Kvetch Of The Week

Today, “06880” introduces a new feature. “Kvetch of the Week” –the flip side of our popular “Unsung Hero of the Week” — is a chance to shine a light on little things that gnaw at us.

It’s a chance to bitch kvetch, sure. But perhaps the spotlight will make at least a few of us realize that we’re all in this — this community, this world — together.

Today, concerned Westporter Carl Addison Swanson writes:

My 80+ neighbor is afraid to check her mailbox on North Avenue for fear of being hit by a speeding vehicle.

Twice, I have tried to get some kind of “blinking lights” at the 4 schools that sit on North Avenue.

My first attempt was forwarded to the police chief. He said that we “do not use traffic lights to control traffic,” and that the “little green men” (cones sitting downtown and on Riverside Avenue) are too expensive.

Cross Highway and North Avenue, near 4 of Westport’s 8 schools. It’s every man, woman and child for him or herself.

My second attempt got the attention of an RTM member and state senator.  They put up large signs between Staples High and Bedford Middle School, and at Coleytown Middle and Elementary Schools, at the beginning of this school year.

That worked well for 2 weeks. Then they were taken away.

North Avenue has become a commuter escape route to Southport, Fairfield, Easton and Weston. Too many cars drive too fast.

While there are crossing guards at school opening and closing hours, anyone taking a walk, running or biking is at peril. So are students walking home after extracurricular activities.

A California outfit will sell the town 8 sets of blinking lights mandating a 5 mph zone, for $32,000. I think our kids and residents deserve that investment, so our civic-minded resident — here since 1969 — can check her mail in peace.

(Do you have a Kvetch of the Week? Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

16 responses to “Kvetch Of The Week

  1. “5 mph zone” – That’s a typo, right?
    School zone speeding limits are usually 25 mph and most states have MINIMUMS the limit can be set at. In New York it’s 15 mph.

    “The numerical value of a school speed limit should be approximately ten miles per hour below the normally prevailing 85th percentile speed on the highway; or approximate the 85th percentile speed within the zone during school crossing periods. The Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits school speed limits less than 15 miles per hour.”


    • Carl Addison Swanson

      State laws apply to state roads. North Avenue is a local road up to the local jurisdiction. 5 mph speed zones, marked by blinking lights and a crossing guard, can be seen from Houston to Detroit, LA to DC. You live in a bubble.

  2. Combatting speeding is an opportunity for creativity. Signs and lights might be effective for some people. Posted limits only work if they are enforced. To change peoples’ behavior you have to get inside their heads…

    The most effective ways to do that cost money (although I don’t think a “Your speed is…” sign could be all that exorbitant.)

    But if you scour the internet, you can find some very creative techniques that border on psychological warfare.

    Ten clever ways to get drivers to slow down (My favorite is just putting a Crown Vic by the side of the road.)

    • Where I live, there are speed cameras all over the place. Get caught speeding, and it’s a $40 dollar fine. Trust me; they work!

  3. Cogito Ergo Kvetch

  4. Terrifying. Same thing on North Compo and just about any road in town. Slow down- you won’t get there any quicker.

  5. I agree. North Avenue has much more traffic than it did in the 70’s. There were so many parents dropping off their kids in the 2000’s, instead of using bus like I did in the 70’s, that I could never even get out of my road (Twin Circle Drive) to commute to work! We also had mini busses back then so kids took more public transportation (I’m including school buses).

  6. Hi Dan
    Glad it is not the Kretsch of the week or that could become a Kretsch of the week photograph😊 You have to laugh to stay young
    Tom Kretsch

  7. A.David Wunsch

    “Kvetch” is a Yiddish word like “schmuck” that has entered mainstream American English. Here is a definition from an online dictionary:
    Kvetch literally means “squeeze” in Yiddish, and commonly refers to whining, complaining, and grousing. A person who kvetches incessantly can also be referred to as a kvetch.

    In Yiddish, kvetch still retains its original meaning of pressing or applying pressure. Thus, to push a button is to kvetch ah knepel, and when a person is emotionally squeezed, small minded or otherwise suppressed, he or she is farkvetched.
    ADW Staples 1956

  8. Bill Strittmatter

    Maybe the town could widen the road installing sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes to reduce the dangers of checking mail and encouraging walking/biking. While they are doing all that work, maybe they could bury all the power lines as well. Start with North Avenue as a test case and, if it works, add more roads to the program.

    Easy peasy. Problem solved.

  9. David Cleveland

    Same problem in imperial ave. While biking I stopped and talked to a resident across from gault. He said the worst offenders were the police. I see cars regularly going 45 to 50 mph

  10. So you’re institutionalizing people complaining about something?! Sadly, you’ll get 10X the hat tips for this vs the Unsung Hero theme

    • Mark, What kind of “post” is that? How about concentrating on the other side of the complainant which is the “fix?” to improve situations!

  11. Richard Johnson

    There are a lot of valid complaints about speeding and other dangerous driving habits in Westport. Yet I cannot think of one time that I’ve seen a cop doing traffic enforcement in the years that I’ve lived here. Pretty significant mismatch between need and resource allocation. I’m not surprised to hear the “no-can-do” attitude, either, as crying poverty seems to be every town official’s default response to any suggested change from the way things have been done for 40 years, despite this being one of the wealthiest places in the wealthiest state in the country and supposedly a hub of innovation.

    An easy answer is to install speed cameras that issue tickets, as well as the new sensors which detect and issue fines for improperly muffled cars and motorcycles, a growing quality-of-life issue in Westport.

  12. I remember in the 1950s, there was the “ 60 Mile an Hour Club.” Anyone who drove 60 miles an hour on Roseville Road, from one end to the other, became members of that ‘club.’ My cousin, Stan Backiel, rolled over his car and I think it was on Roseville Road. He was a 1956 Staples graduate.

    • Carl Addison Swanson

      Oh, I remember the races. Every Friday night, beginning at the Big Toppe. And at the time, Roseville was half as wide as it is now. The State Trooper barracks were where Walgreens is now and they would come really flying down Roseville, cross at Cross Highway and then to the Merritt. Sirens whining. My father complained every time they went by. Perhaps the urban planners ought to route all the traffic to Roseville rather than North Avenue? Just put 3 or 4 traffic lights on North and they find another route.