March 1, 2016
Re: SUPPORT for HB 5403, An Act Increasing Penalties For Failure To Yield To Pedestrians In Crosswalks And Failure To Exercise Due Care To Avoid Hitting A Pedestrian Or Cyclist
Dear Representative Tong, Senator Coleman, and Members of the Judiciary Committee:
Bike Walk Connecticut and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign write jointly to thank you for raising HB 5403, an important measure to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to use the roads. We support the bill and urge the legislature to pass it in 2016 before there’s one more pedestrian or cyclist tragedy.
News Accounts Show Connecticut Not Hospitable to Pedestrians and Cyclists
Recent news accounts from across the state, along with the just-released 2016 Auto Insurance Center report on pedestrian fatalities and injuries, underscore the need for people all across Connecticut to know and follow the rules for safely sharing the road. This is not a new phenomenon: our 2014 research for the Vulnerable User law found that 10,793 pedestrians and cyclists were injured or killed on Connecticut roads from 2006 through 2012, according to state and federal statistics.
Connecticut Needs a Share the Road Campaign for Drivers, Pedestrians and Cyclists
Everybody should feel safe using Connecticut’s roads. Our roads are traveled by people of all ages and abilities who walk, run and cycle for transportation, fitness, recreation, and tourism. Those people must be welcome and expected on our roads.
Legal, Financial Consequences Would Change Behavior
Not only does Connecticut need to re-learn and recommit to the following the rules of the road, we need to step up enforcement of those rules. To the best of our knowledge, the Vulnerable User law enacted in 2014 has never been enforced. The 3-foot safe passing rule isn’t widely observed or easily enforced. And clearly, the rules for yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks go unheeded. The absence of legal or financial consequences to ignoring “share the road” rules simply reinforces the undesirable behavior that so often has truly tragic consequences.
Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-300(c) Should be Corrected Too
In addition to strengthening penalties as this bill provides, please consider correcting a little known 2007 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-300(c). Public Act 07-167 amended subsection (c) by replacing “steps to the curb” with “steps off the curb or into the crosswalk” and specifying a fine of $90, effective July 1, 2007. Prioritizing drivers over non-motorized road users, as that amendment did, is simply poor, short-sighted public policy that has no place in a world of climate change, massive traffic congestion problems, and an obesity epidemic.
Minnesota and Other Model Laws
We wish to call your attention to a few pro-pedestrian, pro-cyclist laws in other states that could serve as worthy models for Connecticut:
With four out of five Connecticut workers driving to work alone by car, it’s no wonder that our roads are congested, costing us some $1.3 billion annually in lost time and wasted fuel, according to DOT. Nor should we overlook the fact that transportation is the single biggest source of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas pollution. According to DEEP, that’s mostly from passenger cars.
Accordingly, Connecticut must go beyond accommodating cyclist and pedestrian travel to actually promoting it, so that we can simultaneously relieve congestion, address climate change, improve public health, and attract and retain the millennials and knowledge workers that will give Connecticut's innovation economy a true competitive advantage.
Many of our members have been sharing their personal experiences with you about their adventures, and misadventures, as a pedestrian or cyclist trying to navigate Connecticut’s roads. We urge you to read their remarks and take them to heart.
Thank you for considering our views. We look forward to helping to see that HB 5403 passes this session.
Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director, Bike Walk Connecticut
Joseph Cutrufo, Connecticut Policy Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
A new bill (HB 5403) proposed by the legislature's Judiciary Committee to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists can't be enacted-- and enforced--soon enough.
Here are some reports of pedestrian fatalities and injuries just from the Hartford Courant since January 1. Not included in this list is the 81-year old man who died after being hit on Jan. 10 as he crossed a Stamford road with his walker; the 2 pedestrians hit in Stamford on Jan 21; the three pedestrians hit and killed in a month and a half in Bridgeport; and all the incidents that didn't get media coverage.
Bike Walk Connecticut urges everybody to know what the rules of the road are and follow them, whether you're driving, walking, or cycling.
From the Hartford Courant:
Police Investigate Accident That Left Newington Man Badly Hurt
NEWINGTON — Police said they are investigating a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident that left a 63-year-old man with serious injuries.Police said they were called to Cedar Street and Mill Street Extension about 6:55 p.m. Thursday and found that Walter Arnett of Newington had been struck by a vehicle....
Police Name Woman Killed In Windsor Locks Uber Car Accident
WINDSOR LOCKS — A female pedestrian struck by a car on a busy road Sunday night has died, police said. Chantel Lynch, 68, of Windsor Locks was close to the center line of Route 75, or Ella Grasso Turnpike, when the accident happened about 7:50 p.m., Sgt. Sebastian Garofalo said. An Uber driver...
Windsor Locks Police Investigating Pedestrian Accident
WINDSOR LOCKS – Police are investigating after a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Route 75 near Halfway House Road Sunday evening. Police said the accident was reported around 7:50 p.m. Sunday and that officers were on the scene investigating. The condition of the victim was not immediately...
Pedestrian Killed In Route 6 Accident In Brooklyn
BROOKLYN — A 75-year-old local man was killed Wednesday when he was struck by a vehicle on Route 6, according to state police.State police said John McCarthy, 75, was crossing Route 6 around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when he was hit.McCarthy was pronounced dead at the scene. The road was closed for about...
School Bus Strikes Pedestrian In Enfield
ENFIELD — A pedestrian was gravely injured when he was struck by a school bus early Wednesday. The accident happened about 6:15 a.m., before dawn, on Route 5, Sgt. Charles Lelas said. The pedestrian was a middle-aged man. He didn’t know if any students were on the bus, he said. Check back for...
