From today's New Haven Register:
A whole mess of things wrong with this picture.
Jaywalkers on alert in Hamden
HAMDEN — Police are cracking down on jaywalkers in the area of Quinnipiac University.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 11, police saw 10 university students crossing Whitney Avenue in the area of 3307 Whitney, Capt. Ronald Smith said Tuesday. The students were not using the marked crosswalk and one was under the influence of alcohol, he said.
Police issued two infractions for failure to walk within marked crosswalk; seven written warnings for failure to walk within marked crosswalk and one written warning for walking in the road while under the influence of alcohol.
In less than two years, there have been at least five reported incidents of pedestrians being struck by a car within a quarter-mile stretch of Whitney Avenue near Quinnipiac University.
Pedestrians get hit on a dangerous stretch of road, and the solution the Hamden police come up with is: ticket the pedestrians. That's one of the dumbest things I've heard. Yes the pedestrians are breaking the law by jaywalking, but there's a lot more going on here. What about the drivers? Motorists routinely drive in excess of 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limits on that road. Many of them do so while gabbing on cell phones, also illegal. Why no crackdown on them, Hamden? You ticket the pedestrian who's a danger to himself, but not the drivers who are a danger to everyone else? Way to protect and serve.
Enough with the police though, the problems run deeper than that. Why hasn't anyone stopped and asked why Whitney Avenue is designed like an expressway? It runs through several built up areas, including the area around Quinnipiac University. Even when you do use the crosswalks, it's not much fun traversing Whitney Avenue.
Bottom line: we shouldn't build high speed roads through towns and cities in the first place. If you want to go fast, we have plenty of interstates around here. In fact both Route 15 and I-91 run roughly parallel to Whitney Ave. There's options a plenty for cars. Not so for everyone else.
Here's a thought. Quinnipiac University is likely to continuing expanding in the foreseeable future, the current economic downtown notwithstanding. This means the number of pedestrians in the area is likely to keep growing. Instead of treating pedestrians like criminals, why not make the area around Quinnipiac more pedestrian-friendly?
When pedestrians jaywalk, it's not because they want to break the law, it's because crosswalks are often poorly planned and badly placed. Pedestrians will take the most direct and convenient path that is comfortable to them. That's human nature. If you look at jaywalkers on a given stretch of road, you'll see that most of them jaywalk in the same couple of spots - where it's most convenient and direct. Pedestrian crossings should be created where pedestrians will use them, i.e. in the places where they are already choosing to cross. Right now the general policy seems to be: put in a crosswalk as an afterthought, and if it's not convenient for pedestrians, well that's their problem.
The fact that we see more Quinnipiac Students walking around is a good thing, that last thing we need on Whitney Ave. is more cars. And if there are students walking around drunk, there's some good in that too; it means they're not driving drunk.
So Hamden, arresting drunk pedestrians isn't going to make Whitney Avenue safer. Designing it for all users, not just those who drive, will.