In light of Mayor Toni Harp’s call for heightened pedestrian safety in her State of the City address, concerns persist for the safety of certain intersections on Yale’s campus.
At the intersection of Grove Street and Hillhouse Avenue by the back gate of Silliman College, students and residents report that cars speed by and rarely stop for pedestrians, despite the crosswalk and yield signal. “It takes a while to cross there,” said Merita Beriashi ’16, a student living in Silliman. “You usually have to wait until the stoplight [at College Street] turns red. The cars should stop regardless, though.”
On SeeClickFix, New Haven’s civic feedback forum, the issue of high speeds at the intersection garnered input from five residents, including the newly appointed Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen ’04, who commented on the intersection while serving as Ward 7 Alder. He said intersections like these pose greatest risk to children, the elderly and disabled people.
A city official attempted to close the file on the Grove-Hillhouse intersection on Jan. 7, but SeeClickFix moderators reopened it due to demand by residents.
“People have to stick with the issue,” said one resident who frequently crosses the intersection and has been alarmed by the high speeds. “You can’t close an issue until the core problems are resolved.”
Over a hundred intersections throughout the city have been reported on the site, alongside proposals by residents to make the intersections safer.
Mark Abraham ’04, coordinator for the Safe Streets Coalition, said SeeClickFix offers planners a helpful look at pedestrian safety issues over time, as residents document and post concerns, collisions and issues.
Wide, one-way streets like Grove are conducive to speeding and put pedestrians at risk, Abraham said, but the city could take several measures — such as widening sidewalks, creating bike lanes and allowing for street parking — to narrow the street and thus reduce vehicle speeds.
“Huge flower pots can serve the same purpose as curb bump-outs, for instance, and other speed deterrents will create a slower pace to improve public safety,” Harp proposed in the State of the City address, which focused heavily on issues of transportation and traffic.
Another technique would be to slightly raise the grade of the asphalt to form a low road bump called a speed table, Abraham said.
Construction of a speed table is underway at the intersection of Whitney Avenue and Audubon Street as of August. New Haven and Yale are splitting the $320,000 bill
“These improvements should increase pedestrian traffic in the area, and so will add to Yale’s economic development initiatives by lending support to local merchants,” Yale Spokesperson Mike Morand ’87 DIV ’93 told the News in August.
Hausladen said that the process citizens would take to improve the intersection would include working with Alders and community groups and submitting an official request through the Complete Streets program that is responsible for street improvement. From there, the city would begin gathering metrics on the safety of the intersection and modifyZ it accordingly.
But data does not always lead to immediate resolutions for pedestrian safety issues.
In a 2009 report on campus intersections, the Elm-York intersection by Broadway was rated the most dangerous based on manual scoring, SeeClickFix reports and motor vehicle collision statistics. Almost five years later, the city has made no significant improvements to the intersection.
But in the fall, the Yale Traffic Safety Committee launched a Pedestrian Safety Campaign, with signs encouraging students to “look both ways” and pay attention as they were crossing, in response to a survey released last spring that showed Yale pedestrians are concerned about aggressive drivers.
Every year, approximately 100 New Haven adults are injured after being struck by a car, according to data released by the University’s Traffic Safety Committee.