Eleven days ago a Barnum Avenue near Main Street.
The accident marked the seventh time in 2012 in which a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle in Stratford, according to figures gathered by Lt. Frank Eannotti. In all of 2011, there were 10 similar reports.
Eannotti said the accidents are happening on or near Main Street in areas where foot traffic is highest -- Paradise Green, Stratford Center and . And though the majority of pedestrians only suffer minor injuries and are usually able to walk away, Eannotti said it's important people know the rules of the road in order to prevent tragedy.
"I think there's some confusion," he said. "Sometimes pedestrians are at fault, sometimes cars, sometimes both."
The May 5 accident is under investigation and no charges have been filed against the driver.
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To help educate residents, the released a in January that outlined the state's laws regarding the rights of pedestrians and motorists at crosswalks. (Stratford Patch did not receive the release until last week.)
Some of what the law states:
"All traffic must slow down or stop if a pedestrian has stepped up to the curb of [any crosswalk indicated by devices, lines, or markings on the surface of the road]...A pedestrian must also stay within the boundaries of a crosswalk and may not cross an intersection diagonally...A pedestrian must yield to vehicles where no crosswalk exists."
That last part, "a pedestrian must yield to vehicles where no crosswalk exists," is what pedestrians seem to violate most in Stratford, according to Eannotti.
"You see a lot of it, people don't cross in the crosswalk," he said. Instead, Eannotti said, locals are crossing Main Street 20 yards away from where they should.
At least one Patch reader agrees with the detective's observation.
"People also don't cross in the proper crosswalks," said in the comments section of a letter to the editor titled . "I've seen this many times in the Green area, just a few feet away from the crosswalk, or stepping out from in-between cars."
Police Chief said it's imperative pedestrians cross at designated areas, especially during hours of lower light when most of these accidents are occurring.
"People need to look out for themselves," Ridenhour said. "Sometimes at night the only thing you can see [as a motorist] is the crosswalk. Pedestrians can't assume that someone sees them."
Drivers at Fault
The penalty for a driver who is found responsible for injuring a pedestrian within a crosswalk can range from an infraction to a felony.
A hit-and-run last November on the corner of Stratford Avenue and Main Street, aka Hard's Corner, sent a Bridgeport woman to the hospital with serious injuries. The woman's condition would improve but the faced several charges including second-degree assault and felony evading.
Conversely, a motorist found at fault for striking a pedestrian at Paradise Green in January was , which required no court date and resulted in a payable fee. The victim suffered serious injuries but has since been released from the hospital.
Hit-and-runs are rare but are considered felonies when they cause major injury to a law-abiding pedestrian, according to Eannotti.
The driver of the fatal May 5 accident near the intersection of Barnum Avenue and Main Street did not drive away after he or she hit the Shelton man, Eannotti said.
The Stratford Police Department is operating at minimal manpower which means that usually there are eight officers on the road, according to Eannotti.
Between responding to calls that range from car accidents to suspicious activity to shoplifting complaints, officers simply do not have the time to closely monitor pedestrian activity throughout town.
"It's not that police don't have the desire, our time gets eaten up," Eannotti said.
The detective said officers in the past have been detailed to the crosswalk by the train station, but if the town wants more patrol for pedestrian traffic now -- at least outside of schools -- then the Town Council would have to allocate the funding.
Addressing Public Concern
In the comments section of the mentioned earlier in this article, opines:
"A lot would be solved with a few signs and a few lines. The town can do a better job painting lines and installing signs on almost every road."
In the same section, comments:
"Speed bumps should be installed throughout green area!!! We enjoy living here because of its close proximity and ability to walk everywhere. Please ensure residents safety to do so."
To which agrees:
"I have seen this done in other towns and is an excellent idea. Right outside of where I work in New Haven are speed bumps on a main street that definitely slows traffic down. I will bring this up with the Mayor's staff to see if this would work for Paradise Green. Crossing the street after Tuesday night concerts has resulted in several close calls for my family."
also weighs in:
"The town needs to put better lighting in the green & around town hall.it won't slow down wild drivers but at least considerate drivers can see pedestrians crossing."
Eannotti said the police department within the last six months recommended to the state Department of Transportation (DOT) increased lighting in areas of high pedestrian traffic, such as those referred to in the above comment. Any proposed changes -- whether it be speed bumps or signage -- must go through the DOT because Main Street is a state road.
"It may sound like a good idea [but] it may not be possible," Eannotti said. "There are set rules we have to obey."
Eannotti said he would advise against speed bumps, though, since Main Street is a roadway designed for the travel of vehicles, rather than the passage of pedestrians. And as far as signage goes, "it can't be used to slow down speeders, only for controlling intersections."
Public Safety Good for Business
Jeff Weiss is the owner of , located at Paradise Green on the opposite side of Main Street as .
Come July it'll be two years since Weiss opened Cardingtons. He said he walks across Main Street twice a day and it can at times be a little intimidating.
"It gets a little crazy out there," Weiss said. "Cars don't stop."
The problem spot for Weiss and his patrons is the crosswalk by the green area where there is no traffic light. He said it's almost like crossing three lanes of traffic there. Weiss said it could deter people from crossing to his side of the street, such as someone with a stroller.
"This area has the potential to have more walk-through business," he said. "Especially in the summertime, we want people walking here."