Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Urban Network: Aldermen Seek Changes to Route 34

Please see today's reporting by Phil Langdon on the New Urban Network for an update on the Route 34 Resolution, which passed a Committee of the Board of Aldermen last month. An excerpt from Phil's report:

Among the changes sought by the aldermen are:
• Equal planning priority for pedestrian, bicycle, mass transit, and automobile traffic in the design;
• A pair of two-lane streets instead of two planned four-lane roads to carry much of the traffic that now uses the expressway;
• A maximum of three lanes where necessary (including turn lanes);
• Travel lanes only 10 feet, along with relatively tight corners, to calm traffic and minimize crossing distances for pedestrians;
• Separated bicycle facilities (cycletracks) adjacent to the two principal streets;
• Road design standards based on a target speed of no more than 25 mph;

Advocates for pedestrians, cyclists, and a less automobile-oriented design have been frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the mayor. The New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, which mobilized city residents to ask their representatives for a more pedestrian-oriented design, sent out a mass e-mail accusing the City of "trying to divide the community by spreading inaccurate information."

The Coalition said one letter from the City "claimed that widening highways like Route 34 can help reduce traffic within cities," when in fact the reverse is true. Another statement from the city claimed that intersections in the redesigned streets will be very similar to most intersections currently found in downtown New Haven, but cites what the Coalition says are "places that we know have been the scene of multiple fatalities and injuries in recent years, and that are not pleasant for young persons or the elderly to cross each day."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Driver Traveling at 60 MPH Hits Yale Residential College, Student Avoids Being Hit by 3 Inches

From the Yale Daily News:

A man driving a Volvo S80 crashed into a pole on Park Street outside Pierson College at around 11:10 p.m. Tuesday. The man was driving at over 60 miles an hour along Edgewood Avenue when the car swerved and came within three inches of hitting Chris Dennen '12 before smashing into the pole, according to three students who said they had heard an account from Dennen . Jeff Fell '12 and Sam Teicher '12, who both live on Edgewood Avenue, said Dennen was "shaken up" but unscathed. Dennen left the scene after the incident, they said. The vehicle's driver was not intoxicated at the time of the accident, police said. A graduate student, who lives on the corner of Park Street and Edgewood Avenue, corroborated the account, adding that the vehicle first hit the curb and lost a tire. The graduate student said two Yale Police Department officers who witnessed the incident both admitted they couldn't believe what they were seeing.

The incident took place just a block from where a speeding SUV careened off the road and into a house full of Yale affiliates in September.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Route 34: Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past (Testimony)

Public testimony from David Streever at the recent Board of Aldermen hearing on Route 34 public safety. The resolution in question passed the committee by a vote of 4-3, and now heads to the full Board of Aldermen for a vote. Please contact your Aldermen and encourage them to vote for a safer street.

The image shown here is an existing view of College & North Frontage: One of the intersections that the city proposes to significantly widen, even though local residents already consider it to be exceptionally dangerous.


Earlier this year, I read a quote in the Independent saying the Route 34 project began almost a decade ago. In reality, the proposal you see celebrated its birthday over one hundred years ago. The city is unaware of the long history of this project, and unaware that they are repeating mistakes first made almost a century ago.

In 1905, George Santayana wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. A few short years later, Frederick Law Olmsted and Cass Gilbert released a report on how New Haven should address a growing population and improve the cities basic infrastructure and quality of life.

The recommendations included expanded rail coverage, trolley service, and the purchase and demolition of hundreds of properties along Oak Street to place a city boulevard which would be lined with high-value property.

Over forty years later New Haven built Route 34, demolishing hundreds of homes and displacing almost a thousand families, and leaving out the expanded rail service, trolley service, and other mass transit and walkable elements. The original Route 34 was built entirely with cars in mind, and became purely a means of driving in and out of New Haven.

The project was marred by setbacks and delays, and never reached the final phases. The city was left with a lethal expressway which devalued property and could not be expanded upon, while literally driving residents out of the city. The loss of our tax base coincided with the loss of Federally funded road projects, and we were unable to complete the project.

Our experts in City Hall have forgotten this history. The history touted by the City says that Route 34 began in the 40s. Their omission of the good work of Olmstead and Gilbert is notable--it shows that they do not realize that 30 years of good intentions went into the original Route 34 plan.

The city seems flabbergasted by the wide-spread disagreement with their current plan, citing their good intentions and the economic development aspects of the plan. They claim that this is a phase one plan--and that while it is far from ideal, the issues we’ve identified as being dangerous and out of scope with the proposal will be addressed in later phases. What they do not realize is that this is what happened to Olmstead, Gilbert, and the aldermen--amongst them my neighbor Henry Harrison--when the time came to built the original Route 34.

New Haven is not learning from history. Olmstead, Gilbert, and Harrison had wonderful intentions--every bit as good as our current experts--and the individuals responsible for building Route 34 shared them. Much like our city staff, they naively believed that a Phase II was guaranteed. A mistake which even now, over 70 years later, dogs our city. We pay for this mistake with a high rate of accidents and deaths, pollution, crashed property values, and rising asthma rates. This stretch of road creates a very real barrier between the Hospital, the Hill, and Downtown, encouraging residents to drive when they could walk, and keeping neighborhoods segregated.

The current plan only increases this problem, by widening the road, and widening curb radii--the turning radius of the streets. These changes have been proven to increase speeds in study after study, which will make the street less safe to use. The addition of no less than 3 separate types of bike infrastructure--all within a few blocks of each other--will only cause confusion and frustration. How can a cyclist who is being diverted to a different type of infrastructure every other block behave in a safe, predictable manner?

The city should have followed their own grant proposal and built a street around living, walking, biking, and using mass transit. Despite showing us dozens of photos of other progressive cities where highways have been replaced with parks and light rail, they have proposed a plan that increases the overall speeds, danger, and widths of the roads.

One has to wonder why the final plan is so different from the original proposal the city submitted, and why, despite hundreds of residents attending dozens of public meetings, the plan has remained virtually unchanged since 2008.

