Panel OKs Safe Streets Law

by Melinda Tuhus | September 23, 2008 9:15 AM | | Comments (38)

IMG_1216.jpgAfter a close friend was killed by a motorist, Fair Haven Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale vowed to change street culture so these “accidents” wouldn’t happen again.

Monday, in the culmination of what has become a surging, citywide safe streets movement, she found widespread support for her quest.

A Complete Streets proposal, introduced by Sturgis-Pascale and East Rock Alderman Roland Lemar, met unanimous approval from the aldermanic Legislation Committee at City Hall Monday night.

The proposal would create a Complete Streets Steering Committee to guide the development of a policy to ensure equal, safe access for all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians; a design manual to implement it; a process to include community members in the planning; an educational campaign; and traffic enforcement.

Click here to read the proposal.

Pascale said she’d like to see the city’s streets evaluated not by the number of lanes or traffic lights, but by other measures. “Are our streets being used for people to socialize? Are our children playing in the streets safely? Are they able to ride their bicycles? Are we welcoming people with disabilities? Are we protecting our seniors on our streets?

She said, like many people, she became passionate about the issue as a result of scary and tragic personal experiences. She highlighted “a shocking diversity of traffic-related assaults, from the mundane to the really tragic.” These included her cat being run over the first week she moved into the city; being the victim of two hit-and-run accidents; being hit by a car while cycling.

“I saw a pedestrian get hit ten feet in front of me, and it created an image I will never forget,” she said. “And lastly and most importantly, my very good friend and colleague was killed on Easter Day in 2006, and I was devastated. It was so senseless and so violent.” She said reducing transportation-related injuries and deaths would lead to many positive outcomes, including stronger social networks, cleaner air, and a boost for local businesses. Click here to listen to her full statement.

The legislation coincides with the emergence of grassroots citywide Safe
Streets Campaign
. The DeStefano administration, meanwhile, plans next month
to launch
a “Street Smarts” campaign
to inform cyclists and drivers alike about the
rules of the road.

rob%20bill%20tom%20erica.jpgLemar praised city officials for enthusiastically jumping on board the safe streets bandwagon, and grassroots groups such as the Safe Streets Coalition and Elm City Cycling that have been organizing around the issue. (Pictured are ECC members Rob Rocke, Bill Kurtz, Tom Harned and Erica Mintzer, some of whom are also active with the Safe Streets Coalition.)

carl%20with%20helmet.jpgAldermanic president Carl Goldfield, who cycles in from Beaver Hill, emphasized the importance of defensive driving, walking and cycling. “When you’re driving through the city, whenever you come to an intersection, slow down and make sure everyone has stopped. And I learned, through almost getting killed walking through Edgewood Park, whenever I have the walk signal I never assume everyone is going to stop. I had some woman step on the gas, trying to beat the light, and I almost got creamed.”

rob%20on%20phone.jpgCAO Rob Smuts (pictured outside the aldermanic chambers) testified and said the DeStefano administration takes the issue very seriously, and is promoting education and enforcement - and engineering solutions where possible. He said engineering changes are tough, because the city is dealing with a legacy of 370 years of infrastructure and most streets are completely built out. But he mentioned the roundabouts put in on Woodward Avenue to slow down traffic, barriers to discourage drag racing on River Street, and a plan being put in place to deal with that problem on Long Wharf Drive, where a bystander to a drag race was killed in August.

As for enforcement, Patrol Division head Captain Robert Lanza testified that Chief James Lewis has committed to providing more personnel to the traffic detail, despite the department being short-staffed. He said the number of tickets issued for moving violations (more than 10,000) is up 35 percent this year over the same period (January through August) last year, and accidents are down five percent. “It seems we’re having a culture of motor vehicle chaos, more than we ever have. It’s everyone in this room, it’s everyone who drives too fast, and tries to get under that red light. It’s not just a small population of people you can target; it seems to be almost a cultural thing.”

Smuts emphasized that this will be a sustained effort, not just a flash in the pan. On October 19, the mayor will roll out a new traffic safety education campaign.

Every one of the two dozen people who testified spoke in favor of the proposal, each emphasizing something a little different.

minister.jpgThe Rev. Dr. E.J. Moss (pictured) called for “equity and parity in use of the streets.” He scolded jaywalkers for acting like they own the street, ignoring the rights of other users; he excoriated dirt bikes and ATVs driven on city streets (and called for their confiscation); and he called for more bike lanes.

ethan%20and%20alycia.jpgAlycia Santilli (pictured with her husband Ethan Hutchings) testified that both of them had been hit in the past few months by motorists while riding their bikes. She said in both instances the drivers were at fault, but they insisted the cyclists should be riding on the sidewalk and they also said they didn’t see them cycling in broad daylight. (Click here for their story.)

