Friday, June 23, 2017

A Proposal for Brunswick’s Human Rights Task Force….and the Public Works Dept.

This post, quite the spur of the moment, is occasioned by the “intersection” of two local phenomena.  Intersection; don’t you just love that word?  It’s become extremely popular in the current day lexicon of the victimization class cum social justice junkies.


The first phenomenon is the creation of Brunswick’s Human Rights Task Force (HRTF).  We believe this group is now an eternal fixture of Brunswick governance, because there is no politically feasible/correct exit strategy from it, and we can think of no elected town employee who would willingly invite the slings and arrows of outraged locals, snowflakes, and other parties aggrieved by all the injustices, slights, and other assorted affronts to personal safety.  Besides, the very nature of such a group is to evoke a continuous supply of new violations calling for their speedy and decisive action.  It is, in a word, self-perpetuating.


The second phenomenon came to top of mind because summer, or what passes for it in these parts, has suddenly arrived in our perfect little town, though we have no idea for how long.  We’ve noticed for years that various and sundry individuals, whether local or otherwise, consider Maine Street (in particular) to be prime jay-walking territory, regardless of the numerous crosswalks created for their safety, including the relatively recent “raised” street crossings.  Or as we think of them, the Maine Street Moguls. 

It’s almost sport to some, as they often seem to be launching from  invisible starting blocks on their mad dash through the Subarus, Priuses, pickups, SUVs, and logging trucks of Brunswick downtown traffic.   Like the old Seinfeld episode, they act like Frogger characters picking their way through multiple lanes of traffic.

You can tell when most schools and colleges are out, and tourists and locals both turn to downtown for recreational and commercial purposes.  Jay-crossing Maine St. becomes more attractive, and far more common than in the off-season.

As we pondered this “intersection,” it occurred to us that being able to cross a street wherever and whenever you want may well need to be viewed as a fundamental “human right,” and therefore, fertile matter for consideration by the devoted members of our Human Rights Task Force.


If the esteemed members of the HRTF aren’t in agreement that freedom to cross whenever and wherever is a fundamental human right, we have a back up plan.  In keeping with this era’s habit of turning every behavioral ‘eccentricity’ into a recognized malady, we suggest that Bowdoin’s Psychology Department identify and document the specifics of CRUD: Crosswalk Recognition and Use Disorder.

Either way, we submit that the downtown streetscape needs to be modified prominently to avoid transgressing upon the rights of random crossers, no matter what causes their behavior.

Here’s what we have in mind.  See those alternating white stripes defining the crosswalks in the photo just above?  We propose that they be extended to cover the entire Maine Street crossing area, roughly from just north of Mason Street (across from entrances to the Fort Andross parking area) to the crossing at the Northwest corner of the Bowdoin Campus, just canddywampus to First Parish Church.

Imagine those 15 or so white “dashes” becoming lines parallel to Maine Street lane markings, running continuously from one end of the prime jay-walking area to the other end.  The  length of each white line would be something like 3,300 ft. 

Brunswick “leaders” are always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves and “put us on the map.”  Recent examples of such triumphes, besides the moguls, include the short-lived back in parking method, and the Amtrak Downeaster.  You remember the last one; it’s the OPM “investment” for which the operating authority, NNEPRA, could not come up with a single thought on economic and community benefits after a year of study.

We suggest that wide striping of Maine Street to turn the whole of Maine Street into a crosswalk could be a unique tourist attraction, and remind visitors and residents alike that Brunswick is always ready to be on the bleeding edge of community planning and ‘place-making.’

And its certainly time that local jay-walkers, whether suffering from CRUD or just plain old “I don’t care,” are spared the stigma of being considered different.  We don’t see how the HRTF could ignore this crisis of discrimination and ‘othering.’


No doubt the group will want to put their own stamp on things, so here’s a variation.  Instead of striping the entire 3,300 foot length, the current crosswalks could be changed to unstriped, so that the jay-walking challenged among us could have some hint of the ‘road less taken.’

Seems like a win-win, doesn’t it?

We may even have to submit an invoice for consulting services.  This town can surely afford it.

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