Speeding to Mount Snow: a problem for 25 years and counting
A Windham County Sheriff’s Department “smart cart” monitors vehicle speeds.

Speeding to Mount Snow: a problem for 25 years and counting

‘I cannot walk down the street of this classically beautiful Vermont main street without fearing for my life — as well as getting angry as hell’

WILLIAMSVILLE — It's Friday night here in our little old village, with the Rock River plummeting through variegated post-Tropical-Storm-Irene-riven channels. There used to be a crib dam here, as well as many businesses that derived their power from multiple river-driven locations.

Tonight, I am walking approximately 1,000 feet down Main Street from my driveway to the Williamsville Hall, where one of my talented neighbors is settling down on the well-tuned old Poole piano to accompany a 1929 silent Russian film that he found in the public domain.

Unfortunately, the road is also in the public domain.

We are on the main road to Mount Snow, according to the GPS programs that direct drivers from Boston, New York, Hartford, and surrounding areas to this most accessible of “real” Vermont skiing mountains. Jump in your car, race to the mountain, race down the mountain and race home again.

I hope their presence brings financial benefits to the region here. That said, they bring distress to those who live here.

I cannot walk down the street of this classically beautiful Vermont main street without fearing for my life - as well as getting angry as hell. I am so thankful that I no longer have a young child or a dog.

* * *

My partner, Annie, and I are walking down the street to the Hall. Parking is somewhat limited, and I can see people parking tight along the road up by the hall, right up to the edge of the pavement.

Car doors open with dome lights on, and folks climb out, light reflecting off of the asphalt. We are walking with a headlamp flashing red lights on it.

All of a sudden, Annie gets in front of me, as here comes a fast-moving vehicle. I yell at her to get behind me, because she has just come between me and the driver, and I have the flashing light in hand.

There is no sidewalk - we're in the same lane as the oncoming driver, who never slows, despite having just run the gauntlet of people parking and exiting cars.

Even with us standing in the road flashing lights at them, cars race by, probably hitting 40 to 45 mph, threatening our lives.

One study shows that “the average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle reaches 10 percent at an impact speed of 16 mph, 25 percent at 23 mph, 50 percent at 31 mph, 75 percent at 39 mph, and 90 percent at 46 mph. The average risk of death for a pedestrian reaches 10 percent at an impact speed of 23 mph, 25 percent at 32 mph, 50 percent at 42 mph, 75 percent at 50 mph, and 90 percent at 58 mph.”

Here come some more cars speeding at us. Whoops! Others are coming from behind, racing home from skiing. We end up yelling at people - even knowing that it's futile, still hoping that they can read our lips.

* * *

Here's the bottom line.

For 25 years, people have been working on getting this traffic slowed down. The pile of paper files on this issue is probably pushing 8 to 9 inches high. Next to nothing has been done.

We have gone repeatedly in this last round to our Selectboard. The state has done another speed study; a state field engineer came down and drove through, making his assessment in response to my sharing my upset with the Agency of Transportation.

Still, nothing. If the speed of cars could match the speed of due process, we'd be happy citizens.

I understand that it might not be reasonable to expect people to slow all the way down to 25 mph, but we do need to get the speed down below lethal weapon level.

I know that the speeding is an unconscious habit. But I also see that, in our distracted high-speed-internet lifestyle, that hints in the form of signage and speed readers are not working. As I drive around throughout New England and New York, I see signs that the problem is ubiquitous.

As we are just waiting to see who gets hit first around here, we would love it if the state of Vermont would recognize that there is a serious, consistent problem and have the courage to deal with it.

Two or three speed humps would do the trick.

If speed bumps are a problem for the snow plows, then figure out a solution to get around that.

For the sake of our safety, it's worth the effort - and it would erase the need for 25 more years of wasted meetings and allow our Selectboard to move ahead with other pressing issues.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates