Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No Surprise: Taxi accident rate shown to be 4x higher than normal

Taxis can frequently be observed violating the traffic laws in New Haven. On one recent day, New Haven Safe Streets Coalition coordinators observed radar equipment as several Metro Taxi drivers drove at speeds of up to 52 miles per hour in a 25mph, residential zone. This type of behavior needs to be immediately stopped before it results in a major injury. Similar concerns have been echoed in New York City for years by NHSS Coalition member Transportation Alternatives and others.

It appears that local residents now have allies in Hartford when it comes to the lack of standards for taxi companies. This text from a December 9th press release by the office of State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, a supporter of New Haven Safe Streets Petition:

Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven) and Senator Edward Meyer (D-Guilford), Co-chair of the Program Review & Investigations Committee, say results of the legislature’s investigation of the taxicab industry in Connecticut are both surprising and troubling. The report shows that the industry has unusually high accident rates, lack of uniform inspection standards, and varying and unpredictable taxicab rates across Connecticut.

“This report should be a wake-up call for anyone who has ever used a taxi,” said Senator Looney. “It raises serious questions about safety, inspections, and the rates that customers pay. I am committed to putting the brakes on these practices that put the public and taxi drivers at risk.”

The Committee’s findings include: 1) Of 43 vehicles recently inspected by DMV and DOT at two train stations and Bradley International Airport, 41 failed the inspection (95 percent failure rate) including at least six vehicles towed from the inspection site, 2)The Connecticut taxi accident rate is twice as high as the school bus accident rate and more than quadruple the passenger vehicle rate, 3) ....

“The Program Review & Investigations Committee has provided a roadmap for reform,” said Senator Meyer. “Their recommendation should be taken seriously as we look to improve service and safety for customers and workers. I look forward to leading this effort beginning with the next legislative session in January.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Benefits of Complete Streets

Summary and fact sheets are available here: http://www.completestreets.org/benefits.html

DesignNewHaven has a round-up on the ongoing efforts to create complete streets in New Haven.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teenage Driver Critically Injured in Crash

New Haven Register, 10/29/08: A 17-year-old was critically injured Tuesday morning when the Honda he was driving hydroplaned on a wet road and slammed onto a utility pole near Wilbur Cross High School. The youth, who was not identified, was ejected through a window of the car and suffered serious injuries, police said. The crash occurred at 10:14 a.m. on Mitchell Drive between Nicoll and Willow streets near the Cross athletic field. Police believe the youth was driving on Mitchell Drive when he lost control after driving through a deep puddle of standing water that covered almost the entire roadway.

Update: New Haven Independent coverage here: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/10/teen_ejected_in.php

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Haven Complete Streets Legislation Passes Board

On Thursday, October 23rd, the New Haven Board of Aldermen unanimously passed legislation establishing a "complete streets" steering committee. See here for press coverage of the public hearings that led up to this vote, and here for a copy of the legislation.

Committee to examine equal use of streets, New Haven Register, 10/24/08

The Board of Aldermen gave the green light Thursday night to establishing a steering committee which will develop a "complete streets" policy granting equal rights for pedestrians and bicyclists in their daily battle with motorists. The committee ultimately will propose "complete streets" legislation based on these egalitarian principles.

The aldermen approved the measure unanimously after hearing appeals for support from Alderman Roland Lemar, D-9, and Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, D-14. Lemar, of East Rock, and Sturgis-Pasacale, of Fair Haven, said street safety is a big issue in their neighborhoods. The vote also came in the wake of a Sept. 22 public hearing in which 40 members of the public submitted testimony endorsing the idea. The steering committee will adopt designs to reduce motor vehicles' speed, guarantee input from all residents and educate everybody about the rules of the road. Lemar said bicyclists, children, the elderly and the disabled are particularly vulnerable to being struck by motor vehicles and deserve to be safeguarded.

Sturgis-Pascale said about 30 percent of New Haven residents don't own a car. "We need to think more carefully about how they're going to get around; how they'll get to work or to school." She said the new policy will not be "anti-motorist" and drivers won't be expected to drive 5 mph. After the meeting, Sturgis-Pascale said Board President Carl Goldfield will appoint the three aldermanic members of the steering committee (she and Lemar are expected to be included) and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will appoint three city staffers and three members of the general public. "The policy will say all users have the right to equal access," she said. "That's a moral statement. Now it's very lopsided in favor of cars."

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Haven Launches "Street Smarts" Educational Campaign

As part of a community event in Edgewood Park this past Sunday, October 19 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., the city launched its "Street Smarts" educational campaign to improve safety for all road users. Excerpts from the extensive news coverage are posted below; click on the flyer to enlarge.

City to promote road-sharing efforts, New Haven Register, 10/14/08.

More than 2,000 people signed a grass-roots petition advocating for more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly streets, and two like-minded aldermen hope to legislate the goals into law.

On Sunday, the effort will gain another partner when City Hall unveils "Street Smarts," a public education campaign aimed at enhancing road safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Its goal is to promote road sharing among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in a city where about 14 percent of residents walk to work, more than any other New England city, according to aldermen Erin Sturgis-Pascale and Roland Lemar.

In September, the two proposed a Complete Streets law for the city that would, in support of the coalition’s goals, create a design and engineering manual and require any developer or contractor who builds or rebuilds a city street to comply with specific pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly guidelines.

The safe streets coalition was formed in May, a month after medical student Mila Rainoff was hit and killed on South Frontage Road and a month before Gabrielle Lee, 11, was killed on Whalley Avenue by a hit-and-run driver. Since then, more than 100 organizations, virtually every alderman and more than 2,000 other people have endorsed its goal of "promoting livable, walkable and economically vibrant streets" in New Haven.

The Police Department, under new Chief James Lewis, has made traffic enforcement a renewed priority, with traffic tickets up about 35 percent since Lewis took over in mid-July, compared to last year. Saying losing a loved one to a traffic fatality is no less painful than losing one to gun violence, Lewis said he plans to double the size of the traffic unit next year. The coalition has requested neighborhood-by-neighborhood reports of enforcement data.

Pedestrian deaths spur 'safe streets' movement, WTNH TV-8 (AP story also picked up by Boston Globe, WCBS-New York News Radio and others), 10/14/08

A series of pedestrian deaths in recent years, including those of a Yale student and a fifth-grade girl, has spawned a movement to improve road safety in New Haven.

The "Street Smarts" public education campaign launches Sunday in the Elm City. It comes after more than 2,000 people signed petitions seeking street improvements. They want New Haven's roads improved to make them safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

The campaign gained momentum after a Yale medical student was killed in April. Two months later, an 11-year-old girl was killed by a hit-and-run driver as she entered a laundromat. New Haven aldermen say pedestrian safety is critical because about 14 percent of the city's residents walk to work, among the highest percentage of any New England city.

New Haven "Street Smarts" Campaign, WTNH TV-8, 10/19/08

A new campaign is officially underway in the Elm City and aimed at making streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. The Elm City's "Street Smarts" campaign was sparked by a series of pedestrian deaths in recent years.

Bill Mrowka, of New Haven: "Everyday, four-to-five times, I cross this street here." Taskey: "How is it getting around?" Mrowka: "Suicide." It's a battle for 83-year old Bill Mrowka to cross the street near his New Haven home. "Even with this thing in the road (pointing to sign) I get stuck in the middle of the road and can't get to the other side," he said.

The city put up portable cross walk signs at State and Elm hoping to remind drivers to yield to pedestrians. "There's something in the middle of the road, people tend to slow down for something in the road," Ben Berkowitz, of New Haven, said. "So I do see more break lights during rush hour which is nice.

Road rules take priority in Elm City, Yale Daily News, 10/20/08

In interviews, several Yalies said they agree that in New Haven, traffic rules are little more than a formality, and that most students jaywalk to and from class without thinking much of it. Lukas Colberg ’12 said that Yale’s campus is built such that it is convenient to break traffic rules, such as on the stretch of Elm Street filled with students weaving between cars to get to class.

"Street Smarts” Drive Launched, New Haven Independent, 10/20/08

Shawn Perkins (left) took the “Smart Driver” pledge and Alexander McDonough was fitted for his first bike helmet, as officials inaugurated a traffic-calming campaign that grew out of a citywide grassroots movement.

Mayor John DeStefano called the evolution of the Street Smarts campaign a sign of vibrant citizen activism in New Haven. It grew from the grassroots. First there were the two main activist groups focused on single issues. Those groups in turn united with other grassroots neighborhood organizations with broader agendas, such as the downtown management team and Westville Renaissance. Finally, these activists found a city official, transportation czar Mike Piscitelli, who already sympathized with their cause and was eager to try out new traffic-calming ideas.

