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Are Pedestrians Safe in Stratford?

Seven reports this year of pedestrians being struck by vehicles in Stratford is only three instances shy of the total for all of 2011. As a pedestrian in Stratford, do you feel safe walking these streets?

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.

Minimal Manpower

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."

Hal Baird May 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Most drivers don't observe the "pedistrian has the right of way if standing near the marked crossing area" law. In defense of drivers I will say I hold my breath when I observe the law, thinking the idiot behind me who's speeding will rear end me. There are probably others like me who just keep driving rather than risk an accident.
Anne K. Mulligan May 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I'm in complete agreement with Hal. I've stopped at crosswalks in town only to have the driver behind me swerve around me on the right and keep going or slam on their brakes and lean on their horn. I was once almost back-ended by a police cruiser when I stopped for a pedestrian! It's fascinating to watch the drivers as a pedestrian. The general rule seems to be that if one car blows through the crosswalk, all cars following will do the same, like sheep following one another. Your best hope when walking is the first car in line will stop.
Mike Reynolds May 16, 2012 at 12:41 PM
No way. It amazes me the number of people who run red lights in Stratford. Especially at Barnum and Main and Barnum Cut Off and Longbrook.
Mike May 16, 2012 at 12:43 PM
You have to ask the question, "Are the pedestrians causing the problem?" I was at Home Depot one day when this old woman walked right out into traffic without looking, and became indignant when I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting her. She thought that she had the right to walk into traffic. Another time, a pedestrian kept jumping in front of my truck. I would drive around him, and he would run and jump in front of my truck again. Finally I got out, confronted him, and told him if he wanted to commit suicide, to jump in front of someone else's truck.
George E. Mulligan May 16, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Bulls eyes on walkers do include HS & other kids who walk in cross walks without thinking many drivers are much older than laws were changed, Many drivers are in a hurry to get nowhere, I've been passed only to see a driver immediately slowed down by traffic ahead. Others swerve around a right lane driver, passing on the left, and pull into a shopping parking lot with a right hand turn. At first I didn't like the speed notifiers near the schools, but immediately realized how easy it was to go 35 mph in 25 mph zone, so learned to appreciate them. Now I'm 100 % for them. I live on 1/2 mil cul-d-sac. They narrowed the road to save money and put in curbs. Many people park in the street in front of their homes due to narrow driveways, filled garage, insuffient garage space compared to number of cars or business vehicles per family. After 5:00 pm, it is rare to find stretched on our street where 2 cars can pass each other from opposite directions due to the cars parked on both sides of the street. Some pedestrians walk on the street for exercise. The blame for the problem is multifold. Some ignorant pedestrians Some speeding ignorant drivers Town lack of foresight and proper maintenance State of CT DOT Political obduration Main Street (flooding & accidents) State roads become drag strips & no sidewalks Federal interstate ramp floods Peter Principal Political Police Promotions Voter apathy to let town politics spend so much on wrong priorities
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 02:05 PM
A couple comments left on the Stratford Patch Facebook page: Frank Kalakay: "People need to get off the phones, and take out the headphones while walking into trsffic... Or just straight up pay attention.. a pedestrian will always lose to a vehicle... That will cut the number in half... There are always an honest few, and few horrible when i read them." Chris Catalano: "Just because pedestrians have the right of way it doesn't mean they were seen...wait for the car to pass or stop don't cross and hope they stop" Like us: http://www.facebook.com/StratfordPatch
jmf May 16, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I would say some of the issues are the fault of the pedestrians but it's mostly distracted and unaware drivers. Too many "drivers" forget they are in a car and their focus should be 100% on the road and their surroundings. Most people are distracted by talking on their phone, texting, rushing to where they need to be or just acting like they are the only one on the road. I see many close calls by the train station and pedestrians trying to cross Main Street. Drivers speed through the intersection, under the tracks and the highway, through red lights and making turns into the crosswalk while the crosswalk lights are lit. People need to slow down for a few minutes and pay attention.
Jason Garnett May 16, 2012 at 03:57 PM
