Tuesday’s accident — a Staples cross country runner was struck by a minivan driver on Long Lots Road — has caused quite a stir.
Drivers have to slow down! some Westporters say.
Joggers and bikers have to share the road! others counter.
Meanwhile, alert “06880” reader Kim Lake calls the accident “truly unsettling.”
But, she adds, “even more unsettling were the comments on WestportNow about kids and their attitudes about sharing the road. Wow!
“I’m appalled at the absolute absence of empathy on the part of some people in our community sometimes, at their sense of righteousness when all the facts are not even known.”
(From all indications the Staples runner was not at fault. Coaches and runners followed all proper procedures.)
For a long time, Kim has wanted more legal, clearly defined bike lanes in town. When Diane Farrell’s administration held their public hearings on her version of a Downtown Plan, Kim spoke about bike lanes and walking paths. “I was disappointed that all my comments fell on deaf ears,” she says.
On a recent trip to Washington, DC, she was impressed that a company named Spotcycle has successfully set up a system where people can, for a small fee, easily use bikes to get themselves anywhere. They pick up a bike at one station and and drop it off at their destination.
As soon as she saw how well it works, she thought: “If only in Westport…”
A couple years ago, when Kim chaired the Green Task Force, she spoke to a town employee about bike lanes. Though an avid biker himself, he was distraught.
“He would love to provide bike lanes throughout town,” she notes. “Stringent federal laws, however, prevent taking action (something about all streets having to be widened). Can you imagine the discussions that proposal would generate?”
Kim continues: “In light of this recent incident, and especially in light of the insensitive comments, I think we should have a Town Meeting, with politicians and the Police Department, about how we drive in this town.
“Between texting, cellphones and the rush to get somewhere (wherever it is) FAST, it’s time we stop and reflect about civility and safety on the roads.”
Laws and tickets are not the only way to get people to slow down and pay attention, Kim says.
“Community consciousness can have a tremendous impact. I hope that out of this sad incident, something good will happen.”