more traffic nonsense

As I’ve bitched here, ad infinitum it seems sometimes, traffic on our street, Strawberry Hill Avenue, defies belief. A 25mph street, with three schools, where even the cops and buses routinely go 40mph. A two-lane street for most of it’s length, where assholes routinely pass on the right. A death corner where Strawberry Hill and Tierney Street meet. Where I’ve never seen anyone getting a traffic citation—not even the asswipe that slammed into me as I was turning into my driveway (he couldn’t stop in time, so tried to pass me on the right. Then claimed I was turning left.)

So when we got a flyer from the Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association (which I didn’t know existed) announcing a public forum on Strawberry Hill Avenue Safety at City Hall, we decided to attend. Apparently, Mayor Moccia decided to resurrect “Slow Down Days,” where residents are encouraged to create and display their own signs concerning traffic safety during the week of March 20. In conjunction with this, um, event, the forum was held to address SHA traffic issues. So we attended.

First we heard a blah-blah by the chief of police, Harry Rilling, who told us enforcement begins with us, that a combination of enforcement, education, and engineering are what keeps traffic rational. Or something like that. Said the police are in charge of enforcement and education. And turned the meeting over to Al or Hal somebody—we’re not sure who he is. Who told us his department, whichever one it is, got some more money to hire a traffic analyst and how poor the department is and how the traffic lights all operate off of DOS software so they have to scrounge around for computer castoffs to replace the sad old DOS PCs (we have about ten he can have ... ) And they waited months and months to hire a traffic analyst, and introduced us to Fred, the traffic analyst.

Fred proceeded to wave around a map and tell us about school zones, how they’re going to be extended 700 feet along all approaches and the speed limit will be 20mph in these school zones. Someone in the audience, our neighbor from a couple of doors down, pointed out that we don’t particularly need any help with speed during school hours—when kids are going to or getting out of school, the street is pretty much in gridlock. Those rolling perambulators aka SUVs take over the street as mommies make sure their kiddies don’t have to walk more than 50 feet to get home. And there are crossing guards a terrorist would be scared to mess with. Nope, we need help with the traffic mainly in the mornings and evenings during rush hour, as she and the rest of the audience pointed out. Another neighbor asked about the mess at the high school, and another about why the traffic light at Norden Place flashes more than operates (if they really cost $200,000 as claimed by the DPW guy, why would you not use it all the time?) Even if they turn on the light all the time, the DPW guy said, people would just run the light. A lot of really assinine comments tonight by our so-called leaders.

The police chief and the mayor each gave their version of “Oh, even if we did this or that, people would still do this or that.” I guess that’s their justification for not even trying. I asked about enforcement, about why cop cars and buses speed on SHA, and enforcement again, pointing out that I have never seen anyone getting a ticket. Chief Rilling claims there’s a lot of enforcement going on, that the cops write about 3,000 tickets a year (which is less than ten a day—pretty shabby for a town of more than 80,000). He invited me to make an appointment with him to go over enforcement on Strawberry Hill, so I will. I also asked about why the traffic light that was approved for SHA & Tierney in 1998 was never installed. The DPW guy said because they never got the money for it. (Note to self: give Fred Bondi a call—one of our two councilpeople, neither of whom showed up tonight.) I also asked what the police deptartment planned to do during Slow Down Days—if there was going to be an attempt at enforcement along with our homemade signs. He danced around and said there would be enforcement, but they aren’t going to announce where. Now isn’t that a load of bullshit?

Mayor Moccia also said we should be bugging our legislators to get them to give the towns at least some of the traffic fine money—right now, any traffic fines collected goes straight to the State. He’s got a point—it is outrageous that cities have to pay for enforcement but not collect on it. I don’t really care if cities get the money and use it as a revenue generator—at least our traffic laws would finally have some teeth. Maybe the lack of enforcement is the plan, a way to get citizens so riled up about it we get our reps to amend the law. I mean, really, ten traffic tickets a day is pretty insulting. It seems to me as if the cops and the mayor view traffic crime as not crimes. And I am really tired of the mayor and the police chief telling us that the fault lies within ourselves and our neighbors. And that the reason buses seem like they’re speeding is because they’re so big and noisy ... Stanley pointed out that SHA speeders are mostly Westporters on their way to or from I-95.

There’s more: a development is in the works (at Norden) that would add more than 300 housing units in one area with only one way out: to Strawberry Hill Avenue. It was supposed to have two ways out, but the developers just promised Westport that residents in this area would not have access to its streets. Since that development would be the absolutely wrong thing for the quality of life (such as it is) in this neighborhood, Stanley and I are confident that it will surely be built. And there still won’t be a traffic light at Tierney Street.

Am I cynical? You bet. I’ll do what I can—even make a slow down sign and hang it in the hedge. And I’ll start calling Rilling’s office when I see speeding cops and buses and once again we’ll offer to let cops park in our driveway (which Stanley has done before, but was never taken up on it). Moccia, Rilling, and the others are all counting on the fact that people are busy and don’t necessarily have the time to follow up, I think. There, they met with us, listened, said nothing, left—we should be appeased. Why am I not?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/09/06 at 04:59 AM
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

<< Back to main