Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pedestrian Struck by Car at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) in New Haven

Reporting in the New Haven Independent:

An 18-year-old girl told police she was in the crosswalk when she was hit by a car on Farnham Avenue on Tuesday night. The 83-year-old woman who hit her told cops the teen wasn’t using the crosswalk.

As is often the case when vehicles mow down pedestrians, the driver was not charged. In many other countries, they would have automatically been found to be at fault by the law, unless specifically proven otherwise (given that they are operating a more powerful vehicle).

Luckily for the student who was hit, the driver appears to have been traveling at a slow speed, perhaps encouraged by the presence of an in road pedestrian sign.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another Branford Pedestrian Seriously Injured: Second Hit in Two Days in CT Shoreline Town

Excerpt from NH Register coverage:

A man was seriously injured in a crash Monday night, the second town pedestrian hurt in a major accident in just 24 hours.

The man, who is a truck driver, was struck at about 5:07 p.m. as he crossed East Industrial Road, police and fire officials said. He was carrying groceries from Stop & Shop to the lot where his truck was parked at the TA Travel Center truck stop when he was hit by a mid-size sedan, Deputy Fire Chief Ron Mullen said.

The man, who is believed to be from out of state and whose name was not released by police, was transported to Yale New-Haven Hospital with serious head and leg injuries, Mullen said.

He is the second Branford pedestrian with serious injuries taken to that hospital in two days. At about 6 p.m. Sunday, Joyce Asante, 45, was struck by a car when she was crossing Route 1. Asante, whose last known address was in New Haven, was in serious condition at Yale New-Haven Hospital Monday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hit and Run in New Haven Sends Pregnant Woman to Trauma Room; Cyclist Struck by Vehicle: Both in Areas Noted on SeeClickFix for Dangerous Conditions

Yet more crashes on sections of Fair Haven area roads that are nowhere near in line with the city's complete streets policy. Some of the details below are via the New Haven Independent:

A pregnant woman is in trauma at the Hospital of St. Raphael’s after a driver hit her on Foxon Boulevard at 6:44 p.m. Wednesday, then fled the scene.

This area of Foxon, far from a complete street, is known for speeding in excess of 70 miles per hour, drag racing, and New Haven School (First Student) buses and CT Transit buses running red lights.

Also, a pick-up truck driver hit a 14-year-old bicyclist who was crossing the street at East and Humphrey at around 3:50 p.m. Wednesday. He was treated at Yale-New Haven for a “very minor” “foot/leg injury. The area of East and Humphrey is marked by poorly maintained pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as the "unsafe pedestrian crossing" on East reported on SeeClickFix, and the lack of proper bicycle infrastructure connecting Fair Haven to Downtown and East Rock.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Haven Assistant Police Chief Hits Pedestrian Near Union Station

Excerpt from WTNH:

There was a strong police presence at the corner of South Orange and Columbus Monday night, one block from police headquarters. According to New Haven Police, respected member Assistant Chief Ariel Melendez, who joined the NHPD in 1979, struck a pedestrian around 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The victim, from Old Saybrook, was exiting his Saab sedan when Melendez hit him with his city-issued vehicle. The person hit was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

State Office of Legislative Research (OLR) Report on Traffic Calming Initiatives in Connecticut

By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst, January 2010

You asked for an update of OLR report 2005-R-0692 to discuss traffic calming initiatives in Connecticut that have been implemented more recently.


This memo defines traffic calming and identifies commonly used measures. It describes recent traffic calming initiatives in New Canaan, New Haven, Newtown, Stamford, Wallingford, and Windsor. These initiatives include (1) procedures for receiving and acting on requests from residents and other interested parties to adopt and install traffic calming measures (New Canaan and Newtown); (2) measures to develop “complete streets” that ensure that all transportation users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users, can travel safely and conveniently on city streets and sidewalks (New Haven); (3) the process for developing a city-wide traffic calming plan (Stamford); and (4) the process used by two municipalities (Wallingford and Windsor) to address traffic concerns along specific roads in residential neighborhoods. The report also discusses other initiatives in the state to promote traffic calming.


As noted in our earlier report, traffic calming refers to a wide range of measures designed to reduce traffic speed, discourage motorists from cutting through residential areas, and reduce the number of accidents. These measures can include physical changes to streets, such as erecting speed humps (segments where the street is raised by several inches for a length of several feet), bump-outs (extensions of the sidewalk to narrow the traffic lanes, particularly at crosswalks), and chicanes (changes in the alignment of lanes). Other measures affect how drivers perceive the roadway, e. g. , painting lines on the road to make lanes appear narrower and planting trees or shrubs along roads. Traffic calming can also involve education and speed limit enforcement, programs.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers has a traffic calming library, available on line at The library contains a searchable database of reports, articles and other documents related to traffic calming.


New Canaan

The town's Police Commission, which serves as the local traffic authority, has adopted a process to receive requests from residents and other interested parties for the adoption and installation of traffic calming measures. Requests may be submitted by letter or e-mail.

In response to such requests, the commission will seek the opinions of other town departments and traffic engineers through a Traffic Calming Working Group. The commission will use a report prepared by the Southwestern Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) on the application of various traffic calming measures and recommended standards. Traffic calming measures must comply with the standards and practices of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Traffic calming devices must conform to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as well as the ITE “Guideline for the Design and Application of Speed Humps. ”
Traffic calming measures may not inappropriately delay emergency responses to fires, medical, or other emergencies. The commission has identified certain streets and roads as emergency response routes where traffic calming devices that increase response times will not be considered.

Under the procedures, traffic calming must be neighborhood driven. Residents of an area proposed for installation of traffic calming measures must be given the opportunity to participate in the discussions leading to the implementation of such proposals. Informational meetings will be held with residents to present and discuss individual projects as the commission deems necessary.

