December 14 2018,  Saugus

A slogan to slow down traffic

“CITIZENS FOR A SAFER SAUGUS,” proclaims new bumper sticker of group advocating “25 MPH TOWN-WIDE”

By Mark E. Vogler

A CITIZENS CALL FOR ACTION: An SUV parked on School Street sports a new bumper sticker that has become the battle cry of a grassroots effort by residents aimed at reducing the speed limit of Saugus streets while making overall road conditions safer for pedestrians and motorists. (Saugus Advocate Photo by Mark E. Vogler)

The Annual Town Meeting is still months away.

But Precinct 6 member William S. Brown said he is already planning to introduce several articles that he hopes will make Saugus streets safer for pedestrians and drivers.

“I think a 25 mph speed limit – unless otherwise posted – is a pretty good idea and something I’d like to see,” Brown told The Saugus Advocate this week.

“I’m going to request that the town manager and the Board of Selectmen take the necessary steps to enact 25 mph as the speed limit throughout town – with exemptions for certain streets,” he said.

Brown is so convinced that the speed limit is crucial to improving pedestrian and traffic safety throughout the community that he’s among those residents who are sporting new bumper stickers on their trucks. “CITIZENS FOR A SAFER SAUGUS,” declares the red, white and black bumper sticker that he’s attached to an SUV and a pickup truck parked at his School Street home. It also advocates “25 MPH TOWN-WIDE.”

The bumper stickers began popping up earlier this month.

Brown said he and Bob Davis are organizing the grassroots effort to band citizens together to lobby for new regulations and more aggressive enforcement of existing traffic regulations. “There’s a lot more to be done on this issue,” Brown noted.

“There are certainly streets in town that should be at 20 miles per hour. But right now, our group supports a 25 mile per hour speed limit,” he said.

Earlier this month, selectmen did respond to citizens’ concerns when they voted unanimously to reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph on six town streets: Bisbee Road, Hanson Road, Iron Works Way, Cider Mill Road, Vinegar Hill Drive and Hitching Hill Road. That vote needs to be approved by the state.


“Immediate action needs to be taken”

In addition, selectmen scheduled a public hearing at the board’s Jan 9, 2019, meeting to consider lowering the speed limit to 25 mph on Essex, Main and Central Streets and Lincoln Avenue – the town’s four major roads.

Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree and selectmen have stressed that the Town of Saugus will be considering the reduction of speed on streets across town once it receives the results from a special traffic study that the Town has initiated. But Brown and others said he doesn’t think town officials are moving fast enough. So, he has resolved to keep the focus on improving traffic safety when the Annual Town Meeting convenes next May. He said he will research and draft articles related to traffic safety.

Meanwhile, Bob Davis, who has been working with Brown, issued a brief statement yesterday to announce the formal organization of his group. “A group of Essex Street citizens are actively forming a group called Citizens for a Safer Saugus,” the one-page press release notes.

“Membership is open to any citizen of Saugus who believes immediate action needs to be taken to reduce the speed of traffic in Saugus to 25 mph, post signs that indicate this and have enforcement of this speed limit,” it continues.

“The group believes that Saugus needs to take a long overdue step forward to have a reduced town-wide speed limit like many of the surrounding towns and cities. Citizens for a Safer Saugus believes that the recent scheduling of a public hearing by the Board of Selectmen is a step in the right direction. This January 9 hearing will address changing the speed limit on Essex Street, Main Street, Central Street and Lincoln Avenue to 25 mph. Townspeople are encouraged to come to the hearing to support the 25 mph speed limit,” Davis said.

“Two fatalities, an excessive amount of traffic accidents, many people injured, damage to motor vehicles and property and many traffic violations has made for a very sad and frustrating year on the streets of Saugus. Citizens for a Safer Saugus wants to change that.”


Traffic bylaws need updating

In addition to decreasing the speed limit, Brown said he would like to see the town update its traffic bylaws. For instance, the fine for somebody removing a “no parking” sign is $25, according to Brown. “That’s nothing for somebody going out and creating a potential traffic hazard,” Brown said.

“It’s a serious violation of the law and should be a lot more. It’s a blatant disregard for public safety in the community as a whole. If you’re going to start messing around with traffic regulations, you need to know there will be stiff consequences. To me, $25 is ridiculous. At some restaurants, you leave more than that as a tip,” he said.

Brown said he plans to work with the town manager and seek his input in crafting possible articles for the Annual Town Meeting.

The outcome of next month’s meeting to reduce the speed limit on the four major town roads may influence how he plans to proceed on his proposed articles for the upcoming Town Meeting, Brown said. But he said he had misgivings about town officials waiting to see results of a town-wide traffic study before proceeding.

“I think the citizens of Saugus are more qualified to do this study because they know better what the problem streets are,” Brown said. “The best people to talk to about this are the residents who live on these roads and drive these streets. They are the ones who should preside over any study on a street by street basis.”

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