On Saturday, Ed Moynihan, candidate for District 1 City Council, sent a letter to the City Manager concerning the Complete Streets program that was supported at the October 3, 2017 meeting of the City Council. Of the program itself, Mr. Moynihan wrote, “I am excited that you are taking a serious, comprehensive look at the streets of Worcester to provide safe access to bikers and pedestrians. This program will be a boon to the city and I want to express my deep appreciation and support of it.”
Mr. Moynihan went on to propose an addition to the tools in the Complete Streets program. Noting the difficulties that some residents of the city have with mobility, he proposed the City Manager consider a program from Singapore called Green Man+. This provides a swipe card to the elderly or people with disabilities which provides up to 13 seconds of extra crossing times at crosswalks when used.
“We know that the average, able-bodied person traveling the streets of Worcester can walk at a speed of 4.5 feet per second, which is 1.5 times the speed of the average elderly person. According to a 2006 report from the Federal Highway Administration, a person with a mobility impairment can walk as slowly as 1.97 feet per second. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices recommends an assumption of 4.0 feet per second, while the Americans with Disability Act recommends an assumption of 3.0 feet per second of pedestrian speed,” Mr. Moynihan wrote.
The benefit of including this program for those with a mobility impairment is immediately apparent. A person with this card would have greater access to social and civic life which improves physical and mental health, as well as community health.
However, Moynihan also pointed out several other opportunities afforded by the Green Man+ system. He explained that traffic flow could be improved with a specialized system, shortening the time allowed to cross until the system is engaged.
The program also offers another point of contact to inform seniors about programs that are designed to let them age-in-place, such as information on property tax relief, assistance in home improvements, or volunteer and group activities at the senior center.
He also added that all Worcester residents will grow older eventually, writing, “This program, then, will benefit all current and future residents of our great city, allowing them to age-in-place more gracefully.”
Mr. Moynihan wrote in the letter that acknowledging the cultural differences between Worcester and Singapore is important, Worcester having a far more motor-driven community. To accommodate this, he said that we should identify specific crosswalks where the Green Man+ will be most valuable, “In District 1, I think that we can increase pedestrian safety and help traffic flow if we pilot the program at Lincoln Street and Country Club Blvd and at Highland Street and Park Ave.” He also called for a streamlined petition process by which communities could easily ask the city council to install the card readers.