new signage near crosswalkThis traffic sign is intended to draw drivers' attention to the crosswalk at Park and Wollaston avenues -- the scene of two serious injuries to pedestrians within 6 weeks.

UPDATED Jan. 19: In the last month, more than 1,000 Arlingtonians have signed an online petition demanding increased safety measures after accidents that injured pedestrians within six weeks at the same intersection. While organizers say they are grateful for recent efforts by the town's police  and Department of Public Works for increased traffic enforcement and installation of cautionary signage respectively, the campaign continues.

Park Avenue and Wollaston Street, right by Park Avenue Congregational Church and just south of Mass. Ave., remains notoriously dangerous, the organizers say, relying on both personal impressions and state statistics -- and they are bringing the petition to the Arlington Select Board this coming Monday evening, Jan. 22. 

Injured pedestrian identified by spiritual leader

Linda CohnLinda Cohn, PACC member / Cohn family photo

Retired public-school teacher and active PACC member Linda Cohn was hospitalized following the Nov. 19 accident. Cohn is now in a rehabilitation center, according to her pastor, the Rev. Leah Lyman Waldron. “I saw Linda on Friday [Jan. 5]. She said we need to make Park Avenue safer. I can share that after almost six weeks in the hospital, Linda has moved to rehab and made lots of progress, but she still has a long way to go, and, of course, this has deeply affected both her and her husband Don's lives.” 

Officials of the APD say that they have released what information they ethically can about what happened Nov. 19.

“This was certainly a serious incident in our community, and the matter remains under investigation by the Arlington Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section,” said APD spokesman Capt. Richard Flynn last month. “In an effort to ensure the integrity of an investigation, law enforcement generally does not comment until its conclusion. 

“I can say that the female pedestrian who was struck continues to receive treatment for her injuries, and that the Arlington Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section are, and have been, in direct communication with the District Attorney’s Office regarding this case."

The petition, which first became available Dec. 7, may be signed here>> 

To see the proposed letter to the Select Board, and, by scrolling further down, the number and names of current signatories, look here >>

The petition seeks consistent enforcement of a safe speed limit along Park Avenue’s entire length, from Downing Square in the north to the Route 2 in the south, plus utilization of quick-build strategies similar to those being applied at an even more locally well-known traffic trouble spot: Mass. Ave. and Appleton Street, where cyclist Charles Proctor of Somerville died in an accident in May 2020.

Petition: a group effort

Lyman Waldron and Joseph Solomon -- Precinct 16 Town Meeting member and Dallin School Parent Teacher Organization co-president -- say that it is long past time that road safety was improved. 

“I reached out to Joe Solomon, as I was aware that he has been working to make the Park and Appleton intersections safer. I also knew of several neighbors along Park Avenue who had been trying to get traffic safety concerns addressed through the Transportation Advisory Committee for some years,” Lyman Waldron said. “We crafted the letter with the support of Carol Luddecke, founder and administrator of the Arlington List on Facebook, and Dave Levy, a Precinct 18 Town Meeting member. I set up the petition form, and we sent it out to our various communities and neighborhoods.” 

State statistics tell the tale

She continued, “In the last three years, there have been more than 70 accidents along Park Avenue. As the pastor of a church on Park Avenue, a parent with a child at the childcare center located in the church and a resident who lives a block off of Park Avenue, I hear weekly about crashes and near-misses both between cars and involving pedestrians. Everyone I know who uses the Park/Wollaston/Paul Revere intersection regularly worries about their safety 

“The information about crashes was obtained from the MassDOT IMPACT database. Since 2020, the MassDOT IMPACT database lists approximately 70 crashes reported along this 1-mile stretch of road, with five occurring in just the last two months,” Lyman Waldron said in late December.  

The day of the collision

 The minister spoke about how the accident has personally affected those who know the victim. Speaking in late December, Lyman Waldron said via email, “With her and her husband's permission, I can share about the woman who was hit. Her name is Linda Cohn. She is 81 and a longtime Arlington resident who taught in Arlington Public Schools for many years and in retirement has been very involved in the Arlington Historical Society. She is also a beloved member and leader of our church.” 

Lyman Waldron said that Cohn was leaving PACC after wrapping up the very successful "cookie walk" fund-raiser that she had organized when she was hit by a car in the crosswalk across Park Avenue, just uphill from its intersection with Wollaston. “I and other church members were there and responded, as did some wonderful bystanders who stopped traffic and checked her vitals. We stayed with her and her husband through the arrival of the police and paramedics, who were all efficient and helpful.” 

Action sought from Select Board

Solomon said that his concern also extends to some of the youngest residents of the neighborhood. “Our Dallin students live along both sides of Park Avenue and need to cross it, along with Ottoson [Middle School] and Arlington High School students,” he noted. “I initiated the petition along with Leah when she reached out to me shortly after the November crash. I live very close to Park Avenue and have noticed a significant amount of crashes in the area, so I was aware of the opportunity for improvement.” 

He is pleased with the town’s recent response to the situation but is still seeking more than what is already being done.

“I'm very happy to see the new signage at this intersection in reaction to the recent crashes. It's also encouraging to hear the commitment by [APD] Chief [Julie] Flaherty to increase enforcement and education, two critical components of a safe transportation system,” he told YourArlington earlier this month. “As we continue the discussion with the Select Board, we look forward to supporting the town in implementing additional low-cost solutions in areas with historical safety issues.” 

 Nov. 19, 2023: Car strikes pedestrian in Heights crosswalk

This article by YourArlingon Editor Judith Pfeffer was published Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, and updated Friday, Jan. 19, to note that the petition is on the agenda for the Select Board meeting of Monday, Jan. 22.