New Haven Police Investigating After Pedestrian Struck
NEW HAVEN – Police are investigating after a pedestrian suffered serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle while crossing Foxon Boulevard Wednesday evening.Police said the incident occurred at 10 p.m. on Foxon Boulevard as Meghan Perry, 26, of Milford, was crossing the roadway.The motorist,...
Downtown Manchester Pedestrian Safety In Spotlight After Fatal Accident
MANCHESTER — The need for continued traffic safety enforcement and education was reinforced after the latest car vs. pedestrian accident on Main Street, the police traffic unit supervisor said Wednesday.Accidents involving serious pedestrian injuries and deaths occur in the Main Street area more...
Pedestrian Struck On I-84 On Ramp In Hartford
HARTFORD – State police were on the scene investigating after a pedestrian was struck on the on ramp to the Flatbush Avenue entrance to I-84 Monday night, state police said. The accident was reported shortly after 6 p.m. The pedestrian who was struck suffered non-life threatening injuries and was...
Two Pedestrians Struck And Injured In Shelton
SHELTON – Two pedestrians, including a 10-year-old girl, were injured after being struck by a vehicle in the area of Coram Avenue and Hill Street around 5 p.m. Tuesday.Police said the two victims, a 46-year-old female and a 10-year-old female, both from Shelton, were transported to Yale-New Haven...
BMW Hits Pedestrian On Queen Street In Southington
Courant Staff Report
A vehicle hit and critically injured a 33-year-old pedestrian crossing Queen Street in Southington on Saturday night, police said. The accident occurred about 9 p.m. near the McDonald's restaurant at 675 Queen St. The pedestrian, Justin R. Spielvogel, was on foot heading east, away from an Exxon...
Pedestrian Killed On Main Street In Manchester
MANCHESTER — A person walking on Main Street was hit and killed by a car on Friday night, police said.The person was taken to Hartford Hospital after the crash and died there, police said. The identity of the pedestrian was not released as police notify family members; the identify of the vehicle's...
Calling all bike ped enthusiasts! Please let the Judiciary Committee and your legislators know you support HB 5403, An Act Increasing Penalties For Failure To Yield To Pedestrians In Crosswalks And Failure To Exercise Due Care To Avoid Hitting A Pedestrian Or Cyclist.
Please Submit Your Testimony in Support of HB 5403
Please thank the Judiciary Committee for raising HB 5403 and let them know you would like it to be passed this year. If you've been hit or frequently encounter unsafe drivers when you're out following the rules of the road, please share your experience to make clear how much work CT has to do to be a better place to bike and walk. Include your name and town of residence at the end. Please be aware that all submitted testimony is public record and will be linked on the Connecticut General Assembly website. Please copy your own legislators (find them here) and firstname.lastname@example.org. Send your testimony to email@example.com. Here's a sample message to personalize.
Can You Attend the March 2 Hearing?
A public hearing on HB 5403 will take place on Wednesday, March 2 at 1 pm in at the Gen Re Auditorium at UConn's Stamford campus. We encourage as many bike ped supporters as possible to attend the hearing. A strong showing would make a forceful statement. Please consider testifying too (you usually get 3 minutes max to talk). Map.
HB 5403 would increase fines from $90 to a maximum of $500 for drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians. Drivers who don’t use care to avoid colliding with a bicyclist or pedestrian can also be fined up to $500. The bill was proposed by the Judiciary Committee.
March 2 Hearing HB 5403 on Pedestrian & Cyclist Safety, in Stamford - Attend, Testify, or Send Testimony
Attention Bike Walk CT members!
This being a budget year and a short legislative session, we expected the legislature’s focus to be on the budget and transportation lockbox. So we’re thrilled that the Judiciary Committee has raised HB 5403, An Act Increasing Penalties For Failure To Yield To Pedestrians In Crosswalks And Failure To Exercise Due Care To Avoid Hitting A Pedestrian Or Cyclist. The bill would increase the fine from a maximum of $90 to a maximum of $500.
The Judiciary Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 5403 and others on March 2 at 1 pm in Stamford at the Gen Re Auditorium of the UConn Stamford Campus. (1 University Place, Stamford, CT 06901).
A massive showing of Bike Walk CT members would be quite impactful. If you’ve been hit or can otherwise testify to the need for safer behavior on the roads, please consider attending the hearing and testifying about your experience. We’ll send details shortly about message points to consider for your written testimony, which you may send by email if you can’t attend the hearing in person.
Yes, the increased dollar amount still pales in comparison to the injury that drivers so often cause when they hit pedestrians and cyclists. Nor does HB 5403 address the little known but problematic 2007 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-300(c) that changed the requirement for drivers to yield to pedestrians in or at a crosswalk to requiring them to yield only when pedestrians have already stepped off the curb or are in a crosswalk. The new rule doesn't seem to be getting much enforcement, but neither did the old rule.
Nevertheless, HB 5403 and the March 2 hearing present a huge opportunity for Bike Walk CT members to let the legislature know just how much work remains to be done to make Connecticut a better, safer place for all the people who want to bike and walk. Safety concerns are the number one reason that keeps people (and their kids) from walking and biking as much as they’d like.
And remember - respect on the roads goes both ways. See our Give Respect, Get Respect brochure on the rules for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers to share the road. Please follow them every time.
Bike Walk Connecticut's mission is to change the culture of transportation through advocacy and education to make bicycling and walking safe, feasible, and attractive for a healthier, cleaner Connecticut.
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