DeStefano also spoke of how New Haven’s streets were originally dominated by pedestrians and cyclists (and horses) before America became car “obsessed” in the 1940s. “We started forgetting what streets were,” he said, “wonderful places that connected us.” He urged New Haveners of all transit persuasions to “give a little” and “make space for everybody.”

City kicks off Street Smarts program, New Haven Register, 10/20/08

One reason for the awareness campaign, which employees a professional marketing firm, is because physical changes to make city streets safer cost money and take time. But getting people to be more aware of each other can start making things safer more immediately, Travers said.

“Drivers’ habits have changed over the years. What we want to do is change that behavior” to make it safer and “alert motorists that they need to be aware of the bicyclists” and pedestrians on the road, he said.

Street Smarts effort aims to make city safer for pedestrians (Op-Ed by Mayor John DeStefano, Jr), New Haven Register, 10/19/08 (excerpt)

Indeed, thousands of people walk through the downtown area, the medical district and our neighborhoods every day. For many residents and students, a bicycle has firmly replaced the car and cyclists are on city streets at every hour of the day. The combination of higher fuel prices, shifting demographic patterns and the tremendous growth in downtown all suggest that even more people will be walking and cycling on city streets in the coming years. In no uncertain terms, we must be attentive and respectful to everyone using the roadway.

The Street Smarts campaign also responds to a nationwide concern over the number and severity of traffic accidents. In the United States, a pedestrian is killed every seven minutes and another 85,000 are injured every year. These are our neighbors and friends, not just statistics.

Here, New Haven still mourns the loss of Mila Rainof, an amazingly talented student at Yale University, and Gabrielle Lee, an engaging 11-year-old school child. Both Rainof and Gabrielle died in tragic crashes this summer. Many others lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes as well.

In just a few months, the community has been galvanized through the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition of residents, civic leaders, city officials and organizations. Their advocacy has accelerated the pace of change with tangible programs sponsored by Elm City Cycling, Yale University, the Yale School of Medicine's Traffic Safety Committee, the City of New Haven and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reinventing American Transportation

An article by Transportation For America's policy director outlines the plan for a 21st century transportation system - including complete streets that are accessible and safe for all road users.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yale College Council Passes Safe Streets Resolution

YCC sees clear road ahead for safer streets, Yale Herald, October 10, 2008:

Most Yalies have resigned themselves to the fact that Yale is located in a bustling city and that crossing busy streets is an inevitable part of campus life. Almost everyday, cars barrel down Elm St. at nearly 40 miles per hour in a 25-mph speed limit zone. Drivers often give mixed signals as to whether or not they’re going to slow down at the yellow light. It is not always the driver’s fault, of course—rushing Yalies are often ill-behaved pedestrians. Yet Yale students remain in danger of traffic-related accidents. ....

Even within the University itself, students are mobilizing in the crusade for safer streets. The YCC recently passed a resolution entitled “Road Safety and New Haven Safe Streets Coalition,” committing the student organization to “work with the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, the City of New Haven and Yale University on issues pertaining to road safety.” ....

The recent convergence of interests between the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, the YCC, and City Hall looks promising in terms of making New Haven Streets safer. In the past, City Hall and Yale have been slow to take action because they failed to hear the call for safer streets. Now that there’s a unified voice, facilitated by the partnership of the NHSS, YCC, Yale, and City Hall, the voice for change is loud and clear. “Full steam ahead,” said [Ward 1 Alderwoman] Plattus.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pedestrians struck on Whitney Avenue

News report here. Comment section discusses the need for crosswalks and more respectful road users.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Two Children Hit by SUV

Sunday, October 5, 2008, NH Register: NEW HAVEN — Two children, ages 8 and 11, were treated at an area hospital Saturday for non-life threatening injuries after being hit by a sport utility vehicle at the corner of Whalley Avenue and Orchard Street. The driver of the vehicle has not been charged and is cooperating with police, said city spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Successful Public Hearing on Complete Streets Legislation

The New Haven Board of Aldermen's public hearing on Complete Streets Legislation was very well attended, with testimony received from several dozen residents and community leaders. Written testimony was also received from a wide spectrum of community groups and organizations. The Board is continuing to accept testimony on the subject this week, so feel free to submit written comments.

Please click here (MP3 file) to hear Ward 14 Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale's excellent testimony on the subject.

The event received wide coverage including being the lead story on the New Haven Register and the top story on the 11-o-clock news. Here's a rundown of some of it, and a few excerpts:

In Wake of Two Deaths, Making Streets Safer, New York Times, 10/3/08:

In a meeting two weeks ago, the Board of Aldermen’s legislation committee voted to create Complete Streets, a comprehensive blueprint of how drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and others can coexist safely on the streets of New Haven. According to the 2000 census, more New Haven residents — nearly 14 percent — walk to work than in any other New England city. And an additional 31 percent bike, car-pool or take public transportation.

“These aren’t just thruways,” said Roland Lemar, an alderman who was one of the cosponsors of the Complete Streets program. “These are the streets we live on.”

In April, Mila Rainof, 27, a Yale medical student, was fatally struck by a car on a city street. In June, Gabrielle Alexis Lee, 11, was killed in a hit-and-run accident. A group of residents formed the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, which has gathered more than 1,800 signatures in a petition calling for “immediate action to improve traffic safety within our communities — with the immediate goal of reducing traffic injuries by 50 percent by 2009, 75 percent by 2012 and 90 percent by 2015.”

The measure calls for the creation of a steering committee to come up with the details of the Complete Streets program, which would require legislative approval. Ms. Sturgis-Pascale and Mr. Lemar believe this is the first step in not only making the streets safer for walkers, cyclists and drivers but also creating streets that are economically and socially vibrant.

Residents crowded into the Board of Aldermen’s meeting two weeks ago. New Haven is made up of a series of neighborhoods, said one resident, Justin Elicker. “Why do we fear to cross Whalley? Why do we avoid the intersection of Trumbull and Orange? Because roads in New Haven are designed for cars,” he told the board.

Aldermen Working To Make Streets Safer, WFSB TV-3, 9/22/08:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Two aldermen have come up with a plan they said will make New Haven streets safer. Erin Sturgis-Pascale and Roland Lemar said a common complaint in the city is that the streets have to be made safer. They said roughly 14 percent of people walk to work and 31 percent bike, carpool or take public transportation. 'Well, what this law does is it has this look at transportation from an access view,' said Sturgis-Pascale. 'Let’s make sure that everyone has access to goods and services. It’s not just about moving cars through the streets, but it’s about moving people.'

Panel OKs Safe Streets Law, New Haven Independent, 9/23/08:

Pascale said she’d like to see the city’s streets evaluated not by the number of lanes or traffic lights, but by other measures. “Are our streets being used for people to socialize? Are our children playing in the streets safely? Are they able to ride their bicycles? Are we welcoming people with disabilities? Are we protecting our seniors on our streets?"

Elm City Looks to Enforce Road Safety Law, WTNH TV-8, 9/22/08:

"There is a whole tool box of features that ensures that people have save and convenient access to transportation that we should be suing in a more systematic way in the city," Erin Sturgis-Pascale, of Ward 14, said.

In the past, if there were a lot of accidents at a certain intersection -- they would go out and try and fix the problem. What they are doing now is looking at everything. All the streets, the cross walks to access for wheel chairs, to streets signs and wide-enough double parking. Before lawmakers created a new ordinance, they wanted to hear from the people. At the meeting the committee heard from Alycia Santilli. She lives on Quinnipiac Ave has been a victim of unsafe streets repeatedly.

"There is constant speeding that goes on, our car has been hit about three times or more," Santilli said. "I have recently been hit by a car while biking -- so there is a lot that can be done here in New Haven regarding our streets." Santilli told the committee while in favor of new law, she wants the old ones enforced. "People are speeding all the time not only up and down on Quinnipiac Ave but other streets in the neighborhood," Santilli said. "People are blowing red lights and there is so much that can be done, we need to be smarter about the types of streets we are creating."

It's Time to Slow Down, New Haven Register, 9/23/08:

For Alycia Santilli and her husband, Ethan Hutchings, the consequences of potholed streets and inattentive, speeding drivers are not theoretical issues. Each has been hit by a car, in separate instances, while riding their bicycles; their vehicles have been sideswiped multiple times and as a public health researcher, Santilli sees a connection between obese children and the bad streets that set up roadblocks to exercise.

“We have a serious problem,” Santilli told a committee of the Board of Aldermen Monday, which was taking testimony on a proposal for a “complete streets” program that aims to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities in New Haven 50 percent by 2009 and 90 percent by 2015. ...

Enforcement of traffic violations has gone up 35 percent this year over last and the number of accidents has gone down 5 percent. Lemar and Sturgis-Pascale had high praise for city officials, and the 40 members of the public who submitted testimony were equally happy with the plan. Lemar said the city has come up with solutions for Woodward Avenue and River Street, with a proposal forthcoming to halt the drag racing on Long Wharf Drive and speeding on Route 80.

