Recent traffic accidents on North Street prompted an article in the Hometown Weekly. Based on quotes mentioned in the article, it appears that residents and the police chief are advocating measures that will make speeding safer on North Street. The prevailing opinion is that the road is the problem, not the people driving on it. I find this interesting. I know the location quite well. There is a 30mph speed limit, and most people drive faster there, many significantly faster, and some too fast. Because it is not safe to go faster than 30mph in this curve shown on the picture, even in good weather, we are going to spend money on redesigning the road, so that speeding is safe again. 

It seems that Medfield officials believe that the majority of the Medfield electorate are  members of a secret club – the notorious “I insist on my right to drive 50mph in a 30mph zone and I will vote you out of office if you take this right away” club. I have no other explanation for the reluctance among town officials to do anything that could upset drivers.

Interestingly enough, every other driver I talk to about this issue, neighbors and other parents, is as upset as I am about the relative lawlessness on Medfield streets. Is there possibly a disconnect?

I believe that most people who speed in town, like the Wheelock elementary teacher who races down South Street in a Jeep Cherokee every morning after getting coffee at Lord’s, do it out of habit, not because they want to do something illegal and dangerous. Over time, habits create a sense of entitlement. This is the real danger, and it is not confined to North Street or any other singular spot.

Dover  installed speed bumps on Centre Street last year. They are safe and very effective. If we want to reduce the number of accidents, and especially the number of fatalities, we should be looking into how to slow traffic down, as opposed to how to speed it up. Simply by forcing people to break with their habits. Speed bumps are one way of doing that. Fines are another.

The analysis chart for 2009 shows 2 sets of data over time. The top graph represents the maximum, minimum, and the mean speed per day. The bottom graph shows the number of cars counted per day, plus a 30-day moving average to highlight trends.

Click to view a larger version

Click to view a larger version

The deep snow cover in February blocked the radar device’s the clear view to the street, which caused much lower numbers for several weeks. Only larger cars and trucks would register.

With only one year’s worth of data, there is not too much that can be interpreted into this chart. Aside from isolated events such as snow storms, road construction, holidays etc. that have an impact on traffic patterns, the seasonal variations in traffic make a long-term prognosis impossible. It is interesting to see how little an impact the chip-and-tar application had last August on both traffic volume and speed patterns, though. Or that back-to-school day is busiest day of the year, traffic-wise, with a clear margin.

It appears that both overall volume and speeding offenses are on the increase, but in order to extract a trend, at least 5 years of data will be needed. Once the homes on Eric Road are occupied, there will certainly be an impact on the traffic volume on Green Street that should be apparent on next year’s data. Once there are multiple years of data, I will publish a year-to-year comparison by month, to eliminate seasonal variations.

http://www.openstreetmap.org seems to be a site similar to Google maps, but without the satellite imagery, Google Street View, and the ability to calculate driving directions. So why bother using it?

For starters, the maps are in the public domain and can be used freely for almost anything, unlike Google’s maps. They get created and continuously improved by the community and are in many cases more up-to-date and accurate than Google’s maps.

I added the location of the proposed Bay Colony Rail Trail corridor some time ago, which was fun to do, but my effort pales in comparison to what Dave Lafreniere of the Friends of Medfield Forests and Trails did. He added the Charles River and other water bodies, and he GPS-traced and mapped every few feet of trail in our town, including Rocky Woods and Noon Hill reservations. This must make Medfield one of the best-mapped communities in the country. Check it out, it is an amazing asset for the town.

Trails behind Wheelock school on OpenStreetMap.org

Trails behind Wheelock school on OpenStreetMap.org

It was one year ago on November 23, 2008 at 5:44pm when the Green Street speed radar went into operation, and since then it has been dutifully recording every vehicle travelling by, almost 270,000 of them. (more…)

As a new dog owner since last week (we rescued a yellow lab mix puppy), a recent fatal dog bite incident in Austria caught my attention. The incident involved a Rottweiler and a 1-year old child. Apparently the dog saw a threat in the child when the father returned from work and the family rushed to greet him. (more…)

I love to run, even in the winter. I wish I had the time to be out more often. One of the worst things that can happen on a clear and crisp winter morning is having to run by a car that is idling in someone’s driveway. A sharp pain enters my lungs from the exhaust fumes, and I try to breathe as flatly as I can until I am far away.

Why do people install remote starters so that they can start their cars and let them sit in their driveways for 30 minutes or more?

Here is what Consumerreports.com has to say about this practice:

Myth: Let your engine warm up for several minutes before driving.

Reality: That might have been good advice for yesteryear’s cars but is less so today. Modern engines warm up more quickly when they’re driven. And the sooner they warm up, the sooner they reach maximum efficiency and deliver the best fuel economy and performance. But don’t rev the engine high over the first few miles while it’s warming up.

