Monday, June 30, 2008

Hartford Business Journal Op-Ed: Safe Streets = Economic Development

See for the letter, which was printed in today's issue of the journal.

"Studies have shown that walkable streets are critical to: 1) Encouraging residents to walk or bicycle more frequently, increasing worker productivity and helping to support neighborhood-based retail; 2) Attracting new businesses and employees; 3) Slightly reducing traffic speeds, which supports retail districts and; 4) Improving overall public health, the environment, and the sense of ownership people feel towards their neighborhoods and public spaces — even the number of friends they report having. "

Friday, June 27, 2008

Flashback to 2001: Deadly by Design

A report from 2001 below. Since the report was written, hundreds of Connecticut residents have died while walking in their communities, and tens of thousands of more have been injured. Most of these would be preventable through comprehensive policy and design changes. When is enough enough?


"According to the October 15th edition of Mobilizing the Region, "A report released last week by the Connecticut Bicycle Coalition finds that the Connecticut Department of Transportation spends almost none of the nearly $30 million it receives for safety-related construction projects from the federal government each year on traffic calming and pedestrian facilities. But pedestrians account for about 16% of traffic fatalities in the state each year."

"The report, 'DEADLY BY DESIGN,' analyzes ConnDOT traffic fatalities data, project lists, and funding sources. It finds that 50-60 CT pedestrians are killed each year. 67% are either children or senior citizens. But less than 2% of federal aid for traffic safety projects made to Connecticut between 1998-2000 was spent improving the pedestrian environment and reducing pedestrian fatalities. In fact, per fatality, ConnDOT spends more than 10 times as much on projects to promote safety for drivers and passengers of motor vehicles as it spends on pedestrians."

"The co-author of the report, David Hiller, Executive Director of the CT Bicycle Coalition, told the Hartford Advocate that most of the small amount of money spent on pedestrian safety pays for re-striping crosswalks and other minor modifications."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hartford Courant: Reestablish the 55mph Speed Limit

Restoring the highway speed limit to 55mph could save thousands of lives and massively reduce energy consumption and pollution.,0,4393609.story

New Urbanists, Fire Officials Agree on Street Safety


"The workshop concluded by developing a list of shared values upon which all participants broadly agreed:

Life safety is important, should be inclusive, and extend from fire to traffic.
We value cost-efficient use of public resources, including property, services and infrastructure. We value vibrant places that enhanced pedestrian activity.
We value communities that include a range of neighborhoods and compatible uses.
We value streets, structures, and fire protection features that match the context of the neighborhood.
We value creative collaboration among those who serve and shape the built environment.
We value ongoing education and capacity-building among those who serve and shape the community.
We value adoption of life-saving responses due to regional differences.

"We left with a better understanding of each other, and they have a better understanding of why insisting on wide streets is problematic not only from the perspective of how a community looks and feels, but also from a safety standpoint,” Torma said."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hartford Courant Masthead Editorial on Smart Growth,0,5238831.story
"The imperative now is public policy that dramatically reduces our need for petroleum. Most of the state lacks easy access to public transportation. That has to change."

"People who want to walk or bike to work are discouraged by dangerous streets and a lack of bike/pedestrian paths. This has to change."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

East Rock Community Management Team discusses Safe Streets

See NHI coverage here:

At the next East Rock CMT meeting, the membership will vote on whether to support the safe streets petition. Currently, six other CMTs throughout the city have voted to endorse the petition.

Excerpt of a comment from the above article:

Posted by: East Rockette June 24, 2008 1:21 PM
I did a similar experiment once with my toddler's brightly-coloured tricycle. I parked it on the road, alongside our car - not directly in the path of traffic, but certainly visible. Then I sat and watched.
The 50% of drivers who saw the trike slowed down instantly and dramatically.
The other 50% of drivers who didn't see it and who roared past at 30mph+... were ALMOST ALL TALKING ON CELL PHONES.
Can we please have an official, city-sponsored blitz on red-light-running, speeding, and driving while using a phone?

WTNH: Some Seek Whalley Ave. Design Delay

Story and video here:

Also, links to a number of recent stories about New Haven's efforts to improve bicycle access and traffic safety at Union Station can be found here:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mean Streets

"STPP's "Mean Streets 2002" report is the latest study in a series that looks at the perils facing pedestrians, why where you live matters, and how states aren't spending enough to fix the problem. The new study ranks per capita deaths and spending by metro area for the first time, and finds children, the elderly and African-Americans at particularly high risk."

