[OPINION] Traffic Troubles? Look In The Rear-View Mirror!

Long-time Westporter Scott Smith is a keen observer of Westport’s beauty.

And its issues.

Today he takes issue with common complaints about traffic. Scott writes:

I read the frequent gripes on “06880” about local traffic congestion.

Yes, it is often a nightmare.

One thing I never hear mentioned: personal responsibility.

Traffic is always someone else’s fault. You’re the one being inconvenienced by all these other cars on the road, right?

But let’s ask ourselves: How many of the car rides we take each day are truly essential? How many trips are to get a latte at Starbucks, or to pick up that one thing at CVS or the cleaners? How many trips are made simply because “I just needed to get out of the house”?

“Saving time” at the Starbucks drive-thru. (Photo/John McKinney)

I’m willing to bet that fully half of our daily car trips are in no way “necessary.” Leaving aside the occasional Waze-induced traffic jam, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was 50 percent less traffic on our local roads?

And let’s not just beat up on parents for their part in creating twice-daily, self-inflicted jams driving their kids to and from school. According to this federal survey, 1 in every 3 discretionary car trips is for shopping, with seniors accounting for the highest proportion of such travel.

The proportion of trips for social/recreational purposes has grown steadily in recent years as well, with — you guessed it — us baby boomers reporting the highest level of that discretionary travel.

Clearly, for the generation that has always equated cars with freedom and the mythical open road, they are going to have to pry the steering wheel out of our cold, dead hands.

Some mornings I ride my bike to the train station to go to work, especially on gridlock Wednesdays. There are rarely as many as 10 bikes in the racks.

Plenty of room at the Saugatuck station bike rack.

Why is that the case in such a health-conscious, affluent community where on weekends the roads are filled with cyclists riding for exercise? How many of us get in our cars to go someplace to take a walk?

How many of my fellow commuters have ever used the Westport Wheels2U van, much less stepped foot on a Norwalk Transit bus?

And who the heck carpools? Nine out of 10 cars I pass on my way to the train station are single drivers.

Speaking of those vehicles, how much of any local traffic backup is due to the simple fact that practically every other car in Westport is a 20-foot-long, 6,000-pound, 9-passenger Suburban?

Tax vehicles by size and weight and mileage. Use that revenue to help make our roadways safer for cyclists and walkers, especially around schools.

Alarmed by congestion, pollution and spiking rates of child deaths on the roads, a generation ago the Netherlands invested in cycling infrastructure. Today, 36% of Dutch people list the bicycle as their most frequent way of getting around on a typical day. Two-thirds of all Dutch children walk or bike to school, with 75% of secondary school kids cycling to school, preventing an estimated 1 million car journeys each day.

Imagine the benefits of adding a bike trail along the Merritt Parkway’s 300-foot-wide right-of-way. (When I worked in Westport, a colleague who lived in Trumbull would ride his bike to the office, using surface streets, faster than it took him to crawl along the Merritt at rush hour in his car.)

Could the next construction project include a trailway?

With the rise of e-bikes, investing in a multi-use trailway makes increasing sense, rather than encouraging yet more sprawl in outer suburbs. Not only would a bike path cut into the 70,000 cars crowding the parkway each workday, but it would also be a safe and healthy haven for weekend cyclists and charity riders alike.

And before you go all NIMBY in opposing sensible new development around train stations, or if you think our built environment is too complex to upgrade or the Merritt too historic to be enhanced with an adjacent pathway, consider this: Paris is working to become a “15-minute city” where everything you need is located within 15 minutes. Every street will have a bike lane, and 60,000 parking spots are being removed and replaced with parks.

A 2020 report on traffic congestion finds “if development is clustered closer together, people can take shorter trips between home, groceries, entertainment, and other destinations—sometimes even short enough that they can take those trips by walking or biking. But if that development is dispersed along a corridor instead, it leads to longer trips and more vehicles turning on and off the corridor to reach destinations spread along it, creating more traffic on those local roads as well as freeways that serve the area.”

Does that sound like Fairfield County? “If we were going to design a system to generate the maximum amount of congestion each day, this is exactly how it would be done,” the authors conclude.

So my fellow Westporters: Next time you’re stuck in traffic, take a look in the rear-view mirror. We all share responsibility for why our local roads are a mess, and we all can be part of the solution.

That includes driving less and driving smarter and supporting public and private initiatives aimed at moving away from the car-centric culture that is ruining our lives and our planet.

(Do you agree or disagree with Scott’s thoughts? Click “Comments” below. And while you’re at it, please consider a donation to help “06880” continue to open a wide range of topics tor discussion. Please click here. Thank you!)  

Want a solution to traffic? Look in the rear-view mirror! (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

48 responses to “[OPINION] Traffic Troubles? Look In The Rear-View Mirror!

  1. Smart and Timely statement on Americas obsession with cars. We’ve become a Nation that feels entitled to drive Everywhere. Holland France and several other European nations are models for what could be in America. Bikes would also Help!!!!!!! Reduce CO emissions!

  2. I hear you, but not everyone can ride a bike. Also, inclement westher makes biking not only uncomfortable but dangerous. I am petrified biking near speeding traffic with distracted drivers.

    But I live in a walkable town. We can walk to restaurants, grocery stores, Main Street, drug store,Town Hall, Levitt, the Library, the local bridge game. And we do. Train to the city? Yup.

    We even just stay home a lot and relax in the garden, or in front of our cozy fireplace in winter.

  3. That looks about right. Thanks Scott for excellent observations!

  4. Thank you for posting this. Great thoughts. We need to switch to less polluting and less congestive modes of transportation. Most importantly, we need to change our mind set to what is more important so we can have a hope that someday soon we’ll take solving climate change problem a priority.

  5. I commented about the issues you raise. Can we make our coffee at home ?? I can share the very complicated recipe. Can we make out food at home not to mention incredibly gourmet kitchens? How many pizza stores do we need inn06880 ? How many gyms do we need ? We drive immense suv vehicles with engines large enough for 4 vehicles and drive over the top sports cars for so many short trips to purchase coffee pizza and exercise. It not only causes more traffic but is a waste of fossil fuel. We need to examine our lifestyle. Our way bog life is hurting us. Wake up. Look at Hawaii. Look at Texas. Remember the Canadian wildfires causing pollution in 06880. Like a broken record 06880 is not insulated from the decisions ofvthe Republican Party

  6. Thanks Scott! I agree that multiple “errands” can be done once per day, or hopefully less. I wish our leaders and planners would consider taking drastic steps to improve our traffic situation, hence our air quality, both getting worse by the day. Those 6000 pound vehicles with a young woman just out of her workout class sitting in front of the smoothie bar and illegally idling for 30 plus minutes certainly doesn’t help. I love to ride my bike but am terrified of getting hit by a distracted driver in such a vehicle.

  7. Bring back the Mini Bus!!

  8. Scott’s comments are spot on. Although not everyone can ride to work or errands, we all can be more efficient in our driving routines. A bike path along the Merritt would help-and wider bike lanes would help in town. You can also order ahead at Starbucks and avoid the line…

  9. I agree with a lot of what Scott says. We recently took a trip to Victoria, BC this summer and bikes lanes were wide enough for bicyclists, and cars drove slower and obeyed the traffic rules. It was refreshing. But not everyone can ride a bike. I don’t live near town to do my errands. I plan my route for my necessary shopping to do the least amount of driving, but I do need my car. I could have everything delivered, but it’s expensive. On my daily long walk through town, (I park at the library,) I notice that there aren’t sidewalks everywhere, and sometimes I need to cross the street to get to one. Yikes! Bike lanes aren’t wide enough for bicyclists, and cars don’t always follow the rules of the road.

    • It’s off topic, but Victoria is one of the most charming cities on the continent due to their appending flower pots to the street lamps. That could be an inexpensive way for Westport to make Main Street more appealing.

  10. I remember someone I went to school with in the early 1950s lived at Twin Circle Drive, RD 5. I asked him what the RD stood for. He said RD stood for “Rural Delivery.” Cross Highway was really rural. The point is the system of roads wasn’t built for the amount of residents who now live in town. Structurally I doubt anything can be done.