New Haven

In October 2008, the city's Board of Aldermen adopted an order to establish a steering committee to develop a “complete streets” policy for the city, implement a complete streets program, and propose a complete streets ordinance. Specifically, the order seeks to establish a complete streets policy to ensure that all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users can travel safely and conveniently on city streets and sidewalks. Under the policy, the needs of vulnerable users (children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities) would be given priority so that they can travel safely within the public right of way.

Under the order, the city will develop a manual to provide specific design guidelines for the construction of complete streets. The manual will include design standards to (1) establish a street classification system; (2) increase the safety and walk ability of city streets through tools that slow vehicle speeds; (3) create high visibility pedestrian crosswalks; (4) create safe, connected bike facilities for cyclists; (5) narrow travel lanes; and (6) address on-street parking policies.

Under the order, the city will:

1. establish a process for including community members in the planning and design process for streets in their neighborhoods;

2. give affected communities an opportunity to advocate for changes that will best serve their interests, including the opportunity to obtain input from landscape architects and economic development professionals;

3. coordinate educational campaigns targeting all users of the public right-of-way on their rights and responsibilities, with the goal of increasing the safety and civility of the streets; and

4. support the Police Department's traffic enforcement efforts and work with it to develop benchmarks for evaluating and measuring progress.

The city has also installed traffic calming measures in several neighborhoods. For example, it has installed four speed humps on River Street in Fair Haven to address drag racing that commonly took place there. It is installing a roundabout to slow north- and southbound traffic at West Park Avenue and Elm Street in Westville.


In the spring of 2009, Newtown established procedures for the town's Police Commission to implement a traffic calming program. Under these procedures, the commission may use measures to reduce speed, enhance pedestrian safety, and reduce traffic diversion in residential neighborhoods. The procedures are intended to make efficient, cost- effective use of town resources by screening and prioritizing requests for traffic calming.

If a neighborhood requests traffic calming measures, the commission will request that the police chief or his designee research the request and determine a prudent course of action based on the Police Department's available resources and report these findings to the commission within 60 days.

After the chief reports his findings, he will be asked if the issue can be resolved using the resources that are available to the department. If the chief feels that the issue can be resolved within the department's resources, the chief will be asked to implement his plan for 120 days and report his findings to the commission.

After completing this process, the commission will decide if the department has satisfactorily addressed the issue. If the commission decides that the issue has been addressed properly, the chief will be asked to monitor the area, when resources are available, to ensure traffic compliance in the area of impact.

If neighbors in the area still feel that the town needs to put additional traffic calming measures into an area, they must submit a detailed written description of their traffic concerns with the signatures of at least 20 voters living in the area. This petition to request additional traffic calming measures must be presented to the commission at a regularly scheduled meeting.

After verifying the signatures and addresses, the commission must hold a hearing. Before it recommends installing neighborhood traffic control devices or traffic calming measures, it must request funds for a traffic study by a professional engineer to identify how best to address the concern for reduced speed, enhanced pedestrian safety, and reduced traffic diversion in the neighborhoods. The study may consider traffic and intersection volumes, traffic speed, and the extent of bicycle and pedestrian activity, among other things.

When completed, the study must be submitted to the commission for review. The commission will decide on a course of action, establish the plan's priority, and advise the Department of Public Works to request the appropriate amount of funding for materials and labor based on the most recent available cost estimates in its next budget. It may request funding sooner if such improvements are deemed desirable and consistent with the commission's plan. The commission may authorize a temporary course of action before moving forward with a permanent traffic calming solution.

The commission may request a demonstration of interest and support from neighborhood residents in the form of a petition signed by more than 60% of the residents on the affected streets. The petition must specify the area under consideration, the nature of the problem (speed, traffic volume, through traffic) and the traffic calming solutions being recommended to the commission.

The Police Department will monitor the effectiveness of any traffic calming measures that are installed. After one year, the commission will review the installation and decide if the measures were effective. The commission reserves the right to remove any traffic calming installations at any time that have not produced a desired or intended result, or are deemed dangerous.


The city is developing a traffic calming master plan for all of its residential neighborhoods. Once developed, the plan will show street improvements that can help slow speeds through neighborhoods, reduce cut-through traffic, and better manage traffic. The plan will create an environment where pedestrians, vehicles, and bicycles can coexist.

The master plan is being developed through a process in which residents engage in a series of workshops (charrettes) where they discuss the values they wish their neighborhood to exemplify, the traffic-related problems that they wish to resolve, and the possible solutions for these problems. The input obtained from the residents provides the framework for the project team, led by Urban Engineers, Inc. , to complete the master plan.

The city's comprehensive approach towards traffic calming seeks to avoid moving problems such as speeding and cut-through traffic from one neighborhood to another in order to ensure safer, friendlier, and quieter roads throughout the city.

The Master Plan is being developed based on the comments received during the charrettes, phone calls, and e-mails. Further information about the city's planning process, including the final draft plan, is available at


In 2008, the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) conducted a pilot traffic calming study in Wallingford. The purpose of this pilot was to highlight the traffic calming study process developed as part of SCRCOG's Traffic Calming Tools Resource Guide (described below). Wallingford requested assistance with a traffic calming study on North Elm Street between Curtis Avenue and Christian Street. Adjacent land use in the study area includes housing and Choate Rosemary Hall School. Choate was building a new dorm on North Elm Street across from Curtis Avenue. As a result of this project Choate requested the town to install stop signs on North Elm Street at Curtis Avenue. The town responded that they would like to consider other options to slow down traffic and improve pedestrian crossings in the vicinity. The resulting traffic calming study sought to provide a “complete” street that accommodates traffic flow and provides pedestrian crossings in a safe environment.