The basis of the plan--a car-centric and widened expressway--has remained the same for 3 years. The number one feedback at every single meeting I’ve attended is:

"Build a smaller road--an actual boulevard--consistent with your proposal. Build a road which is safe to walk, bike, and live on. Build a road with civic improvements, not office complexes that will be mostly staffed by Guilford residents who can drive directly to their office on the new expressway you are proposing."

The resolution as submitted echoes the spoken and written words of literally hundreds of our neighbors. I have not attended a single public meeting where a city resident said that they’d like to see the current plan built without changes. The alternate vision for Route 34, as articulated by a broad group of architects, urban planners, and neighbors is a safe, economically strong road which will improve our city and strengthen our communities. The city's current proposal will do neither of these things. It will deliver a large lot to a private developer and cause further danger to pedestrians and residents.

How long will it take to undo the damage that the cities current plan could wreck? It has taken us 60 years to begin talking about how to undo the damage caused by the original plan. I sincerely hope that we don’t have to wait another 60 to have a safe and livable Route 34.

David Streever
Ward 10 Chairman
Board of Directors Elm City Cycling

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stand in Support of Safe Streets: Thursday, 10/13

Please take action today and tomorrow to make Route 34 a better project for all city residents. See for details.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coalition Receives Response from Mayor DeStefano on "Progress Report" Letter

Dear New Haven Safe Streets Petition Supporters:

Yesterday, Mayor John DeStefano mailed a written response to a group of elected officials and civic leaders who represent New Haven's 12 Community Management Teams and other associations within the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition.

Following up to our larger-scale Petition drive in 2008, this core group of neighborhood leaders had recently authored a detailed "progress report" on the city's Safe Streets programs, law enforcement activities, and Route 34 designs. Please click here to read the original "progress report" letter, and list of authors: Letter to Mayor DeStefano - August 24 2011

Please click here to read the Mayor's response: Response from Mayor DeStefano - September 22 2011

Regarding these requests, the City has proposed three follow up actions:

1) The Coalition will schedule a meeting with the City's Transportation Director, Jim Travers, in order to review each of requests in our letter. Please contact newhavensafestreets at, or call (203) 500-7059, if you would like to attend this meeting. We will share the results of this meeting with this group and on the New Haven Safe Streets website.

2) The City has invited all of us to attend and participate in upcoming public workshops and hearings on major city development projects. In particular, several meetings and public hearings will be held regarding the Route 34 reconstruction project in the fall of this year. We strongly encourage you to attend these hearings, and demand street designs that comply with city regulations by prioritizing the accessibility of walkers, cyclists and public transit users of all ages and abilities.

3) In early 2012, City Hall will make a full report to the Board of Aldermen regarding the Complete Streets program (which has been recognized as one of the nation's best, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition), including a review of all requests submitted to date using the "request form" system. Please contact us if you have any questions about how this works, or if you would like help filling out "request forms" in your neighborhood. The forms are available at Although we will demand that all streets be considered for improvements (and have requested next year's project schedules to help ensure this), we encourage every neighborhood and elected official to complete the official "request form," because this will help provide a greater degree of transparency.

To view a Sunday, August 28th feature story in the New Haven Register about our original letter, please visit the following article: New Haven Register: Advocates pleased with New Haven safe streets efforts, but say much work remains

Thank you again for your assistance as an author of this letter, and/or as a general supporter of the Safe Streets Coalition. We will continue to monitor New Haven's progress on the Safe Streets Petition, and look forward to additional successes in the coming years. Please feel free to forward this email to your neighbors and friends, or unsubscribe if you no longer wish to hear from us.

Best regards, New Haven Safe Streets Coalition Coordinators & CT Livable Streets Campaign Steering Committee

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stop Pedaling, Start Building Massive Debt: GM College Debt Plan

The source of this parody GM advertisement is unknown (please post here if you have it). See this post at Bike Delaware for background.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Self Enforcement" Street Improvements Planned for Clinton Avenue in Fair Haven

Among New Haven neighborhoods, Fair Haven has long been an epicenter of grassroots citizen demand for slower, more livable streets and traffic calming (self-enforcing) street designs. Fair Haven is one of the oldest sections of New Haven, having been developed as a separate fishing village in the 1600s, and therefore was build around walking. Until very recently, slower neighborhood streets existed throughout the neighborhood and helped foster a very strong sense of community there. You can view the history of these efforts by clicking here and scrolling down.

Today comes news that the neighborhood will be seeing some additional improvements. According to Alderwoman Stephanie Bauer's post on the the Chatham Square Neighborhood website:

Jim Travers was able to get Richard Miller out to Clinton Avenue to discuss traffic calming measures. Street humps on Clinton between Pine Street and Grand Avenue will be placed, however an exact date has not been set as of yet. As soon as one has been set I will post that information. As a long term project, Jim is looking into aquiring the funds necessary to place a center pedestrian island on the wider part of Clinton Avenue, other options are currently being discussed to follow the current traffic calming manual.

Local resident, Lee Cruz, replies (excerpt below):

Great move toward more complete streets in Fair Haven, thank you to all who made it possible. To help calm traffic we should consider participating in the Urban Resources Initiative Greenspace program. Dan Burden, the traffic planning expert who we hired with our own money and with help from The Community Foundation and City says trees help slow down traffic, link here. Trees also have other benefits. Our neighborhood traffic report is to big to post here but if anyone is interested in seeing it I will look for a way to get it up online and post a link here on this site.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Speed Table and Curb Extensions Coming to Edwards Street in New Haven; Will Foster Community

Original Post 12/9/2010: East Rock neighbors are excited about a new traffic calming system that will be built at the corner of Livingston and Edwards Street in New Haven. Speed tables and curb extensions, like the one proposed here by the City of New Haven under its Complete Streets program, have been shown worldwide to be highly effective at reducing speeds, improving driver safety, and increasing pedestrian comfort levels. They are also used in many cities with much snowier climates than New Haven. The Livingston Street system will be located just one block from Whitney Avenue, which one of the neighborhood's elected representatives recently called a "local access highway" that contributes to speeding in the area. The neighborhood's Community Management Team has enthusiastically supported calls for more progressive traffic planning as well.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, for example, prior a similar traffic calming improvement, the 85th percentile speed on Berkshire Street was 30 mi/h, and only 41 percent of vehicles surveyed were traveling at or below the 25 mi/h speed limit. After the improvements, the 85th percentile speed was reduced to 21 mi/h at the vertical traffic calming devices and 24 mi/h in between, and 95 percent of vehicles were going at or below the speed limit. Similar results have been found after the installation of speed tables in other cities. The photo shown here is an example of a tabled intersection with curb extensions (or bump outs), taken from an online Bucknell Traffic Calming library.