NHI: Whalley Redesign Ready

Paul Bass reports on the Whalley Avenue widening project. A community hearing on the road project is scheduled for July.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Courant Op-Ed: Engineering policy and street dangers

Great op-ed in today's Hartford Courant, by Downtown New Haven architect and planner Robert Orr:


Engineering policy over the past 50 years has nudged streets toward increasing mobility. Mobility is the term used by engineers to describe measures to make drivers feel safe at higher speeds, called design speed. The tools for increased design speed are wide and multiple driving lanes; one-way streets; absence of parking and visual obstructions, especially near intersections; streamlined corners with large radii; and highly legible signage. All these measures make drivers feel safer at higher speeds.

Automobile design too contributes to mobility. The average family car today can run circles around the meanest muscle car of the 1950s. The combined mobility of streets and cars make ordinary drivers feel safe at roaring speeds, frequently exceeding 50 and even 60 mph on city streets.

Some would argue that speeding is a problem of enforcement, as posted speeds are being violated. However, when posted speeds are significantly lower than design speeds, law enforcement takes on the bait-and-switch air of entrapment.

All these automotive assets spell liabilities for pedestrians, especially now that studies demonstrate 37 mph to be the threshold for guaranteed pedestrian fatality. By contrast, speeds below 20 mph rarely result in serious injury. Other studies now link accidents directly to street width; as streets widen, fatalities increase exponentially.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Near miss, major crash, or death?

A new New Zealand traffic video educates the public on the dangers of intersections:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Paul Bass video story on roundabouts

Register article: Traffic calming gains citywide momentum

The petition looks to reduce traffic injuries by 50 percent by 2009, 75 percent by 2012 and 90 percent by 2015, and begins to get at that through strict enforcement of the 25 mph speed limit.

“There is an incredible momentum on this issue. I hope everyone gets on the bandwagon and does something positive,” said Mary Faulkner, chairwoman of the Westville management group. She said traffic calming measures not only increase pedestrian safety, they enhance economic development and actually move traffic more efficiently. “We have to have more say in how our streets are designed,” Faulkner said.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

WFSB-3 News Video on Safe Streets

The news video includes a clip of a car running a red light at the intersection of Davis and Whalley, where 11-year-old Gabrielle Lee was killed earlier this month, several seconds after the light change.

Optical illusions used as virtual speed humps

Hill South and Hill North CMT vote to endorse petition

Coverage here.

New Haven Independent: Amid Deadly Zoom, "Calmers" Petition

New Haven Independent: Amid Deadly Zoom, "Calmers" Petition

Canvassers are working to collect signatures and educate the public on the dangers of traffic safety, including recent injuries and deaths throughout New Haven. Contact the coalition if you would like to volunteer for an hour or two.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NYC Traffic Fatality Figures Released: Lowest Level in 100 Years

"In a media release today, Mayor Bloomberg said, "We consider safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers a matter of public health -- like smoking or obesity -- that deserves our full attention. And while the final 2007 traffic fatality statistics were nothing short of incredible, we will continue to find new ways to bring them down even more."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Depreciating Suburban Housing, Pent-up Demand for Walkability

See for an article on the future of walkable urbanism.

"This trend, according to Christopher Leinberger, an urban planning professor at the University of Michigan and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, stems not only from changing demographics but also from a major shift in the way an increasing number of Americans -- especially younger generations -- want to live and work."

"The American dream is absolutely changing," he told CNN.

"This change can be witnessed in places like Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, Michigan, and Dallas, Texas, said Leinberger, where once rundown downtowns are being revitalized by well-educated, young professionals who have no desire to live in a detached single family home typical of a suburbia where life is often centered around long commutes and cars."

Final report of traffic calming neighborhood study in Fair Haven

Article here:
"A curbside extension that makes the corner suddenly pedestrian- and business-friendly — pictured in a slide presented Saturday morning by Dan Burden — was one of dozens of traffic calming solutions on display. Some are surprisingly cheap and as within reach as a coat of visible paint on a bike lane or an appropriately pruned tree. And they may be coming our way. If Fair Haven Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale and the traffic calming pioneers she leads can get the city to pay attention."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Urban News article touts traffic calming and benefits of improved bicycle access

New Haven resident Philip Langdon has written an excellent article in this month's New Urban News. Among the items identified as needed to improve conditions for bicycling and walking (and thereby a city's economy):

Traffic-calming in most residential neighborhoods.