The consultant team began the study by meeting with the town to gather input and information. The town supplied accident history and traffic count information. Initial field observations and meetings were conducted with the town Engineering and Police departments as well as Choate. To better understand traffic and pedestrian operations in the study area, information was collected on traffic volumes (daily, peak hour, and intersection turning movement counts), pedestrian volumes (at key cross walks), traffic speeds, and accident data. Existing roadway signing, pavement markings, and pedestrian activity were also observed. Information was also collected on the adjacent land uses.

An initial community meeting was held at Wallingford Town Hall. The consulting team gave a brief presentation that described the study team, study purpose, existing conditions, and traffic calming toolbox. It was also explained that the purpose of this meeting was to solicit input on issues and concerns in the study area and to identify opportunities to address the problems. The attendees were divided into small groups to discuss the issues and ideas for addressing them. After the discussion each group summarized its findings. The project team, including members from the town, met with members of the Choate Student Council. A brief presentation and work group session similar to the first community meeting was conducted as part of one of the regular student council meetings.

Additional meetings were held with the town staff (Engineering, Police, Public Works, Electrical Division and the mayor) and Choate to solicit feedback on preliminary options. A second community meeting was conducted at Town Hall to discuss the progress on the study and to present the study options. The consultant team gave a brief presentation outlining the issues and options. Following the presentation, a discussion was held on the options the community liked and other items to consider.

The consultant team prepared a final report for the town to consider as it moves forward with funding, approvals, and design. The options were presented for short-term and long-term considerations. Options for Choate to consider, such as pedestrian education programs, were also included.


Windsor has considered a variety of traffic calming options for Rainbow Road, a collector (medium traffic) street that connects a residential area with a commercial area. Over an 18-month period in 2007 and 2008, the Health and Safety Committee of the Town Council considered such options as installing stop signs, installing medians to discourage truck traffic, and restriping the road. Town staff recommended against installing stop signs or speed humps on the road, arguing that they would be ineffective. In addition, they argued that speed humps would significantly delay emergency vehicles when they respond to calls from the several hundred households and businesses along the road.

The committee's July 27, 2009 meeting included an extensive discussion of its deliberations on traffic calming. The discussion is summarized at

The town ultimately installed three small medians and several other traffic calming measures. As a pilot, it installed barriers to make the road one-way for part of its length. The latter measures prompted approximately 400 comments from motorists, overwhelmingly negative. The town took down the barriers to permit snow plows to pass, and town staff have recommended that the barriers not be re-installed in the spring. The council is continuing to address traffic issues in the affected area.


In 2008, SCRCOG developed a regional traffic calming resource guide. The guide (1) develops a systematic approach to traffic calming, (2) identifies key locations throughout the region, (3) describes how to engage the community in designing traffic calming measures, and (4) identifies and develops cost effective solutions and preliminary design concepts which could be permitted and constructed. The guide is available at

In July 2009, the Connecticut chapter of the American Planning Association offered a course to help municipalities establish traffic calming programs for their roads. The course described various traffic calming devices, outlined potential positive and negative impacts on a neighborhood, and reviewed a sample traffic calming program. It also investigated related issues, such as impacts of traffic calming devices on liability, roadway maintenance, and emergency services. Participants performed case studies applying traffic calming measures to address traffic concerns. The course was offered to public works directors, highway superintendents, road foremen, town engineers, and town planners.

Friday, November 5, 2010

November 16: Downtown Crossing/Route 34 East Project Public Workshop to Focus on Walkability

The city recently received a major TIGER grant for boulevardization of a portion of the Route 34 highway. Refer to Design New Haven for detailed background; Tri State Transportation Campaign also has a summary here that indicates New Haven will most likely receive the "gold medal" for removing an urban highway (among many cities that would like to do so). A presentation takes place Tuesday, November 16 at 5:30, at the New Haven Free Public Library on the Green.

The image shown here is from an earlier application, and clearly does not account for pedestrian safety (showing, for example, enormous turning radii and wide crossing distances), but that's why the public meetings are being held. It will be essential that the streets surrounding the project go above and beyond the standards of the city's new Complete Streets policy, and that speeds in the area are reduced to 15-20 miles per hour. The 15 mile per hour average speed is the only level that is appropriate for a district with such high pedestrian traffic, is the only speed likely to support street-level economic activity and job creation (like that found on Chapel Street, for example), and is a speed limit that has been specifically requested for this area within at least four major citizen petitions that have attracted over 3,000 signatures from area residents and workers (following several pedestrian deaths or severe injuries).

Details on the workshop can be found below:

The City of New Haven invites you to attend a public presentation and workshop on the Downtown Crossing/Route 34 East Project. The presentation will be held on Tuesday, November 16th at 5:30 in the New Haven Public Library located on the Corner of Elm and Temple Streets.

The session will focus on the following areas of interest:
- Connectivity, Complete Streets
- Place-making: Streetscapes, Open Space, Land Use
- Economy: Growing Jobs and Taxes
- Environment: Walkability, Transit, Bike Routes and Lanes, and Sustainable Development

Please join us for a lively presentation and discussion lead by project consultants PB Americas, and the project's urban designers, Chan Krieger/NBBJ. Feel free to forward this notice to others who are interested in building a greater New Haven!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Community Mediation and New Haven Police Department holding community safety discussions

Community Mediation, together with the New Haven Police Department, is organizing a series of community dialogues with Chief Limon called "Creating Community-Police Partnerships." We invite you to join us by participating in community dialogues that will allow citizens to meet the new chief of police and to express issues of mutual concern. These dialogues are intended to promote discussions about topics that are important to all of us, such as public safety, healthier neighborhoods.

All dialogues are open to the public, so SPREAD THE WORD! -- pass this information on to your networks and let people in your communities and neighborhoods know about this opportunity!

