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Caution: Guerrilla Crosswalk Ahead

by Thomas MacMillan | May 3, 2011 2:28 pm

(91) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Transportation, Downtown

Thomas MacMillan Photo Frustrated by the lack of a crosswalk on a busy Whitney Avenue stretch, street-painters took matters into their own hands—and, in the view of a lawmaker down the block, inadvertently made the street more dangerous for pedestrians.

The new DIY crosswalk appeared early Sunday morning at the corner of Audubon Street and Whitney Avenue. It’s a homespun affair, comprising a column of spray-painted rectangles connecting the north corner of Audubon with the sidewalk in front of Gourmet Heaven and Moe’s Southwest Grill, on the west side of Whitney.

The painters, who have requested to remain anonymous, could not be reached for comment. They put the crosswalk at a spot where people regularly cross between cars speeding down Whitney away from downtown. a location where Pedestrians have often requested a crosswalk there through the SeeClickFix website.

The spot is just not right for a crosswalk, argued Alderwoman Bitsie Clark, who lives a block away. The slight rise in Whitney Avenue just south of Audubon makes it impossible for oncoming drivers to see pedestrians in time to stop for them in a crosswalk, Clark said.

Jim Travers, interim director of the traffic and parking department, expressed similar sentiments, and said he is working with the city engineer on a better solution.

On Monday afternoon, the new crosswalk worked for at least one pedestrian. Two cars came to a halt at the feet of Yale grad student Sara Cole, who was making her way home. After stepping up onto the east side of Whitney, Cole called it a good spot for a crosswalk. “It is hard to cross the street right here,” she said.

But Cole said she doesn’t think it’s a good idea for people to paint crosswalks wherever they feel they’re needed. “They should probably go through the proper channels.”

Other pedestrians had mixed reactions. Many continued to cross right beside to the new crosswalk.

A lawyer toting a Dunkin Donuts coffee offered a legal opinion. “It’s a little bit of an attractive nuisance,” he said. That’s a legal term that describes something that draws people to it while putting them at risk, like an un-fenced swimming pool. The lawyer, who declined to give his name, said that if a pedestrian were struck by a car while in the crosswalk, the driver could legitimately argue that the pedestrian was jaywalking. In that way, the crosswalk might end up hurting pedestrians more than helping them, he said.

Another man, who said he lives on Audubon, wasn’t too surprised when told the crosswalk wasn’t installed by the city: “I thought it looked a little funny.”

He said he thinks the crosswalk is unnecessary. Whitney is always crossable if you’re careful, he said.

Inside Gourmet Heaven, deli worker Abdou Said welcomed the new walkway. “It’s good for the people. A lot of people cross the street there during lunch break,” he said.

Another pedestrian, in cowboy boots and a green sport coat, gave it a thumbs-up.  “Makes you wonder why the city hadn’t done it themselves,” he said.

Later, at City Hall, East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker said he’s asked the city several times to put a crosswalk there. It’s such a long stretch of street with no place for pedestrians to cross, he said.

Elicker said the transportation department told him a crosswalk is impossible at that spot on Whitney because of the lack of visibility caused by the rise in the road over the Farmington Canal, just south of Audubon.

Mike Piscitelli, former head of traffic and parking, confirmed that the city had studied the location and determined that the hill made a crosswalk unsafe. There’s not enough stopping distance, he said.

Elicker said he sympathizes with, but doesn’t support guerrilla crosswalks. “It’s not my favorite way to approach the problem, but I can understand people’s frustration.”

Alderwoman Clark was not so understanding.

“It’s probably one of the most dangerous things you could do,” she said of the new crosswalk.

People have wanted a crosswalk there for years, she said. “But there’s a hill,” she said. “Cars absolutely can’t see.” Drivers won’t be able to put their brakes on fast enough for someone in the crosswalk, she said.

People also request a traffic light there, but it doesn’t make sense to put in another stoplight so close to two others on Whitney, Clark said.

The street may seem dangerous, but no pedestrians have been struck there, Clark said. The sense of danger is what actually makes it safe, because people make double-sure no cars are coming before crossing the street, she argued. “You put a crosswalk in, kids are going to be hit.” A crosswalk leads to pedestrians crossing without looking and getting struck by cars who can’t stop in time, she said.

It’s like antibiotics, Clark said. If you try to kill every last germ with antibiotics, you end up weakening your immune system and becoming more susceptible to illness, the opposite of what you wanted. Better to leave the intersection as it was, with people crossing safely without a crosswalk, she said.

Travers, the traffic czar, is also not a fan of the new crosswalk. “I’m not a huge supporter of this, because it could lead people to a false sense of security,” he said.

“It’s a challenging intersection,” Travers said. The rise over the Farmington Canal requires a better solution than “just putting some paint on the pavement.”

He said he’s working with City Engineer Dick Miller on a solution, like putting in a raised crosswalk, or a curb bump-out. “We need to do something a little more Complete-Streets-esque,” he said.

Instead of picking up spray-paint, Travers encouraged people to fill out a Complete Streets project request form, available here. He said he did just that himself with regard to the intersection of Audubon and Whitney. “That’s really the way we’re going to foster change in the city.”

As for the spray-painted crosswalk, Travers said he’s not going to spend city resources removing it. It should wear away in just a few days, he said.

(Update: Travers said Tuesday afternoon that he will have city workers remove the new sidewalk. See his comment below.)

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posted by: JP on May 3, 2011  2:39pm

We are a city full of lazy people just walk to the nearest light and cross at the legal cross walk its the same problem at center and church people are to lazy to walk half a block to cross the street and so they complain that there should be a cross walk encouraging people to cross in a dangerous place rather then walk 50 feet out of harms way. It should be noted that if someone does get hit at this cross walk they would have a good lawsuit agents whomever painted the street.

posted by: Jon Bovi on May 3, 2011  2:40pm

I’m amazed that cars stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk at all.  That in and of itself is newsworthy, I think.

posted by: Pedro Soto on May 3, 2011  2:42pm

The reason it’s “not safe” is because people go WAY past 25mph when they leave the Grove Street light and make their way to the Trumbull Street light!

How in the world could a car going 25mph not have enough stopping time with a WELL MARKED crosswalk?

The solution is pretty straightforward. A mild speed-table would raise the entire crosswalk up almost level to the crest of the hill, allowing people to see pedestrians, and would also slow down speeders.

Stringing a yellow flashing light across the street with a “ped x-ing” sign over and across it would give drivers ample opportunity to be aware of pedestrians.

It seems that getting cars from as fast as possible one stoplight to another through a very busy pedestrian area is being given much higher importance than making this area safer for people who live and work there. It just makes no sense.

posted by: East Rock Guy on May 3, 2011  2:49pm

How about a crosswalk at the rise point/canal point in the road?  It’s the highest point on the road and easily visible to drivers coming from the Grove street intersection.  Of course, I’m sure there will still be some pedestrians, who will be too lazy to walk the extra few feet to that point and continue to cross at the Audobon intersection.  Not to put blame just on the pedestrians as I do agree that drivers are going to fast down that stretch of road.

posted by: Fairhaven Dave on May 3, 2011  3:05pm

When the city does nothing, do it yourself poorly.  The same reason my neighborhood is having to chase off junkies hookers and thieves with homemade security cameras, flashlights, and golf clubs.  Count on this city being frozen solid until after the election when scrutiny declines slightly. 