The town should focus more on creating a safe environment for pedestrians and bikers in order to increase public health through walking and exercise as well as decreasing our dependence on automobiles and oil. People should get outside and walk around their town as much as possible. Don't drive when you can walk somewhere, and stand up for your rights as a pedestrian. Stratford is a nice walkable town and we can make it better if we leave our cars at home and take public transportation and foot power.
George E. Mulligan May 16, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Wait until 10,000 to 20,000 jobs open in AVCO. That is why they are now creating I - 95 RAMPS Commuters to - from Milford to New Haven / inland - Lordship Boulevard and Surf Avenue are for traffic from NY, STAMFORD, Westport/Fairfield/Bridgeport. - However Main Street connects Stratford to the Valley. The left at Paradise Green connects Stratford to Shelton . Nichols Avenue is north to Trumbull / Shelton - Broadbridge leads to North Bridgeport - Pedestrians will need to dress like Bull fighters or Hockey/Football players. - Since I work in home office with minimal travel & no need for Cell, I over looked a huge issue of distracted drivers as partially causal to pedestrian dodge ball.
Catmommie May 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Let's not forget the kids on their bikes or skateboards, wearing dark clothing, just flying out into the street without looking because they were probably told, "You always have the right of way, the drivers have to stop for you."
Patricia Pell May 16, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Where to even begin? Everyone has some blame. Pedestrians jay-walk. Drivers speed. Police are too busy to write tickets. Not enough traffic lights. Walk signs either don't work or take too long for signals to activate, people are impatient. On and on and on. All true. So let us find a way to solve the issue before someone else gets killed. As a handicapped person, I like the signals that buzz loudly. I can not cross the road in the time allowed by regular signals and cars are quick to jump the light. At least with the buzzer going, cars are aware that someone is using the crosswalk.
Noreen Calgreen May 16, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I too agree with Hal. I hold my breath every time I have stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk area. I fear that I will be rear ended. And along main street near town hall it is so wide, 2 lanes on each side even though i'm sure it should only be one wide lane one each. it's hard to notice someone on the other side of the road trying to cross under those circumstances.
Shirley B. Backus May 17, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Well said! However, I refuse to "stand up for my rights as a pedestrian" at the risk of becoming road pizza!
Shirley B. Backus May 17, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Most drivers seem to ignore stop signs in parking lots. The stop sign next to PetCo might as well not even be there for all the attention it gets. Many drivers don't seem to be aware that traffic laws apply to parking lots, too!
Thomas Gee May 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
The laws state "No turn on red during walk cycle and no turn on red with pedestrian in crosswalk", yet vehicles all over town go through on red in all intersections even when it is posted "No Turn On Red". The Stratford Police do not enforce this and a majority of officers do not know that you can not turn right during the walk cycle. Too bad Frankie Eannotti doesn't know this so he can pass it onto his troops to enforce.
Robert Chambers May 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM
So if I'm a private property owner and I put up a sign that says "speed limit 15, fine $2000" I can collect extra money? I don't see how police are empowered to enforce highway ordinances on private property.
Laura N May 18, 2012 at 03:46 PM
NO I was driving down main street and stopped to let 2 kids on a bike cross at the cross walk and a guy to my right passed me and ALMOST hit them!!!
Diane Wirtemburg May 19, 2012 at 07:06 AM
The crosswalk in the picture is very dangerous. If you are driving north on Main St, the bend in the road hides the crosswalk until the very last minute. If someone is crossing with a green light for the traffic, it's likely they can get hit. This place is an accident waiting to happen.
Robert Chambers May 19, 2012 at 01:07 PM
That intersection at the railroad is way out of compliance with state DOT regulations governing intersections and sight-line distances. I have a scaled drawing of the area as well as the DOT regs from many years ago when I was fighting a ticket. If they wanted to build that now they wouldn't be allowed to. There shouldn't be a crosswalk there it's too dangerous. It needs to be up the hill a bit where drivers have a chance to see pedestrians before they need to make a split second decision. The speed limit drops from 35mph to 25mph AT that crosswalk.. that does NO good at all. I wonder what a secondary footpath bridge would cost to go from one side to the other? A lot of folks getting off the train cross here, perhaps they could extend the platforms on each side of the bridge and have stairs going down which would eliminate the need to cross the road.

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