Barnard School, 6pm-8pm
170 Derby Ave, New Haven, CT
Districts: Westville, Beaver Hill & Dwight

Update: The New Haven Register and the New Haven Independent offer detailed coverage of the November 4th event.

Wilson Library, 5:30pm-7:30pm
303 Washington Ave, New Haven, CT
Districts: Hill North, Hill South, Downtown

Fair Haven Library, 5:30pm-7:30pm
182 Grand Ave, New Haven
Districts: Fair Haven, East Shore

St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 5:30pm-7:30pm
266 Shelton Ave, New Haven
Districts: Dixwell, Newhallville

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dozens of Injured at Treacherous Rail Crossing: Providence and Worcester Railroad (PWX) Facing Potential Liability and National Media Exposure

Original Post, 7/13/10: The Providence and Worcester Railroad is directly responsible for the treacherous stretch of road (i.e., the tracks themselves) at the Tomlinson Bridge, which we have previously reported on here.

According to ConnDOT, which has been working on the problem for over a year, the Railroad refuses to take or allow the state to take any meaningful action regarding their tracks. This despite the large number of documented crashes and injuries – including several in recent weeks – on Forbes Avenue on the PWRR's unused and unmaintained track. The crossing has caused dozens of serious injuries since opening in 2002.

Local citizens have guaranteed that every minor or major injury caused by the tracks will be communicated to the local, regional and national press as well as to a number of attorneys' offices throughout the Northeast. These include those recently causing New Haven police officers, professors at Yale University, and several citizens to fall, including one very severely breaking his leg on the track two weekends ago.

The location, heavily documented with information about injuries at SeeClickFix, Design New Haven, and Wikipedia, among other online websites, was the focus of a recent citizen protest that brought light to the unacceptable situation. The New Haven Independent covered the protest:

“This is unacceptable,” said Juli Stupakevich. So she and other angry and worried cyclists Monday evening bestrode the dangerous rails curving bumpily crossing Route One at the entrance to the port just west of Waterfront Street. After years of documented accidents at the spot due to protruding and curving tracks that topple riders, the tracks’ owners, Providence & Worcester Railroad, came up with a graphic response. It put up signs urging riders to dismount and walk.

The City of New Haven's economic development administration also weighed in, in an email message to the Independent's reporter:

We agree that the warning signs are not acceptable,” Piscitelli wrote in an email message after the rally. “A constructed physical improvement is necessary. As you know, this is a state road. At our request ConnDOT convened a working group in 2009, but there has been no follow-up to date."

Widely referred to by citizens as a "death trap," the location has also inspired literally dozens of open public letters over the past weeks from local advocates. The bridge is designated as the primary "recommended cross-state" bicycle route by the State of Connecticut, and is also the city's recommended route as a route that "connects New Haven's neighborhoods while enjoying as many calm, wide, and scenic streets as possible."

Excerpts from a few of the more recent letters, responding to the potentially even greater level of danger at the location (caused by the narrowing of the road for a construction project), are posted below:

Alycia Santilli: "I also find Providence and Worcester Railroad's 'solution' and the lack of adequate response to this issue extremely troublesome. Like many others in the surrounding area, my husband and I cross this bridge two times per day during our bicycle commute to downtown New Haven. The signage -- besides being poorly placed -- is an outrageously insufficient and inappropriate solution. As Mr. Kurtz points out, it is impossible to dismount to cross the tracks. Dismounting would be just as hazardous -- if not more so -- as crossing the tracks."

William Kurtz: "I know you have been made aware of the many serious crashes that have taken place at your railroad crossing, and that you have so far failed to take any meaningful action about this treacherous situation, despite more-than-adequate knowledge of the hazard you have created and allowed to exist. Just two weeks ago, there was yet another crash there and yet another experienced cyclist was seriously injured and now we are told that according to Russ St. John, who is P&W's representative on the Connecticut Public Transportation Commission that a "cyclists-dismount-and-walk" sign is the solution that is "acceptable" to Providence and Worcester. Please hear me clearly when I state that your sign is not an acceptable solution to the many residents of greater New Haven who cycle across that bridge regularly. For one thing, there is nowhere to dismount. The west-bound side is currently reduced to one lane because of the Q-Bridge construction. There is neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder and traffic on that stretch regularly reaches and exceeds 50 mph. It should be clear why any so-called "solution" which calls for a streets user with all the rights of any other vehicle operator to stop moving in the middle of 50 mph traffic is unacceptable.... I eagerly await your reply outlining your rationale for this clear disregard for human life and safety."

David Streever: "I have almost crashed there--I met a police officer tonight who crashed there due to the tracks--New Havens CAO crashed there--and dozens upon dozens of cyclists have crashed there. This is quickly turning into a huge liability for you as the crashes mount up and people are talking about civil suits & lawyers. To continue to callously ignore the crashes is your option, but I think you know that you have a responsibility to make this right."

Elaine Lewinnek: "Here is the U.S. Dept of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration plan for bicycles crossing slanted railway tracks: It is the best solution I know of to this basic and well-known challenge of traffic engineering. Here is the full website from which I pulled that illustration, figure 14-16: I believe the reconstructed Tomlinson bridge cost $120 million. The percentage of Americans who bike to work is 0.5%. Far more Americans bicycle for exercise and pleasure and occasional commuting, but, even leaving all those other bicyclists out, if you simply spend 0.5% of your budget on bicyclist concerns, that means $60,000 for bicyclists. It is only fair."

Joe Jeffery: "Two weeks ago, I was somewhere around my 96th mile of a 100 mile ride in and around New Haven. To return to my New Haven destination from Connecticut's beautiful shoreline, my only direct route was to cross the Tomlinson Bridge. Among the many hazards on this bridge is a set or railroad tracks that cross at an angle dangerous to cylists and motorcyclists. Angled rail crossings catch thinner tires and throw cyclists. Negotiating that angled rail in summer weekend traffic was one of the most dangerous things I've done on a bike-- and I bike commute daily from New Haven to Bridgeport in all weather."

Commenters on the New Haven Indy story point out the level of danger and the need to do more to make the Tomlinson a "Complete Bridge". Though the Tomlinson, like its neighboring Q-bridge, is part of ConnDOT's billion-dollar New Haven Harbor crossing mega-project, it has very little in the way of usable bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure:

In no way am I absolving the P&W Railroad from their responsibility to implement acceptable safety measure on this crossing, but I want to point out that the miserable design of this roadway is a contributing factor. ConnDOT also has a responsibility to respond with funding to complete this street by designing and rebuilding it to include safe and accessible options for all users: pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.

It is grossly unjust to spend billions of dollars on a bridge expansion project that is legally limited to motor vehicles, while leaving other users to risk their lives for access to downtown New Haven. P&W must come up with a short term solution, but in the end, the buck stops with ConnDOT.

Unfortunately [especially with the narrowing of the road from 4 lanes to 2], this isn’t just a problem for cyclists—if a cyclist flips on the tracks (highly likely, in fact has happened again just in the past week), they are likely to hit an oncoming car. That car may swerve in avoidance or surprise, striking several oncoming cars or trucks. We’re talking about the possibility of a half dozen driver deaths here, to happen in the very near future, not just the death of one or two cyclists.

Update 7/14/10: The issue of the bridge is covered in the New Haven Register. Excerpt:

Cyclists are “gravely concerned” about the area where the Providence and Worcester rail line crosses the road just before the bridge, going west toward downtown, Connecticut Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Board member Jason Stockman said. Bike tires are routinely stuck in the angled rail grooves and riders are injured; Stockman, who lives in New Haven, said he saw a cyclist break his thigh bone there two weeks ago. "The conventional wisdom is, there are two types of (riders): The ones who have fallen (there), and the ones who are going to,” said William Kurtz of West Haven.

Update 07/15/10: Channel 3 TV news covers the large number of protestors out today, some holding large placards reading "ConnDOT Cares Not." Despite the ongoing number of injuries, no actions have yet been taken.

Update 7/21/10: The New Haven Register continues to cover the story, highlighting yet more recent injuries at the tracks, including a report of a woman breaking her pelvis. A reply on Elm City Cycling focuses on the comments made by ConnDOT's spokesperson in the article, and the lack of progress on the issue:

The latest critics to weigh in on a strip of Route 1 where cyclists have been tripped up by an angled rail line are a surgeon who has treated more than one person hurt there and a Yale professor. Dr. Connor Telles, the orthopaedic surgery chief resident at Yale-New Haven Hospital, warned: “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen,” in a letter to state and rail line officials.

Update 10/27/10: Despite a number of meetings involving literally hundreds of hours of volunteer citizen time and the time of city and state officials, no real progress has been made on improving safety in the area.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Haven Halloween Traffic Safety: A Message from Keep Kids Alive

According to a study over a 20-year period by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, four times the number of elementary and middle school-aged children were killed by a car or truck on Halloween when compared to all other evenings.

Please sound and send out the Halloween alert in your community to "Be Aware! Drive With Care," and to "Stop! Take 3 To See" at every stop sign, and every point in the road where children are, or might be, crossing. Slow down and scan the roadways and sidewalks for children of all ages out and about. The life saved may be that of a neighbor child. And remember, "Don't let the 2 minutes you 'save' be the last 2 minutes of someone's life." - David Townsend (Tia's dad).

Tom Everson, Keep Kids Alive Drive 25, 402-334-1391.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Crumbling State Street Bridge to Close for One Year: Questions Linger on Pedestrian Access

The crumbling State Street Bridge, one of the first issues ever reported on SeeClickFix (Issue #10 out of over 60,000 now reported), is now just beginning to go into construction. The bridge - a major conduit of vehicle and pedestrian traffic - will remain closed for an entire year.

However, as indicated on the issue, major questions remain regarding pedestrian access during construction.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why were the sharrows installed recently throughout Downtown New Haven not added on the route to New Haven Union Station?

While bicycle racks are now apparently in the works for one of New Haven's most critical economic assets, Union Station (see SeeClickFix issue here, and Design New Haven article here), actual biking access to the station remains a serious challenge.

Union Avenue, the road to the station is currently a 4-lane road with no bicycle facilities, high speeds, and parked vehicles on either side.

Vote on the SeeClickFix issue to begin to resolve this here. (Short answer to the question above: The area is a state controlled stretch of road and did not authorize sharrows).

Sharrows or bicycle lanes, like those recently placed throughout Downtown, would be a good first step towards bringing the street into line with the city's and state's new laws that require complete streets accommodations. However, ultimately providing access to the train station for road users of all ages and abilities will require a protected/buffered bike route or extension of the greenway (perhaps to be built in the space between the rail yard and the station property itself). Design New Haven previously reported on this issue in an article last year.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Request for public feedback on proposed New Haven Streetcar: 9/23 Meeting

DataHaven has a post about the upcoming public meeting on September 23rd.

Related documents, including maps and planning diagrams, are available on the city's streetcar website . Early stages of planning are paying particular attention to how the streetcar would integrate with the Downtown New Haven streetscape, as well as bicycle and pedestrian access.

The proposed streetcar route would connect Union Station, Downtown New Haven, Yale University, Science Park and neighborhoods to the north.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

CDC Epidemiologist "Misses the Point" on Averting Traffic Deaths

Responding to an article in the New York Times Science section this past week, New Haven-based author and urbanist Phil Langdon published the following op-ed on the New Urban Network.

Langdon argues that public health professionals need to pay more attention to road design if they want to have any meaningful impact on reducing the 40,000 traffic deaths each year in the United States.

