Connecticut Doctor: Common-Sense Solutions Can Make Roads Safer

Connecticut's Route 1 is designed for cars, not for people. | Photo: New Haven Register

Pedestrian deaths tend to occur on roads like Route 1 in Connecticut, which is designed for moving vehicles — not people. | Photo: New Haven Register

Over the weekend, an opinion piece in the Connecticut Post highlighted the scourge of pedestrian deaths and injuries on Route 1, which TSTC has identified as Connecticut’s most dangerous road for walking. Dr. Amy Schwartz, a physician and board member of Elm City Cycling, makes a compelling case for action to improve pedestrian safety infrastructure along the deadly road:

On Feb. 11, after a winter blizzard, the Tanski family walked along Bridgeport Avenue, Route 1, in Milford. Three members of the family were hit by an SUV; the parents, Brenda and Kevin, were killed. Just a few weeks later, on March 2, Bruce Tabackman was struck and killed while trying to cross Route 1 in Westport. These tragic deaths are usually labeled “accidents.” However, they occur predictably, wherever roads are designed for speeding traffic, with virtually no planning for pedestrians or bicyclists, and traffic enforcement is lax. Neglect of pedestrian safety exacts a heavy toll — in 2010 alone, traffic crashes killed 4,280 and injured 70,000 U.S. pedestrians.

There’s no great mystery when it comes to improving pedestrian safety, Dr. Schwartz writes, pointing out that local agencies have already suggested complete streets improvements — such as narrower travel lanes, road diets and shorter pedestrian crossings — for parts of Route 1. But Route 1 is not unique in its incomplete design. Roads throughout Connecticut could use similar treatments, and a rewrite of ConnDOT’s outdated Highway Design Manual would give better guidance on how to design roads that are safe for everyone in the state. A law to protect vulnerable road users (which is awaiting a vote in the General Assembly) and laws allowing municipalities to use red-light cameras (which, unfortunately, has stalled this year) will help enforcement. “We understand the conditions that lead to pedestrian deaths,” she writes “and we have proven tools to prevent these tragedies. It’s time to put these tools to use.”

Read the whole piece here.

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