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.


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