Interestingly, the New Haven Independent reports that neighbors asked the City of New Haven not to repave the street recently, because they believed that the lumpy pavement served as a traffic calming device. This is not an unusual solution: in many cities and towns throughout the world, local governments trying to curb the extremely deleterious impacts of speeding traffic on neighborhood health have allowed or encouraged dirt pathways (or lumpy asphalt) in the automobile travel lanes, while paving smooth sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Indy article mentions that the new device will not only curb speeds, it will help build a sense of community. Furthermore, it sounds like some of the neighbors have ideas for what to build next. Frank Chapman, who has lived a couple doors away from the intersection for more than 30 years, is profiled in the story:

An architect and former deputy head of the City Plan Department, Chapman said he’s wholeheartedly behind the speed table. Edwards Street is about a mile long, with only two non-T intersections between State and Prospect Streets, Chapman said. “The blocks are long,” and drivers take advantage of that to step on the gas, Chapman said. “It’s an invitation for cars to go fast.” From his living room on Edwards Street, where he and his wife have lived since 1978, Chapman called the speed table a “brilliant plan.”

He said he and his neighbors are committed to maintaining flowers or evergreen shrubs planted in the new medians. “We think it will have a very positive effect on slowing traffic,” he said. Next, Chapman has his eye on the intersection of Edwards and Orange Streets, where he said a roundabout should be installed. “I laid it out and I know it would work.”

We hope that Chapman's vision, which sounds similar to neighborhood traffic calming master plans that have been under development in Dwight, Westville and Fair Haven, can be realized as soon as possible!

Update 7/28/2011: The large traffic calming project, which includes medians and a raised intersection, is now under construction. The related SeeClickFix issue has been closed.

Update 8/22/2011: The New Haven Independent has a story on the completion of the traffic calming system (see photo above). According to the Mayor of New Haven, "It’s the 360 State of Edwards Street. It’s a game changer." A neighbor living next to the intersection, who plans to help garden it, told the paper that she’s "delighted and thrilled" about the new intersection (but half-jokingly suggested that the circle in the middle could be a public park and fountain). For information on how successful miniature traffic circles have been in Seattle, both in terms of reducing injuries (virtually by 100%) and promoting community, see this excellent article in the Road Management and Engineering Journal.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Are Speed Limit Signs a Cost-Effective Strategy to Manage Urban Speeds and Implement 20MPH "Living Streets"?

According to the 20's Plenty campaign, 20mph speed limits for all residential areas throughout Europe have emerged as the key recommendation of the EU Transport and Tourism Committee on improving road safety in Europe. This announcement was made by European Parliament on June 21, 2011.

Studies have proven that 20 MPH speed zones have a dramatic impact on reducing the level of pedestrian injury. Slower street speeds are also associated with benefits such as more social connections, a stronger sense of community, reduced noise and stress levels, higher property values, more accessible walking and better conditions for bicycling. Unfortunately, citywide traffic calming projects, such as those created in many European cities over the past 30 years, can take many years or even decades to roll out across an entire city. So how can cities move forward on creating these zones in a more cost-effective way?

A British review suggests that, when combined with community involvement, even just posting lower speed limits can be an effective method to shave a few miles per hour off the speed of local vehicular traffic:

"Where signs-only schemes are used, small speed reductions and accident savings can be achieved if associated publicity and enforcement campaigns are also used."
Source: UK Transport Research Laboratory Report 363 Urban speed management methods

The British study looked at impacts of signs-only schemes on traffic speeds, concluding that there are small reductions of speeds just from signs particularly when they are combined with community awareness, enforcement and/or publicity. Although the decreased speeds resulting from signage efforts pale in comparison to the decreased speeds that communities see on so-called "living streets" with traffic calming (also known as "self-enforcing" speed limits), it is interesting that they did find reductions from signage alone.

Some cities and towns already seem to be aware of this strategy. The 20's Plenty campaign points out that cities in England with a population of 5 million people have adopted 20 MPH zones as their official policy. Locally, many cities and towns in Connecticut post 15 MPH or 20 MPH speed limit signs within residential areas, and even New York City is now cutting speed limits to 20 MPH within 75 different neighborhoods across the city. In Hartford, Connecticut, a 10 MPH speed limit is posted in front of the Legislative Office Building, and helps protect the lives of our state legislators.

Yet, in New Haven, our traffic engineers continue to post speed limit signage of 25 or 30 MPH across the entire city. The high speeds that result contribute to hundreds of severe injuries per year on our city streets.  Slower posted speed limits in residential areas, hospital, university, and school zones are something that the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition has specifically called for on many occasions.

Cities must be realistic when creating a strategy for more livable streets. On one hand, small decreases in speeds may not meet overall community goals for speed management, and probably won't significantly reduce the number of crashes.

But on the other hand, looking at the graph at the European Cyclists Federation website and the Federal Highway Administration data here, it seems that even a small reduction in speed within a given area could have some impact on the severity of injuries and fatalities over time.

Speed limits and local governance

One of the key limitations of the Transport Research Laboratory report, in our opinion, is that it did not address the question of whether lower speed limits in and of themselves can, over time, create additional political will for additional "self-enforcing" (traffic calmed) streets.