Kirsten Bechtel is a pediatric physician who works in the Emergency Department at Yale New Haven Hospital. She spoke in support of the legislation, pointing to the fact that crashes involving motor vehicles are the leading cause of death of children under 18 years of age. She said a recent multi-year study showed that in New Haven, the rate of pediatric pedestrian injuries was twice the national average. “For 2007, 13 percent of all accidents evaluated at Yale New Haven Hospital involved pedestrians struck by vehicles, and that was an eight-fold increase over 2006.”

This reporter, while riding home from the hearing, experienced first-hand the dangers a cyclist confronts in a “culture of motor vehicle chaos.” As I cycled north on Orange Street just past Audubon, a car drove steadily toward me, then turned into a driveway right into my path, barely missing me. When I stopped to ask him, “Didn’t you see me?” he said no, despite the fact that I had front and rear lights on and reflectors on both wheels. He said he’d been blinded and disoriented by bright lights behind him. A couple of miles farther, on Whitney Avenue at the Hamden line, I was riding in the street in the right-hand lane, with very little traffic (instead of the long, uninterrupted sidewalk with no pedestrians on it, which is where I usually ride). Suddenly several cars overtook me, and one of them swerved into my lane to zoom past another car on the right.

As they used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Be careful out there.”







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Comments

Posted by: No brainer | September 23, 2008 9:52 AM

Cant the BoA increase fines so they are really really punitive. That will bring in some cash to pay police overtime so they ticket offenders. The Register this morning says the police overtime budget is already blown for the year. We all know nothing will get done if theres no cash flowing to the men in blue. Donuts are so so expensive now.

Posted by: Josh Smith | September 23, 2008 10:21 AM

A huge thank you goes out from me to everyone who supports this proposal. I sincerely hope this legislation will spur the city government (and, eventually, even the state DOT) to work with Elm City Cycling and other local cyclists to create a robust system of cycle paths, bike boulevards, and above all, safe, regular streets that all users, motorized or not, can safely traverse. There are massive changes going on right now in this city with regards to quality of life and traffic-calming, and everyone needs to jump on board and help rig up the masts of our "complete streets" and "safe streets" ships, so to speak.

I only ask (as a citizen, as I can't speak for all of Elm City Cycling) that when the city thinks about putting in bicycle infrastructure, that those responsible talk with ECC first. We are the ones who are constantly cycling through city streets, and we fully understand the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis as well as opportunities and steps the city could take to create a truly great cycling city, with safe, correctly-built infrastructure. (Just a gentle hint: Bike lanes next to car doors is not a good example of safe cycling infrastructure.)

That being said, I'd like to see the City of New Haven use us as a resource to make this the next great cycling city. We are already planning safe routes through town and would love to see the ideas we have implemented and done correctly. This will improve the quality of life for all residents. I strongly urge whomever is responsible for designing and implementing bicycle lanes and other infrastructure to attend ECC's monthly public meeting, which is usually followed by the more technical, engineering-oriented Bike Plan Subcommittee meeting. Thank you for your support. Let's work together and get the Complete, Safe Streets ship to full steam ahead.

Posted by: Driver | September 23, 2008 11:10 AM

Three cyclists riding the wrong way down Chapel Street during rush hour, doing wheelies across lanes.

Comucyclist, in full gear, comes up behind without my knowledge at a stop sign and turns right, into my intended path, absolutely not stopping and hardly slowning.

Pedestrians crossing Whalley mid block anywhere and everywhere intentionally not looking toward oncoming traffic, or starting in the crosswalk but walking diagonally, essentially walking down the street.

This behavior will only increase if Pascale is not stopped. "Are our streets being used for people to socialize? Are our children playing in the streets safely?" Are your cats safe? How far will they go?

I call on my Board of Alderman to make our streets safe to drive on. Laws are on the books. Police should stop and ticket illegal pedestrians.

Posted by: Steve Ross [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 23, 2008 11:11 AM

"(Just a gentle hint: Bike lanes next to car doors is not a good example of safe cycling infrastructure.)"

Only insofar as to them showing you exactly where not to ride!

Posted by: anon | September 23, 2008 11:53 AM

It's great to talk about this stuff, but until something is actually done to immediately curb speeding and aggressive driving at a citywide level, we're going to continue our overreliance on the automobile, one that will eventually kill our city's economy and many of its residents.

Based on observations, I would estimate that the vast majority of drivers, perhaps more than 95%, do not even come close to following the driving laws in this city, putting us all at extreme risk. Some pedestrians don't obey the law either, but they very rarely put anyone else at risk, and they even more rarely deter other people from walking -- stealing their quality of life -- in the way that bad driving does. This is a dense, urban center, and we currently treat it like it's a strip mall in North Dakota.

We need serious and consistent enforcement of every traffic law. If there aren't enough police, hire citizens or meter readers to stand on the corners part time and issue tickets to people who don't stop on the stop lines or who turn right on red.

New York City is doing that now, and the city gets all the revenue because they're treated as parking tickets: why can't we? Raise millions of dollars for our school system.

