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] 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: 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:

A reader post from the Independent's updated coverage at

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:

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 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:

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 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 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:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tougher teen driver rules take effect

(AP) Teen drivers in Connecticut are now facing stricter rules, including an earlier curfew and more on-the-road training.

A state law that took effect Friday imposes an 11 p.m. curfew on 16- and 17-year-old drivers, with some exceptions. That's an hour earlier than the old law required. The number of hours of required on-the-road instruction has doubled to 40 hours, and parents and guardians must attend two hours of classroom training with their teens.

Young drivers also face a potential reckless driving charge if they're caught going 20 mph or more over the speed limit. And their licenses can now be suspended immediately for 48 hours if they're caught drag racing, driving recklessly or violating passenger restrictions. The new rules are in response to a series of fatal accidents involving teens in Connecticut.

Flashback: Fatal and Serious Traffic Incidents on Ella Grasso Boulevard

Another driver death was reported today along this stretch. Here's just one three-month section of the recent collision history along a small stretch of this 4-lane road in New Haven. Only the most serious incidents are shown here.

Fatal and Serious Accidents, February - April 2006: Ella Grasso Boulevard - Truman Street to Derby Avenue

April 22, 2006-0059 Hours, 1211 Ella Grasso Boulevard: Two vehicles northbound at a high rate of speed proceed through the intersection of Derby Avenue; one passes the other, skids out of control, colliding with an oncoming vehicle in the southbound lane at a high rate of speed. Result- two dead, two seriously injured, one injured. Contributing factors-Speed, racing

April 16, 2006-0254 Hours, Derby Avenue and the Boulevard: Vehicle traveling West Bound on Derby Avenue with the right of way proceeds into the intersection of the Boulevard and is struck broadside by a vehicle traveling northbound on the Boulevard passing through the red control signal. Result-one dead, operator with right of way, serious injury to other operator and passenger. Contributing factors-speed: failure to obey signal

April 10, 2006 – 2010 Hours, Boulevard and Legion Avenue: Vehicle turning left onto Legion Avenue from the Boulevard is struck by a vehicle traveling northbound on the Boulevard in the intersection. Three-vehicle collision. Result-death of passenger and her unborn child, other injuries. Contributing factors-Speed and intersection control.

March 16, 2006 – 0724 Hours, Boulevard and Orange Avenue: Pedestrian crossing the Boulevard at Orange Avenue is struck by a vehicle in the crosswalk. Result-Loss of both legs of the pedestrian. Contributing factors-Yet to be determined.

March 11, 2006- 2318 Hours, Boulevard and Legion Avenue: Vehicle turning left onto Legion Avenue from the Boulevard is struck in the intersection by an oncoming vehicle traveling northbound on the Boulevard. Result-one operator in critical condition. Contributing factors-Speed and traffic control.

February 16, 2006 – 2037 Hours, Boulevard and Truman: A pedestrian crossing the Boulevard is struck by a vehicle traveling southbound on the Boulevard. Result-Death of pedestrian. Contributing Factors-Evading Responsibility of vehicle. Other factors unknown.

February 3, 2006 – 2045 Hours, Boulevard and Legion Avenue: A vehicle turning left onto Legion Avenue from the Boulevard is struck by a second vehicle traveling northbound on the Boulevard. Result-Death to the unborn child of the operator of turning vehicle. Contributing Factors – Speed and traffic control signal.