A Perilous Crossing

An alert — and frightened, and angry — “06880” reader writes:

What’s with the crosswalk at Landsdowne, near Stop & Shop?  I was walking there yesterday. I pressed the button on the side of the road, at which point little tiny lights started flashing. I stepped gingerly into the road.

A truck barreled through the crosswalk, even though I was several feet into it.  Do drivers truly not know what the little flashing lights, white painted lines and fluorescent green signs with a silhouette of a walker mean?  Isn’t it a state law that drivers must stop if a person is in the crosswalk? A federal law?

Whether it’s a law or not, drivers — especially on Westport roads — don’t always care.

The crosswalk sign -- with tiny lights -- at tje Landsdowne condominiums, opposite 1655 Post Road East.

The crosswalk sign — with tiny lights — at the Landsdowne condominiums, opposite 1655 Post Road East.

“Gingerly” is the right way to proceed. Also “carefully.” And “with the expectation no one will stop, and I could die.”

It’s happened here before. Billy Ford — a popular Westport schools custodian and Trader Joe’s worker — was killed on December 23, 2008. He had just gotten off a bus, and was crossing the street to his home at 1655 Post Road East.

The crosswalk — with blinking lights that can’t be seen in daytime — might actually do more harm than good. Pedestrians may have a false sense of security after pushing the button.

Drivers — distracted by all the signs and traffic on this stretch of the traffic-light-and-stop-sign-less road, and by their cellphone, GPS, car entertainment system and god knows what else — may not see the crosswalk in time.

Or the pedestrian in it.

13 responses to “A Perilous Crossing

  1. Bobbie Herman

    There really should be a traffic light there. It’s a long stretch and any reasons to cross at that point Perhaps they could install one that would be pedestrian-activated and last just long enough for someone to cross the road.

  2. The Post Road is simply not meant to be crossed by pedestrians. It’s like trying to run across a four-lane highway and not get hit. Whenever I see pedestrians crossing the Post Road, whether in a crosswalk or jay-walking, I shudder because they are really risking their lives. Yes, it is the law to stop for any pedestrian in the road, even jay-walkers, but drivers simply don’t. There is no easy solution. Pedestrians who must cross the Post Road need to be hyper-vigilant and walk really fast or run – and they especially need not to be lulled into a false sense of security because they’re in a crosswalk. Drivers are not going to change their bad habits. That’s just the way it is. It’s sad and unfair and against the law, but true.

  3. Bobbie Herman is spot on!. For years i have been requesting that a traffic light be added on that long stretch of roadway but both town & state officials have ignored the request even after more pedestrians have either died or been injured. The officials keep telling me that there is a crosswalk & that is enough. Whenever I cross that area of the Post Rd I RUN not walk, I would never put my life in jeopardy because I legally have the right of way. You have to be a fool to put your life on the line based on all drivers knowing & obeying the law. Both drivers who caused the deaths in the area were from out of town & probably didn’t even realize there was a crosswalk approaching. Maybe 06880 will have more luck than i did in getting a traffic light installed. Instead of State & local officials really analyzing the situation they rushed & added a new crosswalk by Shake Shack this is only a band aid solution to a much bigger problem. It will not address the problem where 2 people have had their lives taken away from them.

  4. Brett Aronow

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/461638150594051/

    My son did a research project in a Staples Government class related to this problem and made some proposals to our town officials. There are some fixes he proposes if a light would not be installed to help highlight the crosswalks better.

  5. Bobbie Herman

    Thanks, bp. About twenty-five years ago (I don’t remember the exact date, but Doug Wood was First Selectman), I was able to get a left-turn light installed at the corner of the Post Road and Maple Avenue South. I lived on Maple at the time, and it was nearly impossible to make a left turn going south due to heavy oncoming traffic and the grade in the road that obscured oncoming traffic. I wrote a letter to Doug explaining the situation and he contacted the appropriate officials who did a traffic study. A few months later, the light was installed.

    I wonder if Gordon has also contacted the appropriate officials. i guess they’re at the State level, since the Post Road is a state highway.

    I

    • Bobbie Herman

      Dan — My note is in response to :”bitterpuppet,” but his letter has disappeared.

  6. Eric William Buchroeder

    I never thought I’d say this but(t) it looks like a PERFECT application for a traffic control camera. You can run but you can’t hide.

  7. John Hartwell

    We need pedestrian-activated stop lights that bring everything to a halt. Stop and Shop workers sometimes come by bus, they deserve to cross the street in safety. The corner at Maple Lane that Bobbie describes has a pedestrian light, but while Post Rd traffic is halted, the traffic entering from Maple North and South is not. Many of these drivers are turning onto the Post Road rather than crossing it, and they often enter at high speed before executing their turn. Anyone caught trying to cross (with their pedestrian light) is very much at risk.

    The solution is simple — when a pedestrian activates the signal, all traffic should be halted. Red lights all around. Then the only remaining problem is people turning right on red, which the pedestrian could more easily look out for.

    • Bobbie Herman

      John — I agree, but I think there should be an additional light where the crosswalk is, opposite the trailer park (which I know is called something else now, but I can’t remember what it is). That’s where the fatalities occured.

      • peter perry

        Bobbie you are so right, an additional light in that spot in the one & ONLY solution. Around 5 or 6 years ago when i initially inquired about installing a traffic light in that area I was told it was not economically feasible because it cost a grand total of $75,000! A cross walk without a traffic light on a 4 lane roadway is only another tragedy waiting to happen. Without a traffic light the pedestrian crossing that stretch of roadway has to hope & pray all 4 vehicles know there is a cross walk & then decide to stop. I for one will never make that assumption or take that chance. In one of the pedestrian deaths a driver did stop before the cross walk but the out-of-town driver behind him didn’t know there was a cross walk & couldn’t understand why the car was stopped in front of him since there was no traffic light, so in his haste he decided to pass him in the next lane which is when he hit & killed the pedestrian while legally walking in the cross walk. there are way too many variables that need to align themselves up just right to allow someone to make it across all 4 lanes alive.

  8. Katrina Salmond

    My dear friend Sharon was killed here a couple of years ago. It is so sad the way people drive with no regard for disabled, elderly or regular pedestrians.