East Arlington stands for Mass. Ave. safety

"Pedestrian Killed mar 2015."

Neighbors stand at the Varnum St. crosswalk on Mass. Ave. on April 13.

Dozens of East Arlington residents and others, some mourning the violent death of William Dotson in a crosswalk last month, stood for 2 hours on Mass. Ave. earlier today at places where pedestrians died after being struck by motor vehicles.

Some of the signs.

Some of the signs.

Residents held signs on Mass. Ave. at Lafayette, Varnum, and Grafton Streets urging attention, caution, and care. The multi-site vigil took place during the evening commute 5–7 pm.

The stand-out was organized by the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition. Group co-coordinator Chad Gibson said, “The current conditions don’t respect our most vulnerable road users.”

A partial list of pedestrian deaths and injuries on Mass. Ave. in East Arlington in recent years include the following:

  • 1996: Margaret MacDonald, 77, died after being struck in the Wyman Street crosswalk on November 20.
  • 1996: Florence Crotin, 84, died after being struck in or near the Lafayette Street crosswalk on December 14.
  • 2009: The 64-year-old owner of a local business was seriously injured in the Thorndike Street crosswalk near his store on April 25.
  • 2013: Lucy Ortez-Delgado, 77, died after being struck in a crosswalk at Orvis Road–Grafton Street on December 19.
  • 2014: A 24-year-old Arlington man and 26-year-old Arlington woman were seriously injured after being struck by a car in the Tufts Street crosswalk on April 25.
  • 2015: Bill Dotson, 91, died after being struck in a crosswalk near Varnum Street on March 22.
  • Numerous other vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

The event follows a week of enhanced police visibility on Mass. Ave., including some other signs from the Town of Arlington.

Some of the signs on the south side of Mass. Ave. at the Varnum St. crosswalk.

Some of the signs on the south side of Mass. Ave. at the Varnum St. crosswalk.

Update: Here are some more photos including some from other locations on Mass. Ave. Thanks for permission to publish them here.

Signs near the Grafton St. crosswalk where Lucy Delgado died in 2013.

Signs near the Grafton St. crosswalk where Lucy Delgado died in 2013. Photo: Phil Goff.

Signs at Grafton St. Photo: Phil Goff.

Signs at Grafton St. Photo: Phil Goff.

I was among those holding signs at Varnum St. in front of the Trinity Baptists Church. There were from 10 to 20 people there and across the street at any given time.

Lafayette Vigil

Residents holding signs by the Lafayette St. crosswalk. Photo: Chad Gibson.

Standing there with a sign felt wholly inadequate but completely necessary.

Ironically during the vigil a Cambridge-bound motorist blew through the cross walk, signs and all, while a man was using it to cross the street.

The driver was pulled over by an unmarked police car.

Disclosure: As some of my readers know, I am a member of the advisory board of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition, the neighborhood group that planned this event.

I didn’t visit Lafayette or Grafton streets.

Residents at the end f the vigil at Varnum St., about 7 pm. Photo: Chad Gibson.

Varnum St. at the end of the vigil, about 7 pm. Photo: Chad Gibson.

Further Update: The Advocate interviews some of my fellow sign holders in a news story published today.


8 comments so far

  1. Sean Harrington on

    If my memory serves me well, the store owner struck on Mass Ave was hit by a drunk driver around around the crack of dawn, that sad event was not due to the conditions of mass ave or regular traffic on mass ave but the conditions of drunk driver. I add this because without the details of this horrible incident it would be too easy to generalize it as a simple issue of regular traffic and road conditions that the I assume these other incidents may have been (however without the details on all the cases I do not know for sure).

    • Adam Auster on

      Sean, I think your memory is pretty good. Here’s how the Advocate covered the incident.

      So I guess you are suggesting that the store owner does not belong on the list of bad crashes because it was caused by drunk driving.

      We actually do not know, fully, the cause of any of these collisions, but like you I assume that this one is sort of in a class by itself. It probably teaches us some different lessons than the other tragedies on the list.

      However is still belongs on a list of deaths and serious injuries, doesn’t it? Which is all that list represents. And it still may have something to teach us.

      • Sean Harrington on

        I think it is more of a suggestion that clumping these all together without some sort of one sentence synopsis is not informative. Yes all of these are tragic but without the details of how or why they happened it does not help come up with a solution to solving the issue. With all these names listed it could be easy for one to generalize them as all dealing with aggressive driving, drunk driving, or not crossing the road at the walkways. It is a start but to truly teach us more details and research must be made.

        • Adam Auster on

          Sean, there is always more to say. Fortunately there are sometimes alert readers like you to flesh things out.

  2. bobsprague1943 on

    Does anyone know whether members of the East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee participated in this visibility?

  3. janice zazinski on

    Thank you for doing this. I’m a walker and cyclist in East Arlington and am horrified by the speeding, recklessness, and number of people who run crosswalks and red lights. I would’ve been at the rally but had a committee meeting at work that night.

  4. Emily Dotson on

    I also say thank you for doing this. The man killed just this March was my grandfather.

    • Adam Auster on

      Emily, everyone in the neighborhood I know is so saddened by this terrible event. We will all miss seeing him around and about.

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