Though this point was made by a recent CDC report outlining methods that will work to reduce obesity in the United States, it apparently hasn't filtered its way down to epidemiologists and journalists who study traffic fatalities. The article, which originally appeared here, is reprinted with permission of the author.

Missing the point on how to avert traffic deaths

Motor vehicle accidents cost the US $99 billion a year, or roughly $500 for each licensed driver, The New York Times reported Aug. 31 in its Science Times section.

That includes $17 billion in direct medical expenses and much more in lost wages, productivity, and disability, The Times said, attributing the figure to Rebecca B. Naumann, lead author of a study by epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a country where the automotive way of life often goes unquestioned, it’s useful to be reminded of the horrendous toll inflicted by motor vehicle crashes.

“Teenagers and young adults, who represent only 14 percent of the population, account for almost one-third of injuries and fatalities and almost one-third of the costs,” reports Roni Caryn Rabin. “Pedestrians and motorcyclists, who represent 11 percent of the injuries, rack up 22 percent of total costs, because of the severity of their injuries,” she says, noting that the study first appeared in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.

But what are we to make of the final paragraph in the Times article? It states: Among the interventions proven to reduce the toll are strict seat-belt laws, more enforcement of speeding laws, educating parents about child safety seats and using devices that lock out drivers who have been drinking alcohol, Ms. Naumann said. Policies that restrict inexperienced teenage drivers also significantly reduce crashes, she said.

The report makes no acknowledgement of the impact of faulty design of the nation’s streets, roads, and communities. It seems strange that an epidemiologist at the CDC — which recently has shown a strong interest in the effects of community design — would not point out the role played by roadways that practically invite motorists to speed.

Planning consultant Peter Swift and others, in a study that was first presented to the Congress for New Urbanism in 1997, amplified in 2002, and amplified again in 2006, identified an important reason for serious traffic accidents: Many residential streets are too wide.

After studying the conditions under which nearly 20,000 accidents occurred over eight years in Longmont, Colorado, Swift and his co-authors came to an unambiguous conclusion: “narrow streets are safer.” They declared: “Clear relationships are evident between accident frequency and street width. The findings support the premise that narrower, so called ‘skinny’ streets, are safer than standard width local streets.”

If you build narrower streets and provide them with a sense of enclosure (by planting lines of street trees, allowing cars to be parked on the streets, and perhaps bringing houses and other structures closer to the roadway), most drivers will naturally slow down. The physical environment can be richly outfitted with objects and dimensions that result in fewer life-threatening crashes. In the Longmont study, the difference between a typical 36-foot-wide residential street and a 24-foot-wide street was found to be “a 487 percent increase in accident rates.”

Speed is a critical factor in whether a person who is hit by a car will live or die. “A pedestrian has a 5 percent chance of being killed at 20 mph,” Norman Garrick, a transportation specialist at the University of Connecticut, told New Urban News in an article published in January 2007. At 40 mph, the pedestrian has “an 85 percent chance of being killed.”

Another key to reducing traffic injuries and deaths: Give people opportunities to drive less, in part by developing extensively connected street networks. Todd Litman, in a 1999 study for the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, recommended laying out neighborhoods so that they have a grid-like organization of narrow streets with short blocks, many T intersections, and other devices that cause motorists to proceed more slowly and that make it possible to go places without even getting in a car.

When there is a grid of streets, people can reach destinations with shorter drives — and in some cases they can travel by bicycle or on foot, which is better for them in many respects. When the streets are properly designed, the environment will be comparatively safe. A generously connected, relatively slow-paced circulation system is a far cry from the more typical suburban practice of funneling traffic from cul-de-sacs onto collector roads and then onto large arteries, requiring people to go long distances, at higher speeds, to reach stores, schools, and other elements of daily life.

Garrick and fellow transportation researcher Wesley Marshall analyzed the facts surrounding more than 130,000 vehicular crashes in California cities and discovered that the communities built since 1950 had the worst traffic fatality rates. As reported in New Urban News in January 2009, the post-1950 cities tend to have more branching, tree-like street networks that include many cul-de-sacs and not many intersections. This limits the movement of traffic through residential areas but forces people to travel longer distances, ultimately exposing them to higher speeds and greater danger.

A report from Europe has found that when average vehicle speeds drop by just 5 percent, the number of injuries drops by 10 percent and the number of fatalities falls 20 percent. Extensively connected street networks may not have fewer crashes over all, but the crashes that occur are less likely to leave someone dead.

Finally, “Dangerous by Design,” a study released in November 2009 by the advocacy group Transportation for America, found that during the previous 15 years more than 76,000 pedestrians were killed. Most of the deaths, 56 percent, occurred on arterial roads — focal points for sprawl, often combining substantial width, high traffic speeds, and few or no facilities for pedestrians.

It is odd that an epidemiological team at the CDC would fail to beat the drum about these factors, and would instead emphasize interventions such as greater enforcement of speeding laws. Does anyone really believe that ticketing speeders is going to bring about lasting change in how fast traffic moves? How can that be, when so many roads are designed to facilitate speeds that cause accidents to be lethal?

The fact is, others in the CDC have become intensely aware of the effects of community design on health and safety. A number of CDC personnel participated in the Congress for New Urbanism conference in Atlanta last May, which looked at the connections between community and physical and mental health. The effect of community design on Americans’ well-being has also become a focus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major financial supporter of health initiatives.

Granted, interventions in community design may take longer to carry out than programs aimed at enforcing seat-belt laws, educating parents about child safety seats, or handing out speeding tickets. Unlike enforcement of speed laws, they don’t produce an immediate payback for government through tickets and fines.

Nonetheless, changing the physical environment has to be at the core of any campaign to avert traffic injuries and death. Change the physical environment, and you alter behavior — not just for a few months but for years to come.

To judge from the story in The Times, not enough people in either the health fields or in journalism are aware of how much can be accomplished by more intelligently designing America’s streets, roads, and communities. We have some serious educational work yet to do.


Also see: New Study: 20MPH zones greatly reduce injuries and fatalities

Monday, August 23, 2010

Studies: Active Transportation Leads to Better Health

Although not surprising given recent CDC reports and literature reviews, a new study in the American Journal of Public Health provides more concrete evidence linking active commuting and reduced levels of obesity.

Streetsblog DC reports on the study here:

The study found that there are significant connections between having a low obesity rate and a high rate of walking or biking to work. The same is true for diabetes. In statistical terms, about 30 percent of the variation in obesity among states -- and more than half of the variation in diabetes -- was linked to differences in walking and cycling rates.

A recent brief prepared by Todd Litman for the American Public Transit Association (APTA) also provides even more evidence and research. For example, the brief emphasizes research showing that transit commuters average 30% more walking, and are 4X more likely to achieve the 10K steps/day recommended for health than car commuters. You can download the PDF of this brief here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Whalley Avenue Hit and Run Crash Leaves Pedestrian Dead

Reporting from the New Haven Independent:

Police are looking for a driver who hit a pedestrian early Sunday and fled the scene, leaving a 52-year-old man in critical condition. The collision took place at Sunday at the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Carmel Street, according to city spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga.

A patrol officer came across the scene at 1:44 a.m. and found the man lying in the street, unresponsive, she said. The victim was taken to the hospital to be treated for life-threatening injuries. The man was apparently hit by a car, whose driver fled, Mayorga said. The police accident reconstruction team is investigating. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the police at 203-946-6316.

Update 8/23: The victim died from his injuries soon after the crash.

Update 8/27: Police are seeking clues on the hit and run. The New Haven Register profiles the victim in a news piece and offers more details on the crash:

On Sunday, he was at the Scorpio Lounge on Norton Street. His friend gave the family this account: The pair was walking back to her home, stopped by a gas station for some snacks and were crossing Whalley Avenue. The woman made it across safely, but Chatman, who was a step behind, didn’t. She heard the impact, then saw the vehicle run over Chatman and flee the scene.

The crash is just one of several recent hit and run pedestrian injuries on Whalley Avenue, which has been rated one of the most dangerous roads in the State of Connecticut for crashes. Traffic speeds on the Avenue regularly exceed 50 miles per hour, despite the fact that the street passes through neighborhoods that have the population density of Brooklyn, New York.

Members of the community recently wrote an open public letter regarding a SCRCOG and city proposal to redesign this section of Whalley Avenue.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Traffic calming comes to Long Wharf Drive; later removed due to construction

Original Post, 11/19/08: New Haven Independent reports on the city press conference here. In one of many stories on the Long Wharf Drive drag racing issue, which has involved driver injuries and fatalities, the NHI had previously posted some background on the plans, including links to download the plans themselves and an online discussion.

Update 7/16/10: The road-narrowing barriers have been "temporarily" removed due to construction in the area, according to the New Haven Register. There are already reports of drag racing and very high speeds on the roadway. Though city police patrol the area, it is unclear how many speeding tickets they are giving out given the general difficulty of the police department in enforcing the city's speed limit. If drag racing continues at all hours of the day and night, like it did prior to the barrier installation, additional fatalities would not be a surprise.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SUV flips over after cars collide on Downtown New Haven section of Route 34

See coverage in the New Haven Register:

Both vehicles were driving east on Route 34 when a 1993 BMW driven by Victor Bell, 50, of 81 William St., lost control and struck a 2007 Toyota RAV4 driven by Crystal Neuhauser, 41, of 218 Rose St. Ext. in East Haven, state police said. Neuhauser’s vehicle then struck a Jersey barrier in the median and rolled over onto its roof.

The crash once again highlights the unsafe traffic conditions on the connector and surrounding roads, particularly travel speeds that are too high for a densely-populated downtown area with thousands of children, elderly and disabled residents.

Mismanaged traffic in the area has led to several serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities, as well as repeated, but unfulfilled, requests for change by thousands of local residents. For more coverage of Route 34, click here and here.

The ongoing crashes on Route 34 not only cause severe physical and psychological harm to residents, they also each create hundreds of thousands of dollars in shared costs, through insurance, emergency response and police investigations. These costs are socialized, with each family paying more than $1,000 each year for them whether or not they drive to work each day -- in total amounting to nearly $200 billion per year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Driver Runs Red at Derby and Boulevard (Again), Two More Hospitalized

See here for excellent reporting by Tom MacMillan at the New Haven Independent. The photo at left was taken by Paul Bass of the Independent.

At around 1 a.m. on Thursday, there was a car accident at the intersection of Derby Avenue and Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. Witnesses told police that a Honda Accord sped through the intersection, ignoring the traffic signal, and hit another car. The driver, a 24-year-old man was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital with serious injuries. The car’s passenger, also 24 years old, was taken to Hospital of St. Raphael with non-life-threatening head injuries. No one else suffered major injuries in the accident.

The crash occurred near the same location where there have been over a dozen deaths & severe injuries just in the past few years. Red light running has been identified as a major concern at the State Legislature, with groups such as the Connecticut Livable Streets Campaign proposing legislation enabling Connecticut municipalities to use automated cameras (already widely-used in hundreds of other U.S. cities) that issue parking tickets to violators.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Safe Routes to School Expands to Fair Haven, Foreshadows Citywide Approach

Elizabeth Benton's excellent article on the Safe Routes to School Program, a Federal program that will be implemented at a school in Fair Haven beginning this year, was published today by the New Haven Register.