How were they able to request anonymity if they could not be reached for comment?

posted by: doug hausladen on May 3, 2011  3:09pm

i have an office right there and love the idea! this is really needed to improve the walkability - of course the visibility is an issue, but as pedro said, drivers are supposed to be at 25 mph -

i thought this was a legal crosswalk already? why wouldn’t the city paint it?

can someone with knowledge help me with the definition of a crosswalk? in this case, it’s a t-intersection with crosswalks on audubon. so i thought, based on state law, that those crosswalks continue across whitney avenue by definition - with or without markings.

posted by: JAK on May 3, 2011  3:09pm

Mark my words, someone is going to be killed when on a two lane one way street like this location, the driver in the left lane politely stops for a pedestrian crossing from left to right, while a speeding driver comes zooming down the right lane and mows the pedestrian down as they stride out into the middle of the street unseen in front of the left lane vehicle.

The worst location is on Temple at Wall.  Yale profs, who think they own the street, (well, at least think they still LEASE the street)righteously walk out in the middle of rush hour, or any hour, under the delusion that the two pedestrian signs on the sidewalk provide them with safe passage.  I’ve cringed at seeing three near misses at that point alone.

This is a perfect example of good intentions bumping up against reality. 

And the other certainty?  When someone does get turned into road kill, the city will be sued for knowing that these pedestrian cross-walks were inherently dangerous.

posted by: jt75 on May 3, 2011  3:40pm

So wait a second: putting in a crosswalk here would make it more dangerous?! I’m not sure it can be any more dangerous than it is now. I don’t see how ignoring the problem and letting pedestrians brave this dangerous area on their own without a crosswalk is any safer than a “guerrilla crosswalk.”

Secondly, of course cars won’t see pedestrians: they’re too busy speeding! Speeding cars are a huge problem for walkers and bikers throughout the city, especially on Whitney Ave.  If we can’t enforce the speed limit, let’s make it harder for cars to speed by using traffic calming measures.

I’m glad someone decided to draw more attention to this issue because clearly the city has been slow to respond.

posted by: L on May 3, 2011  3:54pm

Nice! I have been dying to put in my own crosswalk, or repaint faded crosswalks, too! I have been even more into trying to do my own speedbumps….
Funny that they say this kind of thing makes it more dangerous. People are trying to make a point - that it is so dangerous NOW!

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on May 3, 2011  4:14pm

Pedestrians crossing at intersections is not what creates an unsafe street, because that would be turning reality completely on its head. Long term solutions may include curb bump outs, painted bike lanes, narrower travel lanes, two-way traffic and a textured table intersection. The issue is not the people walking around supporting businesses, going to their home, or work, it is the people zooming through the area contributing nothing that are the problem.

jp,
Here is a photograph of the intersection of Church Street and Center Street from 1966 where the painted crosswalk lines across Center Street AND across Church Street are clearly visible in the lower right hand corner:
http://www.cthistoryonline.org/cgi-bin/getimage.exe?CISOROOT=/cho&CISOPTR=13960&DMSCALE=100.00000&DMWIDTH=750&DMHEIGHT=675&DMX=0&DMY=0&DMTEXT;= church center street new haven"center street”&REC=5&DMTHUMB=1&DMROTATE=0
Just because the crosswalks are not visible, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
It’s also a bit comical to say that pedestrians that would rather cross the street at their convenience then have to walk superfluous distances to get around drivers are lazy. I’m pretty sure the people tapping their foot on a gas pedal are lazier then the people using their entire legs.

East Rock guy,
While I support people being aware of their surroundings because it’s a smart thing to do, I also support people legally crossing the street, which is what people who use the crosswalks are doing.

posted by: streever on May 3, 2011  4:23pm

When residents ask—and ask—and ask—and even propose elegant solutions like Soto’s, but nothing is done, what does the city expect will happen?

Bitsy Clark—I adore her, but she is absolutely wrong on this one. The area is already heavily trafficked by pedestrians. This crosswalk will not increase that usage. The city has created a dangerous situation, not the crosswalk painters.

I have seen the large groups of young students crossing here to go to Gourmet Heaven from ECA. How on earth can the city allow this?

Maybe they should put in a signalized intersection with a light and a timer? Oh no, they can’t do that, because then drivers may be inconvenienced! Meanwhile, we have hundreds of children attending a school. Is the solution to proactively educate all of them to not avoid a 1000 foot walk in favor of an 11 foot walk?

The city currently requires the elderly residents of the large apartment building at Audubon & Orange to walk one-thousand extra feet to go the little pharmacy or ship a package. How can they reconcile that with their LEGAL duty to not prioritize one group of people (drivers) over another? Drivers get to use Whitney as a speedway, and elderly folks get to walk an extra 1000 feet?


JP:
“lazy people”? What about the elderly, or the handicapped? What about people who have a hard time walking around?

Do you really think 50 feet is the actual distance between this point & where someone wants to go? If I want to travel to the shipping store from Audubon & Whitney, I not only have to walk 500 feet out of my way to the crosswalks: I then have to walk the same distance again to reach my actual destination.

“Lazy people” don’t want to walk 1000 feet to cross an 11 foot section of street? Or is it “inconsiderate people” don’t want to have to slow down and share the road with walkers?

The housing project at Audubon and Orange has plenty of elderly and less mobile people. You expect them to walk over 1000 feet to send a package, or visit the pharmacy, when they could walk 12 feet?

I’m sorry, what part of wanting a crosswalk here is “laziness”? What part of guerrilla painting, advocating, lobbying, and working toward something is “lazy”?

posted by: Pedro on May 3, 2011  4:25pm

A fake crosswalk does create a false sense of security considering that by state law a car has to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. So a person casually crosses the street in the crosswalk and a car could crush them, and in this case it would be the pedestrian’s problem (or the people who painted the crosswalk).

How about a blinking yellow light at the top of the rise caused by the canal?  Or just leave it as it is—if you can’t cross a one-way street using your common sense, maybe you shouldn’t be crossing it at all…

posted by: meta on May 3, 2011  4:37pm

I totally agree with Pedro. I especially the measure to install speed humps/tables (not bumps) at crossing points to help enforce the speed limit (since our public servants won’t!) and increase driver awareness of crossing pedestrians. Also, let’s remember that cars don’t speed, drivers do.

posted by: Jim Travers on May 3, 2011  4:46pm

I cannot stress enough, that measures such as this not only impact limited city resources, but may also put people at risk.  We have a process for people to provide their input for roadway and pedestrian concerns - and that is the Complete Streets project request form.  I encourage all residents to complete the request form for any and all projects where they want to see “Complete Streets” change throughout the city.  The request forms are reviewed by a Complete Streets panel and prioritized and scheduled based on resources.  We are currently reviewing a request form for this intersection to provide a safe and effective solution for all users.

I stated to the reporter that I had not seen the crosswalk at the time of his inquiry, but that I was hesitant to use valuable city resources to remove paint that would most likely wear away in a few days.  In this instance however, for safety concerns we will have the paint power-washed off.

posted by: Pedro Soto on May 3, 2011  4:53pm

Hey, a second NHI Pedro (hello!)

While i know that the city is strapped for cash, and that things like speed tables, and even paint are not cheap, I really implore the city to try to come up with an innovative solution for this area.

I know that there is a whole complicated engineering issue apparently at play with the hill, but I think that the city is making assumptions that cars are going to fly down the street, vs. making the assumption that cars should SLOW DOWN on this street.

posted by: JAK on May 3, 2011  4:54pm

Most of the writers here are more concerned about their notion of walkers’ and cyclists’ rights then they are about their safety.  For 70 years we have built a society and economy around automobiles. 