Signage for reduced speed limits are an "advertisement" of sorts for more livable streets within a city. Furthermore, it may be easier for neighborhood advocates to argue for concrete changes if they are able to point to even bigger disparities between desired outcomes (livable streets) and the day-to-day realities of vehicles traveling at dangerous speeds through their neighborhood.  Slower speed limits also provide ammunition for local residents to use more informally, when they talk to their neighbors who clearly violate the laws.  The converse principle is also true: treating all roads equally - by posting all of them at 25 or 30MPH - sends the implicit message that little can be accomplished, and discourages residents from taking any action.

Either way, the evidence seems clear that posted signs can translate into slightly lower speeds in the short term.  By catalyzing more effective citizen advocacy, can they also lead to the implementation of more effective, and more widespread, traffic calming strategies in the long term?

Update, 8/31/12: Portland, Oregon will be reducing speed limits to 20 miles per hour on 70 miles of residential streets.  Even a small adjustment in speed limits on this many streets is likely to save lives.  The results of this conversion will hopefully become a "case study" for complete streets advocates in other U.S. cities.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011" introduced in Congress

Last month companion bills were introduced in both chambers of the US Congress, the stated purpose of which is "to ensure the safety of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities, as they travel on and across federally funded streets and highways." Key provisions require states to effectuate either legislation or an "explicit" state DOT policy that (with apparent limited exception) "all transportation projects in the state shall accommodate the safety and convenience of all users in accordance with complete streets principles." See, H.R. 1780, available at No Connecticut legislator serves on either of the Senate or House committees to which the bills have been assigned.

While the Connecticut General Assembly's passage of our Complete Streets law in 2009 (codified at CGS sections 13a-153f and 13b-13a) has been recognized by the National Complete Streets Coalition as the nation's second strongest state law, the proposed national legislation appears even stronger. That is because unlike CT's law, it does not provide for the state or a municipality's exemption from Complete Streets implementation if "the accommodation of all users is not consistent with the state's or municipality's program of construction, maintenance or repair." Keep current with the national campaign to pass the US Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011, by clicking on

- Courtesy Bike Walk Connecticut

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WTNH: Pedestrians Not Safe in New Haven, Especially at "Notorious" Whitney and Audubon Street Crosswalk

A new report by WTNH, New Haven's local television station, responds to the recent T4America "Dangerous by Design" report that chronicles the nation's severe pedestrian safety issues.

To illustrate, WTNH focuses on pedestrian safety at the notorious intersection of Whitney and Audubon, across from Yale University. The New Haven Independent has recently focused significant coverage on this intersection: Check it out here and here. Residents in the area have recently taken it upon themselves to fill out a Complete Streets Request form, in order to request improvements to the area.

Click here to see the video and article.

An excerpt from WTNH:

NEW HAVEN, CONN. (WTNH) - A new study says Connecticut is not a safe state for pedestrians. The Hartford metropolitan area is the most dangerous in the state, the second most dangerous in all of New England. Hartford is the worst, New Haven is a close second.

Whitney Avenue at Audubon Street is notorious for being unsafe for pedestrians. The problem is that you have to walk a full two blocks before you get to a crosswalk.

Earlier this month anonymous advocates painted a makeshift crosswalk of their own. The city quickly washed it away saying, it's not safe. There's a slight hill making it difficult for drivers to see people in the road. But it's hard to find anyone who doesn't cross in the middle of the street.

"It seems quiet but once you step out, here goes the cars, and there's no crosswalk here and it's dangerous," says Melissa Doumbia of New Haven. Doumbia's daughter attends classes on Audubon, she makes her walk the other way. "Oh, yeah, absolutely, I actually have her meet me down at the other end most of the time," says Doumbia.

With delivery trucks often parked in the area, visibility isn't the best for drivers and pedestrians. "People drive crazy here, everyone's rushing, there's a lot of students, there's bikes, a lot of bikes," says Francesca Colasanto of Branford.

A new study by Transportation for America is trying to highlight the problem. Over the last ten years, 373 pedestrians were killed in Connecticut. Pedestrians have only a 15 percent chance of survival when hit by a car going 40 miles an hour... According to the study, a full 12.5 percent of traffic deaths involved pedestrians.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Walkable Westville: What Makes a Neighborhood Great

Bennett Lovett-Graff writes into the New Haven Review to describe the things that make his home of Westville (pictured here, in a photo from a 2008 cover piece in the NYTimes Real Estate Magazine) such a great neighborhood for walking, and living:

"I grew up on Brooklyn and attended all my life the public schools to which I walked nearly every day of the thirteen years I had to go. At the age of 17, I left my family home and never came back.

This is not the same as saying that I didn't return to New York or even Brooklyn. I did. But I didn't return "home" in that most traditional of senses: taking up residence, as my brother did till age 35, in my parents' five-bedroom home on Glenwood Road.

When I left New York for the last time after a two-year stint as an editor to return to New Haven (yes, I lived here twice), my wife and I were not only overjoyed, we even returned to the neighborhood in which we had rented the first time around: that part of Westville between Whalley & Derby on the north and south respectively; and Yale Avenue and Forest Road as far as east and west go. We have had no regrets since in the last 10 years that we have resided here, and we both chalk that up not to New Haven itself, but the neighborhood in which we reside.

I could write electronic ream after ream on the wonderfulness of this neighborhood. My children walk two blocks to school (Edgewood School); my wife walks two blocks to work (Mitchell Library); we walk two blocks to synagogue (Beth-El Keser Israel); we have farmer's market directly across the street in the summers; access to tennis courts in Edgewood Park (across the street) and Yale fields (three blocks) respectively; sledding at the Yale golf course in the winter five blocks away we can walk less than a block to five art galleries, four bars, five restaurants.

It's the neighborhood thus that has made New Haven home for us (and our children) and not "New Haven" itself. The spatial proximity of creature comforts, leisure activities, the necessities of food and culture have created a latitude and lassitude in time: it moves more slowly, more relaxedly, more satisfactorily, with less alienating effects as I wave at friends going north along my block to synagogue or walking their children south along it to school or heading in either direction with dogs in tow or on bikes or in jogging suits.

Were I to leave New Haven, what I would miss is not its individual places or events but entire gestalt of a community created in a small corner of the city."

