The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 12, 2001


Safety First

From the recent discussions regarding the installation of pedestrian sidewalks, it appears to me that safety is a relatively subjective experience. It would seem reasonable that it is safer to walk in some areas of town than in others. Therefore, if we think the whole town has the same view we have from our windows and location, we would not be thinking reasonably. We also need to keep in mind all persons using the roads: adults, children, parents with strollers, bicyclists and vehicle occupants.

I live on Brook Street. It is just over a mile longa nice distance marker for pedestrians and we do have pedestrians who use the road to walk, run and exercise pets, as well as cyclists and horseback riders. Is it "safe?" I don't think so. The road takes several twists and turns, dangerous in that they are narrow and blind. Many sections are barely wide enough for two cars to pass, and the embankment in some places rises from the edge of the road, with poison ivy spreading in the undergrowth. The curves are blind at a driver's eye level from both a geographical aspect and from an inability to see through layers of foliage. Brook Street is also used by a herd of deer, and by commuters as a cut-through from Routes 4 and 3 to Routes 225 and 2. I'll let you decide which poses the greater hazard.

There are many other roads like Brook Street in CarlisleSouth Street comes to mind. Pedestrian use of such streets is, to a lesser or greater extent, an act of faith. If a car approaches, or worse, if two cars are coming in opposite directions (I won't add bicyclists to the scenario), there is no place to go but into the poison ivy. Near my house are safer and wider roads, but to get to them, Brook Street needs to be negotiated first.

Sidewalks or not, we can be better neighbors and improve our community. Take a good look at your property from the road's point of view. Is there something that needs to be pruned back to improve visibility? In the spring, check to see if you have poison ivy and do something about it. If you don't know what it looks like, find out, but in the meantime, don't lean against any reddish hairy stuff growing up a tree. Yup, that's poison ivy too.

Is there a particular intersection in town that has become overgrown and needs attention? The intersection of Maple and Brook Streets needs an overhaul; there is no way to see whether a car, cyclist, or runner is coming to "yield." A street light at the intersection wouldn't be a bad idea either for those moonless nights. The intersection at Bedford and River Roads is another example of an intersection that could use a street light. And how about roads so rutted that drivers traverse their entire width like beginning skiers? If you agree, let the town know about it.

Now and then, certainly every millennium or so, these safety issues need to be revisited.

When It's Good to be Two-faced

Like the Roman god Janus for which it was named, January is a month of facing in two directions. When we make our New Year's resolutions, we look back at the old year and weigh our plusses and minuses. So it is appropriate that we begin the first Mosquito issue of 2001 with an overview of the past year. This brief history of the year 2000 helps us sift through all the events to examine what we have accomplished, failed to accomplish and should strive to accomplish in the future. As we evaluate the past, we can face the future with clearer resolve, and we hope our year in review leads to good resolutions for the year to come in Carlisle.

One group who should be praised for their forward-looking attitude is the regional school committee. In December, the committee presented its plans for a multi-million dollar renovation to the high school that would be a major capital investment for both Carlisle and Concord. The dual pressures of increased enrollment and changing programs made this renovation a valid priority. However, after a realistic look at the available resources for the 2001-2002 funding cycle, the regional school committee has announced that it will put its plans on hold for at least a year. This wise choice, made early in the budget-preparation process, shows not only fiscal responsibility but also fiscal sensitivity as well. One would hope that this gesture of letting other financial issues be addressed first will only move the high school's needs higher on Concord and Carlisle's priority lists for FY02-03. Let's not forget this decision when we look back next January.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito