Monday, March 30, 2009

Activists Tackle Hazardous Bike/Ped Conditions on New Haven Harbor Crossing

The $120 million Tomlinson Bridge (shown at left) represents the only viable east-west connection from Downtown New Haven to points east, yet is completely inadequate for bicyclists and pedestrians. Please see to read more about this urgent issue. The state of the crossing has recently attracted additional media coverage within the community.

Hazardous rail tracks mar popular bike route, New Haven Register, 3/29/09:

If you are zipping along on your bicycle on Forbes Avenue heading east toward the Tomlinson Bridge and downtown New Haven, watch out for the railroad tracks that cross the road. The road is popular with bike commuters traveling from the East Shore to New Haven and the angled tracks can send bicyclists sprawling onto the hard pavement.

Within 24 hours of a posting on an interactive Web site, more than 100 people attested to the need to fix the situation, or at least warn people of the angled rail crossing. The state Department of Transportation has heard the complaints and is expected to have a report on it next month, according to its spokesman, Kevin Nursick.

Keri Christie, 24, commutes by bicycle Monday through Friday from the East Shore to her job downtown. When she moved here three years ago, she said she took a nasty spill onto the tracks. “It was really scary,” and like everyone else who had fallen, Cristie was grateful she wasn’t hit by the cars following her. Sometimes she said she will bike on the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge to get out of traffic where she said cars travel at 50 to 60 miles per hour and there is no road shoulder.

“Safeways for bikes and pedestrians to move between the center city and the East Shore are important now, and will be even more critical when construction of the Q bridge commences. This needs to be fixed and protected as a secure route before the Q bridge project goes any further,” said Anstress Farwell, president of the New Haven Urban Design League.

Everyone pointed to Portland, Ore. as the best example of roads and bridges designed to safely carry cyclists and cars. “It’s the benchmark on how to treat a biker on the road,” Feiner said. Beyond simple signage, members of the New Haven cycling community are discussing various options they would like the state to consider to make the bridge safer. They suggested designated bike lanes or a widened sidewalk for mixed pedestrian-cycling use.

“The key is to make it possible for everyone to cross (the bridge) safely, even families who are cycling along with young children in tow,” Abraham said.

SeeClickFix, Transportation Safety Innovation of the Year, Tackles Tomlinson Bridge "Disaster", Design New Haven, 3/19/09:

Opened in 2002, this massive, $120 million bridge represents the only viable pedestrian and bicycle connection from Downtown New Haven to the eastern suburbs of the city, and ConnDOT is currently constructing another, $757 million highway bridge right next to it. Unfortunately, besides the fact that the bridge is not a "complete street" by any remote stretch of the imagination, the railroad grade crossing is at a 30 degree angle to the roadway, and is unsigned for cyclists and improperly paved -- and therefore is extremely dangerous for even the most experienced bicyclists.

Following posting on SeeClickFix, over 500 people viewed the issue and many comments were posted on the site, all of which can be read on the issue itself, whose link is In addition to the posted comments (which are automatically sent to anyone who signs up for the issue with their email address), dozens of local commuters and cyclists emailed one another regarding the number of people they knew who had been seriously injured at the crossing. Frankly, the catalogue resulting from this exercise was frightening and deeply disturbing.

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