The lack of funds was paramount in the minds of all the city officials who testified, but nonetheless they felt progress can be made with police expecting to double its traffic unit next year.

Aldermen Hear Safe Streets Plan, Yale Daily News, 9/23/08:

The New Haven Safe Streets Coalition’s vision for a redefined pedestrian city moved one step closer to reality Monday evening. The Board of Aldermen held a public hearing last night on the proposed “Complete Streets” plan offered by Safe Streets Coalition’s founding members, Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar and Ward 14 Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale. The plan by the Safe Streets Coalition — a New Haven organization that lobbies for safer streets — calls for reducing the number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities by 50 percent by 2009 and 90 percent by 2015 “while promoting streets that are more liveable, walkable and economically vital.”

Monday night’s hearing, held before the Board’s Legislation Committee, drew over 50 New Haven residents, including about 20 of Yale undergraduate and graduate students in support of the Complete Streets plan. Lemar and Sturgis-Pascale introduced the plan to the rest of the committee and were followed by representatives from several city agencies and members of the public in a meeting that ran for nearly three hours.

Piscitelli said the first stage of New Haven’s response will start Oct. 19, when the city, working with over a half-dozen community groups, rolls out a new education strategy. “We want to sensitize drivers that they are driving in an intermodal community,” he said. “At the same time, we want to sensitize cyclists and pedestrians to sharing the road and obeying traffic regulations.”

City Chief Administrative Officer Robert Smuts ’01 said the city’s plan to make streets safer involves a three-pronged approach consisting of education, enforcement and engineering. Smuts announced that the New Haven Police Department will be doubling both the size and hours of its traffic-enforcement division.

Safe Streets proponents argue that the program will promote economic opportunity while raising property values. “[Complete Streets] will upgrade our infrastructure to meet the needs of a new New Haven, and in the long run, will net the city money,” said Mark Abraham ’04 the founder of the Safe Streets Coalition. As for the meeting, Abraham was impressed by the turnout. “It shows that a lot of people are passionate about improving the safety and quality of our city life,” he said.

Initiative Aims To Make Streets Safer For Walkers, Cyclists, NBC30-TV, 9/23/08:

Glen Vasquez said the pedestrian way of life isn't any better. "It's kind of scary sometimes," he said. "I mean, you walk across the street, and people don't care if you're walking or not -- they just keep going."

Update: Please see this page on Design New Haven for more information about the legislation.

Friday, October 3, 2008

YDN Op-Ed: University, city must take responsibility for bicycle safety

Letter by Samuel Sims here: http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/25524

As a former student at the extremely bicycle-friendly University of Oxford, England (Oxford city center is largely closed to cars and dominated by bicycles — 2007 statistics show that 19 percent of Oxford commuters ride a bicycle to work), I recall frequent police initiatives whereby cyclists riding in darkness without lights were given a $60 fine, which was revoked upon the presentation of a receipt for the purchase of appropriate lights to local police within 48-hours of the offence – a highly commendable policy given that one Oxford University student a year on average over the past two decades has been killed as a result of a bicycle collision with a car. Surely Yale must act more responsibly to aid in accident prevention before it is too late.

Within the existing atmosphere of ignorance towards cycling safety in the city, the occurrence of accidents and associated fatalities are simply a matter of time. Therefore, as the driving force behind this proposed change in attitude towards the relative merits of two wheels over four, the University, in conjunction with the police, must surely take responsibility for educating its staff and students appropriately – a task with which it is currently falling dangerously short.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

City Announces Expanded Traffic Enforcement Unit

Speeders Beware, New Haven Independent, 9/30/08

Police Chief James Lewis said he created the squad in response to neighborhood outcry over abused traffic laws.

“If you lose a loved one in a traffic accident, it’s just the same as if you lose a loved one in a homicide,” Lewis said.

The squad plans to use tips from neighbors to guide where it will use its resources, Sydnor said. Neighbors are encouraged to report dangerous driving, illegal dirt bikes or other non-emergency traffic complaints at the city traffic safety hotline at 946-6956. Tips can also be sent to
this email address, or reported on SeeClickFix.

Police have gotten over 200 traffic tips since launching the hotline in early July, said Lt. Joe Witkowski, second-in-command of the city’s patrol unit. Callers can leave anonymous messages reporting the plate number of anyone seen driving dangerously. From those complaints, the city has sent out 50 postcards warning drivers to obey the law, and advising them, “People are watching you,” Witkowski said. Police said they plan to expand the enforcement unit when new recruits hit the streets early next year. Sydnor didn’t have a firm number on how many officers would be added.

New Haven Adds Traffic Officers, NBC30-TV, 9/30/08

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- New Haven police are increasing traffic enforcement in the hopes of cutting down on serious crashes. New Haven police are adding to its staff of eight to 10 officer to enforce traffic regulations and target problem spots. How many officers will be added is not known.

Sgt. David Sydnor, who will lead the unit, said he wants to change the habits of the drivers by strictly enforcing motor vehicle laws. Police will look for people who drive too fast, run red lights and fail to stop for pedestrians. The additions to the unit come after several serious crashes including one on Longwharf in August where a drag racing spectator was hit and killed. Residents who have attended town hall meetings recently requested that police do more to keep all streets safe.

"It's our position that if you lose a loved one in a traffic accident, really it's just as traumatic as if you lose a loved one in a crime of violence like a shooting," Chief James Lewis said.

The expanded unit will shift into gear next week.

Narcotics Unit Revived, Yale Daily News, 10/1/08

Lewis also announced Tuesday the creation of a traffic enforcement unit to be led by Sgt. David Sydnor. The unit, which will initially consist of eight to 10 officers, will attempt to combat problems such as speeding, driving through red lights and pedestrian violations. Sydnor said he hopes to expand his team once the new class of academy recruits arrive in early 2009.

The NHPD’s new traffic unit comes on the heels of the Yale Police Department’s recent traffic and pedestrian safety initiatives, including, most notably, the written warnings issued to students who jaywalk on the streets of New Haven.

Sydnor said there were no specific areas or hotspots being targeted by his unit. Rather, he said, traffic enforcement has truly become a citywide issue. Collecting and analyzing data will help the unit focus on what areas to target, Sydnor said. But for Sydnor, the fight for stricter traffic enforcement is a personal one. In 2006, his nephew survived a brutal car accident that led to two other fatalities.

“Whether it’s a homicide or a motor-vehicle accident, it doesn’t matter,” Sydnor said. “There’s no difference.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

WTNH: Connecticut hit-and-runs largely unsolved

WTNH, Sept. 26, 2008: The number of fatal hit-and-run accidents fluctuates year to year. Many of this year's deadly cases remain unsolved despite offers of a reward.

Margaret Ricco talks about the pain of losing her stepson in a deadly hit-and-run more than 10 years ago. "It doesn't go away. There's no justice, there is no accountability," she said. In 1994, 24-year old Richard Ricco was hit and killed while crossing the Tomlinson Bridge in New Haven. That case remains unsolved. "He's gone and nobody's sorry about it. Nobody cared, that's what hurts," Margaret said.

A West Haven family is also feeling that hurt, because Anna D'Agostino, 74, died yesterday after being hit by a car while walking along Beach Street. Police are now circulating flyers to get help in finding the driver in that accident.

"There are a couple of vehicles that were on video footage that we are now looking at and each piece of evidence puts us one step closer to solving this case," said West Haven police officer, Angelo Moscato. There have been other unsolved hit-and-runs this year. Back in June, 11-year old Gabrielle Lee was crossing Whalley Avenue in New Haven, when she was hit and killed. In Hartford, a hit-and-run which left Angelo Torres severely injured was caught on tape. "It just really upsets me that there are families out there that are going through this -- it's awful," Margaret said.

In 2003, the state reported 11 fatal hit-and run-accidents. There were seven in 2004, ten in 2005, ten in 2006 and nine in 2007. Since 1994, the Governor's office has authorized that rewards be offered in seven hit-and-run cases, but of those, only two have been solved and paid. The reward didn't help solve Richard's and the five year statute of limitations to prosecute the driver has run out. "It just leaves you in this great limbo, never knowing there is going to be any justice done," Margaret said.

The rewards offered by the Governor's Office range from $10,000 to $50,000. Anyone with information D'Agostino's case is asked to contact the West Haven Police Department at (203)937-3900.

Time to demand a Vision Zero for Connecticut (Op-Ed)

Why Tolerate 42,000 Traffic Deaths A Year?
April 30, 2008, Originally published in the Hartford Courant

The tragic death April 20 of Mila Rainof, a Yale medical student, who was struck while crossing an intersection at South Frontage Road and York Street in New Haven and later died from her injuries, brings home the great danger inherent in our transportation system and the need to set higher safety standards.