If you want to change it, I would not suggest doing it from the front grill of a Buick.

posted by: Bruce on May 3, 2011  6:20pm

Crossing the street at an intersection is NOT jaywalking—it’s an “unmarked crosswalk”.  With or without stripes, cars are legally required to stop. These “guerrillas” are doing the city a favor by marking it clearly. 

The real issue here is not the pedestrians, it’s the cars.  There’s plenty of stopping room if cars are traveling at a safe speed.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on May 3, 2011  7:21pm

JAK,
The process of changing the culture of street use will not be accomplished by taking away from drivers alone. A majority of people would never willingly give up their car-oriented lifestyle unless they are rewarded with pleasant and safe alternative transportation options. This is a parallel and simultaneous process that involves creating the infrastructure that allows for people to drive less, take shorter trips and eventually not use a car. If the infrastructure isn’t in place, most people aren’t going to give up what is their only viable means of getting around.

posted by: Charlie O'Keefe on May 3, 2011  7:54pm

People Power. I love it. Why don’t the concerned citizens buy a desk and put it on the Green. Put a sign on it saying MAYOR, and put anyone who can add up to ten in the chair behind it. I’m sure the city will work much better than now.

posted by: Yair on May 3, 2011  8:31pm

What that stretch of Whitney really needs is a nice big speed bump at the top of the rise. We would see some serious airborne action there on a regular basis, and maybe a transmission place could open up on Audubon to make a profit on the resulting damage. It’s a win-win-win! Entertainment for pedestrians, added business on a street that needs it, and a valuable lesson learned for New Haven motorists.

posted by: walt on May 3, 2011  8:51pm

We don’t have this problem in Cheshire.  We don’t have a lot of your problems in Cheshire.

posted by: anon on May 3, 2011  9:16pm

I agree with Bruce.

Both Bitsie and Jim are wrong on this, and should be removed from public duties if they are unable to deliver promised improvements to constituents after so many years of urgent requests.

Bitsie is also wrong that there have been no injuries on this block. In fact there have been several life-threatening ones.

If the hill is an issue, install a crosswalk there. It would be far more visible than any other crosswalk in New Haven. Temple Street is a good example of a one way two lane street with a mid block crosswalk that works just fine.

posted by: SBJ on May 3, 2011  9:34pm

@Walt, then how about you stay in Cheshire? Including when you need a hospital. You have a great hospital in Cheshire, right?

posted by: Leslie on May 3, 2011  10:15pm

I started a SeeClickFix petition more than a year ago and it was a flashpoint for many people who live, work, and go to school in this area. Yes, the rise is inconvenient for drivers to see people crossing, but if they are alerted people will be crossing and reminded of the law regarding people in a crosswalk we will be that much further ahead at this dangerous crossing. I have yet to see a driver slow down, in their race to be the very first car at the red light on Whitney/Trumbull, to allow anyone cross. I was nearly mowed down by someone parked curbside with a double-parked delivery truck to its right who sped out using the parking area as a lane. Message to Mike Piscitelli: I didn’t paint the stripes, but I sure have been tempted to do it! Kudos to whomever it was who did this. I will be strolling ever-so-slowly on those zebra stripes tomorrow morning!

posted by: Fairhaven Dave on May 3, 2011  10:38pm

@ wait

Thats because Cheshire is McMansion country, dearest.  There is a giant horse-shoe of towns like yours surrounding every shoreline city on the East Coast of America.  Unlike Cheshire, New Haven is a CITY where people go to work.  Cities require an in-town on-call working class base to keep everything physically running.  That way when you people drive your BMWs in and bark orders about how to reinvent the wheel from 9 to 5, everything is working!

These people don’t get paid like the people do in McMancion country and have a lot of anxiety and problems you will likely never encounter or understand.  Like where the next meal comes from, or how to keep the gas turned on, or why they can’t get the police to arrest the smack addict parked in front of their house.  Some times this anxiety builds up and causes a higher ratio of impatient jaywalkers and speeding drivers.  ...
-Fairhaven Dave

posted by: Anderson Scooper on May 3, 2011  10:48pm

Growing damn tired of the excuses. If there is a hill there, put in a flashing yellow light and one of those pedestrian crossing signs that they have up-and-down Orange Street. If you send the right message, traffic will slow down.

Someone please tell me how you can have a retail district, with lots of pedestrian activity, and seemingly no designated place to safely cross?
BTW, they need those stop-for-pedestrian signs on Broadway as well. One in front of the coming Apple store, and another in the crosswalk further up.

I’m completely amazed that both the City and Yale can spend millions upon millions for police safety, but next to nothing for pedestrian safety. They’re just sitting on their hands while seemingly waiting for the next fatality.

PS—Move the FedEx store to a safer location. Why not the old Clark’s dairy with the parking behind? B/C that truck that perpetually double-parks at rush hour, is sooner or later going to result in someone getting seriously hurt. Galling that something so glaringly stupid, and easily solvable, goes completely unaddressed.

posted by: first observer on May 4, 2011  1:11am

What about a crosswalk for pedestrians and a stop sign for cars?

I know, I know, drivers will complain about a stop sign between the stop light at Grove and the stop light at Trumbull.  Tough luck.

This is a major downtown street, with major activity going on.

posted by: anon on May 4, 2011  6:26am

Agree with Anderson, and the FedEx trucks that are illegally parked need to be ticketed & towed.

posted by: pdh on May 4, 2011  8:56am

It’s simply nonsense that cars headed north on Whitney from the corner of Grove cannot see pedestrians at the Audubon Street intersection. The city should have put a crosswalk here years ago!

Further, the long block between Elm and Trumbull, uninterrupted by a traffic light or crosswalk actually encourages drivers, frustrated by downtown traffic delays, to speed—making the intersection especially dangerous.

posted by: Leslie on May 4, 2011  9:13am

Contrary to what is quoted above: “Travers said he’s not going to spend city resources removing it. It should wear away in just a few days,...” the city has done just that - removed it. At 8:30 a.m. a city worker was out with a sprayer removing the crosswalk. Amazing how quickly they can respond to something when they want to. Also indicative of the city’s ability to talk out of both sides of its collective mouth at the same time.

posted by: dmrowka on May 4, 2011  9:24am

Brings back the old days in the 80’s of leaving St. Mary’s HS to get the bus downtown or stop at the Mall! Yes I say it! “MALL!”

Anyway, that stretch has always been a cluttered race track for traffic and double/illegally parked vehicles.

Make it legal or erect a flashing sign giving sidewalk traffic a sporting chance to make it to the other side.

posted by: Pedro Soto on May 4, 2011  9:38am

There appears to be a fundamental difference in outlook on this issue.

Some folks believe to leave well enough alone and let the pedestrians bear the risk for crossing at that intersection.

Others believe that the fact that it is regularly used in a heavily pedestrian area makes it self-evident that the intersection needs to be improved to make it safe for the use it already is used for.

It is the pedestrians who are legally and correctly using the intersection, and it’s the speeding cars that are inappropriately using a 25mph road, yet it is the motorists whose interests are being protected, rather than pedestrians.

posted by: Steve Ongley on May 4, 2011  9:49am

I work near this location, and despite being outside Monday, I did not notice this DIY crosswalk until Tuesday.

Based on my observations of the crosswalk and traffic and pedestrian, Ms. Clark is clearly wrong: cars had plenty to time to stop.

