A program to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety in Wenham in being unveiled this week – in advance of the opening of school.
The plan involves repainting crosswalks, installing new signs and increasing police enforcement of traffic law.
“This is a joint initiative between the highway department and police department,” Interim Police Chief Thomas Perkins told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night at .
The program is being dubbed “Operation Safety Net.”
In addition to physical safety improvements, Perkins also noted that the only crossing guard for students headed to is on Perkins Street, a side street that connects Main Street to Porter Street and runs by the school.
“That (crossing guard) might be better served by shifting to Arbor Street,” Perkins said. Town and school officials may also look into adding additional crossing guards too, he said.
In June, , not far from the school, and received minor injuries that included at least one broken bone.
No mention was made on Tuesday night about the accident. But earlier this month, Chairman Molly Martins said the board received a letter raising concerns about safety on Arbor Street. After receiving the letter, Interim Town Administrator Mark Andrews said he planned to take steps to address the concerns raised in the letter. Andrews has not publicly released a copy of the letter.
Other efforts, Perkins said, include plans to have police officers talk to campers at the and later hope to get into Buker classrooms to talk about pedestrian and bike safety to the students in September.
Among the other efforts to increase awareness of pedestrian safety will be to write a letter to the editor at the end of August to be published in the local press. Already, Perkins said, Wenham police have a “strong reputation” for traffic enforcement. In community surveys, residents “continually” cite speeding as the No. 1 problem police should address. And just this week, he noted, on Hamilton-Wenham Patch.
“We’re going to do the best we can to get out there with only two officers on at a time,” Perkins said.
Some of the police department’s radar guns are 15 years old, and new guns will be purchased as part of the purchase of three new cruisers, .
Bill Tyack, director, said that all crosswalk warning signs would be converted from yellow to bright lime green. On main roads, a sign warning drivers they are approaching a crosswalk will go up, in addition to a sign right at the crosswalk, pointing to it.
The 16 signs to be installed arrived on Tuesday and Tyack said he anticipated installation to be completed by the end of the week.
“Thank you for taking such an active role in this,” Martins told Perkins and Tyack.