With Firsthand Experience of Pedestrian-Unfriendly Roads, Senator Vows to Do Something About Safety

Route 1 in East Haven, CT | Image: Google Maps

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut has been walking westward from Voluntown on the Rhode Island border toward Greenwich since Monday, stopping along the way to talk with constituents.

Drawing attention to pedestrian safety wasn’t the stated purpose of Murphy’s walk, though it could not have been better timed if it were: On the day his trek began, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that 35,092 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2015, the largest one-year increase since 1966.

Since his route was going to take him through New Haven and Bridgeport, it seemed likely that he would spend some time, like advocate Ray Rauth earlier this summer, walking along Route 1, Connecticut’s most deadly road for pedestrians. So of course pedestrian safety was going to come up at some point along the way.

And it did after Murphy encountered a particularly hairy stretch of the car-oriented “stroad” in East Haven on Thursday. The New Haven Independent reports:

Several drivers honked at U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and nearly struck him several times Thursday as he navigated a sidewalk-free stretch of Route 1 in East Haven en route to New Haven.

He survived and continued walking unaccompanied into the city, where he announced that the encounter gave him a new idea to bring back to the Senate after Labor Day.

The scary vehicular encounters and resultant brain storm — to patch up parts of the state that aren’t friendly to people who want to get to work without cars — unfolded on Day Four of a peripatetic town hall Murphy has been conducting, which his office dubs “Walking Across Connecticut.”

His insight, when he was struggling along Route One in East Haven, was that there are likely many low-income people who work in the fast-food and other similar businesses along those sidewalk-less strips, and they really have no way to get to their jobs without a car.

He promised to pursue that issue when Congress resumes after Labor Day.

Murphy wasn’t the first senator to traverse the length of his entire state on foot — Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and former Senator Lawton Chiles of Florida walked across their states in the 1970s — but hopefully he won’t be the last.

2 Comments on "With Firsthand Experience of Pedestrian-Unfriendly Roads, Senator Vows to Do Something About Safety"

  1. Let’s not put too many of our hopes in a campaigning politician’s claim to “do something”!

  2. Charlotte Hitchcock | September 4, 2016 at 2:21 pm |

    Bravo Sen. Murphy! And let’s not forget that even when we have sidewalks and multi-use trails too, they need to be plowed in the winter. Too often, auto-oriented businesses cover the sidewalk with snow plowed from the driveways, forcing walkers into the street. And rail trails can be an alternative route but aren’t plowed (think Dixwell Avenue in Hamden & New Haven, parallel to the Farmington Canal Trail).

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