Each year, more than 42,000 people die in crashes on America’s roads. That’s some 117 of us every day. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for every age from 2 through 34. In Connecticut, 300 of us are killed a year. Who among us does not have a friend or relative who was seriously injured or killed in a car crash? And yet, while these numbers remain the same year to year, we and our politicians all remain remarkably silent about road safety.

This is because crashes seem to be a force of nature, a fact of life -- they happen and we call them accidents. Unlike with a war or a crime, there so often doesn’t seem to be any human agency behind motor vehicle crashes. There is something unsatisfying about blaming a jaywalker or someone traveling a few miles above the limit. Who hasn’t been guilty of a similar offense themselves? We are all fallible, after all. Yet such thinking evinces a general failure to look at the bigger picture. Blame may be assigned to users or it may not. But a transportation system should be built with the recognition that its users will be fallible and with the premise that mistakes should not be fatal.

In 1997, the Swedish Parliament adopted a plan called Vision Zero. Its goal is to reduce deaths and serious injuries from motor vehicle crashes to zero by 2020. Imagine that: zero!

The plan calls for changing behavior and practices among everyone from drivers and pedestrians to police, traffic engineers and licensing agencies. Along with traditional measures such as getting tough about seat belts and drunken driving, the plan involves replacing traffic lights with traffic circles (you can run a red light but not much can be done about a traffic circle) and installing medians along the main roads. Raised crosswalks are now being constructed in dense, pedestrian areas. Speed limits are being lowered while the driver’s education program is reconsidered.

The Swedes fashion Vision Zero as an “ethical approach to road traffic.” At first this sounds strange -- what does traffic have to do with ethics? But our failure to link the two is precisely the problem: Long ago we decided that we would not tolerate industrial accidents or, more recently, deaths in commercial aviation.

We mobilized large campaigns to prevent these and we’ve been fantastically successful. Yet why should we continue to tolerate massive numbers of lives being cut short by our ground transportation system?

In fact, how could we fail to take “an ethical approach” to a system that kills and injures so many?

If Sweden, a country of roughly 9 million, can strive for zero traffic deaths, there is no reason that Connecticut, a state of 3.5 million, cannot as well. Sweden has recently realized that it may take beyond 2020 to achieve zero deaths, but it has not used this as an excuse to stop working relentlessly toward its ultimate goal.

The decision to adopt Vision Zero is first and foremost a political one: We and our representatives need to send a message that the only number of traffic deaths that is ethically acceptable is zero.

Such a message can and will lead to an ever-decreasing number of us being killed in traffic. It would require all agencies in government to look at what they can do to save lives. It may well even force us to re-examine our commitment to the automobile as the mainstay of our transportation network.

It would recognize that while some accidents may always happen, fatal ones need not. It’s time to demand a Vision Zero for Connecticut.

Erica Mintzer, 27 is a student in the Yale School of Medicine class of 2009. Hunter Smith, 25, is in the Yale Law School class of 2010. Thomas Harned, 26, is a transportation planner and a master’s candidate in research, statistics, and measurement at Southern Connecticut State University in the class of 2008.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Woman Killed by Hit and Run in West Haven

WTNH TV-8, 9/25/08: West Haven, CT: A 74-year old woman died at an area hospital after being struck by hit- and-run driver this morning in West Haven. Anna D'Agostino was struck around 6:15 a.m. near 2nd Ave. and Beach Street, near Captain's Galley Restaurant. Becky Shutle knows the area in which D'Agostino walks and says drivers aren't always cognizant of walkers. "In the summer, police put out signs saying pedestrians have the right of way but even then the drivers rarely stop," she said.

Monday, September 22, 2008

YDN Op-Ed: Mobilize tonight for safe streets


"Here is New Haven, the Safe Streets Coalition, a citywide coalition of students, residents and elected officials who are advocating for safer, livable streets — formed last spring after the tragic deaths of Mila Rainof MED ’08 on South Frontage Street and 11-year-old Gabrielle Lee on Whalley — has been a model of what we can do as a community. Today, at 6:30 p.m in City Hall, the Coalition will testify at a public hearing on street safety. For the good of all of us in New Haven, we hope they will succeed. ...

Now the challenge rests with each one of us to carry on the work started by the Coalition and advocate for broader change in New Haven and beyond. Even those who think that they’re invincible rely on the public protections established by community organizers, and community change requires community action."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Notice: Safe Streets Listserv on Livable Streets

We are writing on behalf of supporters of the New Haven Petition for Safe Streets. The petition has been signed by over 1,800 individuals and has been officially endorsed by nearly 100 community management teams, business improvement districts, neighborhood organizations, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and elected officials in New Haven.

Although this grassroots campaign is only a few months old, by working together and reaching out across the city, we have already achieved several major successes at the local and state level. We hope that you will continue to advocate for safe, livable, walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly public spaces that can be enjoyed by users of all ages and abilities -- and that positively contribute to our economy, public health, environment and quality of life.

In order to issue occasional updates and critical advocacy alerts, we are inviting supporters to join a new, high-tech listserv on the Livable Streets Network. Our plan is that you will receive no more than one email per month from this site, which will replace the informal email system that has existed up to this point. We will also use this site as a repository for electronic files as the campaign develops over time.

Accepting this invitation is very simple. Please visit the following link. You simply need to create a username (any name you like) and password, and confirm your email address. http://www.livablestreets.com/projects/new-haven-safe-streets-coalition/request-membership

Our coalition coordinators would also encourage you to attend the public hearing on proposed "Complete Streets" legislation this Monday, September 22nd at 6:30PM at City Hall, 165 Church Street, New Haven. For details on the proposed legislation, see our most recent coalition update here or click here to read the full text.

Traffic a major concern in Dixwell and Newhallville

Reporting from the New Haven Register on last Thursday's joint Dixwell and Newhallville Community Management Team meeting: http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2008/09/19/news/a3-nenewhallville.txt

“Traffic is terrific. How are we going to get out” if the Forest City project come to fruition?” asked Lisa Hopkins from the Dixwell neighborhood.

After the meeting, Michael Piscitelli, the city’s traffic czar, said funds are in place for new traffic signals at 11 intersections in Newhallville, with about half already installed.

In the end, Condon offered the management teams as the best conduit for information and a proven method of advancing neighborhood projects. The first issue to be tackled will be more traffic planning.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quinnipiac River Residents Lobby for Long-Delayed Safety Project

At its monthly meeting yesterday, the Quinnipiac River Community Group (QRCG) also voted to endorse the New Haven Petition for Safe Streets. Article here: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/09/this_is_an_emer.php

For details, please see a more in-depth article, and comments, here:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yale Daily News Op-Ed: Do not delay safer streets


... To where, then, should the administration turn its immediate attention? Here are five areas of concern:

1) Trumbull and Prospect, arguably the most terrifying intersection at Yale, is a disaster waiting to happen. Vehicles zoom around the bend with minimal regard for students, even though hundreds pass through on their way up or down Science Hill. The University promised to add a crosswalk here, but this improvement should have been completed before the school year began. For now, confusion reigns.

2) The stretch of Elm Street between Howe and College should be marked as a pedestrian-priority zone, and crosswalk indicators should be added to the intersection at High Street, between Old Campus and Rose Walk — one of the most frequented intersections on campus.

3) Although Mila Rainof MED ’08 died after a collision at South Frontage Road and York Street, danger still abounds around Yale-New Haven Hospital.

4) The stretch of Grove Street between SSS and Payne Whitney should be rethought. Cars move quickly, and pedestrian visibility is dim: curb extensions and crosswalk signs could do the trick.

5) Other intersections that need in-street crosswalk signs include Mansfield and Sachem, Hillhouse and Trumbull, Whitney and Trumbull, and Whitney and Audubon.

... Waiting could prove a fatal error. Improvement should — no, must — come this month. Anything less at a university of Yale’s standards and wealth is unacceptable.

Also see yesterday's news article: http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/24990

Monday, September 8, 2008

NY Times Op-Ed: No Need for Speed

Today's NY Times features an op-ed from the vice-chairman of medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, reprinted here (and excerpted below):

SPEEDING is the cause of 30 percent of all traffic deaths in the United States — about 13,000 people a year. By comparison, alcohol is blamed 39 percent of the time, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But unlike drinking, which requires the police, breathalyzers and coercion to improve drivers' behavior, there's a simple way to prevent speeding: quit building cars that can exceed the speed limit.

The technology to limit car speed has existed for more than 50 years — it's called cruise control. In its common application, cruise control maintains a steady speed, but a minor adjustment would assure that vehicles, no matter the horsepower, never go past 75 miles per hour. This safety measure should be required of every new automobile, the same as seat belts, turning signals, brake lights and air bags.