As reported recently in the New Haven Independent, neighbors are working on numerous Complete Streets submissions to make this neighborhood even better. If you live in Westville and want to get involved in making your streets even more able to foster a sense of community and local pride, please contact the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA) or your local Alderperson.

Outside the historic core, not all of Westville is so walkable. Phil Langdon writes in the New Urban News about how Whalley Avenue, a main thoroughfare through the area, is an example of the Connecticut Department of Transportation's failure to address traffic safety issues. After an 11 year old was killed in a hit and run, the City of New Haven actually approved ConnDOT's widening of the road from two lanes to four lanes, which will make speeds even higher.

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Annual "Fair Haven Family Stroll": Saturday, May 7

Come out to the Quinnipiac River Park (corner of Grand Avenue and Front Street in New Haven) on Saturday, May 7, 2011 from 11am - 3pm for the first annual Fair Haven Family Stroll. The event is a fundraiser for four Fair Haven-based childcare centers - Alexis Hill Montessori School, Centro San Jose, Farnam Neighborhood House, and the Heights' Friends Center for Children.

The event will include a "stroll" around the Bridge Loop over the Quinnipiac to raise money to support existing families and to expand programs to reach more neighborhood families. All who register for the stroll or sponsor a "stroller" for at least $10 will receive a grocery tote bag filled with information about local resources, including a family resource map of Fair Haven and Fair Haven Heights.

Also, between 11am and 3pm there will be a festival in the park, with family-friendly activities including story-telling, yoga, dance, interactive music, food, and lots of arts and crafts.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

NHPD Chief Limon Wonders: When Will ConnDOT Stop Designing Roads That Kill People?

This March, the state's first Traffic Safety Conference was held at Yale-New Haven Hospital. According to attendees, the meeting addressed a broad scope of injury prevention factors -- examining motorcycle safety, the use of child car seats, impaired (cell phone distraction, substance abuse) driving, safety for new and old drivers, and enhanced police enforcement.

To read a complete round-up of the event, please see "When will transportation departments start making roads safe for all?", by Phil Langdon of the New Urban News. Mr. Langdon writes that while traffic deaths have fallen dramatically, safety advocates and officials still pay far too little attention to the potential of better street design. Public comments at the bottom of Langdon's piece are also helpful to illustrate current conditions in New Haven.

Though its focus was on other injury prevention factors, the Traffic Safety Conference also highlighted CT DOT's inadequate application of proper street design for cities in our cities. New Haven Police Chief Frank Limon showed two very striking maps, one of vehicular accidents, the other of vehicular violations. In Limon's maps, the traffic violations (like running red lights) were focused on typical New Haven streets, which are sometimes patrolled by traffic enforcement officers particularly within pedestrian-heavy retail districts. But fatal accidents were concentrated along the state roads (which also serve as city arterials) that have been recently rebuilt to DOT standards -- roads with wide and multiple turn lanes in car oriented environments like Foxon Road and Ella Grasso Boulevard.

Limon spoke at length about the intersection of Derby Avenue and Ella Grasso Boulevard, a spot that has seen dozens of severe crashes. In this location, ConnDOT installed multiple turn lanes, and broad expanses of pavement, within the past five years. Chief Limon advised: "Don't go near it."

Limon's data presented a clear case of what New Urban planners and traffic safety advocates have long argued -- that the wider lanes and higher speeds in single use zones create congestion and fatal accidents.

It is of great concern to many citizens that the current planning for the rebuilding of the Route 34 Connector and Route 34 West around the hospital zone is focused, as these failed DOT projects are, on maximizing high-speed travel lanes (aided and abetted by underground service roads). Dozens of public meetings and workshops have been held over the past year, in which hundreds of New Haven residents have demanded walkable and bikeable streets, traffic demand management and transit development rather than yet another at-grade urban highway.

Mr. Langdon's article argues that ConnDOT has largely failed the city over the past few years, not just because of deadly road projects like Ella Grasso Boulevard and Foxon Road, but also due to its negligent designs within smaller neighborhood districts like Westville and Whalley/Edgewood (shown in the photo here). Mr. Langdon notes:

Even today, DOT continues to carry out pedestrian-hostile projects in New Haven. Mark Abraham, leader of the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, points to the current widening of Whalley Avenue, a thoroughfare that carries commuter traffic between downtown New Haven and suburban Woodbridge.

Says Abraham: "Whalley Avenue, in a densely settled area of New Haven, along a site that has been the scene of hundreds of crashes, including one that killed an 11-year-old girl in a hit-and-run, was unfortunately converted from a 2-lane road into a 4-lane road with no pedestrian medians, raised intersections, or other measures typically used to make streets in urban areas safer to pedestrians. In addition, there are long sections with no crosswalks whatsoever...." "Hundreds of neighbors and elected officials pressed for reasonable design changes, but the DOT, working in tandem with city government, was simply unwilling or unable to take significant steps that would have made the area safer but also supported retail activity along the street. Recent studies have shown that walkable streets have far fewer retail vacancies and 50 percent higher retail rents."

Alderman Dildine said that in his view,” a road diet is the only solution for residential neighborhoods.” DOT, he said, often seems to drag its heels on initiatives and policies that would make places function better for people who are not behind the wheel.

NHTSA has consistently found that three of every 10 fatal motor vehicle crashes involve speeding. In 2000, 30 percent of fatal crashes involved speeding. In 2009, despite progress in other respects, 31 percent of fatal crashes involved speeding. And as research has shown, the speed of a motor vehicle is what’s lethal for a pedestrian. Bring down the speed and a person who’s hit by a car has a far greater likelihood of surviving.

What all of this tells me is that community design, and particularly street design, are crucial ingredients in traffic safety. Communities are not going to be able to control driver behavior adequately through ticketing, red-light cameras, distracted-driver campaigns, and other measures of those sorts. Street design has to be an important element in the government response. Street design must be on the agenda of any conference looking for comprehensive solutions to the reduced, but still grievous, plague of traffic deaths.

At the very least, Langdon concludes, it is time for state transportation departments to stop the lip service and to start making real changes.