We need redesigned public spaces. If we don't have money to rebuilt a street and build raised crosswalks every 500 feet, like every other civilized city in the world is doing, put concrete or rubber barriers in it, as the DOT did on Ella Grasso, until we do. Before more people die, before more children lose their chance to play outside, before more retail stores close and tax base gets sucked out to the suburbs. Doesn't anyone else get the urgency?

I hope that gas rises to $15 per gallon next year, as predicted on Wall Street, so that we see some real change in the way our city works, because I have doubts that anyone at the local or state level is willing to take drastic and immediate measures to save lives.

Posted by: Streever | September 23, 2008 12:18 PM

Driver, I'm sorry you have had some bad experiences with cyclists.

I've had bad experiences with cyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists. The answer is a 3 step approach, covered under this proposal:
Engineering, Education, & Enforcement.

The streets are engineered in ways which contributes to danger. Education is lacking so it's a self-directed study to learn how to be safe and out of harm's way. Enforcement has stepped up dramatically, to deter drivers/cyclists/pedestrians from making stupid moves. As the other 2 catch up, I think you'll find the streets nicer to drive on, too.

No one is in this because of an anti-car sentiment, at least on the City Hall, police, &, in my case, personal level. My colleagues in Elm City Cycling & the other groups in New Haven also are not anti-car.

I wish that those of you who see unassociated cyclists misbehaving could understand that this isn't an attack on drivers. As surprising as it is to me, the vast majority of my colleagues really are drivers primarily.

No one here is out to crucify those who drive. We simply wish to make the streets WORK BETTER for EVERYONE.

If you oppose this legislation, I ask you to try an experiment: travel around New Haven at 25 mph, following all laws, for 1 hour. Look at how much distance you cover. Setup a start & end point & drive exactly the speed limit. Count how many angry, near psychotic, drivers honk, scream, or illegally pass you as you drive at the speed limit, coming to a complete stop for red lights/stop signs. Pick a dense downtown route. You will be amazed that you get where you are going within 2 minutes of your regular time.

The reality is that our city is incredibly small. If you typically drive 35 mph here, try 25: you'll realize quickly that you are only saving a minute or two in time at 35, and your chance of dying/being ticketed/killing someone else drops dramatically.

I got rid of my car 3 months after I moved here, because I realized how much easier it really was to bicycle/walk around downtown.

Good luck.

Posted by: Bruce | September 23, 2008 12:46 PM

Driver,

This is not about encouraging jaywalking, it's about saving lives through proper infrastructure design.

In addition to encouraging good driving behaviors, our local bicycle advocacy group, Elm City Cycling, encourages bicyclists to eliminate dangerous cycling habits through direct education, bicycle jamborees, rodeos, presentations to the police department, Arts & Ideas tours, mass-mailings, etc. Please come and help us educate people on how to behave properly on the roads we share.

Visit www.elmcitycycling.org to learn more.

BTW I totally agree with your demand for better traffic enforcement (for all vehicles, motorized or not).

Posted by: good times | September 23, 2008 12:47 PM

This debate is amusing to watch - The cyclists complain that the City isn't doing enough for them and not paying enough attention (see Josh Smith above, but almost all the cyclists agree with him) but in reality most New haveners hate the cyclists and wish that they would get out of the way. Appeassing this group of people are going to get Pascale and Lemar beat in their next elections, and the cyclists are not even content.

The best part of city government hearings? Roland Lemar and Rob Smuts. Yummy!

Posted by: FairHavenResToo [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 23, 2008 1:11 PM

Is there a way to get moving violation revenue back in the City where it belongs? It's my understanding that revenues from such citations goes to the State, while we desperately need it here in New Haven! It would also give an added incentive to police to write more citations, as they witness considerably more than they bother to cite. Just a thought.

Posted by: DAFeder | September 23, 2008 1:27 PM

I've seen some truly psychotic jaywalking in this town. But I still think we should paint crosswalks. It doesn't seem like a big jump to the logic for better, safer bike infrastructure.

Kudos to Roland and Erin et al.

David

Posted by: Nate Bixby | September 23, 2008 1:35 PM

Congratulations to Pascale, Lemar and all the folks who have brought this to this point. This bodes well for the future of this city. The negative comments seem to be based on a lack of information about the forces we must deal with. Anyone who has thought past their own petty convenience and read through this proposal should find it inspiring.

Posted by: anon | September 23, 2008 1:39 PM

Good Times, you're a little off base considering that this debate began with the safe streets petition, which was signed by virtually every group, and over 2000 people, in New Haven... very, very few of them are cyclists. In fact there are probably more boaters than cyclists among those people. Quality of life , particularly speeding, is the #1 issue in city neighborhoods. As for the cyclists, I think they realize (even if somewhat reluctantly) that they are a very small group and only by working with other neighborhood concerns/groups, rather than single mindedly focusing on issues related to cycling, can they help achieve things.