  11. Brilliant article. I could not have said it better and agree with all of your points. We all need to walk, bike and car pool more….for the sake of our sanity, the environment, the carbon footptint, etc.

  12. I agree that we should walk more frequently if destinations are close enough to our homes. I would add this suggestion: when driving, pay attention to pedestrians. I walk from my home to downtown and any destination enroute from Roseville going west on route 1. Can’t tell you how many times a car cut me off, paid no attention as I crossed the street, or took a right turn without slowing down. Of course I lost count of how many cars sped thru the red light. Drivers: beware of pedestrians. It would make it easier to walk.

  13. Richard Johnson

    Unfortunately, this is a town of purportedly progressive people who want to maintain the riverfront as a parking lot and cut through and who oppose housing in walkable areas near public transport (especially if it is affordable). There is an epidemic of either a lack of critical thinking ability or an unwillingness to live one’s stated principles.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      It’s both Dick. You nailed it.

    • John D McCarthy

      Richard, please provide your “critial thinking” based analysis on the proposed changes to Parker Harding, which you allude to. What will the economic impact be to downtown merchants? How will that impact downtown rents and thus town tax revenue? Where will traffic go if the cut through road is removed? Where will employees park? Who will be willing to walk an additional 15 minutes to get to their downtown destination?

      Would love to hear your facts-based input to what is actually a quite difficult problem to solve, when 2023 realities are taken into consideration. Simply saying critics are either morons or hypocrites doesn’t help solve the problem.

      • Richard Johnson

        My input is that the objectants have not provided any facts that support their conclusion that eliminating a small number of parking spaces will have a significant negative effect on downtown businesses or parking availability that outweighs the many positives of the plan. They have also not provided any facts that support their conclusion that minimizing or eliminating the use of a parking lot as a dangerous cut-through (in a town where speeding and distracted driving are constant complaints) will significantly worsen traffic. Until someone comes forward with facts, like a study, I can only treat these as assumptions or subjective opinions.

        My own subjective opinion (since that’s what we’re talking about) is that beautiful riverfront land should be dedicated to public recreational use and for shoring up downtown against worsening flooding. My subjective experience is that I rarely, if ever, have trouble finding parking downtown within a short walk from my destination except perhaps on the weekend before Christmas, the busiest shopping season of the year (to be clear, I often cannot park directly in front of or behind where I’m going, which is perfectly fine). My subjective observation is that downtown is now an outdoor shopping mall, not a place where you would pop in quickly to run an errand (since there is no pharmacy, hardware store, grocery store, etc.) and so it is consistent with that use and not unduly burdensome that people may park, say, 2 minutes from Main Street instead of 30 seconds from it, and then walk to the restaurant or store they’re going to. It is also my subjective belief that a progressive town should be encouraging less car-intensive (and thus environmentally unfriendly) uses, including safely walkable and bike-able streets, particularly within the core of downtown, which the plan for Parking Harding is a small step towards. My own aesthetic preference is to minimize and reverse, to the extent possible, the Wal-Mart and McDonalds-ification of Westport, which would include removing large swaths of ugly blacktop parking from the core of town in favor of a beautiful park. YMMV.

        • Thank you. I agree that reliable facts are far and few between in this process. The DPIC kicked off the process with one-sided surveys that were designed to elicit a desired result. Their so-called traffic study focused on one day during a holiday weekend. And they have misrepresented the actual results of the studies and surveys to fit their narrative.

          So we are left to the subjective opinions we all have. And common sense, which tells me that removing a major arterial road will push traffic to other already congested roads and intersections. And common sense which tells me that removing a large number of relatively convenient parking will reduce the amount of business conducted downtown. And that will reduce tax revenue. Downtown merchants all agree with this one. And common sense which tells me that making employees park 15 minutes away from where they work will result in fewer people wanting to work downtown. When it is already hard to find workers.

          And common sense tells me that spending $6 million dollars on this ego project when the town has other priorities like new schools, new PD and FD headquarters is madness.