Perhaps cars could stop safely because they don’t really have to see the painted strips, they have to see the pedestrians, and the pedestrians are, on average 5 feet tall or more. 

A crosswalk at this location, with perhaps a warning sign advising of it at the crest of the hill, would be a boon to pedestrians and at worst a minor inconvenience to autos.

posted by: Bruce on May 4, 2011  10:08am

Here you go—CT statute declaring that this is already indeed a legal unmarked crosswalk. Nice work, “guerrillas”! You should go collect a check from the city (and a grievance from the union).

CGS § 14-297(2)
“Crosswalk” means that portion of a highway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at intersections, or any portion of a highway distinctly indicated, by lines or other markings on the surface, as a crossing for pedestrians, except such prolonged or connecting lines from an alley across a street;

posted by: robn on May 4, 2011  10:19am

BRUCE,

I find the the statutory language ambiguous about whether crosswalks exist at T Intersections but whether or not they do, drivers driving the speed limit in this particular area don’t have enough visibility to stop safely. I would suggest putting one where I often cross…at the southern (downtown) side of the hump. Wouldn’t that make sense?

posted by: doug hausladen on May 4, 2011  11:06am

I noticed that the Town Green Special Services District was removing the crosswalk (at least one half of the crosswalk) this morning.

Thankfully no city resources were used in removal.

Bruce - thank you for finding the language that defines this as a legal crosswalk, with or without the markings. Per the statute, the sidewalks on Audubon cross Whitney Ave and continue as a crosswalk - thus leaving the city liable for any injury or accident at the site because it is a legal crosswalk.

For another T-intersection with crosswalks, I suggest Grove at Hillhouse. Center Street (at Orange and Church locations)and Court Street (at Orange) also need to be marked. And clearly, the Audubon one needs a proper marking from TT&P.

posted by: Atwater on May 4, 2011  11:33am

They should consider putting a traffic light there, with a crosswalk. That way cars will have to stop when the light is red and pedestrians can safely cross the street. A bright red light should be visible from a good distance.
An example is on Skiff Street in Hamden, at the Canal Trail entrance, there is a traffic light that only turns red when pedestrians need to use the crosswalk.

posted by: robn on May 4, 2011  11:45am

BRUCE

Sorry…I found clarification in the statutes and I’m convinced that crosswalks do exist where streets T. My confusion was because in geometry, a T isn’t an intersection but in traffic planning it is.

CT General Statutes
CHAPTER 246
MOTOR VEHICLES
Sec. 14-1 Definitions
(42) “Intersecting highway” includes any public highway which joins another at an angle whether or not it crosses the other;

CHAPTER 249
TRAFFIC CONTROL AND HIGHWAY SAFETY
TRAFFIC CONTROL
Sec. 14-297. Definitions
(2) “Crosswalk” means that portion of a highway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at intersections, or any portion of a highway distinctly indicated, by lines or other markings on the surface, as a crossing for pedestrians, except such prolonged or connecting lines from an alley across a street;

In this location though, I still think that it would be safer to paint one at the downtown side of the hump.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on May 4, 2011  11:50am

@Hausladen—

Another “T” intersection where someone is apt to get killed is High & George, which could also use a crosswalk, and a flashing light.

Cars frequently speed down a very wide George street at 40-50mph. And the traffic coming out of the AT&T garage at rush hour makes this a very dangerous pedestrian environment.

posted by: robn on May 4, 2011  11:54am

Interesting…just found this in the Statutes..

CHAPTER 249
TRAFFIC CONTROL AND HIGHWAY SAFETY
Sec. 14-300b. Pedestrian use of crosswalks and roadways. (a) Each pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk marked as provided in subsection (a) of section 14-300 or any unmarked crosswalk or at a location controlled by police officers shall yield the right of way to each vehicle upon such roadway.

…so it seems like the state is clearly saying, “if no markings, pedestrians yield right of way to vehicles”.

posted by: anon on May 4, 2011  12:15pm

Robn, I think you are reading the statute wrong. Legal crosswalks exist whether they are marked with paint or not.

posted by: alycia on May 4, 2011  12:16pm

I’m all for guerrilla activism and have participated in it myself. But, wow, I find this disturbing. It sounds like the City had a very valid reason for not installing a pedestrian crosswalk here. While it clearly is a dangerous intersection for pedestrians and needs to be fixed, can we really be so irrational as to create an even more dangerous situation b/c our demands were not immediately met? There are many pressing safe streets issues in New Haven. There is a process in place for prioritizing these issues. Get involved in the solution instead of becoming part of the problem. We have a very responsive leaders in the Transportation, Traffic and Parking Dept. who have been accommodating in these very difficult fiscal times. Maybe we don’t always get exactly what we want exactly when we want it, but there are often good reasons.

posted by: doug hausladen on May 4, 2011  12:16pm

Robn,

I think you have read your last post incorrectly - I took out a modifying clause (grammar?) that was confusing you (i believe). Basically, anyone in an unmarked crosswalk, marked crosswalk, or a crossing location designated by a policeman flagging you is jaywalking and shall yield the roadway. Otherwise, if you are in a crosswalk, unmarked crosswalk, or crossing where an officer tells you, the pedestrian has the right of way.

CHAPTER 249
TRAFFIC CONTROL AND HIGHWAY SAFETY
Sec. 14-300b. Pedestrian use of crosswalks and roadways. (a) Each pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk marked as provided ... or any unmarked crosswalk or at a location controlled by police officers shall yield the right of way to each vehicle upon such roadway.

posted by: Brian McGrath on May 4, 2011  12:18pm

The reason there is such a hump at the intersection of Whitney/Audubon is the superstructure of the antique wooden bridge over the former Farmington Canal. A new steel bridge, using the new techniques would reduce this hump by 2 or 3 feet while still retaining the full clearance over the canal. For a successful application of this principle go view the new bridge at College and Trumbull.

posted by: streever on May 4, 2011  12:50pm

@Anyone who thinks the crosswalk “created” the danger:
Do you believe MORE people cross, with the crosswalk, than before? I don’t, and I think any logical thinking about this says it is a false assumption. Now that the crosswalk is gone, I invite you to stand at this corner when school gets out at ECA and see exactly what happens. I will be astonished if you see even ONE citizen walk the 1000 feet required to “legally” cross here.

It is a fantasy that this crosswalk somehow made people cross the street—a farce, spread by a city and the employees and supporters of that city who are unable to accept that the city has allowed an extremely dangerous situation to last for years.

There is a process, NOW, to request improvement—this is true. However, the process has been so poorly marketed and noticed that I know few people who have been able to use it, and I myself knowing it EXISTED, was unable to get Complete Streets forms in the past on two separate occasions.

I do know that the City has been heavily petitioned on SeeClickFix to work on this crossing spot.

Obviously there are conflicting priorities and this may not be at the top. I understand that completely. I do not fault TT&P for doing an incredible job with very scant resources. I DO however fault the so-called civic leadership of Aldermen like Bitsie Clark who would cast this as somehow being the “fault” of the citizens who have actively lobbied for improvement at this spot.

As the alderman for this neighborhood, perhaps she could concern herself with the people in her neighborhood, and open her eyes, seeing that this intersection is routinely used by pedestrians with or without a spot of paint?

Perhaps she could ask TT&P to allocate time & funds to improve this intersection, instead of fighting tooth & nail to sell city resources?