Posted by: William Kurtz | September 23, 2008 1:39 PM

Congratulations to Erin Sturgis-Pascale and Roland Lemar on introducing this great initiative. It's long overdue and once passed, will hopefully serve as a model for the surrounding communities.

This issue does draw out a tendency towards hyperbole (I've been in lots of civilized cities without raised crosswalks every 500 feet, for example--although they're a great idea), but I want to echo what's already been said: no part of this legislation, or any of Elm City Cycling's efforts should be interpreted as "anti-car." Driver, any one of us could just as easily have catalogued every egregious violation by a motorist on our way to work this morning, so calling attention to some misbehavior by kids on bikes (and excuse my snobbishness, but I don't include anyone pulling wheelies against traffic on Chapel St. in the category of 'cyclist') doesn't really add anything to the conversation. It's time that we stop drawing the line between 'motorists' and 'cyclists' and started drawing it between 'safe, responsible and courteous' road users and 'reckless, irresponsible and dangerous' ones. Start looking at the streets that way and I think you'll see that there are motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians on both sides of that line.

But when we're talking about enforcing the laws, Anon's right: when was the last time anyone was injured or killed in a hit-and-walk?

Posted by: anon | September 23, 2008 2:03 PM

Streever:

Where do you get the idea that enforcement has stepped up, aside from the city's claim that 35% more tickets were written this year over last?

Last time the police chief gave a speech, he said there were 6 officers on traffic duty ("1% of the force"), and no traffic enforcement detail after 3pm on weekdays, and no traffic enforcement detail on saturdays or sundays. Perhaps the regular patrol officers are writing more tickets for stop sign violations, but I haven't seen it, and I constantly travel every neighborhood in the city every week... and in order to have effective enforcement, as the chief of police points out, you really need a dedicated detail that has radar guns and can do stings.

I'm with you, I just want to know where this idea comes from because if you talk to the people in the neighborhoods, the story is very different from the "official party line", so to speak.

Posted by: Yummy | September 23, 2008 2:47 PM

Good Times,

What's with the virtual sexual harassment of Smuts and Lemar?

Posted by: JackNH | September 23, 2008 3:24 PM

It is not helpful when the NYPD says, as they have on at least two occasions, that speeding is simply "part of the culture" in New Haven. (I guess that's why they speed too.) It's code for telling us they're not going to do anything about it. People have to OBEY the LAW or pay the price. I was quite bemused recently when Yalies were indignant for being issued warnings by the polce for jaywalking across Elm. NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.

Posted by: Streever | September 23, 2008 4:13 PM

Anon:

I constantly read charming statistics from you with no back-up.

I do believe Rob Smuts, and I don't believe he is lying to me, when he shows me a chart that traffic tickets have risen 35%.

Clearly you too received it. Is that not an increase in enforcement?

Is a 35% increase in tickets issued not an increase in enforcement?

Look, one last time, to make sure I'm clear:
Enforcement is being defined as actions taken to punish motorists who violate the law.

Therefore, tickets are a form of enforcement.
If 35% more tickets are issued, that is an increase in enforcement.

Anon: I won't respond unless you can become a real person with a real name/identity.

Or back up your assertion that 35% more tickets weren't issued: that is the only logical way one can interpret your claim. The other possibility seems illogical to me: that enforcement only exists when the people you speak to think it does. That isn't a real metric.

I don't think I need to tell you for the 1000th time though that made-up stats & metrics don't count. I post that to you on a regular basis. (I and half the other commentors on the NHI it seems)

But hey, maybe you know better than me. When we have a murder every week, maybe you have a better use of the police force, which is down 110 officers. How many people have died to bullets in the last 4 week vs cars? I do think traffic needs to be a priority, and I do think the NHPD is doing their best now. However, I think our very small city is suffering in many other ways, and I won't pretend that traffic is the only detail our police should be on.

Posted by: Streever | September 23, 2008 4:16 PM

Anon:

You are way off base in your address to Good Times.

This actually started with Erin Pascale-Sturgis, who vowed when she was elected to make her issue the mayor's issue. The Safe Streets Coalition is a petition, a recent one, and the momentum to ticket drivers/enforce the law began long before it.

It began with folks like Erin Sturgis-Pascale & Elm City Cycling.

Six years ago people were too afraid to ride a bike here: now over 100 come to a bike to work breakfast. While you are correct that this momentum is not just cycling generated, you are incorrect in dismissing the individuals who should be credited with this--most notably Alder Erin Sturgis-Pascale and Alder Roland Lemar, who has a long history of supporting pedestrian concerns in New Haven.

Posted by: Streever | September 23, 2008 4:24 PM

p.s.
There are 1628 signatures on the petition, not 2000. Inflating the number by 25% and then claiming that "very very few" are cyclists is a bit off--I'd estimate the numbers at at least 25%, as I am pretty certain a good 400+ members of Elm City Cycling have signed on. That makes 25% of 1628, and that isn't counting the many other people in the city who bike & have signed on.

