At a recent debate, candidates in the Ward 1 race were asked what is the number one issue that residents have raised during the campaign. The correct answer was provided by the incumbent Christine Yon: speeding traffic.

A double-line is psychological indicator for drivers that it's okay to driver faster...but these are neighborhoods, where people live, walk their dogs and raise their families.

A double-line is psychological indicator for drivers that it’s okay to driver faster…but these are neighborhoods, where people live, walk their dogs and raise their families.

There are a variety of other issues that arise, from code enforcement issues for particular properties, water issues, safety hazards – the list goes on. However, collectively, speed of traffic is the issue that will tend to come up in all sections throughout the ward. For Ward 6 the issue is particularly problematic on West Street, Onota Street, Merriam Ave., Eleanor Road, Forthill Ave., Valentine Road and Churchill Street. What do all these streets have in common? They are all double-lined thoroughfares that are used as connector roads. They are also very much residential neighborhoods. This challenging dichotomy is an absolutely legitimate concern for neighbors in these areas. Many have children who ride bicycles and who should be able to a walk to a friend’s place a few houses down the road without worry. Unfortunately, in some of the aforementioned streets there is no sidewalk to serve as a safe barrier between road and pedestrian. In some cases there is a sidewalk on only one side of the street.

What’s the answer? Well, if it was that simple, speeding traffic wouldn’t continue to be an issue. The answer is, of course, enforcement. Happily, the council was supportive of additional resources allocated for greater speed enforcement in the city. This will be helpful. However, there are other elements that can help. For instance, residents of Churchill Street correctly complain that the speed limit on the south end of the street was actually increased within the last few years. This is the most densely populated area of the street. I still have not been able to receive a clear answer as to why this occurred. A petition that I sponsored to reduce the speed about two years ago was shot down by the Traffic Commission. However, I have been following with great interest the progress residents of Maple Grove Drive have made in understanding how the city may have a greater ability to control the speed limit on these streets (always presumed as solely the state’s jurisdiction). Further, as I tell all my constituents, you will be able to receive more enforcement by continuing to call police on the issue. The police welcome this. It helps the department prioritize resources. You can call the police at 448-9700, or you can email them at traffic@pittsfieldpd.org.

Meanwhile, for drivers: Please recognize that these connector roads are inhabited by people, their families, their children. Ease up on the gas and treat it as if you were driving through your own neighborhood.

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