Make no mistake—this intersection is a failure on our cities part, one of many. I trust that TT&P will address it in time, and look forward to their solution, but in the mean time, I look askance at the alderman who would shift the blame to citizens.

posted by: East Rockette on May 4, 2011  1:36pm

The problem is, this stretch of road is fulfilling two conflicting roles at once.

1) It’s part of a larger one-way streamlined throughway for cars heading from downtown to points north. And it’s a bottleneck at the worst times, thanks to delivery trucks.

2) It’s simultaneously a pedestrian-heavy shopping/cultural precinct that’s part of an informal network of routes for foot and cycle traffic linking East Rock to Downtown. As pointed out by commenters above, a large chunk of that pedestrian traffic is either young or elderly, and thus deserves special consideration.


Can the city design an alternative route for all the traffic that’s currently just trying to get *through* the Audubon district as fast as possible? A traffic study would determine how much of it is heading for the highway, and find a way to channel it right at Grove and then up State or Orange as necessary. And the rest that’s heading further up Whitney - could it travel up lower State St, and then rejoin Whitney further up?

I suspect the problem won’t be properly fixed without completely overhauling the one-way system downtown, which is frankly a nightmare, takes months to learn, and prioritises getting into and out of town over travelling safely around inside it.

In the meantime, the whole stretch of Whitney from Grove up to Trumbull could be paved as a ‘speed table,’ to match the entrance to Audubon St and the crossing-points along it. This would signal clearly to drivers that they are entering a pedestrian-friendly precinct and should behave accordingly.

Another option, used elsewhere (downtown Cambridge, UK for example), would be to instal “rising bollards” to close off the street for the busiest part of the day for pedestrians.

The Cambridge example isn’t random; other commenters have pointed to Amherst, MA as a place that’s got its act together, pedestrian-wise. Part of New Haven’s singular charm is its college-town vibe. Notice how visitors gravitate to the walkable parts of town - the alleyways, the greens, the pedestrian malls, the mews. As well as complete streets, we need some really really sweet streets. More of those, please??

posted by: robn on May 4, 2011  1:54pm

DH and ANON,

I agree that they exist whether marked or not. I always thought that whether marked or not, the ped has ROW. If true, this statutory language could be clarified like this…

A vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian under the following circumstances:

a) If the pedestrian is crossing a roadway at a marked or unmarked crosswalk as defined in section 14-297(2)

b) If the pedestrian is crossing a roadway as directed by police officers.

Can we agree that the current statutes are worded poorly?

posted by: anon on May 4, 2011  2:01pm

East Rockette, you are correct that we need more of those right away.  People wonder why the city isn’t in great financial shape.  The dumb policies that our city has been promoting for the past 30 years, rather than looking into the more efficient, economical, progressive models, are a big part of the reason why. If our Aldermen and city officials spent 1/2 as much time on this kind of stuff instead of trying to sell off our public assets to ultra-rich private investors, we would be so much better off.

posted by: Josh Smith on May 4, 2011  2:30pm

The idea that people should have to walk about 1/5 of a mile to cross a street is mind-blowing.  More lazy than the jaywalking pedestrians are the city officials who have flat-out ignored this problem for far too long.  Also, what use is a form when there is no update given to the submitter after the initial acknowledgement of receipt (if that even exists)?  This is why SeeClickFix works better than any city form—progress on the issue is trackable.

When I lived in New Haven, this intersection always irked me, even though I rode my bike most places, so I was able to just ride up Whitney and on to Audubon instead of having to cross the street.  It just never seemed fair that the pedestrians had to wait there while cars flew by, just to get to the red light at Trumbull Street five seconds faster.

That idea for a green light here that only turns red when pedestrians want to cross is the perfect solution.  Motorists can travel through unimpeded most times, as happens now, and pedestrians can press a button to get a light that turns yellow and then red, at that instant.

posted by: alycia on May 4, 2011  3:21pm

Streever—just to clarify my stance: I wouldn’t know if more people crossed w/ the crosswalk. However, putting in a unapproved crosswalk does not make the intersection one bit safer. Professionals STUDIED this option and deemed it was too dangerous due to poor visibility (even if the underlying issue is speeding cars). I defer to the professionals. And as a previously pointed out, the crosswalk creates a false sense of security. In my book, that makes it all the more dangerous. This intersection does need a solution. Unfortunately, this wasn’t it. Anyway, I’m not going to go tit-for-tat, that’s just my interpretation of the facts presented herein (this fantasy world).

posted by: robn on May 4, 2011  3:24pm

We can’t flatten the humps…something has to qualify as a modest heartbreak hill during the labor day road race.

posted by: ME on May 4, 2011  3:26pm

I have a question: when is it OK for an auto NOT to yield to a pedestrian in the street whether or not he’s in a crosswalk? As far as I know, vehicles are not allowed by law to run people over whether or not they are crossing legally. SO- if you are driving, watch out for people crossing and brake when someone approaches the curb.

posted by: streever on May 4, 2011  3:50pm

Alycia:
Just to clarify, my quarrel is with Alderman Clark and any city employees who want to pretend this isn’t their mess.

It is not safe to cross here—neither before nor after the guerrilla crosswalk. For an alderman to claim that the activists created the danger is a misdirection & a bad one at that.

The city SHOULD have a list of intersections/streets that need safety improvements, which they can then prioritize and work from. That they do not, I suspect, is because of budgets and other matters.

TT&P has a painfully small budget & a dearth of resources—which I do not fault them for—but I will definitely not stand by idly while Alders and city employees claim that all was rosy & peachy-keen before some dangerous scofflaw activists have the temerity to call to attention another dangerous intersection.

Apologies if my fantasy world comment sounded uncivil—it is the most accurate depiction however, of the world that Alderman Clark lives in if she truly believes in her words.

posted by: anon on May 4, 2011  4:06pm

ME is correct.  For this reason, there is absolutely no reason for a vehicle to be traveling at more than 15 or 20 miles per hour in dense pedestrian districts, such as Cedar Street, Chapel Street, Whitney/Audubon, parts of Whalley Avenue, and many other locations. 

If you drive at more than 20 miles per hour in these areas, particularly during the hours when there are many children and elderly walking around, you are a homicidal maniac.  If you hit something should have your license revoked and/or be placed in prison for a very long time. 

Other nations have these types of policies to protect the vulnerable—for our city not to is simply criminal.

A crosswalk should be installed immediately at this intersection. Rather than being a narrow one, it should cover the entire intersection. A crosswalk is also needed on the long stretch between Grove and Audubon, perhaps just before the crest of the “hill.” 

As Pedro eloquently states above:

“It is the pedestrians who are legally and correctly using the intersection, and it’s the speeding cars that are inappropriately using a 25mph road, yet it is the motorists whose interests are being protected, rather than pedestrians.”

posted by: Brian McGrath on May 4, 2011  5:43pm

Obviously I meant the new bridge at Prospect and Trumbull. What I learned during my time at Traffic and Parking, and meant to convey to this thread, was that at this late date in New Haven’s development history, regulatory solutions to dangerous traffic problems are just about tapped out and this unrecognized fact results in a lot of unnecessary bickering and debate as well as gratuitous abuse of the traffic regulating officials. The only solution (barring modern technological methods of enforcing existing regulations which always seem to bring out civil liberties protestors ) to most of New Haven’s many dangerous and notorious locations is a physical restructuring of the archaic 19th century layout of many locations.This will cost capital projects money and therefore discussion is deftly avoided or just ignored in despair.

posted by: anon on May 4, 2011  6:07pm

Brian M:

Other cities roll out temporary solutions to address these issues, at least until permanent funding can be found.  These require virtually no capital funding. 

