How would you answer this essay question - "If I were mayor of Concord, I would make Concord safer for pedestrians and cyclists by . . ."?
We at The Insider weren't sure how we would answer it. However, it would probably involve hovercrafts or winged horses.
Luckily, Rundlett Middle School had some students with good heads on their shoulders who were able to answer that question in an essay. Six winners were selected by Mayor Bouley himself and were invited to the city council meeting on Dec. 8 to read their essays out loud and receive a certificate from the mayor. Rundlett received a mayoral proclamation with all the students' names, to hang at the school. Pretty cool, huh?
Here are their thoughtful essays, for your reading pleasure.
Dear Mayor Bouley,
The topic that I picked was “If I were mayor of the city of Concord I would make Concord safer for bicyclists by . . .” These are some of the ideas that I came up with to make it safer for people to ride their bikes in Concord.
The first idea that I came up with is this. If I were mayor then everyone that is riding a bicycle in Concord would have to wear a helmet, so that if they fall, they won’t crack their heads open. I would also remind the bike riders to wear bright colors (like orange or yellow) and have reflectors on their bikes. I would remind bicyclists to wear the safety stuff by putting an announcement in the paper. Also, I would go on t.v. and say it a couple of times on the news and on the radio.
I would put up big, bright colored signs around Concord that say “Watch out for bicyclists.” Another sign could say “Bicyclists Rule.” Or “Don’t lose your head . . . wear a helmet.”
Finally, I would make more paths for people to ride their bikes on. Maybe I would make a park just for bikes, so that families could ride together and not be on the streets. The park could have little ponds with bridges to ride over and bike ramps. And a place to buy ice cream.
So, these are my ideas, I hope that you like them.
Dear Mayor Bouley,
I really enjoy living in Concord especially during Fall when the leaves are all orange, red and yellow. People want to enjoy this city but when I go downtown it is dangerous to cross the street because the cars go by so fast and they don't always stop when you're standing at the crosswalks. One of my friends was walking the crosswalk last October with her mom. They started to walk across the street. One car stopped for them but the next one hit my friend's mother. She is okay but this shows why we need to make it more walkable for kids and teens and everyone in Concord.
I think to fix this problem we can start by increasing the fine for drivers who are not stopping at the crosswalks. This would help by encouraging drivers to stop because they won't want to pay money for not stopping. It may help because when they're rushing they'll have to think about it. Another idea is the crosswalks aren't always visible. Maybe we could make more visible signs or change the color of the crosswalks to something brighter like bright orange or red. This would help drivers see the crosswalks more easily. Another idea for this problem is making more elaborate signs to tell drivers that they have to stop at crosswalks. One more idea is to make a law that drivers who go through crosswalks without stopping more than three times would lose their driver's license.
There are so many things to see in Concord it is unfortunate that crossing the streets is so dangerous. I very much hope that this issue will be solved. Thank you for reading my letter.
Rundlett Middle School
If I were Mayor of the city of Concord, I would make Concord more walkable for kids and teens. First, I would add more crossing guards for the kids walking to and from school to make it safer for kids. One potentially dangerous intersection where I would put a crossing guard at is adjacent to McKee Square. That is a huge intersection. Kids of all ages, walk through this intersection on their way to Conant Elementary School, Rundlett Middle School, and to the high school every school day.
Secondly, I would make the fines higher for people who speed in school zones and make the offenders do 15 hours of community service, as a crossing guard, until they pay it off. I would have police officers spot-checking for speeders located near elementary schools from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Then, I would have a couple of officers near Conant School shift to the vicinity of Rundlett Middle School from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. These times are when most kids come to school.
Lastly, if the Police Department was unable to physically watch the school zones, the City should buy cameras to take pictures of the people who speed. Cameras are used in other countries, like Germany, Italy and Australia, to enforce speed limits. Cameras are also used in New Hampshire to catch people who don't pay their tolls.
Dear Mayor Bouley,
If I were mayor of the city of Concord, I would make Concord more walkable for teens and kids by installing cameras, such as the ones at the toll booths, so that if you speed by one of those "speedometers" (one of those large green signs that track a car's speed, and display it digitally), the camera will take a photograph of your car and the city of Concord will send you a bill. (When I say "you," I mean the city of Concord.) if people knew that speeding in designated areas could get them a ticket, I'm positive that they wouldn't do it.
Another idea that might prove effective would be to place speed bumps every 15 or 10 feet, for the first hundred or so feet from the school, speed bumps would cause a person to slow down, and so even if a child jumped in front of a care unknowingly, the car wouldn't have been able to accelerate too much, and the child would still be able to jump out of the way.
My third idea to ensure the safety of kid/teen pedestrians is to have a "toll" both, where you don't pay money, but instead are asked to stop and drive carefully since there will be kids up ahead, this booth only needs to be open in the morning when kids are coming to school, and after they get back from school with all 3 of these ideas, I believe the city of Concord would be a safer place.
Many communities around the country use walk/bike programs to make it more desirable for kids to walk or bike to school. Concord already has similar programs, but I think in 2009 we should enhance them by making them more mainstream in the minds of Concord families.
According to the International Walk to School in the USA association, we should improve these programs for three major reasons. To:
- Enhance the health of kids
- Improve air quality
- Create safer routes for walking and biking
For my three suggestions to make Concord or more walk and bike-friendly place, I will address each of the points above.
Enhance the Heath of Kids
Only one quarter of Americans are getting the recommended does of daily exercise - only 30 minutes. Walking and biking are great ways to get Americans active, and by encouraging parents to accompany their children on their walks or bike rides to school makes everyone healthier.
My first suggestion addressed this health concern. I recommend that the Concord School Board work together with the Health Promotion Manager and the Health Promotion Advisor for Children (Department of Health and Human Services) to create a yearly calendar that has a Walk or Bike to School Day each month - even during the winter. To encourage participation, each walker or biker and his parents will be invited to attend a special breakfast, lunch or other event.
Improve Air Quality
Walking or biking to school protects the environment and your health by reducing the air polluting emissions from automobiles. These pollutants cause several hazardous health effects especially in children.
My second suggestions addressed air pollution. As the son of the former NH Global Warming Specialist, I know that many people in Concord are uniformed about air pollutants, their health impact and global warming itself. Adults often don't want to hear about this, so I recommend we work together with science teachers to create a fun and interactive game that teachers their students about air pollution, its causes, and the effect it has on the earth. In this teaching, incorporate how the students can enormously help this situation by participating in the monthly Walk or Bike to School Days.
Create Safer Routes for Walking and Biking
Every year 25,000 children are injured by motor vehicles when walking or biking.
My last suggestions addressed safety. My short-term solution would be for the City Council to work with the City Civil Engineers to widen the shoulders of the roads near the side walks that lead to our schools. Crosswalks should be more clearly marked with bright paint and signs. The long term solution would be to work with the same engineers to develop walking/biking paths (paved or gravel) that lead to our schools that are in more wooded areas and not near the major roads. These should be clearly marked for walking and biking only and should have some type of lighting - adding to their safety.
Dear Mayor Bouley,
If I were mayor of the city of Concord, I would make Concord safer by putting wider shoulders on some of the busier roads. To give a specific example, I have rode my bicycle on some parts of Pleasant Street, where there is barely any shoulder.
Another thing I would do if I was mayor of the city of Concord to make it safer for bicyclists would be to have bike racks around the city for people to put their bikes on, so that they don't have their bikes stolen if there is no street lamps to lock their bikes to.
The last thing I would do if I was mayor of the city of Concord is that I would create a crosswalk for bikes right next to the crosswalk for pedestrians which is safer for pedestrians as well as bikers.