Safe Streets Message Spreads

At a spot where a medical student was killed by a car four years ago, volunteers gathered Sunday to spread a traffic-calming message.

Abigail Roth, one of the event organizers, sent in the following report:

The city’s Street Smarts campaign became more visible at the busy intersections around Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Smilow Cancer Center on June 3, thanks to the work of volunteers partnering with the City of New Haven, Yale University, and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

This is the fourth year volunteers have used art to spread the message of traffic safety.  When this project first took place in 2009, a large, colorful elm leaf mural was painted directly on the street at the intersection of Cedar and York Streets.  The idea came from a graduate of Yale Medical School, Erica Mintzer ‘09.  She was one of many medical students who dedicated themselves to improving traffic safety in New Haven after their fellow student, Mila Rainof MED ‘08, died after being hit by a car near the Medical School.  The mural was intended to slow motorists down, beautify the public space, and make people feel more connected to the space.  Yale-New Haven Hospital and the City of New Haven were great supporters of the project.

The elm leaf mural unfortunately lasted only for a few days because of its location on a heavily-trafficked road.  Therefore in 2010, it was decided to instead paint smaller stencil designs directly on the sidewalk on York Street.  This was a great success:  having the City’s bright Orange Street Smarts logo at curb cuts leading to intersections reminds pedestrians to use care crossing the street.

Last year the project expanded beyond York Street.  Volunteers joined with students from Solar Youth to paint logos near Katherine Brennan and Clarence Rogers schools.  This year the project expanded in a different direction, to celebrate the City and Yale-New Haven hospital finishing a project to upgrade 12 intersections around the Smilow Cancer Center. Along with repainting crosswalks and installing material on the curb cuts to assist people with disabilities, new traffic signals at the intersections are equipped with fully coordinated, demand-responsive controller systems, including countdown screens.  To recognize this important project, and enhance its safety message, the logos were painted at several intersections with the new signals, including where South Frontage intersects with York, Park, and Howe Streets.

Besides improving traffic safety, this project importantly brings together the New Haven community.  The City and YNHH provided wonderful support for the project with Jim Travers, Director, Transportation, Traffic, and Parking, volunteering his time early on a Sunday morning to paint logos and Nick Proto, Director, Protective Services and Parking at YNHH and Steve Merz, VP, Administration, YNHH providing invaluable logistical support.  New Haven residents, including Esther Rose-Wilen from Wilbur Cross High School and Lindsey Ruminski of JCBA; Yale employee Kim Heard of Environmental Health and Safety; and Yale alumni-employees Abby Roth and Beth Miller, participating in a “belated” Yale Day of Service event, all joined together for this fun but important project.  The participants look forward to continuing making New Haven’s streets safer.

Click here for more information on the Street Smarts campaign.

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posted by: HhE on June 6, 2012  3:21pm

Maybe we need a distinct marking on the street at each location a person has been killed or maimed.

posted by: anonymous on June 6, 2012  4:04pm

That is a great idea HhE- there are many places where that tactic is used, and it can be very effective.

Thank you to the volunteers for organizing this painting event.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on June 10, 2012  9:36pm

Jim Good Job and good thinking!

The next best thing to do is keep them clean of snow in winter season. I will strongly suggest that you will do something similar “like color code” all over the city. the next project will be for the bus stop. I remember when I come tho New Haven. I did not have a car and I used public transportation for 3 years let me tell you that a mom with a 5 years old is not easy finding the next bus stop that actually you can past   to catch the bus. the intention of color code is for the clean crew to pay attention to those places to CLEAN THEM NOT TO BLOCK THEM.