The city is lying when it says that addressing problems like these costs $200,000 a pop.  How much did the temporary speed humps on Chapel Street (in Fair Haven) cost?  How much does it cost to buy an in-street pedestrian sign?

For example, in the Netherlands (and many U.S. cities), when citizens decided to slow traffic as vehicle engine sizes and therefore speeds began to skyrocket in the 1970s and 1980s, local governments installed thousands of concrete planters and bollards.

Why can’t New Haven do this?  We need some creative solutions, or else the city is going to, as you put it, continue to spiral into despair. 

Why would anyone choose to live on a typical, otherwise beautiful, city street filled with speeding vehicles, when they can find housing for the same price on some nondescript cul-de-sac in the sheet-rocked wastes of Hamden?

We have thousands of examples. The city needs to just fix the problems.  It needs to stop stalling on everything, giving technical brushoffs for 90% of the problems which any 8-year old child could solve, and most importantly, needs to stop making completely unrealistic promises.

posted by: nfjanette on May 4, 2011  6:10pm

The increasingly militant “new urbanists”, perhaps fueled by the anti-vehicle comments that seem to hijack many NHI stories, broke the law and created a situation which may have increased the danger to life and limb at that location.  They should be prosecuted for this action and those that are cheering them on should feel ashamed.  It is well and good to hold the city’s feet to the fire and demand attention to these issues - which may not be decided in favor of the small but vocal minority; it is insane to take those matters into your own hands.

posted by: anon on May 4, 2011  7:25pm

Nfjanette, one can just as easily argue that it would be insane *not* to take direct action in a situation like this.  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/liberate-your-space/dutch-traffic-calming

posted by: anon on May 4, 2011  7:42pm

east rockette - is this the type of street design that you are suggesting here? http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/subsites/exhibitionroad/whatschanging/streetdesign.aspx

posted by: So So Easy on May 4, 2011  7:58pm

All it needs is 2 speed bumps across Whitney Ave before the cross walk. 1 half way between Grove St and the bridge, and 1 on the top of the hill at the bridge. These would slow cars down to 5 - 10 MPH. No safety problem at the cross walk. It would be good for bikes too. The cost would be $3,000 or less. With the cross walk now painted on the street the humps would probably cost less than removing the paint.

I can’t believe city employees responsible for traffic ... couldn’t work this out. Looks to me like Bitsie Clarke has upset the Mayor and He’s taking revenge on her ward. Can’t beat politics in an election year.

posted by: robn on May 4, 2011  9:34pm

Pedestrians having the right to feel safe and be safe crossing streets doesn’t change the laws of physics, momentum and sightlines. If there’s a public desire for a crosswalk it should be on the auto approach side of the hump (across from fedex) or a bit farther down near clarks pizza.

To the guys that painted this….its a little bit funny and a little bit punky and I might have done it in my youth (because I did a lot of stupid things with the best of intentions), but I really wish you’d'v’e thought it through before doing it (especially right down the street from several grade schools).

posted by: East Rockette on May 5, 2011  12:04am

anon - yes, exactly that sort of thing. Some pics of Cambridge’s own ‘pedestrian precinct’ here and here (note the sign in the latter photo).

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on May 5, 2011  6:27am

nfjanette,
I really suggest you get another phrase to use besides “new urbanists”, because I highly doubt that anyone that painted those markings could be considered or would consider themselves new urbanist. Same goes for the people commenting on this article.


I think the reason the crosswalk was painted on that side of the intersection was because Audubon is one-way leading away from Whitney, so cars turning onto Audubon would not have to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. In situations where a one way leads towards the t-intersection, it is better to put a crosswalk on the opposite side because there are no new vehicles entering the street at that location.
In this specific situation, because of the hump in the street, it probably makes sence to have entra traffic calming measures coupled with a crosswalk on the downtown side of the intersection.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on May 5, 2011  6:39am

The position of the city on this intersection has been that they can do nothing because of the physical conditions of the site. Is a move that is temporarily dangerous, but eventually leads to a safer intersection for years to come, worse than doing nothing and having nothing accomplished? It’s possible that the painted crosswalk and the resulting discussion (on the board and elsewhere) could lead to the city reconsidering their approach to addressing the problems of this intersection. If that is the case, then this will be seen as the turning point. If this does not happen, then the people responsible for the crosswalk should be seen as people that added to the danger posed to pedestrians at this site.

posted by: streever on May 5, 2011  7:27am

I have some doubts about the study and the assumptions it was conducted under.

I’ve sent a request to the city for the full study to share with everyone. I’ve also taken a photo, from eye level of a driver, at Anna Liffey’s as a random person crossed. (I rode my bike up to the person later—he was a man, about 5’9”)

I could clearly see his entire body from the waist up at driver eye level at Anna Liffey’s.

Granted, if he was 3 foot tall, that would be a real problem.

From the top of the hill, however, we have almost ONE HUNDRED FIFTY FEET between us and the “illegal crosswalk”.

One hundred fifty feet.

At 25 miles per hour, that is plenty of room to stop. Factoring in driver perception time, even a large truck is able to stop, from 25, at 95 feet. That leaves us another 60 feet of safety for pedestrians.

Is it really that hard to put some “caution” language on the road way, PED X AHEAD? or something, as the street approaches this intersection?

I see people still condemning the crosswalk painters, as if they’ve somehow CREATED danger. Face it—people cross here all day long, with or without a crosswalk. Has anyone been killed or even injured here? Is it really that dangerous? Delivery trucks, the bus stop, and the sheer number of people crossing here make this area safer.

Is it really too dangerous for a crosswalk? I think the assumptions that were used in the study are probably off-base.

posted by: meta on May 5, 2011  9:15am

great article anon. we should all be encouraged to take direct action when shunned by our elected officials—as long as it does not directly endanger public safety. This action obviously did not- because of course even at well-marked crosswalks in this city one would never step into traffic without being sure it’s clear and safe.

posted by: Bruce on May 5, 2011  10:14am

Let’s just cut through all the baloney and lay this out in black and white:

1) People DO cross here and WILL continue to cross here, stripes or no stripes.
2) It is dangerous to cross here because of speeding cars and a hill.
3) City should act quickly with short and/or long-term solution before someone gets hurt—cross light, striped crosswalk slightly north or south, signage, etc.

posted by: anon on May 5, 2011  10:46am

I agree, meta.  The motives of folks arguing that white paint is somehow “dangerous” are transparent: A need to create fear-mongering apologies for an ineffective government.

The city has made a poor choice in calling for the temporary crosswalk to be removed.  A far better, cheaper and safer option would have been to immediately 1) write “crosswalk ahead” on the pavement, a few times along the approach, 2) install a few of the cardboard orange signs, and 3) install a few temporary bollards or cones, at least until a better solution can be installed.  The city does this sort of thing around temporary construction sites, potholes or other hazards literally every day.

posted by: JAK on May 5, 2011  11:18am

anon,  What happens when a pedestrian gets hit at the PEOPLE’S CROSS-WALK, ends up in the hospital, is descended on by a horde of ambulance chasers, sues the city, the city’s insurance refuses to cover the claim, and the taxpayers have to pay a multi-million verdict?

posted by: streever on May 5, 2011  11:36am

JAK:
What happens when a pedestrian crosses here without the crosswalk, because CT statute defines it as a legal crosswalk, and despite public admittance by the city that it is a dangerous spot, and a long chain of e-mails between City Officials & citizens & SeeClickFix postings acknowledged by the city, in which the city not only accepts that it is dangerous but actually ADVANCES that theory themselves?

