The Franklin School sits on Derby Street, just a short hop from the Waltham line. Derby Street itself isn’t a big, busy street like Beacon Street, nor is it a one-way loop like Dolphin Road. Instead it’s a narrow, 2-way street that, when empty, just about fits the two cars that can pass. But add a parked car on one side, then about 1.5 cars can fit past.
This isn’t a once-in-a-while occurance, it happens each day. Parents and busses park in the legal spots along the street, causing those cars trying to fit past to just about make it. But the bigger problem, in my opinion, is the stretch of Derby Street between Waltham Street and Cherry Street.
Not only is this road a narrow, 2-way pass-through, but the sidewalks themselves are narrow and lack a tree-line. Worse, the picture above is what happens on Mondays (garbage day). People can’t put their trashcans on the street, there just isn’t room, so they sit on the sidewalk. Kids are forced to squeeze past. That’s when I took the photo to the right.
My kids actually like to bike to school instead of walk. We live on the very edge of the area zoned for this particular school, so the walk is a little more than a half-mile. Biking becomes the preferred method of transit (I prefer not to drive if I can avoid it). For us, this means crossing Waltham Street at the light where Waltham meets Crafts, but without a cross-walk, as this corner is the only without one. It’a also means crossing at the crosswalk where Waltham bends toward West Newton Square, a spot where cars rarely stop, let alone slow down. But once my kids are on the side streets things go along just great.
Right up until Derby Street. Here we run into crowded sidewalks and a narrow street.
It would be great to encourage more biking and walking to our neighborhood schools, but until the city can do something about traffic problems like this, people will still choose to drive. Frankly, some will assume it’s just safer.