Dick Beaubien walked into my office carrying a garishly bright neon yellow shirt. He met with me to share why he had it. Dick is a civil engineer who specializes in traffic safety. Before he retired, he worked for the city of Troy, finding ways to make pedestrian and automotive traffic safer and smarter. When CCC began to participate in the Hope Village Initiative at Focus: Hope, Dick knew he wasn’t able to paint or build a playground like others, but he could check out their traffic patterns of the 100 blocks of the Hope Village Initiative between the Davison (M8) Corridor and the Lodge.
He found out that Davison Freeway was a particularly problematic road: four pedestrians had been killed trying to cross the seven-lane road in the past five years. 40,000 vehicles every day (!) used this road, but it was key to Hope Village Initiative, since residences were north of the freeway and shopping was south of it. They needed street lights, well-maintained refuge islands in the middle of the road and traffic crossing signals that were reliable. Dick quickly went to work and became a resource for Focus: HOPE.
He met with the leaders at Focus: HOPE, representatives of Michigan Department of Transportation and people from the neighborhood. Together, they figured out what items needed immediate attention through a road safety audit. Beyond the important physical upgrades, Hope Village would benefit from better law enforcement of speed limits and education. Thus, Safety Blitz was born.
On a sunny Saturday in September, Dick donned on the outlandish yellow shirt and went down to Hope Village along with twenty-five other volunteers from MDOT and other organizations. They stood at street corners and shared with pedestrians ways to safely cross complicated and busy intersections. One resident got the message and when he saw Dick across the street, he yelled, “Be safe! Be seen!”
When I asked Dick why he did this, he shrugged his shoulders. “It just seems the right thing to do. I think part of what I’m supposed to do in life is service. My gifts are not necessarily physical, but I’m good at doing things, and getting other people to do things, especially road agencies.” He’s right. One time, after seeing Dick at Morning Prayer, I noticed once again what he was wearing. This time it wasn’t a glow-in-the-dark shirt, but an impeccable suit with a beautiful yellow silk tie. I teased him, letting him know God did not expect him to wear his finest to Morning Prayer. He explained he was on his way to the Department of Homeland Security, helping them develop a Traffic Incident Management Plan that allows for all emergency responders in the city of Detroit to handle traffic accidents seamlessly and cooperatively, whether it is fire, police or ambulance. It’s just another day in the life of a faith-filled traffic engineer.
– Pastor Manisha