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
The Hartford Courant's Don Stacom wrote today about a new report from the Auto Insurance Center that shows Connecticut ranks 28th for pedestrian safety.
Bike Walk CT was quoted in the article: "As this report shows, Connecticut's driving culture isn't very hospitable to pedestrians. Newspaper accounts bear that out on a weekly basis," said Kelly Kennedy, executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut, an advocacy group for walkers and cyclists.
"Connecticut residents and government leaders are starting to take the need for 'complete streets' more seriously, but we still have a long way to go to make it safer for all the people who want to walk or bike to work, to school, to the bus or train, for errands, or for exercise," Kennedy said. "In the meantime, if drivers, pedestrians and cyclists all made more of an effort to follow the rules for sharing the road, it would restore a measure of civility and respect and make our roads much safer for everyone. And it wouldn't cost a dime."
See Stacom's article, Connecticut Slightly Below Par For Pedestrian Safety. The Auto Insurance Center report is available at http://tinyurl.com/zkgf9lz.
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.
Everybody should feel safe using Connecticut’s roads.
Connecticut’s roads are traveled by walkers, runners, and cyclists who are welcome and expected to use the roads for transportation, fitness, and recreation. With common courtesy, common sense, and respect for the rules to share the road, Connecticut’s roads can be safer for everyone. Please do your part whether you’re driving, cycling, walking, or running.
Bike Walk Connecticut, the statewide organization that works for active transportation and making Connecticut a better place to bike and walk, has released a new brochure to remind drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on the rules for sharing the road. Our Give Respect, Get Respect: Share the Road, Connecticut brochure is available for download at http://www.bikewalkct.org/share-the-road.
Think you know the rules? Let's see! Take our Share the Road IQ Quiz here, or on YouTube.
35 Bike/Ped Accidents Since 2009, Claiming 6 Lives
East Hartford (August 4, 2015) - At the urging of advocates and after three years of planning and feasibility analysis, construction on Connecticut's first ever "road diet" has started on Burnside Avenue in East Hartford. Construction began on July 27 with completion scheduled for July 2016.
At a press conference today, Governor Malloy, DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker and East Hartford Mayor Marcia LeClerc touted the project as a much-needed safety measure, and the first of more road diets to come. Redeker cited the project as an example of DOT's transition to a complete streets philosophy.
The four-lane section of Route 44 on Burnside Avenue has been no friend to pedestrians cyclists over the years, with 35 bike and pedestrian accidents since 2009, claiming six lives. Generally, four-lane, relatively wide roadways encourage drivers to speed up, and high speed accidents are more likely to result in significant injuries or death.
To make Burnside Avenue safer for pedestrians and cyclists, the road diet project will convert the existing four lane road to a two lane road with two 5 ft. bike lanes and two 7 ft. shoulders-- wide enough to preserve on-street parking. The road diet will cover the 2.76-mile stretch of Burnside Avenue between Main Street and Mary Street.
According to East Hartford's Plan of Conservation and Development, the road diet will improve connectivity to other paths for bicyclists including streets with wide shoulders (e.g. Mary Street) and trails such as the Charter Oak Greenway.
Planning for the road diet started in 2012 and included public meetings for DOT to share design concepts and hear from interested individuals. Construction was initially targeted for spring 2015 depending on funding availability. Ninety percent of the project is financed with federal funding, with the remaining 10% coming from the state.
More information at: DOT - Summary, Fact Sheet; East Hartford POCD; TSTC: “Groundbreaking” ConnDOT Road Diet Must Be First of Many.
Thirteen Communities Awarded $5 Million to Strengthen Commercial Districts
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that 13 municipalities across Connecticut are being awarded $5 million in grants to develop or improve town commercial districts in an effort to attract small businesses, grow jobs, and improve pedestrian access and livability in town centers. The grants are part of the state’s Main Street Investment Fund, which is administered through the state Department of Housing.
“These grants are a great way for the state to support our cities and towns in their efforts to develop and improve their commercial centers,” said Governor Malloy. “This program responds to the unique needs of individual communities all around the state by creating partnerships with local governments and merchants to improve aesthetics and pedestrian access, attract new businesses, new customers, and new residents — ultimately breathing new life into our smaller commercial centers.”