        • Richard it is not a beautiful riverfront.. it is a mosquito and tampon/toilet paper ridden swamp which stinks of sewage at low tide.
          If you had not noticed further upstream there is a park for you to enjoy if you enjoy spotting such “artifacts” by all means enjoy the saugatuck up on riverside avenue where I believe substantial funds were spent making it lovely. Imagine it even has some parking.
          I’ll be very honest with you.. if you don’t own or support a downtown business then you really ought to quit drinking from the kool aid bottle and go speak to merchants and residents in this area.
          We need parking for staff and customers or the town centre will grind to a halt.
          We do not need more picnic tables on the mosquito and tampon/toilet paper infested river.. smelling of sewage at low tide… and wait for the lovely “hamlet” that will bring us more of the latter without a doubt.
          oh and if you hadn’t noticed already I believe I speak for the VAST majority of the town. And not just the downtown.
          Maybe you should walk downtown or better ride a bike on a busy Thursday or a Saturday not in august when everyone’s on vacation but let’s try December !
          Go for it and I bet you if you don’t get there before noon you will wait 20 minutes to find a spot.
          And nobody speeds down the cut through road which is one of the least dangerous roads in Westport unless of course you want to get rid of it in which case we can get into a pissing contest and start taking drone footage. The cut through is 100000% a necessity…
          And anyone who suggests a cut through through the parking lot is OUT OF THEIR MIND.
          Now THAT, would be dangerous.
          As for any study done by any consultants paid for by the town or DPIC, they are all utterly fictitious,
          Traffic SUCKS, parking SUCKS, always has not new news…
          We either want a downtown with shops and restaurants or we dont. It is as simple as that.
          Staff and customers are not going to float in here by hot air balloon..
          but who knows maybe the administration will come up with that plan next
          Hilarious if it wasn’t all so stupid

  14. I used to ride my bike from my home on wild Rose Road to compo Beach, but I don’t anymore, because of the distracted drivers, the speeding, and the disregard for the rules of the road. I can’t tell you how many times riding in the bike lane I was brushed by a speeding car. It’s too dangerous riding bikes in this town and that’s a shame because I love riding my bike. If I ride from my home over to CVS at the Compo Acres Shopping Center, I go through Winslow Park because riding on North Compo is dangerous and narrow add the speeding cars and a bike lane that is almost nonexistent. This is a complex problem with many aspects to it, but maybe enforcement of our traffic laws might solve some of the problems mentioned in this article, and in the comments. Thank you for timely and thoughtful article.

  15. Thanks, Dan, and all these thoughtful 06880 commenters. Alec, amazing to think that once you could have taken a trolley from downtown to the beach, not to mention up and down the Post road all across Fairfield County. So I refuse to believe major infrastructure change (for the better) isn’t possible.

  16. Scott’s piece is spot on (in most ways) and I couldn’t stop chuckling while reading it.

    The line up of cars for the Starbucks drive through to secure the 5,000 calorie drink is an American cliche. In my opinion all drive-up windows should be banned, bank drive-ups as well. Get out of your car and walk a few steps, your heart will thank you!

    The line-up of cars at our schools for drop-offs and pick-ups flies in the face of the State mandated requirement to provide a school bus seat for every child, yet for the 30 plus years I’ve been in Town, our school busses have always been half filled. The waste of tax payer money and the pollution is so unnecessary.

    Scott, my favorite observation is your comment about the 6,000 pound, gas guzzling Suburbans. Yes, we should tax the vehicles by size weight and milage, (in addition to value) although I doubt that will change anyone’s lifestyle.

    However Scott, we’re not the Dutch! Our culture is not Dutch and our cities are not hundreds of years old when buildings were constructed based on narrow roads for horse drawn carriages, making walking easier and safer. Assimilating to that notion is pure fantasy, and dangerous for your health with our roads and our drivers. I love walking around Florence but that’s not America. Here is where I will stop because I can write pages about the importance of constructing mixed use downtown neighborhoods. All the buildings along Main Street should have residential units above to bring the density required to support neighborhood services like bakeries and grocery stores, not clothing chain stores. Think about it; you eat everyday, how many days do you need to buy clothing? Yet that too is an unrealistic fantasy because implementing that solution will not free the resident from their vehicle. You still need a car to get around Connecticut. Unfortunately, the car is still king, like it or not.

  17. Michael Vitelli

    Appreciate all the points about lifestyle. Luckily, I can plan car trips to avoid crunch times on 95, Merritt, and in town. Many cannot.

