Jason Schrieber has been analyzing data, traffic patterns and pedestrian crossings in the village of South Deerfield for the past few months. Tonight he made a presentation to a group of townspeople showing off an impressive plan that his firm, Nelson Nygaard, has put together that would make our town safer for walkers and much more bike friendly.
The Safe Streets project began in November with a town-wide meeting called a charrette, bringing as many voices together to address what we all wanted to see in town. Some parents with young children talked about how hard it is to cross the street in some places. Others, like me, lamented the lack of any bike lanes down the main thoroughfares, and how riding on the sidewalk was illegal but safer than the road. Others complained about our tiny town common and wondered why Park street needs to be a two-way street that shoots cars heading north through a tight space.
Downtown South Deerfield is also full of streets that are too wide, Schrieber explained, and that makes people drive faster. Many of us know that Sugarloaf Street to many is just a short cut between Rte 5 and Rte 116, en route to Amherst. This is why there are so many cars speeding by, he explained. Traffic calming is what’s needed to make this all work better and maybe, this will bring more businesses back into the village.
I tried helping out by opening a cafe for five years. One of my former customers lamented that there’s not much for people to do in town now…but Schrieber said that these traffic measures and adding landscaping touches such as barrels all force people to slow down. Much of his plan presented involved simply painting the streets with much larger crosswalk markings, as well as designating bike lanes.
So what next? Town Manager Bernie Kubiak said that the town has already talked with Mass DOT about working on some of these challenges, and they’ve been very interested in following the plan. Leader Home Center has taken out a demolition permit to take down an abandoned house, and making way for their new hardware store. As our friends at Berkshire Brewing like to say, “Things Are Looking Up!”