Answer: The same darn thing.

The city is as liable with or without the crosswalk—as it now stands, the city is on the hook for negligence.

posted by: East Rockette on May 5, 2011  11:42am

Damn straight, Streever! You took the words right out of my mouth. That spot is a city liability in the making, with or without guerrilla spraypaint.

posted by: streever on May 5, 2011  11:47am

Here is a PARTIAL accounting of public complaints about this intersection over the LAST THREE YEARS, via the Cities contracted 311 system for citizen reports & complaints. Yes folks—the City pays for SeeClickFix. (And then apparently ignores it?)

1. http://www.seeclickfix.com/issues/14980-crosswalk-urgently-needed-at-whitney-and-audubon
1 year ago, notified Aldermen Clark & several City Officials

2. http://www.seeclickfix.com/issues/1277-crosswalk-and-walk-signal-needed
2 years ago, City Officials (including LCI)

3. http://www.seeclickfix.com/issues/6884-dangerous-crossing
almost 2 years ago, again to city officials including LCI and the NHPD

4. http://www.seeclickfix.com/issues/54756-crosswalk-needed
8 Months ago, the Mayor, Chief of Police, LCI, and other city officials all notified

5. http://www.seeclickfix.com/issues/145-pedestrian-traffic-light-missing
THREE YEARS AGO

The City contracts—with our tax money—SeeClickFix to be THE 311 service.

I’m glad that TT&P has a Complete Streets Request Form, but our tax money pays for the City to apparently not only NOT USE the 311 system, but also to chastise citizens when they get fed up with the lack of response on it.

posted by: JAK on May 5, 2011  11:53am

Streever, You’re obviously too reasonable to be a good attorney. But the fact is that if the city doesn’t stick to protocol in implementing a new cross-walk it exposes us to financial risk. 

When was a pedestrian last hit at that intersection?  Is this a dangerous intersection based on actual incidents or just near-misses?

posted by: Josh Smith on May 5, 2011  12:03pm

CHAPTER 249
TRAFFIC CONTROL AND HIGHWAY SAFETY
Sec. 14-300b. Pedestrian use of crosswalks and roadways. (a) Each pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk marked as provided in subsection (a) of section 14-300 or any unmarked crosswalk or at a location controlled by police officers shall yield the right of way to each vehicle upon such roadway.

Even if this is a “legal crosswalk”, it is still an unmarked crosswalk.  Therefore, according to the state statute above, pedestrians must unfortunately yield to vehicles while using said unmarked crosswalk, which puts the pedestrian at fault for not yielding, not the city.  Whether the city will be morally culpable for doing nothing at this intersection if and when someone is struck and killed is yet to be seen, and I hope we never find out.

Should the city do something as fast as possible to lessen the chances of this happening?  Absolutely yes, and the city, I believe, is definitely smart enough to figure out a good, cheap solution to this issue.  If you can paint sharrows all along city streets (and major kudos to the city for that), you can fix a crosswalk so that people don’t have to walk 1,000 feet instead of 11 feet, as Mr. Streever pointed out earlier in this thread.

posted by: Steve Ongley on May 5, 2011  12:13pm

Interesting side note: there is a similar intersection (albeit without a small hill)where Court Street runs into Orange - about half way between the Hall of Records and The Devils Gear bike shop.  The Court Street/Orange Street intersection has a crosswalk.

Is that because Town Hall workers and politicians believe that they require such a convenience, but school kids from the nearby Arts schools don’t?  That would be shameful.

posted by: streever on May 5, 2011  12:30pm

Josh Smith is correct—if the vehicle are travelling at legal speed limits.

What happens if the vehicle is speeding?

The public record shows that the City has been notified repeatedly that this section has high-speed, dangerous vehicular traffic—so, they may still be found negligent for failing to take ANY measures to address this situation.

Let us not forget that at issue is the cities lack of taking ANY measure to address a problem which has been reported on in public for OVER THREE YEARS—certainly while we face budget problems, there was money to attempt at the least modest improvements here, and it is curious that the city has failed to do so.

I have requested the engineering & traffic studies the city refers to, and will review them—if they claim that this intersection is too dangerous for a crosswalk due to high traffic speeds, they are further indemnifying themselves for a negligence suit, and should really come up with a proactive plan and timetable to address the problem.

Jak: You’re correct, I am certainly not a lawyer :), and obviously, people should take all of my legal opinions with a grain of salt. With that said, the very definition of negligence is “The act of failing to take reasonable care.”

If a City is notified repeatedly for 3 years, has engineering studies and traffic studies which show a clear danger, and still does absolutely nothing, are they not negligent?

posted by: doug hausladen on May 5, 2011  3:33pm

@josh smith:

I think you have read your last post incorrectly - I took out a modifying clause that was confusing you (i believe). Basically, anyone not in an unmarked crosswalk, marked crosswalk, or a crossing location designated by a policeman flagging you is jaywalking and shall yield the roadway. Otherwise, if you are in a crosswalk, unmarked crosswalk, or crossing where an officer tells you, the pedestrian has the right of way.

CHAPTER 249
TRAFFIC CONTROL AND HIGHWAY SAFETY
Sec. 14-300b. Pedestrian use of crosswalks and roadways. (a) Each pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk marked as provided ... or any unmarked crosswalk or at a location controlled by police officers shall yield the right of way to each vehicle upon such roadway.

(i posted this earlier in the thread, but i believe i left out a negative in a sentence)

posted by: Josh Smith on May 5, 2011  4:17pm

Okay, here is 14-300(c) in its entirety.  Note that 14-300c comes after, and is not the same as, 14-300(c).

(c) Except as provided in subsection (c) of section 14-300c, at any crosswalk marked as provided in subsection (a) of this section or any unmarked crosswalk, provided such crosswalks are not controlled by police officers or traffic control signals, each operator of a vehicle shall grant the right-of-way, and slow or stop such vehicle if necessary to so grant the right-of-way, to any pedestrian crossing the roadway within such crosswalk, provided such pedestrian steps off the curb or into the crosswalk at the entrance to a crosswalk or is within that half of the roadway upon which such operator of a vehicle is traveling, or such pedestrian steps off the curb or into the crosswalk at the entrance to a crosswalk or is crossing the roadway within such crosswalk from that half of the roadway upon which such operator is not traveling. No operator of a vehicle approaching from the rear shall overtake and pass any vehicle, the operator of which has stopped at any crosswalk marked as provided in subsection (a) of this section or any unmarked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway. The operator of any vehicle crossing a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to each pedestrian and all other traffic upon such sidewalk.

So I stand corrected.  Drivers do have to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, even at legal, unmarked crosswalks.  However… the legal definition of a crosswalk is defined in 14-297 as:

“Crosswalk” means that portion of a highway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at intersections, or any portion of a highway distinctly indicated, by lines or other markings on the surface, as a crossing for pedestrians, except such prolonged or connecting lines from an alley across a street.

No definition of an unmarked crosswalk is given here.  This definition of crosswalk only includes marked crosswalks, if I’m reading the statutes correctly.  If the “lateral lines of sidewalks at intersections” are not “prolonged or connected”, then by this definition, there is no crosswalk.  It might help to search state statutes for some kind of a definition of an “unmarked crosswalk”.  My guess is that the road is unmarked in that case, but there is some kind of signage letting drivers know that the space is a crosswalk.  Sorry for the lengthy post.

posted by: anon on May 5, 2011  5:04pm

Josh, by “prolongation of lines”, the statute refers to the geometric extension of the “line” of the sidewalk, not to any marking. This means that there is a crosswalk at every intersection.  Alleys are specifically excluded, but all other streets form intersections, and therefore, crosswalks. 

