FRAMINGHAM – I’m a parent to multiple former Brophy back-path walkers and a resident of Berkeley Road.
I learned a week before school starts that the walking path that Brophy students and their families have used for decades will now be used for cars departing Brophy as well as the walkers.
A singular path which at its widest point is wider than one car but not as wide as two and at its narrowest point, the bottom, is barely wide enough for one car.
The powers that be say the safety of the students was considered in this decision.
However, I find it difficult to believe that childrens’ safety was anything more than an afterthought in a decision that results in adding 100+ cars driving where children are walking.
It never ceases me to amaze me how many of those with decision-making power, but little to no hands-on knowledge/experience of a situation, believe they know what’s right without seeking input from those with the knowledge or experience.
In this case, I suspect whomever made this decision didn’t even bother to take the time to look at the walking path and has certainly never walked young children up or down the path. I know for a fact, they did not talk to the families who have and still do walk their children on this path, nor did they talk with the residents on the street this onto which this new plan will have cars emptying out.
I understand in the last couple of years – between bus driver shortages and covid-limitations on bus occupant numbers – there has been increased traffic on Pleasant Street at school drop-off time.
Personally, I both walk and drive past Brophy regularly between 8:45 and 9:30 and the traffic, while backed up a bit, is usually in continuous motion and I get through it fairly without more than a minor delay.
I’m all for change if its for the good, however, I do not believe that routing this traffic through a playground and down a path where young children are present is the solution to this issue.
In addition, I don’t see how changing the exit path of cars will significantly improve the congestion created by cars entering the school. The same amount of cars will be entering the school. Historically, the vehicular traffic on the Brophy back playground, through which these walking path students arrive at school and where the students in the before-school program walk across to get to play equipment, has been a dozen or so school busses with trained drivers. These busses have a set routine that is in conjunction with the school staff who are present to not only direct kids off the busses but also guide walkers across the playground.
With this new plan, 100+cars with drivers that could be different day to day and from morning to afternoon (Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Babysitters, Care-givers, older siblings new to driving, and more) will need to be managed twice a day as these children and their families make their way to and from school.
Beyond the walking path, which was created as a walking path shortly after Brophy and the Berkeley neighborhood were built in the 1960s and has never been used for automobile traffic, there are additional safety concerns.
According to the announcement a staff member will walk the students to the nearest sidewalk. In this case, there isn’t a sidewalk immediately where the back path ends, but once the children are at the sidewalk and the school staff leaves, they continue to walk or bike home on a street now full of a multitude of cars.
Berkeley Road, into which the path feeds, is a small residential neighborhood with a great deal of pedestrian traffic–from parents with strollers to senior citizens and everything in between–walking up and down this road, a portion of which does not have a sidewalk.
Most of the residents chose this street because of the quiet nature of the pseudo dead-end. Now, cars will then head to the already dangerous intersection of Woodmere and Berkeley.
An intersection that is currently being reviewed for safety, an intersection where just a couple of months ago a car accident occurred forcing one car onto a lawn, just missing the house.
An intersection which is home to several elementary and middle school bus stops and from which additional, non-Brophy students enter the Berkeley neighborhood at school dismissal time.
An intersection at which I’ve seen cars speed past these kids waiting for their morning busses and have even seen cars drive around stopped school busses with their flashing lights and stop sign out as children get off.
Cars may also choose to use Joanne as a cut through to get to Woodmere. Woodmere is already a popular cut-through for cars rushing to get somewhere, now Berkeley, the “safe, quite” street will most likely become the same, at least twice a day. And to go one step beyond, cars will now be heading up Woodmere to the tricky intersection of Woodmere, Pleasant, and Temple surely causing a backup of traffic on both Pleasant and Temple for those turning left off of either.
A separate issue in this situation is that at the end of the day, these walkers and their families meet and and play together at the base of the walking path and top of Berkeley Road. This period of time is some valuable to both the kids burning of energy but also to help forge bonds between the neighborhood kids and their families.
This portion of the Brophy community has been fortunate to have this fun, casual, extension of their day. This is just one of the benefits of being part of a neighborhood school. This will be unable to exist with automobile traffic entering the mix and while not physically harmful, it will be an emotional and social loss for these students and their families.
I’ve lived in Framingham for almost 20 years, 10 of those years being on Berkeley and I know Framingham can do better than this. How about this city enforce the currently existing speed and driving safety laws on Pleasant Street that every licensed driver is expected to follow and keep our Brophy walkers and surrounding community safe.