NSHS Parking Lot Proposals

From: Adam L. Peller <adam@peller.org>

Date: Sun, Oct 14, 2018 at 9:37 PM

Subject: NSHS Safe bike/ped access

To: <liam_hurley@newton.k12.ma.us>, <julie_kirrane@newton.k12.ma.us>, Regina Moody <Regina_Moody@newton.k12.ma.us>, Margaret Albright <mlalbright@comcast.net>, Steve Siegel <steve@siegelassociates.com>, Matthew Miller <mmiller942@gmail.com>, Brenda Noel <bnoel@newtonma.gov>, <bglaser@newtonma.gov>, Nicole Freedman <nfreedman@newtonma.gov>, Jason Sobel <jsobel@newtonma.gov>

Cc: Ruth Goldman <RuthGoldperson@gmail.com>, Joel Stembridge <Joel_Stembridge@newton.k12.ma.us>

Dear Members of the Transportation Steering Group,

I'm glad to hear that the working group is now active. I hope the focus is on modal shift. I think that's the only way we're going to see meaningful change in Newton.

To that end, I'd like to suggest you look at an urgent problem with some relatively cheap and simple solutions to try. I've spoken you many of you directly about this. The Newton South parking lot is a model for how not to get kids to school. There is no safe separation of people from cars, and it clearly prioritizes cars over people, discouraging walkers and cyclists and making for even more traffic. The congestion not only makes for breathtakingly dangerous conditions but it is at the core of traffic congestion problems at the school. This situation stems from the 1990's reconstruction of South, where no consideration was given to the change in desire lines for most kids walking from Parker Street to the classroom buildings, which now takes them directly through congested traffic.

Safe Routes has led a couple of site visits over the past few years. Two ideas have surfaced: one, from Steve (shown in red) is to simply block off a small section of the parking lot along Brandeis to avoid a 4-way traffic conflict inside the parking lot. A single concrete barrier or set of cones could reduce congestion while offering safer passage for kids on bike or on foot as they enter the parking lot. The other idea is to create a mixed-use path for cyclists and pedestrians, over a grassy area and along the edge of the parking lot, reconfiguring parking by moving spaces inward, initially with parking cones and/or paint (shown very roughly in green) A demonstration of this parking-protected path would require measuring and repainting of some spaces.

These two ideas are complementary but can easily be trialled together or separately, with barrier objects or paint. I believe all that's needed is for the School Department to send a request to City Hall. Both Nicole Friedman and Jason Sobel have made good use of low-cost trials like these around the city, and they can be very effective to demonstrate changes with minimal investment.


I hope that the results from an experiment like this could be very helpful in your policy discussions.


Adam Peller,

NSHS parent and member of TAG