Sunday, September 27, 2009

Video Posted of Dangerous ConnDOT Bridge Crossing

See this post at Bike Bridgeport for a good summary and link to the YouTube video. See here and here for more background on the Tomlinson Bridge. NHI has added coverage here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

YDN: Yale Considers Amending Traffic Safety Policy

Click here for today's excellent reporting on Yale University's new traffic safety initiatives from Victor Zapana of the Yale Daily News.

Several bright yellow fliers taped on boards across campus earlier this month greeted students with dire news, although many have since been covered or removed. “Third pedestrian killed in Downtown New Haven,” the fliers blazed in capital letters. “How safe are the streets surrounding Yale?”

Although it is unclear whether students on campus reacted to — or even saw — the fliers, a half-dozen students interviewed said they were surprised and disgusted by the flier’s statistics. “That’s terrifying,” Travis Gidado ’12 said of the flier. “People dying arbitrarily like that? It’s a problem that should be addressed by any undergraduate institution.”

Several students have approached University officials over the last year. In July 2008, 16 Yale students and alumni signed a letter to Levin asking for a “high-level traffic safety commission” to fix problems with on-campus traffic. In response, Levin arranged a traffic meeting to be held two months later, in November, between the group members and officials. Four months after the meeting, the group, which is affiliated with the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, submitted a report (PDF here) to Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Bruce Alexander ’65. The group highlighted existing University programs on traffic safety and provided a list of recommendations for improvement — from a “no-tolerance” policy on cell phone use in cars to the requirement that Yale Police Department Chief James Perrotti send campuswide e-mails about traffic incidents.

The article follows in the wake of increased activism for traffic safety on the Yale Campus, including a YDN masthead editorial calling for specific changes to be implemented immediately, an op-ed by a Yale student about the need for specific improvements on Elm Street, and numerous other reports and op-eds. Click here for our ongoing thread about these.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sylvia Bingham, 2009 Yale Graduate, Killed in Cleveland Crash

News today of a tragic loss in Cleveland, Ohio, at the hands of a hit-and-run truck driver. The local Fox News affiliate reports that Cleveland Police say 22-year-old Sylvia Bingham was riding in the curb lane of Prospect Avenue at East 21st Street around 9 A.M., just a few blocks from where she was to start work that morning. A large truck turning onto East 21st hit Bingham, knocking her off of her bike and running over her. The truck didn't stop (though the driver was later found).

Fox also features an interview with Sylvia's colleague and photos of the scene, which is clearly not a "complete street" despite being in the heart of a dense urban district.

Details are still sketchy, but unfortunately, the facts of the story sound painfully similar to a 2006 incident in which Alex Capelluto (who was one class ahead of Sylvia at Yale) was killed by a truck while bicycling in West Haven, on the way back to campus from the Yale Boathouse.

A native of California, Sylvia had just moved from New Haven to Cleveland to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer, and was extremely passionate about improving her new city. Until her recent move, she had frequently been observed bicycling around New Haven. More about Bingham from

The 22-year-old Yale University graduate was killed Tuesday as she rode her bicycle to work at the Hard Hatted Women office, where she helped tradeswomen become mentors.

"She rode her bike to work from Ohio City to promote being green and encouraged others to do the same," said Terri Burgess Sandu, executive director of Hard Hatted Women in Cleveland. "I only knew her for a short time, but she was everything -- the shining example of what is best in American adults."

"I am passionate about eliminating urban poverty, particularly by creating job opportunities in the skilled trades," Bingham described herself, on her LinkedIn page.

On Sylvia's intelligence and excitement about cities, New Haven historian Anstress Farwell wrote:

I was lucky to meet Sylvia, and witness the blooming growth of a person of exceptional intelligence and a good heart. She was taking a course with Doug Rae, and contacted me when scouting for a local development project to research. She chose Dixwell Plaza. In addition to reading about the history and architecture of New Haven's redevelopment period, she interviewed store owners and customers about their use of the place. She had great talent for field work because she could put herself in other people's shoes. She was destined to do great work in the world. Her death is a tragic loss.

