After a driver struck and killed New Haven resident Dolores Dogolo earlier this month, Wooster Square community members gathered last night to prevent future traffic accidents.
In looking to prevent future traffic deaths, residents specifically advocated for speed bumps, better police enforcement and functioning stoplights to improve traffic regulation in the area. Ward 8 Alder Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18, whose ward includes the site of the crime at the corner of Olive and Greene Streets, led the meeting with approximately 40 neighborhood residents at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul & St. James.
“As a neighbor, I feel like we’ve got to find a way to slow people down,” Greenberg said. “That’s part of why we called this meeting to hear from our neighbors and from the experts how to accomplish that.”
Others in attendance included Mayor Toni Harp, City Engineer Giovanni Zinn ’05, Director of the Department of Transportation Doug Hausladen ’04, two police officers and members of the Dogolo family.
While many attendees inquired why the driver had not been charged, police officer Rob Criscuolo said that the police are still analyzing evidence to determine what happened before, during and after the accident. There weren’t many details that they could share, in part because they are waiting for an autopsy to be completed.
Though the driver in this case has yet to be prosecuted, a few audience members pointed out that the drive could be charged with a $1,000 fine under the Vulnerable User Bill — a law that took effect this October that enacts stricter penalties on reckless drivers who injure or kill vulnerable users, such as pedestrians or bikers.
Those in attendance spent the majority of the session strategizing ways to prevent these types of accidents.
When New Haven police give parking tickets, 100 percent of the money goes to the city, but when they give speeding tickets, they only receive $10. Several community members noted during the meeting that New Haven police officers give out parking tickets more frequently than speeding tickets, and that perhaps there should be more incentive for them to give speeding tickets to improve road safety.
Audience members lobbied for a greater police presence in the area to curb not only speeding, but also other forms of crime in the area.
“Should we start a Wooster Square militia to chase the speeders and the muggers?” New Haven resident Brett Bird, who was mugged earlier in the week, asked, exasperated.
Hausladen underscored that traffic signs are regularly damaged or stolen throughout the city — another key impediment to improving traffic regulation.
Police officials sympathized with community members, but Criscuolo stressed that everyone is responsible for road safety.
“The cars drive too fast, the pedestrians aren’t paying attention and people don’t know the rules,” Criscuolo said.
At the end of the meeting, Hausladen and Zinn divided the room into two groups to brainstorm specific solutions. On maps of roads in the area, residents highlighted places where bike lanes might be useful, where stoplights malfunction and where additional crosswalks might be added.
Richard Bailey, a resident from the area, said he thought that strategically placed speed bumps might be extremely beneficial for the area.
“I live at the corner of Court and Olive, and I always have trouble crossing there … nine times out of 10 they don’t stop for you,” Katie Buick, another resident, said.
Buick also suggested that Olive could be a one-way street with better signage and that lines on the road should be repainted.