    Size-wise Westport is very bikeable. I would love to; done so for a long time. However, prevalent distracted driving makes biking life threatening, as Westport is one of the least bike-friendly towns/cities I’ve been in.

    Most roads are single lane with little to no shoulder. There are very few meaningful bike lanes. “Share The Road” with bikers is laughable; cars have trouble sharing with each other, let alone bikers.

    While I don’t enjoy making negative comments without offering a solution, I don’t have one this moment. But I’d be willing to participate in a group trying to find one.

  18. As Scott mentioned, it is not necessary to drive everywhere, especially to the train stations in Saugatuck and Greens Farms. Westport’s Wheels2U shuttles provide easy, convenient, and door-to-platform service between your home or office anywhere in Westport and the two train stations. It operates between 5:45 AM and 10 AM in the morning and between 4 PM and 9:30 PM in the evening. Rides can be u=ordered using the Wheels2U app. For more information or to download the app, just go to https://www.wheels2uwestport.com/

  19. I second what Lucy and Alec each said, supra. I’m not suggesting that traffic congestion is a good thing, but one upside of traffic jams is they force people to slow down. I’m new to the area, but it’s already clear from my time biking and running on Westport streets that people drive too fast — way too fast in many cases — when they’re not impeded by traffic. In my observation, it’s not just young drivers who speed. And coming to a full stop at stop signs — or even slowing down significantly — also seems to be something many area drivers deem optional. And you cannot trust that drivers will yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. Also, when is there ever an excuse for holding a phone in one hand while driving? Is there a car on the road today that’s not equipped with Bluetooth technology? And if you’re too technologically challenged to figure that out, what cellphone doesn’t have a speakerphone mode to enable hands-free operation? In many respects I felt safer as a pedestrian and biker in Manhattan.

  20. While Scott’s comments are on the money, I can’t help being puzzled by the fact that NASA can launch the Cassini spacecraft, sling it once around the earth and twice around Venus, pilot it for almost 900 million miles to Saturn and then place it into a stable orbit around that planet and yet Westport can’t synchronize four traffic lights on the Post Road to facilitate traffic flow!

  21. Ellen Lautenberg

    Lots of good suggestions and food for thought! Wheels2U is a great option for the train station that people should be aware of. The town should support it so it can be expanded.

  22. Brilliant! It will be interesting to see how many join in to make this happen and how many nay sayers appear!

  23. Scott’s analysis is simple, sensible and, in many respects, obvious. What is also terrific is that almost all of the comments were both supportive and helpful. We all can improve, just do it. As to public actions, speak out. I had written John McCarthy as to what he seeks for Parker Harding, but have not yet gotten a response. Specifics are important, but so is compromise and some sacrifices.

    • Don, thanks for the letter. What I want is a clean and maintained Parker Harding. Add a few handicapped spots, repave it, keep the access road. And move on. Pretty simple.

  24. Part of the problem is people wanting to live on large lots, creating low density areas not amenable for stores to locate in (not to mention zoning laws that would make it illegal) as well as it being impractical for bus service to be offered.

    Planned communities have high density housing areas surrounded by open land to compensate. In Manhattan, one of the rich denizens had to forgo their 5th Avenue mansion before luxury apartments became acceptable to the 400. But I don’t see the people in northern Westport–the area furthest from shopping and the train stsaions–giving up their 2-acre properties.

  25. The cut through is imperative at Parker Harding and the majority of the town by a land slide has spoken. Last I checked that’s enough to table the plan.
    Nobody wants a park there. And nobody wants to lose parking either. Nobody wants to lose the community gardens either. Lots of very bad things happening in Westport right now.
    They want parking.. they want a route out of the grid lock of down town. Especially now with the 7 month loss of church lane.
    It’s the most ludicrous suggestion ever this Disneyland dream of a park on the river… the stinky mosquito infested swampy river..
    there’s a lovely park on the river on riverside.. if you want a park go over there.
    Please use it so it’s not a-nother waste of time and money.
    And let’s remain grounded in the real world.
    Nobody’s biking in the rain, or in the winter. Not anyone I know.
    We spend so much time in traffic now we have less time to spend wandering around parks. I certainly don’t have the time.
    Now that a 5 minute car ride takes 45 minutes those are the extra minutes I might have had to spend at the river getting bitten by gnats and mosquitos.. cannot imagine a more unpleasant way to pass 45 minutes.. a swamp on one side and a parking lot on the other. Lol…
    and thankfully I believe I speak for the massive majority of folks in town.
    Remember next time you all vote.