Anstress Farwell contributed a portion of the text within this online post.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Petition and Discussion to Stop the Violence in New Haven

As part of our efforts to advocate for streets that are safe, comfortable and attractive for residents of all ages and abilities, the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition maintains a strong focus on policies such as "complete streets" and lower speeds, which have been proven to lead to a reduction in the hundreds of traffic injuries and fatalities that plague our community each year.

However, our efforts have also focused on the crucial links between physical activity, community cohesion, safe streets and community violence. These relationships are well documented on the Prevention Institute page, Connecting Safety to Chronic Disease, and elsewhere. An example application of this knowledge is San Francisco's Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index, which is used to plan walkable neighborhoods and which takes perceived public safety (like graffiti and lighting) into account. Safer streets and safe neighborhoods can lead to increased rates of walking and cycling, which are directly linked to reductions in overall injuries and fatalities as well as other gains in community well-being.

The tragic killing of Mitchell Dubey, a well-loved Downtown New Haven bicycle mechanic and musician, and other recent homicides within a few of New Haven's neighborhoods have spurred an increased level of attention to safety issues in the city.

If you would like to join in this discussion, the link and petition below may be of interest. Feel free to comment, add relevant documents or stories, discuss suggested violence prevent strategies, or recommend other items that should be on the page.

Petition: Stop the Violence in New Haven:

Addressing issues of public safety often requires persistence and collaboration across the civic sector. As one example, the image here shows the dark ceiling of the Chapel Street arcade at 900 Chapel Street last year, which had long-neglected, burned-out lights before it was "fixed" (and re-lit) through a combination of SeeClickFix issues, numerous calls to the property owner by local elected officials, citizens, and officials at the Town Green District, and several of Mary O'Leary's newspaper stories in the New Haven Register. Poorly-lit or abandoned public spaces cause a feeling of insecurity, and can discourage local residents from walking.

In addition to civic collaboration, individual relationships and community cohesion (which a new research brief shows can be severely undermined by income inequality) are critical as well. As local organizer Kevin Ewing points out on the SeeClickFix thread above, "The only people who are going to be able to stop the violence and crime happening in our communities are the people who are committing the acts of violence and crime in our communities. The rest of us have to convince them to stop. It's not going to happen unless we directly engage them... build relationships with them... understand what they want and push them to go after it. I don't think we need more programs. I think we need to fund the ones that make real impact. More importantly I think we need to fund the PEOPLE who are on the ground making direct differences."

On the same thread, Barbara Tinney suggests citizens take action around issues of gun control: "When the quality of life and public safety everywhere in our city becomes everyones concern then we can stop gun violence. When everyone asks the question - how do guns find there way into the streets of New Haven and demand an answer then we can stop gun violence. When we decide that no -one has the answer and that the solution will only result from true collective action then we can stop gun violence. When tragedy isn't the trigger for collective outrage, but is replaced with the genuine belief that we as citizens are better off when everyone is safe and we act accordingly then we can stop gun violence. We, the collective we that crosses neighborhood boundaries, racial lines, socio-economic differences and all the other things that keep us in our silos decide that will not not stand for gun violence in our city then we will witness its elimination. If we muster the will to take a stand as full participants in community life we can stop gun violence."

The New York Times recently highlighted this issue, pointing out that guns that fire 33 bullets before re-loading are now legal again thanks to the expiration of the ban on assault weapons. The Connecticut Against Gun Violence organization maintains a useful page with facts about this issue locally. For example, in Connecticut, one study showed that 23% of small-city 9th and 10th graders and 15% of affluent suburban 9th and 10th graders said that it would be sort of easy or very easy to get a gun. New Haven is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national group devoted to this issue.

Although Connecticut and New Haven are, in general, very safe places, this issue indirectly or directly affects all of us, and it must be addressed if we want to have healthier, more vibrant streets.

More Information

For information about public safety related to New Haven, one place to begin is the New Haven Health Department's briefing reports:

Creating a Healthy and Safe City: The Impact of Violence in New Haven (2011)

Executive Summary (Short Version)

Full Report (with Maps, Charts etc.)

Additionally, Community Mediation and the New Haven Police Department have been holding a series of discussions on the topic of community and police partnerships. Please see the schedule of events and a summary of the discussions at this page.

Monday, March 21, 2011

SB706 Intersection Safety Camera Legislation Passes CGA Committee (Again)

A new bill allowing cities to install intersection safety cameras, which issue tickets to vehicles that do not obey red light signals, has passed the Transportation Committee by a vote of 25 to 11. Text and other information about the bill, currently labeled S.B. 706, may be found here on the Connecticut General Assembly's website. There are many supporters of the bill this year, including Toni Walker and Roland Lemar, state representatives from New Haven. The bill is also supported by Bike Walk Connecticut, the state's largest bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization.

The Hartford Courant reports at,0,594323.story, and links to an online poll (shown here) which, with 1,072 votes recorded, indicates support for the devices. An excerpt from the Courant's coverage:

The legislature's transportation committee voted Friday to approve a bill that would enable any Connecticut municipality with a population of more than 60,000 to install cameras to take pictures of red-light violators at intersections, and to impose a fine of $124 for each violation.

The 25-11 committee vote sends the bill to the floor of the state Senate for debate and action. Approval also would be required in the House before the bill could be sent to the governor, who then would decide whether to sign it into law. Legislative approval isn't guaranteed. At least one such bill has cleared the committee in recent years, but none has been approved in the full House and Senate.

According to the Courant, the towns of more than 60,000 people in Connecticut are Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, West Hartford, Greenwich, Hamden, Meriden and Bristol.

Click here for our coverage of previous years' legislation, and here for an earlier summary from the Tri State Transportation Campaign.

A group called CT Safe Roads has launched a website to help advocate for the devices. If you support the use of intersection safety cameras, which are currently deployed in more than 400 U.S. cities and have been shown to be extremely effective at reducing deaths caused by red light running, please visit the website and email, call or set up a visit with your state representatives. Several well-written op-eds supporting the cameras can be found in Connecticut's newspapers, including the Courant, Bristol Press, and New Haven Register.

