Keene State College students are questioning the safety of several street crossings near the college. In collaboration with the City of Keene’s Community Development Department and working alongside KSC professor Dr. Christopher Cusack, several students have studied the safety of the street crossings.
In 2015 the City of Keene passed a “Complete Streets” resolution designed to make the streets safer for everyone, including pedestrians, bicyclists, children and the elderly. Several students evaluated a variety of street crossings in Keene, including some near the college on Main St, Winchester St, Water St, and Marlboro St and found that many of these crossings do not meet the regulations required by the 2015 ordinance.
The City of Keene is planning to make changes to update the street crossings to make them safer. “Along these lines, the city and college have also agreed to enhance pedestrian safety crossing Main St in front of KSC. A new pedestrian refuge median, flashing lights, and other safety features will be constructed this summer,” Cusack wrote.
KSC President Melinda Treadwell said that the survey conducted by these students spurred Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Kemal Atkins to propose that changes be made on these street crossings. Treadwell negotiated with the City of Keene to work out a fifty-fifty cost split on the project, and they sought out bidders on the contract for the project.
“The design gives a safety break in the middle. There will be an island like you see on Winchester St., there will be a barrier between the lanes,” Treadwell said of the changes that will be made on Main St. Treadwell thanked the students who participated in the study for their role in these changes. “Without that research we couldn’t have made the case and moved it as quickly as we did. It was student-led which is awesome,” Treadwell said.
The group of students who worked on this project includes Julie Elwell, Mike Murphy, Vincent Saputo, and Brandon Felix.
“Main St, Court St, and Washington St were the only streets that really passed,” said Felix. Felix said that a lot of the bike streets, particularly North Lincoln St and Bradford Rd, did not even have bike lanes. Even though these streets do not have a safe place to ride a bike on them, they are classified as bike streets because they are connected to the biking trail network in Keene. Under the Complete Streets Initiative, these streets should have bike lanes.
Despite the fact that Main St was one of the only streets in Keene to meet all of the Complete Streets Initiative criteria, this is where KSC students said they feel the most unsafe crossing the road. Felix suggested that this could be because of increased foot traffic on Main St, as well as the roundabout between KSC and downtown Keene. Felix believes that the rotaries in Central Square and the rotary connecting Winchester St, Marlboro St, and Main St are the places where students feel the most unsafe. Among the improvements and renovations that will be made include a median being constructed along lower Main St. This project will be completed by the end of next year. The streets closest to downtown generally had higher grades than streets that were far away from downtown.
Other students involved with the project did not respond to request for interview.
Alex Harvey can be contacted at