Many cities have introduced alterations such as “road narrowing, raised intersections and crosswalks, traffic circles, extra curves and zigzag routes, speed humps, and artificial deadends created by mid-block street closures,” the authors say. “Cycling is almost always allowed in both directions on all such traffic-calmed streets, even when they are restricted to one-way travel for cars.”

“Traffic calming is usually area-wide and not for isolated streets. That ensures that thru-traffic gets displaced to arterial roads designed to handle it and not simply shifted from one residential street to another.” The beneficiaries include pedestrians as well as cyclists.

Cities such as Munster, Germany, have established “bicycle streets” — narrow streets where cyclists are given absolute priority. On these streets, “cyclists can ride anywhere they want, even if that means obstructing cars,” the authors say. Cars are usually permitted, but they are limited to 30 kilometers [19 mph] or less and must yield to cyclists. Munster had 12 bicycling streets in 2007, and they have been so successful that the city intends to add 10 more.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chicago Crosswalk Sting and "Drive With Care" Program


Police officers in plainclothes targeting drivers who don't yield to pedestrians, By Melissa Patterson, Chicago Tribune reporter, June 9, 2008

The Chicago police had announced what they were up to: a sting to nab drivers who don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. They even disclosed the when and the where. It was in all the papers—on Page One.

Still, when Officer John Porter stepped cautiously into the crosswalk at the busy intersection of North Lawndale and West Belmont Avenues on Monday, he put himself in harm's way, time after time.

In just two hours, with Porter as their lone decoy, police pulled over 101 drivers, issuing them warning citations.

While motorists in some other towns may stop, smile and even wave to pedestrians, that doesn't seem to be the Chicago way, officials said.

Announced last week, the sting was a joint effort by the Chicago police, Chicago Department of Transportation and the driving-safety campaign, which is run by the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. Part of a larger awareness effort incorporating marketing, enforcement and street design, the campaign is funded through a traffic safety grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Leaders of Northwest Chicago Drive With Care eventually hope to expand the program citywide and statewide. Pedestrian rallies, a 30,000-signature Drive With Care pledge and a yard-sign awareness campaign are a few of the events planned for later this year, Mihalic said.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mobilizing the Region: Westchester in Spotlight for Smart Planning

Westchester In Spotlight for Smart Planning

Westchester County has repeatedly shown that smart transportation policy isn’t confined to cities like NYC and New Haven. Kudos to County planners for some well-deserved press recognition of their efforts on bicycle, housing, and transit issues:

Earlier this month, the New York Times covered the County’s efforts to build a four-mile separated bicycle path along Westchester Avenue, a service road for I-287. County Executive Andrew Spano said the path would produce great benefits because it would connect the “Platinum Mile” of corporate offices with Westchester’s extensive trail network. It would also help fill a gap in the East Coast Greenway. The Westchester Planning Department will apply this month for federal funds to build the path.

The Planning Department has also proposed building housing in office parks with excess parking. According to the Westchester County Business Journal, the County’s “Office Park Housing” study identified five sites along Route 119 that would be ideal for infill housing development because they have large parking lots which are mostly unused outside of business hours. It will be up to municipalities to implement the idea by crafting suitable zoning ordinances.

Finally, the county Dept. of Transportation continues to study ways to improve bus service on the Central Avenue in White Plains, Yonkers, and the Bronx (see MTR # 559 and May coverage in the Journal News). The Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Study has been looking at measures like traffic signal priority, dedicated bus lanes, and park-and-ride facilities. The study team will hold its second open house at 5:30pm on Monday, June 16, at the Will Library in Yonkers. (For more information click here.)

Image: From Westchester County DOT Bus Rapid Transit open house flyer.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Man struck by car in New Haven

In Westville near the intersection where 11-year-old Gabrielle Lee was killed in a hit and run last week. News update; please see comments as well here:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Former Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa comments on sidewalks

Man With a Plan
June 8, 2008 New York Times Magazine
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON (excerpt)

Q: As a former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, who won wide praise for making the city a model of enlightened planning, you have lately been hired by officials intent on building world-class cities, especially in Asia and the developing world. What is the first thing you tell them?
A: In developing-world cities, the majority of people don’t have cars, so I will say, when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality.

Q: I wouldn’t think that sidewalks are a top priority in developing countries?
A: The last priority. Because the priority is to make highways and roads. We are designing cities for cars, cars, cars, cars, cars. Not for people. Cars are a very recent invention. The 20th century was a horrible detour in the evolution of the human habitat. We were building much more for cars’ mobility than children’s happiness.

Q: Isn’t that true here in the United States as well?
A: Not in Manhattan, but there are many suburbs where there are no sidewalks, which is a very bad sign of a lack of respect for human dignity. People don’t even question it. It’s the same as it was in pre-revolutionary France. People thought society was normal, just as today people think it is normal that the Long Island Sound waterfront should be private.

Q: As mayor of Bogotá, you reclaimed the sidewalks for pedestrians by banning sidewalk parking, your most famous achievement.
A: The most famous and the most controversial. But we started by building bicycle paths, and now 5 percent of the population, more than 350,000 people, go to work by bicycle.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Community coalition presses for removal of Route 34

Please see DesignNewHaven for additional background and commentary on the letter posted below.  

May 27, 2008

Governor M. Jodi Rell

Office of the Governor, State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106

RE: Removal of Route 34 in New Haven

Dear Governor Rell:

We write today as a broad coalition of community leaders, non-profit policy organizations, businesses and local elected officials to strongly urge you to support the removal of New Haven’s Route 34 connector.

Route 34, a six lane highway which runs from I-95 to the Air Rights Garage, bisects the City of New Haven, inhibiting its growth and revitalization and creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians. The highway is underused and even during rush hours does not experience significant traffic. The City of New Haven has an ambitious vision to remove the highway, recreate the street grid, and develop housing, parks, and offices in the highway’s place. We support the vision, and write to ask you to take a leadership role in helping the City and community bring the project to fruition.

There is substantial public support for the proposal. Last month the Tri-State Transportation Campaign hosted a public event in support of highway’s removal. The event, headlined by John Norquist, President and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism and former Mayor of Milwaukee, was attended by over 125 community members, elected officials and activists. During his tenure as Mayor, Mr. Norquist oversaw a similar project to remove the Park East Freeway, a project which has created millions of dollars in downtown investment.

The removal of Route 34 fits seamlessly into your efforts for more responsible growth and transit oriented development throughout Connecticut. The more vibrant and livable our urban centers, the more likely new and current residents will choose to reside in those areas. And by focusing growth on our cities, we are more likely to protect existing open space in rural areas.
We ask that you support the removal of Route 34, and dedicate state support towards implementing the community's plan.

Sincerely, (in alphabetical order)
Mark Abraham, Member, Elm City Cycling, Robert Alpern, Dean, Yale School of Medicine, Tokunbo Anifalaje, West River, New Haven, Resident, Nate Bixby, President, Network for a Sustainable New Haven, Lynne Bonnett, Chairwoman, New Haven Environmental Network, Frances T. Clark, Alderwoman, Ward 7, New Haven, Reverend Kevin G. Ewing, President, West River Neighborhood Services Corp., Anstress Farwell, Executive Director, New Haven Urban Design League, Norman Garrick, Ph. D, Associate Professor and Director, Connecticut Transportation Institute, UCONN-School of Engineering, Florita Gillespie, Chairperson, Dwight Community Management Team, Scott C. Healy, Executive Director, Town Green Special Services District, David Kooris, Director, Connecticut Office, Regional Plan Association, Philip Langdon, President, Ronan-Edgehill Neighborhood Assoc., Robert Orr, Partner, Robert Orr & Associates LLC, Christopher Ozyck, Greenway and Community Advocate, Jonathan Romanyshyn, Member, Yale Medical Area Traffic Safety Group, Kate Slevin, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Don Strait, Executive Director, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Erin Sturgis-Pascale, Alderwoman, Ward 14, New Haven, Carter Winstanley, Partner, Winstanley Enterprises, LLC
Cc: ConnDOT Commissioner Joseph F. Marie, ConnDOT Deputy Commissioner Albert Martin, State Senator Toni Harp, State Senator Martin Looney, State Representative Patricia Dillon, State Representative Toni Edmonds Walker, State Representative William R. Dyson, State Representative Juan Candelaria, State Representative Cameron Staples, State Representative Robert Megna

Fair Haven Community Management Team focuses on traffic safety

Please see this excellent article in the New Haven Independent:

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Neighborhood Alert: 11-year old girl killed in hit-and-run on Whalley Avenue

For more information, please see this listserv post and the letter in response:

Safer, more livable streets affect school quality, too

"Teacher migration studies show that high-quality teachers move toward better school facilities and more centrally located [ed.: i.e., walkable], safer areas. This trend occurs even when schools with more negative neighborhood effects offer better monetary compensation. Thus, because researchers agree that teacher quality has by far the greatest impact on student achievement, the attractive environment.... can be a crucial factor in maintaining and improving school quality."

