convenient way to bypass the main street of the village on Narragansett Avenue. Time and time again, I found myself shouting in anger at some of these drivers to slow down.
Jamestown is not the sleepy little town it used to be. There are more year-round people on the island than ever — thus more traffic. I urge the Town Council and the town police department to work together to petition the state Department of Transportation, which owns North Road, to take better steps to help curb the speeding problems that are there. There are steps that can be taken to help slow the traffic down coming into this area. Chatter strips in the road at the top of the hill coming up from Great Creek may help to alert drivers of the drop in the speed limit. The speed limit sign of 25mph certainly doesn’t work just on its own, and there has been concern from other residents in this area to have a sidewalk in front of the library, so that people may have a place to wait for traffic instead of standing in the road. A flashing pole light inserted in the middle of the road at the crosswalk could prove helpful as well. These are a few examples that have proved reliable in other communities.
I would like to suggest to the town at this time to make Valley Street a oneway street heading west so that vehicles can only drive out of the neighborhood onto North Road. This would help to alleviate some of the safety concerns for the children around the playground and the pedestrians often walking on Valley Street.
People have said I must have had an angel on my shoulder that morning because my son was not hit, and I only received bone bruises and soft tissue injuries. It could have been worse. My son could have been hit and either of us could have gotten broken bones, a head injury, or wound up in a wheelchair for the rest of our lives. If something isn’t done to curb the speeding problem in this area, it will only be a matter of time before someone is hit again, and that person, perhaps a child of yours, may not be as lucky as we were.