Street Smarts was conceived and executed though the commitment and vision of local organizations, institutions, community groups and individuals throughout the City. With the dedication of many community partners, we officially kicked off the “Street Smarts” traffic safety campaign on October 19, 2008 in Edgewood Park. If you are a cyclist, pedestrian or motorist, our message is clear:
safe streets take street smarts.
In our every day travels, we make decisions that affect the safety of those around us. Street smarts go beyond simply obeying the traffic regulations or driving below the speed limit. Street Smarts call for your attentiveness at all times; your patience with others; and your willingness to share the road.
Unlike any other community in Connecticut, New Haven streets are community spaces. Of the 10 largest cities in New England, New Haven has the highest percentage of residents who walk and/or bike to work.
Daily ridership on commuter rail is equally impressive, with 1,100 people now arriving at New Haven on Shoreline East; 2,000 arriving via Metro-North Railroad; and 23,000 using CT Transit bus lines.
Indeed, thousands of people walk through the downtown area, the medical district and our neighborhoods every day. For many residents and students, a bicycle has firmly replaced the car and cyclists are on city streets at every hour of the day.
The combination of higher fuel prices, shifting demographic patterns and the tremendous growth in downtown all suggest that even more people will be walking and cycling on city streets in the coming years. In no uncertain terms, we must be attentive and respectful to everyone using the roadway.
The Street Smarts campaign also responds to a nationwide concern over the number and severity of traffic accidents. In the United States, a pedestrian is killed every seven minutes and another 85,000 are injured every year. These are our neighbors and friends, not just statistics.
Here, New Haven still mourns the loss of Mila Rainof, an amazingly talented student at Yale University, and Gabrielle Lee, an engaging 11-year-old school child. Both Mila and Gabrielle lost their lives in tragic crashes this summer. Many others lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes as well.
In just a few months, the community has galvanized through the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition of residents, civic leaders, city officials and organizations. Their advocacy has accelerated the pace of change with tangible programs sponsored by Elm City Cycling, Yale University, the Yale Medical School’s Traffic Safety Committee, the City of New Haven and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The early results are impressive and make for long-term and lasting benefits in traffic enforcement, transportation planning, engineering and community outreach.
The New Haven Police Department has renewed its commitment to traffic enforcement. Led by Sgt. David Sydnor, the new detail will focus and target key areas in a data-driven effort to further improve our performance. Residents are encouraged to work with their alderperson and district manager to identify hot spots and report them on the traffic hotline at (203) 946-6956.
The Engineering Department, Transportation, Traffic and Parking Department, City Plan and many alders are aggressively focused on traffic calming measures, defined bicycle routes and pedestrian enhancements.
Early work includes the new traffic calming roundabouts on Woodward Avenue, permanent speed humps on Lexington Avenue, drag-racing preventative measures on River Street, Ella Grasso Boulevard and soon on Long Wharf Drive. We are delineating bike routes across the city, adding bike parking spaces at Union Station and installing new pedestrian signals at 12 intersections in the medical district.
These efforts are made possible by the tireless work of community volunteers, members of the Board of Aldermen and our institutional partners. Moreover, the City of New Haven’s excellent technical and field personnel are on-call every day to repair traffic signals and sign controls. Their efforts prevent many accidents simply by maintaining our traffic system in a state of good repair.
Today, we will focus on education and continue to build a partnership with the community. Traffic calming, speed enforcement and other programs are just one part of the solution. The rest is up to us – and relies on our ability to practice Street Smarts every day.