Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fair Haven brainstorms how to become more pedestrian-friendly

By News Channel 8's Tricia Taskey Posted May 31, 2008

New Haven (WTNH) _ The Fair Haven section of New Haven is hoping to become more pedestrian friendly. A group of residents hit the streets Saturday with a consultant for ideas on how to do that.

A group of Fair Haven residents walk through their neighborhood Saturday with Consultant Dan Burden, who is considered to be an expert at making communities more pedestrian friendly; something these residents say they need to do here.

"We know these streets, we live here," Burden said. "We see what's going on. He can empower us to come up with a design that can really work for us."

Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale says their biggest problem is speed. "As cars get faster and faster, they become more deadly," she says. "People raising children in this neighborhood are frightened; they fear for their lives they really do."

Bobby Banquer has lived in this neighborhood for 30 years, she's seen pedestrians killed here and dozens of terrible accidents. "I wake up all the time to car crashes and have to call 911 at 2-3 in the morning," Banquer said.

They're hoping Burden's suggestions will help them make Fair Haven a more "walkable" neighborhood. "You can put a huge tree and some frowned and if you do this, you will cut crashes with injuries by about 90-percent."

"He mentioned round abouts, mini circles and raised intersections," Alderwoman Sturgis-Pascale said. "He's not a fan of speed bumps and I agree with that; we don't want to do anything to take away value from our neighborhood. Whatever we do, we want to add value make it more business friendly and family friendly.

The group admits it doesn't have any money for these improvements but with what they learned out here Saturday, they can petition the state for funding to make the needed improvements.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fair Haven Traffic Calming Plan Meeting

Whether or not you live or work in Fair Haven, please feel free to join and show your support for more neighborhood-friendly streets.

Fair Haven slates Saturday meeting for pedestrian-friendly neighborhood plan
By Victor Zapana
New Haven Register (Excerpt)

NEW HAVEN — After two years of pushing, Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, D-14, may finally be able to calm her traffic jitters. New Haven — or at least northeast Fair Haven — will have its first-ever traffic-calming neighborhood master plan meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at 195 Front St.

At the meeting, local residents will help create a proposal for the Fair Haven area to add traffic measures such as speed humps and bump-outs to slow and reduce nearby traffic.

"It's really about getting the people who know the streets the best to come up with solutions that will work best," Sturgis-Pascale said.

The meeting, a full-day event, will be led by Dan Burden, director of the Florida-based Walkable Communities. Walkable Communities aims to provide neighborhoods with tools to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment, according to its Web site. Sturgis-Pascale said she hired Burden to serve as an outside traffic engineer to guide residents in the proposal process. The meeting is the first of two, Burden said Tuesday. He will use the residents' suggestions from the first meeting to create a formal city proposal. At the second, which will be in two weeks, Burden will present the plan for community feedback. The entire process will probably take three weeks, he added.

Although the two meetings will focus on only the small Fair Haven area, Sturgis-Pascale said she would like the initiative to grow citywide. Aside from the meeting, Sturgis-Pascale has sponsored a city petition to ask for legislation to immediately reduce traffic injuries by 50 percent by 2009 and 90 percent by 2015.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Responses to a Comment

Here are two responses to a recent online comment that pedestrian-friendly streets are not needed in New Haven:


1. I think that the back and forth argument regarding the relative fault of pedestrians versus drivers misses the main point. I would bet that many of the more aggressive drivers cross the street agressively and that cautious drivers also are cautious pedestrians. Also it is not about Yale or Southern students, it is about youth. I see the same behavior when I pass Wilbur Cross when students are arriving or getting out. My guess is that most of us have tried to beat a light either behind the wheel or on foot in our pasts, but that we do it less frequently as we get older. This is human nature and we do need to educate our children not to take silly chances. But, even with the best attempts, kids especially are going to keep doing this. Therefore, it really is the responsibility of the "system" to protect the vulnerable parties in this clash and, sorry to all you irritated drivers, but that will always be the pedestrians. We form societies and make rules to channel human nature into more civil paths after all. So, even if it means more hassle for drivers, speed limits should be enforced rigerously in the city and then lowered if need be. We should convert our wide one-way streets back to two-way traffic and we should get the legislature to change the law regarding video tickets and install the cameras all over the city. As for the intersection in question near the medical school, that entrance ramp onto the 34 connector should be closed or made accessable only to cars coming out of Air Rights garage. That will eliminate the very frequent occurrence of cars accelerating through the intersection to merge onto the highway entrance. These are simple things that can make an impact immediately. This tragedy should remind us to do better and get our community to do better as well.


2. The safe streets petition addresses all road users, not just drivers. An equitable system means making the city more pedestrian-friendly. The most successful cities in the world are pedestrian-friendly; if New Haven wants to grow economically (not to mention in an environmentally and socially friendly way) it needs to become pedestrian-friendly as well.