Refer to video at top of page:

http://animatedtrafficlaw.org/ror/index.php/RoR_talk:Every_corner_is_a_crosswalk

The “or a portion of highway that is distinctly indicated” refers to measures such as mid-block crosswalks, which have been painted and indicated even where no intersection is present.

posted by: redo on May 5, 2011  5:07pm

i would be offended if my ‘street art’ was so quickly eradicated! perhaps another overnight visit by the guerrilla crew is in order! i’m reminded of an anecdote about graffiti on NY subway trains in the book ‘The Tipping Point’- only this would be the reverse- keep at it and eventually they’ll just leave it there :)

posted by: Josh Smith on May 5, 2011  7:35pm

Forgive me if it seems that I am arguing a point; I’m merely trying to get this absolutely right by law, so there is no question.  I am not trying to upset anyone, or argue against pedestrians being able to cross safely at that location.  They should be able to, most definitely.  In this case, it seems there is a weasel word included in the state’s definition of a crosswalk:  “‘Crosswalk’ means that portion of a highway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at intersections….” [emphasis mine]

Even if you were to say that the crosswalk is merely the extension of some invisible line across the street (which isn’t how the statute is worded when it concerns lines that are perpendicular as opposed to lateral), the use of the word “ordinarily” in the definition implies that there are times when this is not the case.  It implies that not all intersections where you can imagine a line going across are necessarily crosswalks, does it not?

If the definition of a given word is so important in determining our laws, why not strike the word ordinarily out of the definition so that every intersection, without question, has unmarked crosswalks?  That one word allows anyone to weasel out of liability by saying, “There’s no crosswalk there!  Ordinarily there is, but in this case, the municipality, or the state of Connecticut, or whomever, has decided that there is not.”  And unless there is a written precedent that states otherwise, they can just tell people that there is or isn’t a crosswalk somewhere at any time, with no fear of recrimination, because the law affords them the opportunity to be vague.

posted by: Josh Smith on May 5, 2011  8:00pm

Okay, here’s an idea—if the problem is that there’s a hill, and that’s why drivers can’t see the crosswalk, why not place a huge overhead sign above the crosswalk?  That way, not being able to see the crosswalk would no longer be an excuse.  Everyone could see the overhead sign over the hill’s crest, especially if it had a couple of flashing lights on either side.

Milford has an intersection downtown (on River Street next to the train station) where it is hard to see pedestrians waiting to cross because of a railroad bridge and big concrete columns supporting it on either side of the road, and the city put in flashing yellow lights that only flash when a pedestrian presses a button.  Perhaps that could be set up at Whitney and Audubon, but with the lights to the left and right of a large overhead sign?  Has the city considered this solution?  What say you, city? :)

Many examples of overhead signs can be found here, from the Federal Highway Administration:  http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/04100/01.cfm#toc110157044

posted by: robn on May 5, 2011  9:05pm

While we’re scratching our collective noggin wondering whats the right thing to do here, can we also get somebody to re-write some of these critical statutes in English that a lay person can understand? It would be nice if the statutes were not just accessible to the public but also comprehensible.

posted by: Brian Tang on May 5, 2011  10:18pm

I would like to draw everyone’s attention to Sec. 14-297. Definitions. <http://search.cga.state.ct.us/dlsurs/sur/htm/chap249.htm#Sec14-297.htm> and Sec. 14-300. Crosswalks. Pedestrian-control signals. Regulation of pedestrians and motor vehicles at crosswalks. Pedestrians who are blind or have guide dogs. <http://search.cga.state.ct.us/dlsurs/sur/htm/chap249.htm#Sec14-300.htm> in Chapter 249 of Connecticut State Statutes.

A crosswalk is legally defined as “that portion of a highway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at intersections.” This is a legal crosswalk, regardless of whether there is any road marking.

posted by: Bruce on May 6, 2011  10:37am

Statute shmatute.  People are going to cross the street here and traffic is going to continue to speed unless something is done. 

Some good ideas have been presented.  Make a list of suggestions, start a petition and get to work.  If someone hasn’t done this by the time I’m back from vaca, I’ll do it.

posted by: anon on May 6, 2011  12:21pm

Streever posted the SeeClickFix links above - those seem to work well as petitions.  Maybe someone can stand out with a smartphone and collect signatures from pedestrians who are crossing?

posted by: Elihu on May 6, 2011  2:38pm

I love this project. 

The ‘perps totally nailed the locations. 

And Travers makes exactly the right call:  don’t waste city money removing the paint. 

In fact, the city should make a quick, cheap study of the impact of the new cross-walks to see if it makes sense to formalize them.  I volunteer my services.

posted by: Charlotte Hitchcock on May 6, 2011  9:33pm

I’m so excited to see this action! The idea that you can stop people from crossing at this location by refusing to put in a crosswalk, is like telling the Mississippi River just to stop having a flood. People cross because they are hungry and want to get some lunch. It’s about time we say that the people walking are more of a priority than the ones in the cars.

posted by: robn on May 9, 2011  10:25am

Coming back in really late on this subject, but I’ve visited the site a few times and I’ve changed my mind. I do think its prudent to mark crosswalks here (they exist by law, so the marking is just a formality) with the addition of a warning sign(s) for drivers approaching the hump and some police presence to encourage behavioral changes.

The biggest problem here is that FedEx trucks and customers (and some other businesses customers) double park during rush hour and create a slalom….so autos have to slow down to merge and then accelerate to try to get over the hump. I think thats what causes people to speed over the hump. If both lanes road were clear autos would be able to better moderate their speed. How one prevents parallel parking during rush hour is maybe a bit more difficult problem (could this be solved by diagonal parking on one side only?).

posted by: streever on May 13, 2011  2:07pm

After speaking to Traffic & Parking and reviewing the study that some of the commentators refer to, I’m left kind of curious as to how they got their information.

Mr. Travers was clear that the study STOPPED a block before this intersection.

Now, comes time for full disclosure: I actually knew that the study did not say this was too dangerous, because I was a part of the study.

I was a part of the walk along with Nelson & Nygaard (The group that conducted the study) and the consultant expressed that this was a safe area, and detailed a number of ways that a crosswalk could be implemented here.

I met with Mr. Travers last week, who is moving full-steam ahead with implementing a PROPER crosswalk here, and actually had already filed paperwork to begin doing work here, prior to the guerrilla crosswalk installation.

Alderman Clark’s comments, in that light, are even more off the mark—as are the comments of JP and other commentators who refer to this as being too dangerous for a crosswalk.

Actual traffic and transportation planners and engineers determined that is simply not the case. Until they start handing out engineering licenses to anyone who wants one, I’m not sure what the monday morning quarterbacks are basing their theorizing on.

If the Travers as Department Head and a well-known, reliable engineering firm both say that this spot can have a crosswalk, their expertise is good enough for me.

I can’t wait to see what Jim comes out with! I’m excited.

posted by: Doug Hausladen on May 17, 2011  2:54pm

Dear NHI community:

Erin Gustafson and I have completed our project request form Appendix A. Please see our application here and feel free to email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

http://bit.ly/ward7crosswalk

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