Friday, March 18, 2011

City Point Neighborhood Association Requests Traffic Improvements

The City Point Neighborhood Association, after meeting with the City of New Haven and volunteers from the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, has decided to request temporary and permanent traffic calming measures through the City's Complete Streets program.

City Point is a beautiful area at the southern end of the "Hill" neighborhood, bordering Long Island Sound. Designated as an official historic district by the City of New Haven, the area is known for its small oysterman's houses, marina, parks, and well-preserved 19th- and early 20th-century homes along Howard Avenue (such as the one shown here). Despite the area's beauty, community cohesiveness and high quality of life, traffic has been identified as a major concern. In the 2010 Neighborhood Quality of Life Survey, the several dozen City Point residents who responded clearly indicated that the control of traffic speeding and enforcement in the area was not acceptable.

The measures the group who was present has decided to request are as follows (these are excerpted directly from emails to the neighborhood association):

Temporary Measures

Seasonal crosswalk signs--these are temporary structures that are placed in the middle street that alert drivers to watch for pedestrians. These are seasonal in that they can't be placed in the streets in the winter (because of snow, plowing, etc) but they have been used and proven to be effective on State Street. We are going to request these for various spots on Howard Avenue.

Removable Speed Bumps--these are temporary because they are placed on the street and removable, not cemented into the road. These will be placed on Sea Street because and possibly other small streets that experience heavy traffic at times (Sea Street does because of the Sound School). These are not as effective on wide roads and are not a good option for Howard Avenue.

If you would like to sign onto the application we will submit requesting these temporary measures from the city, please contact the Safe Streets Coalition via email at newhavensafestreets [a/t] to sign on (replace the "[a/t]" with an "@" sign).

Options for Permanent Traffic Calming

These were discussed in detail at last week's meeting. I will only provide a brief overview of each here as these options will be discussed again in detail in April when we reconvene. (However, please feel free to send any questions you may have in the meantime). Whatever options we do choose, city and Safe Streets staff did stress that these are not truly effective unless they are used in multiple locations (for example, one traffic circle or one bump out alone will not serve to slow traffic, but a series of them will).

Traffic circles--These are "roundabout" structures, that traffic has to go around. These have proven to be extremely effective is dramatically reducing speed and accidents on streets that are long, straight and wide (like Howard Avenue). These have been installed on Woodward Avenue in the East Shore area.

Medians- these can consist of "temporary" ones that are huge potted plants down the length of the road or permanent, cement ones. To be effective, a cement/asphalt median needs to have plantings.

Bump outs- this is where the sidewalk extends out into the street more than usual at intersections. It serves to slow cars down since it narrows the road, but also gives pedestrians a little extra safety as it increases both their view of traffic and traffic's view of them.

Textured pavement-used in conjunction with bump outs, textured pavement can be concrete that is "stamped" to look like stone (or a plastic based covering that looks like brick) and is bumpy which slows traffic.

Bike lanes- bike lanes also help slow traffic as they visually narrow the road to drivers. However, these have already been planned for Howard Avenue and used alone, will not likely slow traffic significantly on an avenue as wide as Howard.

Other Resources

The City of New Haven's Complete Streets manual includes more detailed information and photos of various traffic calming measures. It can be found here: Beginning on page 47, there are descriptions and photos of both temporary and permanent traffic calming measures. At the end of the manual is the application. Anyone can fill one out and submit it at any time, but especially for larger, permanent traffic calming plans, the city is not very likely to approve an application unless it has support from a large amount of residents in the given area.

More information on the Safe Streets group:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ongoing Crashes at the Tomlinson Bridge in New Haven: State Board Called for Speedy Resolution Last Fall, but Few Actions Taken

As we have reported multiple times in the past two years, the Tomlinson Bridge in New Haven has been the subject of local, state and national news coverage because of the extreme danger presented by the combination of an oblique rail crossing and a high speed road. The Bridge is the topic of a SeeClickFix issue that has received over 14,000 hits.

The Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board has highlighted these concerns in their 2010 annual report, as one of the most severe issues in the entire state. Their report, and a history of correspondence on the issue which includes calls for a "speedy" fix to the problem, is available here as a PDF.

Please contact us if you would like to add more reports of crashes to the list below. More information on the Tomlinson Bridge may be found on Wikipedia (in the photo here, it is shown on the left hand side). There are also more comprehensive articles on the history of the controversy on Design New Haven as well as on our site. The bridge is a crucial connection between Downtown New Haven and all neighborhoods, urban and suburban, located towards the east side of Downtown.

The following bicycle injuries have been documented at this railroad crossing. This is an incomplete list that only highlights some of the more severe falls:

**June 26, 2010: Two cyclists fall on tracks during the annual New Haven Century. One of them breaks his femur.

**September 26, 2009: Two cyclists fall and are injured while riding during a Yale Cycling event.

**September 25, 2009: A cyclist falls during an evening group ride over the tracks, and suffers minor injuries.

**September 13, 2009: A cyclist falls after his wheels become stuck in the tracks.

**August 30, 2009: A cyclist is involved in a hit-and-run incident on the bridge and severely injures his arm and shoulder.

**June 24, 2009: A cyclist falls on tracks while biking to Lighthouse Point and fractures her wrist.

**August 2008: A cyclist crashes on the bridge, due to a passing car, and breaks his elbow.

**August, 2007: A cyclist falls on tracks and seriously injures his left shoulder rotator cuff.

According to local bicycle shops and avid riders, many other cyclists (including city officials) have reportedly crashed while cycling over the tracks, suffering broken arms and collarbones.

Local bicycle advocates, including members of ElmCityCycling, have urged city and Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) officials to take action to prevent further injuries at the crossing. To date, signs have been posted warning cyclists of the crossing, but injuries persist. Cyclists have commented on the limited visibility of the signs. To date, ConnDOT has not adequately addressed the situation.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Permanent Mid-Block Crosswalk Needed at End of Library Walk, on High Street at Yale Campus

Brian Tang's post on SeeClickFix details the issue, and his photo (copied here) shows a temporary measure that has worked very well to serve pedestrians in the area.