The work reported on here builds upon the extensive public involvement in the Fair Haven traffic calming master plan, completed in 2008 with assistance from the City of New Haven and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. That process resulted in a series of very well-attended public meetings and "walkabouts" with Dan Burden, and in fact was one of the key events resulting in the creation of the citywide New Haven Safe Streets Coalition (PDF here).

The Fair Haven implementation, combined with the increased national focus on how the built environment plays a critical role in obesity prevention and child health, has sparked an interest in the program within New Haven's other neighborhoods. For example, Elm City Cycling's 2010 Bicycle Plan recommends gradually expanding Safe Routes to School to other schools in New Haven.

Program Promotes Walking to School, New Haven Register, 2/11/09

By Elizabeth Benton, Register Staff
(Copyright New Haven Register)

NEW HAVEN — Fair Haven School gym teacher Travis Gale estimates as many as half of his students, from kindergarten to eighth grade, are obese.

And of the 650 kids that attend Fair Haven School, only about 250 walk to school, he said. “It’s a problem,” he said. “Students are more into the video games. And the environment I teach in, the parks aren’t playable or possibly not open. They need more exercise in their life.”

Gale has been part of a team pushing for safer walking routes to school in Fair Haven, spearheaded by former Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale. After almost two years of work, the team has secured a $477,000 federal Safe Routes to School grant, which will be used to improve walking infrastructure around the school, including new sidewalks and crosswalks along Grand Avenue and Exchange Street and two pedestrian islands on Grand Avenue at the intersections with Bright and Atwater streets.

“This summer, some very significant and aggressive traffic calming infrastructure remodeling is going to happen on Grand Avenue,” Sturgis-Pascale said.

The Safe Routes to School program originated in Denmark in the 1970s as the country looked for ways to reduce the number of children killed walking and bicycling to school. The effort has since expanded internationally, and in 2005, Congress created a National Safe Routes to School program, which included $612 million in grants to improve walking routes near schools. Of that, $16 million was set aside for Connecticut schools.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said the grant ties into the city’s broader Street Smarts campaign, aimed at improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

“As part of our Street Smarts campaign that launched a year and a half ago, we are committed to increasing awareness and making improvements in our infrastructure so that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists safely share New Haven streets,” DeStefano said. “This grant helps us advance this effort in Fair Haven, providing improved opportunities for children and their families to walk to school.”

According to Gale, there is currently one crosswalk on Grand Avenue in front of the school, manned by a crossing guard. But there is nothing to help children cross other nearby intersections.

In addition to the infrastructure improvements, Gale said he is considering starting a “walking train” this spring, where teachers and adults would meet children on nearby street corners and walk to school together. “This has to be partnered with educational and outreach programs,” said Sturgis-Pascale. “There are plenty of kids that live within one mile of the school who could walk to school. We hope to capture that, those children, and turn them from bus riders (and) children who are dropped off into walkers and cyclists,” she said.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This Friday: New Haven Press Conference on Red Light Camera Legislation

WHAT: The Connecticut Livable Streets Campaign is hosting a Press Conference to announce the introduction of Red Light Camera Legislation in Hartford.

WHERE: Corner of College Street and North Frontage, New Haven, CT

WHEN: Friday February 12, 2010 at 2:00PM

CT Livable Streets Campaign Press Release

CONTACT: Erin Sturgis-Pascale (203)530-0256 and Doug Hausladen (203)676-8330 and

CT Livable Streets Campaign Holds Press Conference to Highlight the Introduction of Red Light Camera Enabling Legislation in Hartford

Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and NHPD Chief James Lewis will join the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, members of the Connecticut General Assembly and the CT Livable Streets Campaign to announce the introduction of important life-saving Red Light Camera Enabling legislation in Hartford.

According to Mayor DeStefano: "This legislation will make New Haven safer. It will support the tough job our police have. This is a technology that is an efficient and effective tool that has proven successful in other parts of the nation. It will make New Haven streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. This is the third year that we have sought such legislation. At a time when we expect government to do more with less, I don't think this is too much to ask of our State government."

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), the statewide association of towns and cities, has long advocated for local governments to have the option to use traffic cameras to enhance public safety. "Enabling towns and cities to make streets safer is not only common sense, but also common practice across the country. It's now time for the Connecticut General Assembly to follow suit, and allow our communities the choice to decide for themselves if they could benefit from this life-saving technology," stated Jim Finley, CCM Executive Director & CEO.

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association supports the use of cameras to monitor and enforce traffic laws because many communities are experiencing both shortages of police officers and heavier traffic on our roads.

Drivers realize that the chances of getting a ticket are slim, and the result has been a visible increase in disregard for traffic laws. Red-light violations are particularly dangerous; collision at right angles can cause injury or death despite seat belts, air-bags, crumple zones, and similar car-safety features. Technology can tip the balance back in favor of safety. This proposal will allow technology-a factor in so many aspects of our lives-to save lives by improving driver behavior.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Study: 20MPH zones greatly reduce injuries and fatalities

A new study in the British Medical Journal: Many cities throughout the world, particularly in Europe, have been moving to slow traffic within their urban cores to 15-20 miles per hour, as it is the only effective way to reduce pedestrian casualties.

Similar data has been found in the United States (graphic here), but the new BMJ study provides even more empirical proof of the concept even after adjustment for other factors. From the new study:

Results: The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% (95% confidence interval 36.0% to 47.8%) reduction in road casualties, after adjustment for underlying time trends. The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries. There was no evidence of casualty migration to areas adjacent to 20 mph zones, where casualties also fellslightly by an average of 8.0% (4.4% to 11.5%).

Conclusions: 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing road injuries and deaths.

The New Haven Safe Streets Petition has called for the introduction of 15-20 MPH speed zones around schools, hospitals and dense pedestrian zones, as well as along quiet residential streets where children play on the street. When will the city begin implementing them?