Way to twist numbers, buddy. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Good Times | September 23, 2008 4:46 PM

Streever -

You hit it on the head - Erin has been a leader on this LONG before the petition and has sold out her community in this effort for YEARS - and Lemar was actually the indside guy/city lead on getting those stupid bike lanes five years ago that are going to get people killed eventually. But the cyclists have to get credit for everything, so lets sell them down the river - fine by me, who needs these big-government liberals anyway. They have both also been pushing their own agenda to get rid of parking requirements downtown because they thinks its funny that a single-mom like myself can't possibly find a place to park when I go there.

Sorry Yummy -I was not intending to be harrassing, just stating why I think they get more support than they otherwise should. They are damn cute.

Posted by: anon | September 23, 2008 5:11 PM

It seems that my point went entirely over your head, which is that there is not nearly enough enforcement. A 35% increase over "not enough" is still, apparently, not enough.

First, if you look at the press coverage or have been attending community meetings anywhere in New Haven, particularly in minority communities, more complaints about traffic enforcement have come in the past year than ever before. That's the year in which ticketing has supposedly increased.

Second, a 35% increase means very little when there's no context about what tickets were written, where they were written (maybe the increase is entirely due to Yale cops?), etc., and no info about whether the tickets just replaced "verbal warnings" or actually represented an increase in officer-citizen contact. As you know, the police often stop drivers and issue verbal warnings (a different form of enforcement, requiring less time per contact) rather than give out actual tickets.

The article above states tickets are up 35%, accidents down 5%. Accidents might be down 5% because there are fewer drivers on the road, or fewer pedestrians on the road, not necessarily because tickets are more frequent/more targeted -- although I'll give the city the benefit of the doubt because they said that tickets are up 35%, not that actual enforcement is up 35%.

Posted by: anon | September 23, 2008 5:29 PM

Streever, the media reported that the # of signatures on the petition online doesn't include paper signatures, which would be a lot more than 2,000 all told. Not everyone has the internet, and it looks from the Independent and other reporting that the Aldermen, churches, cyclists, other petitioners, etc., have been out there collecting paper signatures on a pretty widespread level. Also, by saying very few are cyclists, what I meant was that the neighborhood groups that have signed on, like the Hill or Newhallville management teams, etc., are not generally cyclists. Those groups represent a lot more than 2,000 people. If you ask them, most are too afraid to ride a bike on the streets. Anyhow, I wasn't trying to minimize the impact of cyclists in the city, many of whom, like Erin Pascale in particular, initially drafted and helped distribute the petition according to the reporting, I was just pointing out that some of them are working together within neighborhoods and using a cooperative approach, rather than stupidly attacking people randomly on message boards or thinking that cycling is the only issue in the city. I'm just trying to encourage a discussion about enforcement here and hope my above post made sense, statistically speaking.

Posted by: William Kurtz | September 23, 2008 5:38 PM

To be fair to that "very small group" of cyclists, the conversation over the safety of the streets didn't really start in May with a petition. It goes at least as far back as the GO-alition which was partnering citizens and community groups with city government (and which got the city to mark its first bicycle lane in 2003: http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/9231). Elm City Cycling and its increasing visibility in local advocacy has also given a lot of people a helpful platform from which to address the issue of traffic safety in the community.

It's sadly true it has taken recent tragedies and near-tragedies on area streets to galvanize public opinion in a highly visible way. Perhaps if Erin Sturgis-Pascale had her way two years ago (http://newhavenindependent.org/archives/2006/11/one_street_two.php) we would been in a very different place right now.

Regardless, thanks to Alders Lemar and Sturgis-Pascale, Elm City Cycling, the Safe Streets Coalition, Traffic & Parking Director Mike Piscitelli, Mayor DeStefano, Chief Lewis, and other people, groups, and agencies too numerous to mention, this initiative, which will make New Haven a more vibrant and livable community and which will hopefully extend to the entire greater New Haven area is where it belongs: off the back burner and on the minds of city officials.

Don't feed the trolls! Isn't "Good Times" the name of a notorious computer virus? Or urban legend about a computer virus?

Posted by: laststraw | September 23, 2008 5:46 PM

Driver:
"Three cyclists riding the wrong way down Chapel Street during rush hour, doing wheelies across lanes."
A bicycle does not a cyclist make.
Streever:
"Six years ago people were too afraid to ride a bike here"
Six years ago, cycling was perfectly fine in NH. Maybe we didn't have a breakfast where you need to wear a helmet to get a cup of coffee, but we also didn't have so many motorists pissed off at bicycles.

Posted by: Streever | September 23, 2008 5:48 PM

Anon:

How is a 35% increase in tickets not an increase in enforcement?

I don't think Mark or anyone else in Safe Streets would be happy with your misrepresentations of the coalition.

Over 2000 signatures and every group in town? 1682 is the actual number. That's a 25% increase.

I sincerely doubt your ability to be honest on anything when you inflate your numbers that way.