  26. I’m sorry. Did someone suggest a bike lane on the Merritt? That’s just nuts.

    • Nuts? Why? Most of the 37-mile Merritt Parkway was built within the northern 100 feet of a 300 foot wide right of way. Yes, expensive to construct some bridges over streams and pathways across roads, but Fairfield County trails other regions in making this sensible investment, which invariably pays huge dividends for the community across many sectors, from improved public health and safety to higher real estate values.

      • Hundreds of cars going by you at 60 mph, many deeply engrossed in their “devices”. Why could go wrong? And for even greater thrills, try it at at night, without any illumination! More thrills than running the tolls on the turnpike to make it to port Chester before 9pm.

      • What happens at the exits? Bikes and cars will be crossing paths.

    • In some states out west one is allowed to bicycle on the highway, works great. No special path, just get up on there and do it. I did a couple thousand on the freeway, no prob.

      And, westpo is safe to ride a bike, been doin it. The trick is to distract the driver’s attention so they dont hit you.

      There is nothing better for the heart and lungs than massive uphill slogs on a bicycle. Get off your ass and get out thete, life is waitng for you.

      I used to commute from fairfield the ncc, Drivers would stop me in norwlalk, in the road and tell me i passed them in fairfield.Thel merrit is a parking lot. They should just open it up to bikes.

      I spent a lot of time in Leiden, — Westport could be that…

  27. Again its off topic, but I don’t know how to start a new thread.

    Let’s festoon every pole in downtown with hanging flower pots, a la Victoria BC. The Garden Club could give guidance. The town could go with a consistent color(s), which can be changed from time to time. It would give Westport a lot more charm. And it would make waiting in traffic a little more bearable.

  28. Beatrice Crane-Baker

    All that has been said is pertinent. But in these reorganizing of our lives, no one thinks of those who can no longer walk or bike.
    Wheels2U could take me to my errands, one or 2 a day. But very impractical, and it would replace my car with an empty bus. Makes no sense. Bing back the Minibus.
    Taxing all those giant SUVs, mandating bus riding for school children. No student parking at Stapes, take the bus.. No drive through window at Starbucks. Make it at home. Why a window there, but not at Walgreens nor CVS?
    More sidewalks and repair the existing ones.
    Have you been to Paris lately? The removal of a major artery along the Seine has rerouted traffic through residential areas where idling cars choke the air.
    All this needs to be well thought out with all involved kept in mind.

  29. I for one am a Westporter who has been pretty vocal on 06880 about our traffic issues and I like a few committed others in Westport are trying to approach the problems in a new way of out of the box thinking rather than expecting our local and state agencies to always be the “only solution”.
    It has taken us about 120 years in the age of the automobile to go from driving roads designed for horse and buggies to todays throughfares loaded with every type of vehicle.

    We have a unique core problem in Westport that even Scott here needs to realize. In Connecticut and in Fairfield County most of the streets, roads and highways we drive on daily were originally put down as “horse and buggy” trails and still today many of them have not progressed much past in the last 350 years other than some asphalt, guardrails, street lights, signals and striping! I mention this because we have to look at the core causes of our traffic problems to look to the solutions, alternatives for relief that might be possible.

    Scott brings up the great thoughts of bicycle transportation, kids walking to school, residents making singular trips for all daily needs, carpooling, more shuttle and bus transit, etc., etc. Well these are all great wishes and intentions but the “road to hell is paved with good intentions”! I try to keep my thoughts on good intentions, but I am a realist and so I try to work with the end game which is most humans and even our noble Westporter’s will not live by good intentions alone!