Sure, it would take us longer to get from here to there. But thousands of deaths a year are too great a cost for so adolescent a thrill as speeding.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Safe Routes for Seniors in New Haven

Over the past few months, signal timing issues have been raised as an area of major concern in many of New Haven's neighborhoods -- specifically, that crossing phases are not long enough for elderly and disabled residents to safely cross the street. The city must pay much more attention to signal timing and ensure that the streets are accessible and safe for all users: particularly residents of more limited means, who disproportionately suffer injuries in traffic-related incidents.

Here are some other ideas for what streets should ideally look like, based on comments from elderly pedestrians:
  • The street should be as flat as possible, with minimal convexity for drainage and a smooth transition from the curb to the street.
  • Large streets would have wide median refuge areas with benches. Refuges should be as large as possible and contain such things as plantings and shelters.
  • All bus stops near senior centers would have shelters and benches.
  • Drivers would be prohibited from turning during the first 10 seconds of a traffic signal phase. This time is needed by seniors to ascend the curb and begin a safe crossing unobstructed by turning vehicles.
  • Drivers would be required to stop 15 feet before a junction. This would require moving the stop bar back away from the crosswalk and placing a tactile surface on the stop bar. To further protect elderly pedestrians, where appropriate, the crosswalks would be built up or "raised" to line up with the curb. The addition of a raised crosswalk forces drivers to reduce their speed at the intersection.
  • On busy commercial streets and bus routes, all curbs would be extended into the crosswalk to create better views for pedestrians and drivers.
  • On streets where there is more space than is needed to move traffic, the street would be put on a "road diet," that is lanes or parts of lanes would be reclaimed for wider sidewalks, planted medians, and/or bicycle lanes.

Source: http://www.transalt.org/campaigns/pedestrian/safeseniors

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Neighbors Complain about Dangerous Intersection

Residents feel that this dense urban neighborhood should have walkable, pedestrian-friendly streets with thriving local retail and schools that are easy to walk to: not speedways. Excerpt from http://www.wtnh.com/Global/story.asp?S=8934093:

New Haven (WTNH, September 1, 2008): Residents in a New Haven neighborhood say crashes have become all-too-common at one intersection, and they're looking for the city to fix the problem. A mangled fence is a reminder of the car that crashed just feet away from gas lines and landed inches from Temika Mitchell's apartment window Sunday night.

"I'm worried that it won't be the brick next time," Mitchell said. "It will go through the window. My kids' room is right here."

Folks living near Orchard and Henry say it's been one accident after another at this intersection. They blame it on speeders who ignore the traffic signals. After midnight these lights start blinking red in one direction, yellow in the other. Myra Smith believes those flashing lights make for a dangerous combination.

"So you have got going people who are just speeding full speed ahead, not knowing that there are cars coming this way and there is a straight strip going, and you got two people speeding and that's where our accidents come from," Smith said.

Alderman Katrina Jones, who represents this area, told News Channel 8 she is planning to discuss the issue with officials with Traffic and Parking to see what can be done about the blinking light to make that intersection safer.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Proposed New Haven Complete Streets Legislation

The City of New Haven Board of Aldermen will be holding a hearing on Complete Streets Legislation on September 22nd, at 6:30pm at City Hall. All are welcome to attend, and public comments and testimony are encouraged. Please feel free to copy the coalition (email newhavensafestreets [at] gmail.com) on any correspondence. Attached below is a copy of the proposed legislation, which was submitted to the Board this week.

August, 26, 2008

Honorable Carl Goldfield, President, New Haven Board of Aldermen

Dear President Goldfield:

We would like to respectfully submit to the Board of Aldermen, the attached communication, a proposed Order , which would establish a steering committee to develop a complete streets policy for New Haven, implement a sustainable complete streets program for the city, and propose complete streets legislation as an important first step toward creating a future New Haven which boasts welcoming, safe and vibrant streets and public ways.

New Haven is the regional center of south central Connecticut and the intermodal center of Connecticut's transportation system. In addition, a greater proportion of New Haven residents (14%) walk to work than in any other city in New England while another 31% of city residents bike, carpool or take public transit to work.

Recent tragedies at the Yale Medical School, along Whalley Avenue, and on Long Wharf Drive, as well as numerous other terrible accidents, have galvanized the community to form the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition. It has been found that auto traffic often conflicts with bike and pedestrian activity, thereby leading to unsafe conditions when these users do not follow the rules-of-the-road. In addition, recent studies on transportation policy in the tri-state area indicates that the economically disadvantaged, especially the African-American and Latino communities, are subject to disproportionately higher levels of pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

The Safe Streets Coalition's goal is to raise awareness of traffic safety issues and build community support for an urgent and comprehensive strategy that will reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in New Haven by 50% by 2009 and 90% by 2015, while promoting streets that are more livable, walkable and economically vital. Streets are a critical component of public space, directly impact public health, play a major role in defining the image and identity of our city and provide the framework for current and future development.

We believe that it is crucial for the City of New Haven to make a commitment to reaching the goals identified by the Safe Streets Coalition: pursuing the development of tools that raise the quality and civility of our shared public spaces; supporting neighborhood economic development; increasing the modal split of walking, cycling and transit modes; and building a safe, efficient and equitable transportation system in the city. To that end, we ask that the Board please review and hopefully approve this Order which would create a steering committee empowered to develop a complete streets policy for New Haven, implement a sustainable complete streets program for the city, and propose complete streets legislation.

We strongly feel that this is the very important first step toward creating a New Haven which balances the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, children, adults and seniors in developing a comprehensive plan to foster a layout of our city streets and public thoroughfares that is welcoming, safe and convenient, as well as both walkable and economically vibrant.

Thank you for your consideration of this measure.

Respectfully submitted,

ERIN STURGIS-PASCALE, Alderwoman, 14th Ward, ROLAND LEMAR, Alderman, 9th Ward



WHEREAS: New Haven is the regional center of south central Connecticut and the intermodal center of Connecticut's transportation system; and

WHEREAS: a greater proportion of New Haven residents (14%) walk to work than in any other city in New England; and

WHEREAS: an additional 31% of New Haven residents bike, carpool or take public transit to work; and

WHEREAS: automobile traffic often conflicts with bike and pedestrian activity, thereby leading to unsafe conditions when these users do not follow the rules-of-the-road ; and

WHEREAS: recent tragedies at the Yale Medical School, along Whalley Avenue, and on Long Wharf Drive, as well as numerous other terrible accidents, have galvanized the community to form the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition; and

WHEREAS: recent studies on transportation policy in the tri-state area are uncovering data that indicates that the economically disadvantaged, especially the African-American and Latino communities, are subject to disproportionately higher levels of pedestrian injuries and fatalities; and

WHEREAS: the Safe Streets Coalition's goal is to raise awareness of traffic safety issues and build community support for an urgent and comprehensive strategy that will reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in New Haven by 50% by 2009 and 90% by 2015, while promoting more livable, walkable and economically vibrant streets; and

WHEREAS: streets are a critical component of public space, directly impact public health, play a major role in defining the image and identity of our city and provide the framework for current and future development; and

WHEREAS: the City of New Haven and the New Haven Board of Aldermen are committed to reaching the goals and objectives identified by the Safe Streets Coalition; to pursuing the development of tools that raise the quality and civility of our shared public spaces; to supporting neighborhood economic development; to increasing the modal split of walking, cycling and transit modes and; to building a safe, efficient and equitable transportation system in the city through implementation of a broad series of initiatives involving education, policy development, engineering practices, physical improvements and traffic enforcement.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDERED by the New Haven Board of Aldermen that a nine member Complete Streets Steering Committee shall be established, consisting of three members of the Board of Aldermen, three employees of the City of New Haven and three residents of the City of New Haven to guide the development of:

  • a Complete Streets policy which ensures that all users of the transportation system, especially pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users as well as children, elderly, and persons with disabilities are able to travel safely and conveniently on our city streets and sidewalks;
  • a Complete Streets Design Manual that provides specific design guidelines for the construction of complete streets;
  • a process by which community members are included in the planning and design processes that will result in changes to their neighborhood streets;
  • an educational campaign; and
  • traffic enforcement support in collaboration with the New Haven Police Department.
  • Establish the following Complete Streets policy that: (a) requires the accommodation of the safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system using a Complete Streets hierarchy of users, which begins with pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users. These users shall be accommodated and balanced in all types of transportation and development projects and through all phases of a project so that the vulnerable - children, elderly, and persons with disabilities - can travel safely within the public right of way; (b) mandates the application of this policy, through adherence to principles of the Design Manual, to any new or improvement project affecting the public streets and sidewalks (including resurfacing, restoring, and rehabilitation projects); (c) prioritizes walkability, inter-modal transit, traffic calming and pedestrian-based urban economic development over competing goals; and (d) references performance standards, with measurable outcomes and benchmarks.
  • Develop progressive design standards that will be incorporated into a Complete Streets Design Manual providing technical guidance on the design and construction of streets and sidewalks so that they support the underlying principles of the Complete Streets policy. Such standards will: (a) provide a definition of a street classification system; (b) increase the safety and walkability of our city streets through proven tools that slow vehicle speeds; (c) create high visibility crosswalks for pedestrians; (d) create safe, connected bike facilities for cyclists; (e) narrow travel lanes; (f) address on-street parking policies. Such design standards will address: target speeds; street and lane widths; signal timing and vehicle detection; uninterrupted block length; connectivity; transit accessibility; as well as pedestrian and bicycle amenities such as benches, bus shelters and secure bike parking. The design plan should be of a quality so as to eliminate the need for excessive signage, which has negative aesthetic impacts and reduces safety through driver distraction. These design standards will require that the target speed for streets around schools, hospitals and business districts that depend on pedestrian traffic be a maximum of 15 miles per hour. Complete Streets solutions shall be flexible to fit within the context of the community.
  • Develop a participatory planning process whereby affected communities are given an opportunity to advocate for changes that will best serve the community's interest. Such process will include the opportunity for the participation or input from a qualified landscape architect, an economic development or public realm strategy professional, or other appropriate professional guidance.
  • Coordinate on-going educational campaigns targeting all users of the public right-of-way on their collective rights and responsibilities, with the goal of increasing the safety and civility of the public streets.
  • Support the New Haven Police Department's traffic enforcement efforts and partner with the department to develop benchmarks for evaluating and measuring progress.
BE IT FURTHER ORDERED that the Complete Streets Steering Committee will communicate the Complete Streets Policy as an Ordinance Amendment for consideration by the Board of Aldermen not more than one year after the passage of this Order, with the requirement that the principles of this policy be incorporated into all aspects of street and transportation planning projects, scoping procedures, design manual, design approvals and performance measures.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Comcast Truck Runs Red Light, Narrowly Misses Baby Stroller at Whitney and Edwards

Comcast Truck with CT License 58C G55. See issue reported here: http://www.seeclickfix.com/issues/1042. License plates of vehicles breaking traffic laws can also be reported to the City of New Haven's new Traffic Safety Hotline at 203 946-6956, and more urgent situations (such as aggressive driving) should be reported to local police supervisors, city nonemergency phone number and other city officials in order to open investigations.

Please be careful crossing the street, even at crosswalks!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

City of New Haven Poll on Share the Road Program

"The City of New Haven and partners in our community are working together to launch a City-wide safe streets program. Help us brand this effort! Please take a moment to review the following slogans and vote for your favorite! Vote soon, polls will be open through Wednesday, September 3rd." Click here to vote (temporary link).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Drag Racers Hit Pedestrians, Kill 1

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Sunday, August 17, 2008 (NBC30): New Haven police said one person died and another was injured in what they called a "drag race turned hit-and-run." All roads have been reopened since the accident, which happened at about 1:20 a.m. Sunday on New Haven's Long Wharf Drive.

Police said drag racing has been an ongoing problem in the city. Last week, drag racers totaled eight cars on Lexington Avenue. No arrests have been made.

Update: New Haven Independent coverage, and an interview with the Chief of Police, can be found here: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/08/deadly_crash_el.php

A reader post from the Independent's updated coverage at http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/08/dragracing_deat.php:

Posted by: Westville Mom August 19, 2008 1:10 PM
I can confirm that drag racing is a problem ALL over the city of New Haven. In Jan. of 2007 racers were gathering in front of my home AT SCHOOL DISMISSAL TIME and racing right TOWARD Edgewood School. Outraged, I called 911, but was told the racers would move before the police could catch them. However, they (red car plus different "pals") returned at least 2 more times within a 2-3 week period. I managed to get 2 eyewitnesses, snapped photos, and contacted both the police and my alderwoman, emailing photos to both. (Unable to get "action" photos, I only had identification shots of post-race engine checks.) I did everything in my power to get a reaction from someone...anyone. The official reaction, however, was merely rhetoric with no true action, whatsoever. I never even saw a police car. This should be a cautionary tale to the city that the children and parents of Edgewood School were in grave danger and other children may very well be in the future. My sense of dire urgency was not acknowledged at that time, however I do hope that attitudes are changing with the new police chief in place. (BTW, they have not returned since then---they saw that there were eyewitnesses.) To see photos of Jan. 9, 2007 go to:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Street Racing Damages Cars, Drivers Injured

New Haven (WTNH) August 14, 2008 -- Cars parked along a city street in New Haven were heavily damaged Thursday morning, and some blame illegal street racers. It was around 12:30 a.m. Folks in this residential neighborhood were at home, sleeping or watching TV when they heard crash after crash and came out to find the damage.

Witnesses say two cars were speeding up Lexington Avenue. They ended up crashing, but those two cars also crashed into parked cars along the street doing serious damage. At least six parked cars are damaged.

Residents say cars speed up Lexington Avenue all the time, but this was actually unusual. They think the cars might have been racing when they crashed. One flipped over. The drivers were injured and taken for medical help. There was no word from the police about charges just yet, but one resident said at least three of the parked cars are now totaled.

"I'm disabled, I have no vehicle now, and the other people, this lady here just put a lot of work into her car, a neighbor put a lot of work into her car and so did I, and now we're without vehicles because of people driving like this," Rob Lowry said.

Lowry says he and other residents have complained about speeding on the street before, and asked the city to put in a stop sign or something to calm traffic.

The city is in the middle of a campaign to try to make the streets safer for everyone who uses them, with a new traffic calming ordinance in the works, and the city just set up a hotline to report traffic problems. The hope is to do something about dangerous streets before things get quite this bad. The number to call to report a traffic problem is 203-946-6956.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Response from Mayor DeStefano on In-Street Crosswalk Signs


Hello everyone,

Recently our group joined with Elm City Cycling to write to Mayor
DeStefano requesting use of in-street pedestrian crossing signs in New
Haven. Below is the Mayor's response and the original letter. I have
to give most of the credit to Tom Harned and the folks at Elm City
Cycling who have been pushing for these signs over the past few years
and put in the work to write a well-researched proposal. Please send
me an email if you would like to see a picture of the signs we are
talking about.



August 8, 2008

Elm City Cycling
c/o Thomas Harned

Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group
c/o Rachel Wattier

Re: In-Street Unsignalized Pedestrian Crosswalk Signs

Dear Mr. Harned and Ms. Wattier:

Thank you for your letter of August 5, 2008 concerning the use of
in-street, unsignalized pedestrian crosswalk signs. The City has
reviewed your letter not only from the perspective of increased
pedestrian safety, but also from a broader mission to create liveable
streets and to develop a cultural "share-the-road" mindset in New

In regard to the specific request of your letter, the City's
prevailing concerns about in-street signs do not relate to liability
or effectiveness. In fact, the Transportation, Traffic and Parking
Department - following meetings with you and others - has reviewed
this technique and concurs there is merit to this technique. Our
prevailing concern is related to maintenance and this is an issue that
can be addressed.

With that in mind, my staff will arrange for the two of you to meet
with city staff and develop a pilot program for implementation at
once. We will look for opportunities based on accident criteria and
road condition and then implement accordingly. Longer term, we
continue to work on the broader mission and this includes
outreach/educations, new thinking on physical improvement and
systematic traffic enforcement.

Thank you again for your time and detailed research. I encourage you
to continue to work closely with City staff on the other major
projects in this fiscal year. These include the Union Station
Interconnect of bike route (s) / bike parking connecting Union Station
with four city neighborhoods; the proposed Complete Streets
Resolution; the various ongoing traffic calming improvements; and a
new education / outreach effort. Our collective effort will indeed
result in a more sustainable transportation system here in New Haven.

Very truly yours,

John DeStefano, Jr.
City of New Haven

August 5, 2008

Mayor John DeStefano, Jr.
New Haven Mayor's Office
165 Church St # 2
New Haven, CT 06510

  Re: In-Street Unsignalized Pedestrian Crosswalk Signs

Dear Mayor DeStefano:
We have prepared this letter on behalf of Elm City Cycling, the Yale
Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group, and numerous members and
supporters of the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, formally
requesting that the city of New Haven permit and pilot the use of
in-street Unsignalized Pedestrian Crosswalk signs on public roadways.
We will outline the purpose and proper use of the devices, the
perceived barriers that have prevented the use of these devices in the
past, and offer supporting evidence outlining the safety and efficacy
of the devices.

In light of the recent tragedies that have occurred on New Haven's
roadways, numerous community groups have taken up the cause of traffic
calming and the need for streets that are safe for all roadway users
whether they be pedestrians, cyclists, or motorists. Many of these
groups have assembled as the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition. While
we, Elm City Cycling, Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group and
various members and supporters of the New Haven Safe Streets
coalition, believe that major changes in roadway design and
enforcement of the traffic laws are necessary to achieve streets that
are safe for all citizens, we also believe that there are
cost-effective short-term solutions available.