Also see coverage by the Yale Daily News. Another Yale Daily News post interviews students and faculty about her life:

Bingham, who just moved to Cleveland for a job at organization that helps impoverished women, was a vivacious and dedicated woman - an inspiration to all who crossed paths with her. Effervescent, vivacious, and compassionate, Bingham lived her ideals, striving to improve the world while always taking the time to care for her friendships.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yale Senior: Safe Campus, Unsafe Streets

An excellent op-ed from a senior at Yale University about traffic safety issues on the Ivy League campus:

Timothy Ellison's article focuses in part on the elimination of right turns on red (RTORs), a concept many other pedestrian-rich cities throughout the United States have adopted. Eliminating RTORs was a key recommendation in this year's Nelson/Nygaard gap analysis study of Downtown New Haven. An excerpt from Ellison's op-ed:

In fall 2006, a Yale student, Kaila Queen ’07, was struck and injured by a car at the similar intersection of Elm and High streets. According to the report in the News, Queen said she remembered seeing the “Walk” signal, and the next thing she knew she was lying in a pool of her own blood by the post office. The intersection at Elm and High shares a problem with that at Elm and York: a “No Turn On Red” sign that drivers often ignore.

Queen was disabled for several days and fortunately recovered quickly, but we may not always be so lucky. Having lost a brother to a fatal car accident in 2002, I know what pain an accidental vehicular death can cause a family. What a tragedy it would be to lose anyone here at Yale to negligent drivers when the problem could be rectified.

Among the comments that follow this article:

- Yale students are constantly telling anyone who will listen how threatened they feel by reckless drivers, and yet nothing is ever done. Yale and New Haven, this is a life and death issue. Please take it more seriously!

- But I also agree that drivers in the city have gotten increasingly willing to drive through red lights, and when on a bike I am also aware of how crazy traffic and drivers have gotten. So its a complex problem. Traffic calming and more pedestrian friendly routes are for sure needed.

- On several occasions I've witnessed that a police officer ignoring red light violations, in particular when drivers ignore do-not-turn signs. Of course, drivers have every incentive to violate traffic laws when they don't have to fear the consequences.

- The situation on the streets around the campus, which were designed in the 1950s for high-volume auto traffic and never converted back into pedestrian-friendly streets, is completely unacceptable. Numerous students and Yale affiliates are injured or killed every year. Yale already pays tens of millions a year for security - they've done a great job increasing the feeling of security on campus late at night, and in terms of street crime, the campus is now the safest urban university in the United States. Next, Yale needs to immediately 1) step up the traffic enforcement, 2) following the model of Cambridge, MA or any number of other cities, step up and commit to financing the reconstruction of safe crosswalks throughout the campus, as they have in the past in areas where students have been killed, and 3) publish and implement a bicycle and pedestrian master plan that makes the campus accessible for everyone, not just drivers.

Traffic safety has been an ongoing concern on the Yale Campus; see here for more info and here for one of Yale's responses to the problem. In the past, Yale has contributed to infrastructure and traffic calming improvements around its campus, for example, in the rebuilding the entire Broadway district (shown in the photo above) at the heart of the campus to prioritize pedestrian travel.

For a good overview of the issue, you may download a copy of the Yale College Council and Yale community's Report Re: Traffic Safety at Yale University, released in March 2009 by a group of students, staff and alumni, here (PDF File).

If you'd like to add comments to a particular problem on the campus, here are a couple examples from SeeClickFix, a national forum where people can post non-emergency issues that they would like their neighbors, governments and communities to take action on: 1) Dangerous intersection and videos of red light running at the corner of York and Elm; 2) Need for a mid-block crosswalk on Elm Street near High, which is the main pedestrian route across the campus; 3) Improved crosswalk needed at the corner of Hillhouse and Sachem, near Yale's Science Hill; 4) No pedestrian signal on Route 34 crossings, also known to local residents as the Route 34 "Death Zone." Dozens of similar issues can be found by scrolling around the map.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Four Speed Humps Replace Choker in Fair Haven

The New Haven Independent covers the new traffic calming installations along River Street (NHI photo at left):

The four humps differ from their shorter yet higher, more axle-breaking cousins, the traffic bump usually found in parking lots. The humps will replace the temporary traffic choke at Blatchley, which has failed to slow speeders....

Cars should also slow to about 15 miles per hour before each hump. If properly placed in a series, humps should slow cars down on the street to 25 to 35 mph.

James Mahon, who has worked at Fair Haven Furniture at Blatchley Street for two years, agreed that four humps are well worth one choke.

Fair Haven Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, the city’s expert on traffic calming, said she hadn’t yet seen the humps but that she was in principal pleased the city was making the effort. However, she cautioned against using speed humps as a standard practice. “Their installation,” she said in an email message, “is a reactive measure that doesn’t add value to our city streets the way a properly designed complete street would do.