Would you want to move to a place where oil trucks were speeding down the road in front of your kid's school at 50MPH? It is happening here already -- see the New Haven Register article posted at the Safe Streets website, about Daniels School. Well, most people wouldn't want to live or work there either. Over the past few months, almost everyone we have talked with - hundreds of neighbors throughout New Haven - has been happy with the idea of traffic on their small neighborhood streets being slowed to 20MPH from the current speeds of 30MPH (10MPH may not sound like much difference, but due to the laws of physics, it is actually an extremely significant, exponentially more fatal gap). After all, our streets are supposed to be neighborhood assets -- public "living rooms" where people can meet each other informally; places where their children can play outside without the fear of immediate death by a speeding SUV; places where a private car is not an absolute necessity for getting around (believe it or not); places that reflect on the values of our society as a whole. We have strayed very far away from those goals and it is time to come back to them. Especially in light of insurmountable scientific evidence that shows that unfriendly streets are not just unfriendly in severe ways to walking or bicycling, but even more unfriendly to our children, our health, our air, our economy, and our society as a whole. Speaking of living rooms, would you want someone driving through yours at 40MPH?

Creating a pedestrian-friendly city does not mean 15MPH speed limits citywide with stop lights on every corner. Far from that, in fact. It is not rocket science either. It means a comprensive look at how to reduce traffic injuries by 90% by 2015, as well as increased awareness of traffic safety and traffic responsibility across the board by all road users, which is what we are advocating for. There are many ways to accomplish that, methods that cities around the country and around the world have been using for decades, ever since they realized around 1960 or so that urban streets should never be planned, designed or managed in the same way as interstate highways. We simply need to catch up and stop pretending that we are living in the 1950s. We also need to take urgent and decisive steps to immediately reduce the unacceptable levels of traffic-related deaths and injuries in our fair city.

New Haven Register article, WFSB coverage of Safe Streets Coalition

WSFB TV news story:

Article (printed below):

New Haven Register, Wed, May 28, 2008

Safety coalition calls for increased enforcement and harsher penalties for violators

By Elizabeth Benton, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN ­— A coalition of cyclists and traffic safety advocates are pushing for increased traffic enforcement with an eye toward a 90 percent reduction in injuries by 2015.

As of Tuesday evening, the Petition for Safe Streets had the signatures of about 150 people vowing to respect traffic laws and advocate for safer streets.

The online petition calls for strict immediate enforcement of the city’s 25 mph speed limit, as well as stop light, stop sign, bicycle lane, crosswalk and cell phone related infractions, and higher penalties for moving violations, aggressive driving and motor vehicle assault.

By the end of 2008, the petition seeks 15 mph to 20 mph speed limits in areas with dense concentrations of pedestrians and bicyclists, including streets surrounding Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Hospital of Saint Raphael and the Chapel Street shopping district.

Ultimately, the petition aims to achieve a 90 percent reduction in traffic-related injuries and fatalities by 2015, and asks for quarterly public reports on traffic enforcement and an annual evaluation of safety efforts.

“One of my big hopes is that this could become sort of a road map for the relationship that the new police chief will have to this topic of traffic safety,” said petition sponsor Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, D-14.

“There is a prevailing regional attitude the streets in New Haven are lawless and you can get away with things … It’s like street anarchy. There’s no expectation you are going to be punished for bad behavior. It’s not acceptable,” said Sturgis-Pascale.

Petition supporter state Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, said state lawmakers are considering legislation that would pass money generated by traffic enforcement into municipal coffers, rather than gathering it into the state general fund.

“There would be more of an incentive for municipalities to actually pay attention to traffic violations,” Harp said. “I do think that to make New Haven safe for bikers, we have to slow down a little bit.”

City Department of Transportation, Traffic & Parking Director Michael Piscitelli could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

But Officer Joe Witkowski, deputy patrol resource coordinator for the police traffic division, said officers issued over 9,000 traffic infractions in 2007 and made over 400 DUI arrests.

“Those are not piddly statistics ... I’d like to do more, I think we could do more,” he said.

The petition is the brain child of Elm City Cycling’s Mark Abraham, who drafted the online petition in recent weeks with the support of several community groups, including the newly formed Yale Traffic Safety Group. The petition will be submitted to Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

“The end goal is to build awareness about traffic safety,” Abraham said. “There needs to be a combination of better enforcement and better statistics.”

The petition can be seen at:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Daniels' pupils push for better street signs

New Haven Register
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Daniels' pupils push for better street signs


By Elizabeth Benton, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — John C. Daniels School third-graders are pushing for better street signs at their Congress Avenue school after their prize-winning science fair project found few drivers obeying the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit outside the building.

Third-graders Melissa Ernstberger, Hannah Melchinger, Ejoel Molina andGleimy Rodriguez and their teacher, Heather Treciokas, stood outside John C. Daniels earlier this year, pointing a radar gun at cars zooming along Congress Avenue.

The team captured the speeds of 110 vehicles, including an oil truck that was being driven at 52 mph and a school bus zipping by at 37 mph. Back in the classroom, students crunched the numbers, finding cars drove an average of 29.9 mph during school hours, and a statistically
identical 29.8 mph after school.

After capturing second place in the district-wide science fair, the students' work caught the eye of the city's director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking, Michael Piscitelli, who recently visited the classroom. "I'm really impressed. This is almost the same way we do our analysis in our office," he said.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Downtown Traffic Safety Event

Click here for information on last week's traffic safety event at Yale, and links to post-event media coverage.