The Main Street Investment Fund provides financial incentives to eligible municipalities as well as owners of commercial private properties for expenditures that directly support and enhance a qualified project. Awards are no more than $500,000 and can be used for expenses such as building improvements, signage, lighting, and streetscape improvements.
The funded projects are:
For Immediate Release: September 16, 2014
Contact: David Bednarz
Big News! U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces New Initiative to Enhance Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
Here's some news you can use! Today's press release shows how the federal government is getting increasingly serious about bike/ped transportation.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces New Initiative to Enhance Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
DOT to launch nationwide safety assessment of key bike/ped routes
PITTSBURGH – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a new initiative to reduce the growing number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities through a comprehensive approach that addresses infrastructure safety, education, vehicle safety and data collection. The 18-month campaign will begin with road safety assessments conducted by U.S. Department of Transportation field offices in every state, and will produce multiple resources to help communities build streets that are safer for people walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation. Secretary Foxx made the announcement at the Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference, the largest gathering of, transportation engineers, city planners and professional bicycle-pedestrian safety advocates and practitioners in the country.
“Safety is our highest priority and that commitment is the same regardless of which form of transportation people choose, including walking and biking,” Secretary Foxx said. “This initiative is aimed at reversing the recent rise in deaths and injuries among the growing number of Americans who bicycle or walk to work, to reach public transportation and to other important destinations.”
Injuries and fatalities of pedestrian and people bicycling have steadily increased since 2009, at a rate higher than motor vehicle fatalities. From 2011 to 2012, pedestrian deaths rose 6 percent and bicyclist fatalities went up almost 7 percent.
The new pedestrian and bicycle safety initiative will promote design improvements to ensure safe and efficient routes for pedestrians and bicycles, promote behavioral safety, and provide education to help individuals make safer travel choices. The initiative will also encourage vehicle safety by drawing on current crash avoidance technologies to alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists and pedestrians.
The initiative will begin when the Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) field offices survey routes for pedestrians and cyclists with local transportation officials and stakeholders to understand where and why gaps exist in the non-motorized transportation network and strategize on ways to close them. Gaps are areas where the risk of a crash increases due to the lack of sidewalks or other safe infrastructure. The Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will participate in assessments to gain understanding of non-motorized crashes involving truck and trains.
Among the many resources the Department will provide will be a guide to creating “road diets,” in which roadways with lower traffic volumes are redesigned to add space for bicycle riders and pedestrians. Studies show that road diets reduce all traffic crashes by an average of 29 percent, and when used on rural highways that pass through small towns, they can reduce crashes by almost half – 47 percent. Additional resources will help practitioners incorporate small safety improvements into many road projects, address “last mile” safety for people taking buses and trains, and make it easier for jurisdictions to count and plan for people traveling by foot and bicycle.
The Department will work with local officials, advocacy groups, and safety organizations to help champion the use of the new resources by practitioners, law enforcement, and safety organizations. It also will convene meetings with practitioners and researchers about practices and policies that have been barriers to creating safer streets for non-motorized users.
The initiative will also focus on improving pedestrian and bicycle routes that provide access to bus stops and train stations. Research has shown that lower income communities have disproportionately higher rates of pedestrian deaths, as well as less safe pedestrian infrastructure, despite higher reliance on non-motorized modes and public transportation.
Click here for additional information on the pedestrian and bicycle safety initiative.
Town Councilor and chair of West Hartford's Public Safety Committee Harry Captain has proposed a resolution concerning the renewal and strengthening of the town's commitment to traffic, pedestrian and cyclist safety. The resolution addresses safety and right of way issues for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, and directs the town manager to reinvigorate safety efforts.
West Hartford Assistant Police Chief Bob McCue is on board with the effort. McCue is quoted as saying "There are a lot of things you have no control over, but accidents are preventable. The theme is always to get folks to realize they've got to share the road. No one has a God-given right to have a straight shot to their place of employment or home or anything, You've got to be respectful of everyone else."
Amen to that!
Click here to read the full West Hartford Life story by Abigail Albair. The story starts at page 54. Read the resolution here. We'll update this post when we have confirmation that it passed at the August 26 town council meeting.
Is there news we can use from your town? Let us know--we're always looking!
Bike Walk Connecticut
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