I'm sorry that you feel I couldn't comprehend and that you "went over my head". That's not the case: the case is that I think you're a grandstanding liar, and I called you out on it. Inflating the signatories by 25%, claiming that the Safe Streets Campaign (which had started in May and only had 107 signatures as of May 27th) is the real reason behind this bill, is reprenhesible. You are lying. Plain and simple.

I am upset that you would discredit the hard work of our Alders & City Hall to upstage them. It's a dissapointment and a disservice to our community.

Posted by: anon | September 23, 2008 6:22 PM

I think my above posts addressed your concerns, Streever - probably bad timing in your reply and when the comments were posted. I think I explained very clearly why a 35% increase in tickets is not necessarily an increase in enforcement and what I meant about petition signatures and cyclists. Think before you attack people as liars on a message board, because it never looks good.

Posted by: Streever | September 23, 2008 7:01 PM

I definitely don't "stupidly think cycling is the only issue" as I've repeatedly shown by being understanding that the city has other priorities. I also don't stupidly think that the only issue for the city is transportation safety, unlike yourself, perhaps.

I'm grateful to the city for THEIR hard work: on this legislation, on the increase in enforcement, on the traffic safety hotline, and on the promise to staff a traffic division when they have more officers.

I do have a record of working with City Hall & with ECC, and not just sitting on an internet message board, anonymously calling out the City for never doing enough.

If you're going to claim I'm just arguing with an anonymous person, I think that's a step better than just anonymously whining about the city.

If you really want to start a conversation, use a real name, applaud hard work when it's been done, & acknowledge that it's not all one group or one individual.

Don't inflate numbers, lie, or make up statistics. Speak truth, and do it with your own name, so others can actually converse with you.

Anonymously whining about the city is not starting a conversation. It's just stirring a pot, and an especially stupid one at that: no one needs to start a pointless fight with City Hall, when you realize that we actually have to work with these people. If the Safe Streets Coalition or ECC tried your approach, nothing would ever happen.

Posted by: Josh Smith | September 23, 2008 7:52 PM

The fact that we have so many motorists "pissed off at bicycles" and/or pedestrians is reason enough in and of itself to pass and utilize the Complete Streets legislation. What have I, as a cyclist, ever done to motorists? I follow every single rule on file regarding cycling, to the letter of the law. I don't ride on sidewalks, I take the whole lane when it's too narrow for cars and bikes to fit together (and it's too narrow more often than not in this town!), I move from the center of the lane back to the right side when it's safe for motorists to pass me, I stop for every single stop sign and light, and I use the right lane (except when my left-hand turn is coming up). All of those things are legal.

On the other hand, My elbows are nearly hit by motorists' cars every day because they think it's cute or funny to cut cyclists off even when they're riding legally and trying to do the right thing. I get honked at, cursed at, told to get on the sidewalk even though that's illegal within city limits, and people in cars blow by me well over the speed limit, mere inches from me.

To the anti-bike crowd: Thanks SO much for caring about other people's safety. You're the same people who talk and talk about the horrors of Abu Ghraib and countless other human rights violations, but as soon as you see a cyclist "wasting your precious time" by riding safely out in the road where he or she can be easily seen so you don't hit them or their bike, you make an extra effort to buzz by their bike as closely, quickly, and loudly as possible. Funny how that same guilt doesn't creep up on you when you're the one violating someone's well-being, here on our own home turf, in America. When you see examples of terrorism on TV, you cringe and shake your head, but I guess when you're the one terrorizing cyclists and pedestrians, terrorism is no big deal.

Finally, to that majority that is embracing Safe Streets and Complete Streets, those who don't buzz by my bike at 50 mph, those who respect cyclists, pedestrians, transit users, and motorists alike... Thank you, and please keep up the good work. :)

Posted by: anon | September 23, 2008 9:06 PM

Not "one group or individual"? Wasn't the safe streets coalition itself started primarily by Aldermen Lemar and Sturgis Pascale, working with other groups in the city like the Yale traffic safety group and management teams, which each have hundreds of members themselves? I'm not sure what you are referring to. Like William points out above, these groups have achieved a lot in a very short time, which is especially impressive for the Aldermen considering that they were elected only very recently.

We're all grateful for a commitment to increase enforcement, I was just asking where you get the figures that it has actually increased - I've explained that in detail above. A ticketing increase is not necessarily an enforcement increase. I'm glad you're happy with the commitment and don't feel like making this an issue, but I'd like to point out that a lot of people in the city are definitely NOT happy, and have not been happy over the past year, with the current state of lawlessness on our streets. Both the City chief of police and the safe streets coalition (Erin Pascale etc) have referred to it as the "Wild West." They are asking for more enforcement of the basic codes of our streets, and want it to start right away.

Personally, I don't want to wait a year and have another few hundred people be injured out there.

