Reflective gear and lights are especially important for pedestrians during the winter months. Dan King

Kennebunk has become a more pedestrian-friendly town over the past five to 10 years. There is no question about this.
Improved sidewalks, new sidewalks, better intersections and warning signals are a few of the major improvements. Too many to name, really.

For those inclined to walk, run or bike, the changes have created a multitude of options where, before, there were few. Most of the routes were daunting if not outright dangerous.

Summer Street down to Lower Village is now walkable, rideable and runnable without setting foot on the drag strip that is Port Road (especially from May through September, wink, wink).
There’s added sidewalk along Western Avenue in Lower Village. The sidewalk from the corner of Sea Road and Summer Street to Heath Road is now a smooth blacktop surface. Gone are all the ruts, heaving sections of pavement and sections without pavement.
Walking from West Kennebunk to the high school is now possible. It does require crossing the road near Kennebunk Vet Center, but at least there’s a crosswalk in place.

There is one area along Fletcher Street, however, that screams out for improvement.
Residents reading this can most likely fill in the blank … the intersection with Ross Road.
Ross Road serves as a shortcut from Route 1 to the western side of Kennebunk. The area was improved a couple years ago when the crosswalk was moved, negating the need for pedestrians to cross Fletcher Street yet again.
However, the existing crosswalk needs one of those button-operated, flashing-light signs that faces Ross Road. It is customary for vehicles approaching from Ross Road to roll right across the crosswalk within inches of Fletcher Street.
That maneuver is necessary because of the trees and bushes that hinder vision in both directions. That is the very definition of a hazard. Pedestrians must approach carefully, knowing drivers often forget the sidewalk when searching for oncoming traffic.

Full disclosure here: About 10 days ago, despite my best efforts at a safe crossing, I was tapped by a vehicle while in the crosswalk. Luckily, I’m fine. Both myself and the driver were stopped at the intersection. I looked at him and he looked right at me. At least I was sure he looked right at me.

Wearing my brightest fluorescent vest even though it was still daylight (about 3:30 p.m.), I started across and the next thing I know, there’s a vehicle at my left knee and I’m on the hood.
The driver stopped immediately and attended to me as I circled around the car and out of the intersection. After a couple minutes and as the adrenaline waned, all was fine.
I think he was more upset than I was, although I still flinch a bit when it pops into my mind.


After thousands of glorious and uneventful miles of running around Kennebunk, a first, and hopefully, last.

Many students and dog walkers use that new sidewalk linking the high school and downtown to the west side of town. At best, the Ross Road intersection is precarious. In the above instance, both of us were seemingly doing the right and it still turned out wrong.
With the dark season upon us, runners, walkers and bikers need to light themselves up like a Christmas tree. Blinking lights, headlamps, reflective vests and reflective clothing.

Think Times Square when dressing. See and be seen. Especially at Ross Road and Fletcher Street.

Charles Melton, a friend with years of experience as a runner, bicyclist and director of road races, upon hearing of the close call, offered this: “Wave to drivers at intersections. If he or she doesn’t wave back, you know your cloak of invisibility is working too well.”

Dan King is editor/page designer for the Kennebunk Post and South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Sentry. He’ll attempt his 12th marathon (first indoors) in January. He trains on the sidewalks/roads/trails of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. Give him a wave.

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