A similar issue concerning the need for mid-block crossings on the wide blocks surrounding Yale's undergraduate dormitories, in front of the Yale University Theater, may be found here:

A crosswalk is needed from the University Theater to the Library Walk. There is a mid block crosswalk on Temple Street, in front of the Omni Hotel (which has far fewer pedestrians than this area!), which could serve as a model. Doing this would require bumping out the curbs and removing some parking spaces, in order to increase the visibility of pedestrians.

A crosswalk would also help reduce speeding on the street. Cars currently travel through this area at very high speeds, putting pedestrians' lives at risk. It is surprising nothing has been done about the situation, considering the number of students who have been injured and the enormous numbers of pedestrians who cross York Street to get from one dormitory to the other.

A request for mid-block crossings like these should be submitted using one of the City's new "Complete Streets" forms. Please visit if you are interested in filling out a form, and contact us if you need assistance.

Monday, January 31, 2011

52 Motor Vehicle Crashes in A Few Hours, After New Haven Snowstorm

An excerpt from reporting from Paul Bass:

Police Monday responded to 44 traffic accidents by 4 p.m. and were headed out to handle eight more, thanks to continuing street problems connected to last week’s storm. Snowbanks blinding drivers around town, such as the woman who ended up stumbling out of her smashed Dodge Stratus and collapsing on Dixwell Avenue.

As many as five or six accidents were reported at a time Monday afternoon in the upper Whalley/Amity area. Traffic was reported gridlocked or near-gridlocked at times along Chapel Street and the Boulevard. Two people did go to the hospital by ambulance and traffic ground to periodic halts for a half hour after a 9:15 a.m. crash at Dixwell and Webster.

Monday, January 17, 2011

14-Year Old Killed by Hit and Run Driver in Fair Haven

From reporting in the New Haven Independent at

A 14-year-old was riding his bike on Front Street near Grand Avenue early Saturday morning when he was hit by a car. The teenager was pronounced dead a short time later, according to police spokesman Officer Joe Avery. Police identified the victim as Keyshawn Moore of Orchard Street.

An accident reconstruction team is investigating and police are seeking witnesses. Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call (203) 946-6316 or (203) 946-6304.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Friends on the Way: Approval for Quinnipiac Avenue Repaving, Roundabouts and Livable Street Designs

Original Post, 3/20/09: With the release of stimulus package funding, the reconstruction of the heart of Quinnipiac Avenue is now scheduled to begin as early as this fall.

The project had been in the works for about ten years. Due to extensive citizen input, over that time it progressed from a standard high-speed ConnDOT design into a more livable street with roundabouts, wider sidewalks and chicanes. The road passes through the heart of the Quinnipiac River District of Fair Haven Heights, one of New Haven's most important historic areas, with homes still dating from the 1760s. See this post for previous articles on Quinnipiac Avenue.

These "livable streets" measures will serve to reduce traffic speeds, which will have the direct effect of raising property values, improving safety, and encouraging people to make more friends (a study from England recently re-confirmed Appleyard's 1969 research on that subject). They will hopefully prevent the types of traffic-related injuries that have been fairly common on this section of road.

Yet questions within the community still abound about when other sections of the avenue -- which is rife with speeding (see photo, courtesy of the NH Independent) -- will be improved. Excerpts from local coverage below:

Public gives thumbs-up to redesign, NH Register, 3/25/09

It took eight years of planning, but dozens of Quinnipiac Avenue residents this week expressed satisfaction with the final version of a city redesign of a portion of the major thoroughfare. The $7.1 million project will extend from Lenox Avenue to Clifton Street and add safety features that will convert it from a straightaway, while providing for protected on-street parking and other features, to the delight of homeowners.

“We’re so looking forward to being able to walk him up the street with usable sidewalks,” said Quinnipiac Avenue resident Ian Christmann, referring to his 11-month-old son, Sawyer, who joined his parents at the community meeting at the Pilgrim Church in Fair Haven Heights.

Miller said the project changes Quinnipiac from Lenox to East Grand avenues by adding roundabouts, bump-outs for parking and chicains, which are curb extensions that alternate from one side of the street to the other, forming S-shaped curves.

Chris Ozyck, another Quinnipiac Avenue resident, congratulated the city on the project and also for traffic enforcement there and on Front Street, which has slowed down vehicles.

Q Ave Residents Ask For More “Redo”, NH Independent, 3/24/09

Bekhrad was one of dozens of local residents who turned out to hear an update from city officials on the status of the Quinnipiac Avenue “re-do."

The city’s plan features a number of traffic calming measures — including a roundabout, chicanes, and bumpouts — designed to discourage cars from flooring it on the straightaway. The project also includes reconstruction of the retaining wall and sidewalks along the avenue.

Dismayed at the state of the avenue, and looking for a public partner for her private investment, Bekhrad went right to the top with a recent request to fix her road. Last month she sent President Obama a letter, asking for his cooperation and financial support on her project. She copied the letter to Mayor DeStefano.

“We haven’t begun to think about the rest of the road,” the mayor replied. “So it could be at least another eight to ten years?” Bekhrad asked. The mayor agreed that yes, it could be as long eight or ten years, but promised to take up the matter. “Between now and whenever we next get together we’ll take a look at areas north and south of Phase One and Two,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to attract people,” Bekhrad said. She’s trying to fill seven of her $800,000 condos. “People came today, they said, ‘Your units are beautiful, but the street stinks,’” Bekhrad said. She didn’t close the deal with the prospective tenants.

Christmann was encouraged by the meeting, and looks forward to a transformation of his street. “We have one of the most walkable areas in town,” he said, describing a local riverside walking route. “But we’re stuck with a stretch of Quinnipiac Avenue that is treacherous — four wheel drive treacherous.”

Update 1/5/2011: Phase One of the project nears completion. According to reporting in the New Haven Independent, many neighbors are cheering the progress:

Traffic-calming techniques, meant to improve safety, are a vital part of the Quinnipiac reconstruction. Read about their significance here and here . Roundabouts and separators have been installed, but there’s work in this area left still.