I suggested above that the city could take a hint from other cities and start by giving out parking tickets to drivers who disobey stopping rules, on the grounds that they are inappropriately taking up space on the street. When drivers stop ahead of the stop lines or turn right on red through a bustling pedestrian intersection, they are not only putting people in severe danger, they are also discouraging people from walking more. Parking tickets for this sort of thing would be very easy to write, would generate enormous amounts of money, and don't require cops.

Posted by: Josh Smith | September 23, 2008 9:28 PM

Good Times, this comment is very interesting...

You hit it on the head - Erin has been a leader on this LONG before the petition and has sold out her community in this effort for YEARS - and Lemar was actually the indside guy/city lead on getting those stupid bike lanes five years ago that are going to get people killed eventually. But the cyclists have to get credit for everything, so lets sell them down the river - fine by me, who needs these big-government liberals anyway. They have both also been pushing their own agenda to get rid of parking requirements downtown because they thinks its funny that a single-mom like myself can't possibly find a place to park when I go there.

Just for the record, I'm a member of Elm City Cycling and I'm a registered Libertarian, so you can't pigeonhole me into either the "conservative" or "liberal" misnomers that are so often used. I believe in small government, not big government. But I also believe that small government should do all it can to protect the liberty and quality of life of its residents. I ride a bike most everywhere now, even though I own a car (which I use for grocery runs, trips to the suburbs to see my family, road trips, and picking my girlfriend up from work when it's late at night, when she doesn't feel safe taking the bus alone).

Everyone has to understand that cyclists aren't just cyclists. A very small number of us cycles absolutely everywhere (Streever, major kudos to you, I don't know how you do it in the winter.) But I think a lot of us, if not most of us, own cars and at least occasionally drive them, and like you, we get frustrated when bike-riders do the wrong things (they shouldn't be called cyclists if they're knowingly breaking the laws.) If anything, I get MORE frustrated, because it gives all cyclists a bad name and causes people driving cars around me to "push back" against the cycling movement, trying their best to get me to never ride my bike again. Well, guess what? I go to work, pay my taxes and bills, and I have a family just like you. So cut me a little slack, give me a little more room, and slow down. It'll do wonders for your blood pressure and stress level. And I'm being completely serious there -- once I started driving the speed limit all the time, I started feeling so much more relaxed and felt I didn't have to rush to get anywhere or compete with anyone.

I'm sorry for filling up the comments page, but this is something I'm very passionate about, and there's just no reason to not support this legislation. Who wants less-safe streets in this city? I'd love to know. PLEASE give me one good, well thought-out, valid reason why all users of city streets shouldn't be able to use them safely, and I'll buy you a pizza. If you're someone fighting against the increased number of cyclists (or idiot bike-riders) on the streets here, I've got news for you. With forecasts of $10-$15 a gallon gasoline within the next 5 years (if it takes that long, which I doubt it will), we're going to have a LOT more company on the roads -- perhaps even you'll come around and fix up and try riding that old, dusty bike in your garage. I hope you all do. Even you, Good Times. I'll even throw in a link to a site that sells bikes that can carry a child up front, so even as a single mom, you won't need that precious parking spot downtown anymore. Enjoy! http://www.myzigo.com/

Posted by: Streever | September 24, 2008 8:25 AM

Anon:

Get off it.

The Police Chief has said we need more, & has promised more.

... The reality is that the 35% increase in tickets DOES constitute an increase in enforcement. The NHPD traffic hotline. The quick response of the police.

I see a car break a law--I see a cop 2 blocks away--I tell them--they go and pull over the car.

This is what I see on a daily basis.

You're riding your bike in an imaginary city.

--More boaters than cyclists (not true)
--almost EVERY group in New Haven plus OVER 2000 individuals (many groups & 1628 individuals: many of whom, like myself, are represented in 4+ groups that have signed on already, so you are clearly playing the numbers here--i.e. not true)
--A LOT of people in the city (prove it)

Which people? The same as the guy who came to the meeting on Monday to complain that he's been plowing his driveway for years & the city never thanks him? I feel badly for him, but come on. Sometimes we need to get in touch in a polite way with our officials.

The reality is if you had REAL NUMBERS, REAL CLAIMS, and REAL ANYTHING you wouldn't have to hide behind a pseudonym & tarnish others.

Conversation over.

Posted by: anon | September 24, 2008 10:02 AM

The point of this forum is to disagree on issues -- particuarly those, like enforcement, which affect all of us -- and I'm glad there are some people out there who are satisfied with a committment to enforcement and the numbers put out by the city. It's good to have people willing to defend the city on everything. I've laid out my points, with detailed explanations backing them up, while you for the fourth time repeat the same claims that, as I pointed out, all seem to come out of nowhere. No need for further discussion.

Posted by: tom gogola | September 24, 2008 11:55 AM

It's a pretty incredible feat for the New Haven PD to have spiked its ticketeting by some 35 percent, since just about 35 percent of cops I see driving around town are doing so while yammering away on their cellphones, in violation of the state law banning such stoopit, selfish behaviour. Imagine how much safer these streets could be if only the very custodians of public safety could refrain from their own ongoing contributions to the lawlessness that reigns on the streets of the city.