Chief among these is the in-street Unsignalized Pedestrian Crosswalk
sign, or the Yield to Pedestrian in Crosswalk Device (YTPCD). A
photograph of several variations of the device is shown in Figure 1 on
the following page.

Figure 1 – In Street YTPCD Devices

The YTPCD is a standard roadway sign used by municipalities across the
state of Connecticut, as well as major cities throughout the country.
Its purpose is to signify to drivers that state law dictates that
motorists must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Placing the sign
in the roadway serves to alert drivers to the presence of the
crosswalk and in doing so creates a safer environment for pedestrians.
Additionally, the presence of an object in the roadway tends to cause
drivers to reduce their travel speed thereby producing a traffic
calming effect, which yields safety benefits to all roadway users.

The device is outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control
Devices (MUTCD), a publication produced by the Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) of the United States Department of
Transportation (USDOT). This is the manual used by transportation
professionals throughout the country and spells out the standards by
which traffic signs, road markings and signals are designed,
installed, and utilized. The in-street YTPCD has two variations in the
MUTCD: R1-6 and R1-6a. A copy of the portion of the MUTCD describing
this device is enclosed.

Elm City Cycling, the Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group and
numerous members and supporters of the New Haven Safe Streets
Coalition have frequently expressed interest in the potential
deployment of this device.  However, the city of New Haven has thus
far declined to utilize it, citing several objections.

The first of these objections is the issue of liability. City staff
has, in the past, expressed concern that the city could be held liable
if a driver struck a YTPCD that had been placed in the street. While
we understand the city's concern, we feel that it is largely
unwarranted. As noted before, the YTPCD is an established sign listed
in the MUTCD. As such, assuming it is installed and utilized properly
within accepted traffic engineering practices, the city's liability is
limited, if not eliminated. To give an example, the Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has installed 4,500 such signs
since 2001. According to PennDOT officials, to date, the state has not
been sued by a motorist who struck a sign.

The second objection, often heard is that the sign would not result in
increased safety for pedestrians. It has been argued that it would
simply be another sign largely ignored by motorists. This objection is
a justifiable reaction, as many traffic signs are indeed ignored by
motorists. This is precisely why we are requesting the use of the
in-street YTPCD. Motorists in the United States are largely
unaccustomed to objects placed in the roadway. Therefore, when signs
are placed in the roadway, they tend to attract the attention of
drivers. In fact, a study by PennDOT confirms this. A safety
evaluation of PennDOT's yield-to-pedestrian devices revealed the
following results:

The likelihood of the first motorist arriving at a crosswalk yielding
to a waiting pedestrian increased 30-34 percent at intersections and
17-24 percent at midblock

The percentage of pedestrians who yielded to motorists decreased 11-16
percent at intersections and 8-13 percent at crosswalks – PennDOT
concluded that this result suggests increased pedestrian security at

A copy of the full PennDOT report on the efficacy of YTPCD can be
provided to the city upon request.

The third objection that we have heard from city officials and police
in the past is that while the YTPCD is utilized successfully in dozens
of other communities in Connecticut, the political and cultural
realities in New Haven are sufficiently different, such that the
successes realized elsewhere could not and would not be duplicated
here in New Haven. While it is true that New Haven is in many ways
very different from the suburban communities that surround it, towns
and cities of all sizes have realized the benefits of the YTPCD.
Provided below is a partial list of towns, cities, and states that
currently utilize the YTPCD:

Rocky Hill, CT
Winsted, CT
Windsor, CT
Washington, CT
Salisbury, CT
Kent, CT
Norwalk, CT
Milwaukee, WI
Baltimore, MD
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

The YTPCD is a standard traffic control device that is approved for
used by the FHWA, and utilized throughout the country to improve
pedestrian safety. The reasons given by city staff in the past for not
using the devices are not supported by the experience of other cities,
and do not agree with relevant studies on the matter.

In light of the significant benefits to pedestrian safety that could
be realized through use of the YTPCD, as well as the minimal cost of
the device when compared to other safety improvements, we strongly
urge that you work with the appropriate city staff to allow for the
pilot implementation of a minimum of 20 Yield to Pedestrian in
Crosswalk Devices throughout the city no later than November of 2008.
Additionally, we recommend that the pilot implementation be
coordinated with the New Haven Police Department to include increased
enforcement of existing traffic laws at the pilot locations selected.
We believe this will maximize the efficacy of the device and increase
driver awareness of its use.

Finally, we respectfully request a meeting with representatives of all
relevant city departments to discuss the details of such an
implementation. Issues to be discussed include: scheduling, potential
pilot locations, design standards such as minimum street widths and
device placement, as well as any additional concerns or questions that
city staff may have.

If you have any questions, or need any additional materials, please
contact Tom Harned of Elm City Cycling.

Very truly yours,
  Tom Harned, representing:

  85 Avon Street, Apt. 2
  New Haven, CT 06511

  Rachel Wattier, representing:
382 Whitney Ave., Apt. 10
New Haven, CT 06511

New Haven Board of Aldermen

Michael Piscitelli, AICP, Director, Dept. of Transportation, Traffic &
Parking, City of New Haven

Robert Smuts, Chief Administrative Officer, City of New Haven

Lt. Joseph Witkowski, New Haven Department of Police Service

State Senator Toni N. Harp
State Senator Martin M. Looney
State Representative Juan Candelaria
State Representative Patricia Dillon
State Representative Bill Dyson
State Representative Robert W. Megna
State Representative Cameron Staples
State Representative Toni E. Walker

Dixwell CMT (DECMT)
Downtown-Wooster Square CMT
Dwight CMT
East Rock CMT
East Shore CMT
Fair Haven CMT
Hill North CMT
Hill South CMT
Newhallville CMT
Quinnipiac East CMT (QEMT)
Westville-West Hills CMT
Whalley-Edgewood-Beaver Hills CMT

1000 Friends of Connecticut
America Walks
Cedar Hill Blockwatch
Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance
Chatham Square Association
Church on the Rock - New Haven
City Point Hist. Dist. Neighborhood Assoc.
Coalition for a Livable Whalley
Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel
Connecticut Bicycle Coalition
Edgewood Neighborhood Association
Edgewood Park Defense Patrol
Elm City Cycling
Friends of East Rock Park
Friends of Edgewood Park
Grand Avenue Village Association
Hill City Point Neighborhood Action Group
Historic Wooster Square Association
New Haven Bioregional Group
New Haven Environmental Justice Network
New Haven Urban Design League
Quinnipiac River Community Group
Ronan-Edgehill Neighborhood Association
Safe Kids Connecticut - Greater NH Chapter
Town Green Special Services District
Transportation Alternatives
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Trowbridge Square Renaissance
Upper State Street Association
West River Neighborhood Services Corporation
Westville Village Renaissance Alliance
Whalley Avenue Special Services District
Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group
Yale Public Health Coalition

Monday, August 11, 2008

Intersection Repair in Fair Haven

“Road witching” came to New Haven for the first time as traffic-calming champion Erin Sturgis-Pascale led a dozen of her fellow Fair Haveners in “chalking in” medians and curb bump-outs — which, if actually built, would slow traffic and help reclaim the streets for non-vehicular uses. As they approached, curious drivers slowed down on a brilliant morning that highlighted the calm beauty of Chatham Square Park and the neighborhood....

“The city has a classification for streets that they really don’t focus on: neighborhood streets, collectors, and arterials. This is the lowest volume, a quiet neighborhood street. Kids in suburbs play on their quiet streets; why shouldn’t city kids too?”

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Appel interviews City's traffic enforcement czar

See here: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/08/top_traffic_cop.php

Following the regular August monthly meeting of the Fair Haven Community Management Team (one of the first "Safe Streets" supporters in the city), which featured the city's new police chief, New Haven Independent correspondent Allan Appel asked Lieutenant Witkowski several important questions about cell phone use while driving (shown to be worse than drunk driving), traffic statistics, police equipment, educational programs, speeding and drag racing.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New Haven Police Department 2008 Recruitment Drive

SPREAD THE WORD! Applications are now available at the front desk at 1 Union Avenue.
Return dates for completed applications are Sep. 8, 2008; deadline Sep. 26, 2008.
Only accepted at 1 Union Ave. “Who do you know that would look good in BLUE?”

Thursday, August 7, 2008

NH Register: Traffic-safety efforts gear up across city

Photo at Left: An in-street crosswalk sign used in a highly successful retail district in Downtown Norwalk, Connecticut, July 2008. It's combined with a textured crosswalk and curb bumpouts, creating a welcoming pedestrian environment and slowing traffic to a reasonable 15-20 mph pace. A group of New Haven residents observed a high rate of compliance with crosswalk regulations here, similar to the experience in dozens of other towns in the New Haven region where these signs are present. Public health authorities and traffic engineers have extensive data showing that in-street signs are highly effective at increasing pedestrian safety.

