Improving pedestrian safety

Editor of the Reformer:

On Thursday Dec. 12, I read your "Dear Abby" column with great interest. The letter was from Robert Prinz of Oakland, Calif., education director for the East Bay Bicycling Coalition.

"People should avoid wearing dark clothes at night to increase visibility, but clothes color alone has been shown to have little or no effect on visibility in dark conditions," Prinz wrote. "During low-light times of day like dawn or dusk, wearing bright or fluorescent clothes is a good strategy, but at night bicyclists (and pedestrians) should rely on lights and reflectors to be seen."

Brattleboro needs to light both sides of crosswalks so pedestrians are visible. I stood at a crosswalk on a straight-away near my home on Western Avenue in the dark for for nearly 10 minutes recently. The other side of the crosswalk has a street light. I realized in those minutes that this was not a case of rudeness, that no one stopped for me. it was not a case of a pedestrian wearing dark clothes -- I had purposely worn an off-white jacket knowing I’d be returning after dark. Drivers did not see me standing there.

With the number of pedestrian traffic deaths we’ve had, it is time to make a moral and ethical effort to protect people by improving crosswalk lighting. The fact that the most recent fatality was a hit-and-run illustrates that we also put drivers at emotional risk. In no way do I mean to downplay the enormous irresponsibility of leaving the scene, but I can only think that this person must have panicked. (We have a solar powered speed display near that area. I can’t help but ponder the possibility of solar crosswalk lights with a push-button lighting mechanism on a timer, that would stay lit long enough for cars to stop and pedestrians to cross.) I know the budget is tight, but safety is something we pay our taxes for: police, fire protection, road maintenance, street lights, etc. It’s time to improve crosswalk lighting.

There are a few places crosswalk placement could be adjusted: add one where the sidewalk ends on the south side of Western Avenue near where Bernie Crosby was hit, and another at the Farmer’s Market. We could do a lot to calm traffic just by slowing trucks on Western Avenue. But, lighting the crosswalks is what I believe will save the most lives.

Sue Aldridge,

Brattleboro, Dec. 23

Resolve to not
eat meat

Editor of the Reformer:

With New Year’s resolutions just around the corner, consider the popular trend toward a healthy, eco-friendly, compassionate meat-free diet.

According to Harris Interactive, 47 percent of American consumers are reducing their consumption of animal products. USDA projects this year’s per capita chicken and beef consumption to drop by 8 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from their 2006 peaks. Similar dramatic drops are projected for pigs and turkeys. Milk consumption has fallen by a whopping 40 percent since 1970.

A number of celebrities are going vegan. They include Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Z and Beyonce. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, PayPal founder Peter Thiel, and Twitter founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are funding plant-based replacements for meat and eggs.

Fast-food chains like Subway and Chipotle are responding to the growing demand by rolling out vegan options. Taco Bell has found that 43 percent of conversations about meat were negative. The Baltimore, Los Angeles, and San Diego school districts, serving more than a million meals a day, have adopted Meatless Mondays.

How about dropping animals from the menu for this New Year’s resolution? Entering "Meatout Mondays" in a search engine brings tons of useful recipes and transition tips.

Kyle Roberts,

Brattleboro, Dec. 27