More to the point, I think it's instructive in these trying times to contemplate the wit and wisdom of Sarah Palin as it relates to this bike-car divide.

Let me explain. Last week I was bopping around town on my Fuji and reflecting on the years I used to do the same down in ol' new york town. There is really only one "rule" of the road, or rather one rule with a few associated sub-rules that i follow as a lifelong cyclist, and it's a universal rule whether you're blasting up 8th avenue during rush hour or lollygagging around the Elm on a quiet sunday morning. Forgive the asinine simplicity but it's worth saying: Total Freaking Awareness At All Times. You pretty much have to assume that the cars and buses are going to do dumb things--and you work around them from that presumption. You assume that the four-wheeled wastrel in front of you is going to make that right turn sans blinker--so that when he does, you're prepared. Sure, there's times when some open confrontation is warranted at least from your point of view, and don't i know it baby, but the point of riding, or one of them anyway, is for the pure enjoyment of it all. Isn't it? Adhering to the confrontational model -- looking for the imbeciles and then responding to each of them -- not so much fun. Who wants to have to get scripted out for Xanax in order to enjoy yourself doing what you most enjoy doing? Bozo the Buick Driving Dickhead isn't going to refrain from blowing a red light just because you blow a righteous fuse in his face.

When the unicyclist--the monotheist?!--Streever offers the diplomatique observation that no-one is out to "crucify" drivers, I am reminded of the old maxim that a wise man once hurled in my very direction: You can't jump in front of the bus and then bitch about it when you get run over. Unless martyrdom is your objective, in which case you ought to at least strap a bomb to yourself before jumping in front of said bus. But one of the great joys of urban cycling, from my perspective anyway, are those very obstacles and impediments that challenge the rider's skill and, yes, patience.

In any case, the main point I'm trying to make is there's a really sweet Zen spot that any urban cyclist clamors for and appreciates -- when you are in that groove, all eyes and ears and reactions to the various things going on around you that you really have no control over. What you do have control over is you and your machine. Which is nimble, speedy and can, with some practice, be made to turn on a dime or hop a curb to avoid certain calamity with the Q-Pac Fuck Bus.

Now here's Sarah Palin with her devolved belief that the dinosaurs and humans each walked the earth at the same time--much as bikes and autos must now share the road to perdition! Consider yourself, on that bike, as the enlightened human placed here by Divine Providence who must negotiate these retrograde beasts of Beezelbub lumbering around town -- and by gosh, in due course those dinosaur SUVs and buses will somehow be welcomed into the very arms of a forgiving Jesus on two wheels. But until that day comes and the Almighty lifts these combustible souls into an eternity of $1 a gallon gas, i suggest all Elm City cyclists take heart that ours is the species that will outlast these atrocious farting behemoths of antiquity.

Posted by: Tom Harned | September 24, 2008 6:15 PM

Anon,

Making serious demands to the city and sweeping claims without factually backing it up is disrespectful to everyone reading this paper as well as people all sides of this issue.

If you truly cared about the issues you purport to advocate for, you'd really on facts, not hyperbole and conjecture, and you'd post your actual name along with your comment.

Right now you just seem to be trying to "yell louder" by outposting everyone that doesn't agree with you %100, which doesn't really help anyone.


We can disagree an issue, but the debate should be an open and productive one rather than an anonymous shouting match.

-Tom

Posted by: Edward_H | September 24, 2008 10:19 PM

Streever

RE: Anon:

I constantly read charming statistics from you with no back-up.

Have to say I agree with you 100%. I am still waiting for ANON to back up statement about cities being sued for using stop signs. And how traffic calming will dramatically increase property values or how people will move to Newhallville in droves once traffic in the streets is reduced

Posted by: Streever | September 25, 2008 8:17 AM

Thanks Tom: that is EXACTLY my issue with Anon.

Invented stats don't help us. Anonymous claims don't help us. In all honesty, if you can't put your name on something, I don't think you need to say it. It's not debate when an anonymous party lies on the internet on every article. That's called "trolling" or "griefing".

Edward_H: We are in agreement on something, the planets have aligned :).

&, anyone who hasn't read Tom Gogola's contribution above should. I think it's full of a lot of good. Assuming the worst has protected me more times than I can count at this point, and it's my number one strategy on a bike.

Posted by: Give me a break | September 25, 2008 11:14 AM

35% increase in ticketing. Yeah right. In July there were 3 tickets. In August there were 4. Statistics dont prove nothing. Anyone who has lived here for ever knows the cops dont do nothing.

Posted by: Streever | September 30, 2008 11:59 AM

4 tickets??? Where did you get those figures.

Look at all the recent arrests. The police are doing a lot & working very hard.

Hey, anon, put this in your pipe--city launches traffic enforcement unit today.

Oh yea, that 3 month delay on NEXT YEAR'S class is REALLY killing us out there, isn't it?

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