Traffic-safety efforts gear up across city
By Mary E. O'Leary, Register Topics Editor, 08/07/2008

NEW HAVEN — A push is on to slow down traffic in the city with in-street signs that would remind drivers they must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Separately, Yale alumni have petitioned the university to incorporate traffic-calming measures as plans solidify for two additional colleges off Prospect Street, while across town, Fair Haveners will gather Saturday to continue discussions on dangerous streets in that neighborhood.

These are just a few of the many pieces of a movement to make city streets safer for pedestrians in light of several fatal accidents, as well as the increasing number of cyclists sharing the streets with motor vehicles.

The Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group, Elm City Cycling and members of the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition are asking that the city consider, on a trial basis, placing yield-to-pedestrian signs in crosswalks.

Generally, the signs stand several feet high on a platform and incorporate a walking figure, a reference to "state law" and a yield sign. The devices, which are approved by the Federal Highway Administration, do not include traffic signals.

Placing the signs directly in the road is intended to get drivers to reduce their speed and alert them to the crosswalk, according to advocates, who said they have been used successfully around the country, including larger cities such as Milwaukee and Baltimore, while there are 4,500 throughout Pennsylvania. The signs also are in use in area communities, such as Milford and Branford.

Advocates said the city has been reluctant to use the signs because of potential liability if a driver hits one and concern they would simply be ignored.

Tom Harned of Elm City Cycling and Rachel Wattier of the Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group believe these reasons don't hold up, in light of safety studies conducted by Pennsylvania and, particularly, if city police enforce the traffic laws at the pilot sites.

"We believe this will maximize the efficacy of the device and increase driver awareness of its use," they wrote. They would like to see a minimum of 20 such signs throughout the city by November.

On Saturday, Fair Haveners will chalk improvements, such as islands, curb cuts and roundabouts, on the streets, as discussed in an earlier workshop with Dan Burden, the director of Walkable Communities. They will meet at 10 a.m. at Chatham Square on Clinton Avenue.

The neighborhood has already prioritized which streets it would like to see improved first; this will be their third meeting on the issue.

More than 1,600 residents and 10 community management teams have signed on to a safe streets petition being circulated in New Haven which endorses measures to cut citywide traffic-related injuries in half by 2009 and by 90 percent as of 2015.

The letter to Yale requested that streets be posted at 15 to 20 miles per hour where pedestrian traffic is heavy around the campus, as well as incorporating other physical changes.

"Curb extensions that improve pedestrian visibility, medians, narrowed, raised or marked crosswalks, in-street signage and other traffic-calming measures are desperately needed," the 16 alumni wrote.

Among them are Alderwomen Rachel Plattus, D-1, Gina Calder, D-2, and Dolores Colon, D-6.

Mary E. O'Leary can be reached at moleary@nhregister.com or 789-5731.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Upcoming Events: Chalking, Bicycling, Public Safety

This event, at 6pm at City Hall, is a meet & greet with the city's new Chief of Police. Please come and express your concerns to your Aldermen and to the new Chief. This may be a good opportunity to show community concern for traffic safety. One suggested question: How can we improve the specific collection and sharing of citywide traffic-safety related data, so that neighborhoods and block watches can better understand the issues and advocate for their own interests?

August 8th, 7:30-9:30am in front of City Hall. Free breakfast; learn the best commuting routes. Sponsored by ElmCityCycling.

A street chalking event at Chatham Square in Fair Haven will follow upon the workshop with Dan Burden. Participants will be drawing, on the street in chalk, the improvements suggested by the community. All are welcome to participate. See here for background: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/06/traffic_calming_1.php

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bicyclist struck in New Haven

Posted Aug. 5, 2008 (WTNH): Police in New Haven say a bicyclist was struck by a car, but it looks like the bicyclist was at fault. The man on the bicycle had a red light at Grand Avenue and the car traveling on Blatchley had a green light. The bicyclist got some cuts and bruises and was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital. Police say the woman driving the car was shaken up and she did stop. But she more than likely will not be charged.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Safe Streets" City Ordinance Proposed

Reckless drivers, residents' fears prompt safe streets ordinance
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register Staff, August 3, 2008

NEW HAVEN - Responding to growing neighborhood interest in "traffic calming," two aldermen are preparing a safe streets ordinance that could lead to traffic designs to improve pedestrian safety.

Alderman Roland Lemar, D-9, said he and Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, D-14, began drafting the ordinance after receiving considerable feedback from their respective neighborhoods of East Rock and Fair Haven. Lemar said they hope to have the proposal ready for the full board to consider in about a month.

The issue also has taken hold in the Whalley Avenue area following the hit-and-run death of Garbrielle Lee, 11, in June, as she was trying to cross that street.

The recently formed New Haven Safe Streets Coalition has been circulating an online petition advocating measures to cut citywide traffic-related injuries in half by 2009 and by 90 percent as of 2015. More than 1,600 residents have signed the petition, and 10 Community Management Teams have endorsed it.

Perhaps its strongest and potentially most controversial provision is to "re-establish and enforce a strict 25 mph speed limit throughout all streets and arterial roads in New Haven." Local speed limits also must be approved by the State Traffic Commission.

"It's exceptional that so many people in the city have signed on," Lemar said. "A broad spectrum of New Haven supports this. The city government should recognize this groundswell of interest in improving neighborhoods."

Lemar did not want to discuss the proposed ordinance in detail, but he said it would establish a traffic calming safe streets committee, as well as set aside money to make traffic safety improvements and require that new construction "passes this test."

"We've seen this work with bike lanes," he noted. "This would take it further."

Lemar said he and Sturgis-Pascale are working with Michael Piscitelli, head of the city's Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking.

Illustrating the momentum of the safety movement, city officials have created a Traffic Safety Hotline. Citizens can call 946-6956 or e-mail TrafficSafety@newhavenct.net to report a dangerous intersection or place where vehicles are speeding or not obeying red lights or stop signs.

The East Rock Management Team recently surveyed its members to identify trouble spots in that neighborhood. Members of the Ronan-Edgehill Neighborhood Association also were invited to pinpoint dangerous sites. There were about 30 responses.

The most dangerous intersection, cited by eight residents, was at St. Ronan and Canner streets, where respondents reported seeing cars speed up and down Canner Street, ignoring stop signs. A close runner-up, with seven complaints, was the intersection of St. Ronan and Highland streets.

Other trouble spots included portions of Trumbull Street, Orange Street, Whitney Avenue and State Street. An e-mail discussion group set up by RENA has been filled with complaints about unsafe motorists.

"We have a serious problem with groups of motorcyclists, four or five at a time, going up the hill at a terrifying speed while simultaneously riding only on the rear wheel," wrote an East Rock Road resident.

She added, "It happens in the afternoons and evenings when the kids and I are out walking the dog, and I am very concerned about the drivers losing control and taking us out in the process."

Bill Kaplan, who lives on Autumn Street between Canner and Highland streets, said in a RENA e-mail message that "a genuine traffic calming design" would be preferable to keeping police officers posted at the intersections.

Kaplan said he saw small traffic circles with permanent plantings slow down vehicles in his former home of Portland, Ore. Kaplan said the round fixtures are placed in the center of intersections.

"You have to slow down and steer around it. You can't blast through the intersection," he said. "They're attractive and they work day and night."

Kaplan said unless such measures were taken, the East Rock intersections would remain "a tragedy waiting to happen."

Lemar said he has also seen "Yield to pedestrian in the crosswalk" signs bolted into streets in East Haven, Hamden, Long Island towns and elsewhere. He said these could prove effective in New Haven, too.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Message from New Haven Chief of Police: Dirt Bikes will be Confiscated



1. The best way for us to confiscate these illegal vehicles is when they are parked or garaged. When you see a dirt bike or an ATV, call the anonymous Traffic Safety Hotline! A hot-line has been set up for residents to call and provide anonymous information about any type of traffic violation witnessed. If you see a dirt bike or an ATV out on the street, or if you witness any type of unsafe traffic behavior please call 946-6956 and give us information 24 hours a day. If you wish to speak to someone, you can leave your phone number and request a callback. You can also email us at TrafficSafety@newhavenct.net. Your name and contact information will remain confidential.

2. Make sure your children and other children know not to ride dirt bikes or ATVs on the street.

3. Wear a helmet when you’re out on a bicycle or motorcycle. Encourage your family and friends to do the same!

4. Follow traffic signs, adhere to the speed limit and always stop at a Stop Sign.

By following these easy steps you’ll contribute toward a safer, more welcoming New Haven!

Related story here: http://www.wtnh.com/Global/story.asp?S=8775161