- Urban Land, March 2006, "New Urban Synergies" by Andrea Christie Pizziconi

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Traffic issues raised in Dwight neighborhood

Another interesting "safe streets" article in the New Haven Independent, this time concerning the Dwight Community Management Team (CMT):

For a full list of all CMT meetings citywide, check the ElmCityCycling calendar of events.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

***Reminder: Public Information Meeting for Route 10 Corridor in New Haven and Hamden***

***Reminder: Public Information Meeting for Route 10 Corridor in New Haven and Hamden***

Tonight, June 3rd, 7:00PM at Beecher School in New Haven

Come and request that our public streets be designed first and foremost for people and neighborhoods, not for moving traffic through them at 50MPH! Safe streets are the #1 item needed to promote the economy and well-being of our neighborhoods, improve alternative transportation options, provide handicapped accessibility within our neighborhoods, and reduce the completely unacceptable level of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in our city. Currently, state roadway plans in our urban centers do not do nearly enough to address these issues.

This area includes sections of Ella T. Grasso Boulevard, WhalleyAvenue, Fitch Street, Arch Street, and Dixwell Avenue.

For more information on the meeting, please see

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Walk in Fair Haven targets traffic woes
Walk in Fair Haven targets traffic woes

By Mary E. O’Leary, New Haven Register Topics Editor

NEW HAVEN — Between the dollar bill lying in the street and the Biblical quote, it all seemed like a message from on high.

"It is wise to walk with someone who knows the way," was the quote from the New Testament, John 14:6, on the sign board in front of Cathedral of Higher Praise on Grand Avenue across from the Fair Haven Middle School.

Several dozen walkers, mainly from Fair Haven, but also from the West River and East Rock neighborhoods, stopped their tour of Fair Haven streets to quickly pose in front of the church and tuck the dollar away for the project that had brought them out early on Saturday morning.

The man leading the way was Dan Burton, director of Walkable Communities, a guru of traffic calming and sustainable urban neighborhoods who has helped develop 600 plans across the country that move traffic safely and efficiently, while putting pedestrians back in the picture.

"This is the first neighborhood in all of North America that raised its own money for traffic calming," said Burton, as the group lined up for its walk along Front Street, Grand Avenue, East Pearl and Exchange streets. "That’s a good sign."

Once they raised $5,000, with help from the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, the city matched it and a traffic calming master plan for the northeast quarter of Fair Haven that prioritizes projects will by produced by Burton by mid-June.

Streets that encourage speeding were the main concern.

"This morning, when I was walking here, a garbage truck must have been doing 40 mph down Front Street. It’s ridiculous," said Gerda Genece. She added that speeding vehicles on Lombard Street, where she lives, are even worse.

Genece was one of the people who went door to door in Fair Haven to get some $400 in donations for the project and talk it up with her neighbors. It was she who spotted the dollar bill on Grand Avenue. "That’s your down payment," Burton said for any future engineering changes.

"For the past 60 years, developers have designed neighborhoods more for cars than for people," said Burton. "The result has been a drop in property values, a lack of socialization and an increase in crime," he said, all of which have been reversed when people reclaim their streets.
He generally recommends 9-foot travel lanes for cars, with medians full of plantings on larger streets and roundabouts or mini-circles at intersections, both for safety reasons and to cut congestion.

He rejects speed bumps, which he said just shift a problem to other streets, and he recommends replacing stop signs with yield intersections.

He said the corner of Front Street and Grand Avenue, should have an automatic walk phase, while he recommended bike lanes across the Grand Avenue Bridge and a narrower travel lane.

Anything that slows traffic "can only add to the safety, the place-making and ultimately smoothes out the problems you are having with the traffic," Burton said.

An important change on Grand Avenue was recommended at Fair Haven Middle School, where Burton suggested a median island and curb extensions on both sides so children crossing deal with only one-active lane of traffic, 10 feet at a time.

The driving force behind the project is Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, D-14th, who was happy with the turnout Saturday.