Grad students discuss street conversion plans

Between classes and dissertations, Yale graduate students have found time in their busy schedules to speak out against the conversion of New Haven’s streets.

At a two-hour Tuesday night meeting in the Hall of Graduate Studies, roughly 15 graduate students voiced their concerns about a current city proposal to convert many downtown streets that surround Yale from one-way to two-way lanes. The city’s proposal includes plans to convert 10 major downtown streets, including York, College, Crown, Church and Grove Streets. According to Sachi Inukai GRD ’15, chair of the Graduate Student Assembly Transit and Security Committee, the proposal does not sufficiently take into account the needs of the Yale community, which include biking, pedestrian traffic and bus route congestion.

“Yale’s needs are different from New Haven’s because we’re actually living here [in downtown],” Inukai said. “There’s a difference between living here and working here.”

The GSA organized Tuesday’s town-hall style meeting in order to gather the opinions of graduate students and formulate suggestions to the city on behalf of the Yale community, said GSA President Brian Dunican GRD ’15.

Several students who attended the meeting raised questions about converting streets that are already congested. Because downtown streets have parking lanes on either side, converting them to two-way streets would mean that cars traveling each direction would have only a single lane.

“I think a lot of the proposal is too overreaching,” said Bill Ruff GRD ’18. “York Street is already a mess. To convert it, you’d have to lose one side of parking, but it’s prime parking for the businesses.”

Students also discussed the conversion of streets that receive heavy foot traffic, because pedestrians might face more difficulty and danger while crossing two-way streets.

In addition, the proposal does not account for frequent Yale Shuttle stops, Ross Federman GRD ’19 said, adding that a street with one lane for traffic either way would cause significant traffic congestion.

“Even the way it is now, the buses in the city really push the limits of the roads,” he added.

Though graduate students questioned the conversion of many of the streets, they also generally supported changing of Church and Grove Streets to two-way. Church and Grove are less congested, Federman said, and it would be significantly more convenient if they were two-way.

The students also supported the city’s proposal to add a bike lane on Church Street. Yet they unanimously agreed that the city should add bike lanes to several other streets as well, including College, Prospect, Church and Grove Streets.

“We’ve settled on the importance of bike lanes and making College and Prospect Streets major thoroughfares for bikers,” Inukai said. “Bike lanes are really lacking in New Haven.”

Federman suggested that the city not only paint lines indicating bike lanes, but also construct concrete blockades from the street in order to ensure that drivers do not use bike lanes to pass other cars.

Other issues graduate students have recently debated over include housing options in New Haven and campus security.

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