Clearly, this makes sense. But they forgot to finish this thought – if it is better to drive your engine to bring it up to operating temperature, it is worse to not do it. So people who start their car with a remote starter and then let it idle, actually reduce the life expectancy of the car. Think about it this way: The most wear and tear for any engine happens right after it gets started, and the lubricant (oil) is cold and has not reached the proper viscosity that is needed to do its job. The longer the engine runs cold, the more wear it will get. So, start the engine and drive away!

check -  Idling cars in driveways – bad for the cars

European governments have made this practice illegal in the 70s, not because they wanted to help people with extending the life of their cars, but because it is so bad for the environment. Not only do engines do a poor job lubricating themselves when they are cold, they also do a very poor job burning gasoline. The gas does not burn completely, and at no other time does an engine blow more residual substances into the atmosphere than when it is cold.

check -  Idling cars in driveways – bad for the environment

Poisonous exhaust fumes from a neighbor’s driveway can enter garages and homes where children live who then develop asthma or other horrible conditions as a result.

check -  Idling cars in driveways – bad for the health of the neighbors, and bad for neighborly relationships

And finally, if you own a vehicle with a remote starter and actually use this feature to start it up before you step into the shower in the morning, watch out. You might get whacked over the head with a snow shovel by your neighbor who’s kids now have asthma.

check -  Idling cars in driveways – bad for the owner

Will you start your car to let it idle in your driveway this winter?

In addition to Rt 27, you can now take a virtual drive along Rt 109, South, North, and Pine Street.
(more…)

Below is the information for my internet safety class. Click here to download the slide deck in PDF format.

Location—High School Room 119
Date—Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Time—7:00—9:00pm

Children and the Internet – a combination that creates fear, resignation, and ultimately denial among parents. Whether you are worried about exting, your kids seeing inappropriate content, spending too much time surfing the web, or introducing Spyware and Trojans into your home network – fear no more. In this class you will learn how to take a proactive approach to managing web access for your children. Technology cannot replace good parenting, but there are hardware and software tools that can help you restrict and monitor how the kids spend their time online. You will learn the needs and risk profiles of specific age groups, and develop a technology strategy that will help keep your family and your computers safe from Kindergarten through Grade 12.

Fatal traffic accidents in Dover, Medfield, Mills, and Sherborn

Fatal traffic accidents in Dover, Medfield, Mills, and Sherborn

National accident data with query options by demographics are available here.

Several Medfield roads have recently been resurfaced using the infamous “oil and chip” technique, sometimes also referred to as “tar and chip”, “chip seal”, or “seal coat”. An asphalt/oil/polymer emulsion is spread on the substrate (usually the existing, but cracked and worn asphalt surface), and then loose aggregate is applied on top of the “oil”. The aggregate is then rolled into the “oil”. The idea is that the “oil” will bind with the aggregate and form a durable top layer that protects the road and slows further erosion of the surface. The “oil” and the aggregate are made from the same materials as regular blacktop (tar and stone). (more…)

Thanks to the help of some folks from Needham and Medfield, a rail trail task force is forming. The trail has been named, and a web site is up. Visit http://baycolonyrailtrail.org for more info about the trail and ways to participate.

A message from Osler Peterson:

“1 – Please take time to vote in the Medfield town election this coming Monday, March 30 at The Center at Medfield.

2 -Medfield TV responded to the request I made when I learned that their new video equipment records selectmen meetings digitally, and as of this week they have started to upload the meetings on-line – see http://medfield.tv/. Now you can watch your selectmen meetings any time it is convenient for you. “

Dispensing ice cubes into full cups of dark brown liquid is the most fool-proof way of making a mess around the water and ice dispenser on the refrigerator. When the point is reached where some cleaning is due, one quickly realizes that this is harder than it looks. The area with the most splatters is not very accessible. Time to take the thing apart …

(more…)

Have you ever wondered how the town spends your tax dollars? Here is one way they are doing it.

On snowy days, your money is used to pay for the street plow to come by and plow your road. Then after a little while, it is used to pay for the sidewalk plow to plow the sidewalk. Then, it is used to pay the street plow to plow the street a little more, gaining an inch or two, while completely filling in the sidewalk again. After all, in order to go 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, the road needs to be as wide as possible.
Then, your money is used to pay the sidewalk plow again to clear the sidewalk. Then …
You get the point. This goes on 4 or 5 times a day. Unfortunately, every time the sidewalk is plowed, I lose a chunk of my front lawn, along with the occasional sprinkler head. (more…)

This chart is rendered in real-time. It will appear in a few seconds.


48 hour temperature chart for Medfield

Visit Paul Loiacono’s weather station site for much more detail and the local forecast.

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