    We also are faced with a massive amount of traffic daily from drivers who live and breathe by that wonderful app “WAZE”!
    Westport is the closest traffic connection between I 95 and the Merritt Parkway and Waze knows it and also dumps I 95 traffic gridlock off on some key Westport streets that are now handling about 10 times the amount of traffic they were configured to handle. Notice I don’t use the word “designed” for because they were not well designed to begin with! How do we fix the Waze problem alone. Well were talking about it as are many communities across the USA, but it’s a difficult if almost impossible nut to crack. I think this would be a great time and place to use AI to look for more intelligent WAZE to divert traffic!

    Scott rightly mentions that in Europe countries such as the Netherlands and France (Paris) have made some significant improvements when it comes to dealing with traffic problems from automobiles. There is far more bicycle, moped, scooter, small car usage in their cities in those two countries but I can say this I have not traveled a lot in the Netherlands or Paris but I have many friends and aquaintances who do and have and they tell me that heavy and difficult traffic issues exist there too and at times exacerbated by the huge volumes of bikes, mopeds, scooters and small darting cars, the so called great salvations to traffic problems!

    There is another major issue when we look at traffic problems and solutions. It’s that nasty four letter word “COST”!
    Yes they have undertaken many wonderful public areas improvements in many European cities and countries.” How do they do that?” It’s called that other nasty four letter word “TAXES” Yep in the Netherlands and France residents and homeowners pay a WHOPPING 78-79% of their earned incomes in Income, sales and property taxes alone! Here in Westport that taxation percentage is closer to 49% on average. We know it’s going to cost a lot to fix some of our traffic infrastructure problems and promote more environmentally friendly modes of transportation but 78-79% of all of our hard earned income! NO WAY! Scott if you think you and some others who think it’s so doable with alternative forms of transportation would like to tackle these problems with some of these good intentions then I suggest you stand out in front of a large crowd of Westporter’s and tell them we are going to fix these problems by just raising their overall tax rate from 49% to 79% but myself and I am sure many others will be suspiciously absent from this get together!

    Look, Scott has brought up some good thoughts and simple small improvements and as good neighbors and caring community members we should all make reasonable contributions to help lessen the traffic problems. “It takes a Village”

    I for one will do my part and also keep looking for small steps towards the ultimate goal of clean, safe nicely flowing trains of big SUV’s! HA! Keep smiling , it hurts to much to frown!

  30. Some families are 8. 8 means an suv. Let’s not lose the run of ourselves here. I am currently building a 1800 sq foot 5 bedroom house.. for no other reason than it’s plenty room.. but are we going to take to task the people living with 2 kids in 10,000 sq feet..
    it’s NONe of our business how other people choose to live or what they drive. Nor if they want to drive n pick up Starbucks. None of our business… we are not a communist country last I checked.
    Incidentally I will put my house on display once it’s finished especially for architects so they too can learn that yes you need only 1800 sf for a family of 5/6.
    What do all the suv haters suggest the family with 6 kids drives ?
    A smart car ?
    The family with 6 kids also drives them to and from games, alllll of them and sits in the Westport gridlock going to and from each game.. it’s enough to make a person lose their mind.. this created by the likes of closing off church lane and suggesting to close parker Harding… as one of the last escapes..
    Both directions people drive to get to the Romano fields in saugatuck..
    people wake up…. We can have anything.
    We can’t have everything..
    again ! You want your river walk go to riverside avenue.
    And let’s finally once again remember this is not the seine, or the Côte d’Azur. Please stop comparing a toilet paper/tampon mosquito ridden swamp as is the saugatuck with stunning river walks and vistas. I have been a rower for many many years… I see the toilet material. It was the reason I never ever capsized. The fear of what I would swallow.

  31. It is what it is… it’s not the amalfi coast or the seine. Nor the Greek isles.
    It’s a swamp…. And we do not need more parks built on it… we in fact need more parking built on it… as I said ! I spent many hours rowing on it and came up close and personal with lots of toilet items. Need I say more.
    I don’t think so… but dream on

  32. Thank you, Scott Smith, for this wonderfully written piece. We’ve founded Bike Westport (bikewestport.org) to advocate for better, more & safer cycling (and pedestrian walkways) in this beautiful town. Join the movement by leaving us your contact information so you can follow upcoming initiatives.

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