Category Archives: Transportation

[OPINION] Westport Motorists Drive Me Crazy!

Alert “06880” reader and frustrated driver Greg Rayner writes:

This marks 20 years of living in Westport. I am a native Californian. I love just about everything here: the beaches, landscapes, culture, dining, library, the people.

But there is one thing we as a community need to work on: traffic etiquette.

On any given day, especially in summer, traffic conditions can be quite grizzly.

Greg Rayner

Many new businesses and several housing facilities have popped up on the Post Road recently, adding to the traffic.

Of course, the conduct of many drivers around town contributes to the problem. and subtracts from the many pluses of living here.

The way we respond to each other in our daily routines very much impacts the overall quality of life in Westport.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my biggest traffic beefs.

“I don’t have time for the blinker”: How many times do I see people not taking the 3 seconds to turn on their blinker, making others slam on brakes or keeping someone from turning because it is not clear if the other person is going straight or not?

“I’m going left so I’m going to drive across 4 lanes of traffic, no matter the delays it causes”: I’ve said it often: You can save time by just flipping around and not inconvenience 20 people as you meander through 4 lanes at rush hour.

“I’m going to stick my car so far out into the lane of traffic that others have to swerve into the other lane”: When someone sticks their car out into the lane of the road, I am much less likely to accommodate them than someone who has the blinker on.

“I’m going to dash across even though others have to slam on their brakes”: Driving is stressful enough without having to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision with someone who could have waited another 30 seconds.

“Hell no, I won’t let you merge because the lane is blocked”: We all see it – road work, a delivery truck, you want to change lanes, you have your blinker on but so few will let you change lanes.

Sure, traffic is blocked ahead. But no way I’m letting you in! (Photo/Chip Stephens)

“Intentional blocking of entrances and intersections”: This can happen accidentally if you misread the flow of traffic, but if I had a dollar for every time I can’t get into the Trader Joe’s parking lot because someone is blocking the entrance and doesn’t care, I’d have a chauffeur driving me around.

“Pedestrians come last rule”: The Post Road can be a death trap. My friend Sharon was killed on the Post Road in 2010. The other day I saw a man in a wheelchair waiting 15 minutes to cross the Post Road. No one seemed to care.

This list is not exhaustive. But I often think about the wonderful community we have. If we’d all make just more of an effort to show some traffic etiquette and be considerate of other drivers, it would certainly make our lovely town even more appealing and less stressful.

Friday Flashback #150

If you were a teenage driver in Westport around the time this photo was taken — and judging by the car, it was the 1970s — you remember this scene:

The target was painted on Bayberry Lane — the hill just north of the Merritt Parkway.

It was a real hill then too — not the measly mound it is today. (It was probably flattened because someone painted that target.)

I don’t know the artist. Someone did a great job.

And had the right idea.

You really could get air, particularly with a good rate of speed southbound.

Of course, those were the days when auto repairs were fairly cheap.

Another Sign Of The Times

Westporters have a complex relationship with advertising signs.

We don’t want them clogging traffic islands — particularly when they’re illegal.

But for non-profits, they’re great vehicles for passing the word to passersby.

Alert “06880” reader/avid volunteer Amy Ancel writes:

People have been removing non-profits’ event yard signs from areas all over town — even those permitted and approved by the first selectman’s office.

This week’s thefts include signs for the Westport Library Book Sale and Wakeman Town Farm’s Family Fun Day.

I checked with Chip Stephens of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He and fellow commissioner Al Gratrix stopped removing illegal signs a year ago.

So it appears that members of the general public are removing our signs from town roads. They can’t do that!

Of course, commercial signs — like for Mosquito Joe, Hauling Unlimited and kids’ camps — are not legal anywhere.

But non-profit event signs are legal. They are approved by the first selectman’s office, for specific locations. They should not be touched by the public. This includes traffic islands maintained by local businesses.

These signs are one of two main ways non-profits have of advertising special events. (The other is social media.)

And these signs cost a lot of money. We try to reuse them, to create less waste!

We spend a lot of time and energy placing them. We’re only allowed 15 signs per event. It’s so aggravating to see them go missing almost as soon as we put them up!

Pic Of The Day #814

The sign at Post Road/Turkey Hill North says, “Gardens Maintained by The Watermark at 3030 Park.” But you have to look closely to see it. Time to maintain that garden!

Pics Of The Day #809

One view of the Saugatuck railroad station …

… and another (Photos/Gene Borio)

Pic Of The Day #804

Under the I-95 overpass (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Turn! Turn! Turn!

To everything there is a season.

And this summer, the state Department of Transportation is turning up the heat on turning lanes.

Special left-turn-only lanes are in the works for the Post Road.

There’s one proposed between Roseville/Hillspoint Road, and Terrain. That will permit turns into either the Fresh Market shopping center, or “Village Center” (Dunkin’ Donuts, UPS Store, Mumbai Times) on the other side of the street.

Approximate location of the turning lane proposed for the Post Road.

Also planned: left-turn lanes at Bulkley Avenue North and South, just past Super Stop & Shop headed to Southport.

The project — to cost $5.3 million (80% federally funded, 20% state funds) — will include new traffic signals, curbing, curb ramps, sidewalks and crosswalks.

A public information meeting is set for Monday, July 8 (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).

But don’t think about using those new center turn lanes anytime soon.

Construction would begin in the summer.

Of 2021.

Unsung Hero #104

The other day, Joan Nevin’s mother headed from Westport to Washington, DC, to see her granddaughter dance at the Kennedy Center. Joan usually accompanies her mother, but was away this time.

In Stamford, Joan’s mother got on the wrong train. Instead of Amtrak for Union Station, she boarded Metro-North to Grand Central.

Linda Hughes and Laura Wang — 2 Westport women on the same train — realized Joan’s mother did not know how to take the subway shuttle to Penn Station to catch Amtrak.

They took the time — and her mother’s suitcase! — and escorted her (“okay, they all ran!” Joan says) to the crosstown shuttle.

Linda Hughes and Laura Wang — and suitcase — waiting for the subway.

Linda and Laura stayed with her all the way — even making sure she got on the correct train.

“They gave their time, support and energy to my mother, for which we are immensely grateful,” Joan says.

“Without their help, she would have missed her very important event. Warmest thanks to Linda and Laura for their selflessness and kindness.”

“06880” could not put it any better. Thank you, Linda and Laura — and Joan, for sharing this inspiring story.

Joan Nevin’s daughter and mother, happy together at the Kennedy Center.

Four-Play At Town Hall

Alert readers who have sent in Entitled Parking photos (and your numbers are legion) know that I often reply, “Sorry. The bar is set very high. The driver must take up at least 3 spaces, or be so jaw-droppingly selfish he attempted something no one ever thought of before.”

Today’s winner managed to take park in not 3, but different Town Hall spots.

There is someone behind him, but he’s probably sticking out into the lane.

And please: Do not say the driver may have had a medical emergency.

Actually, it’s our medical problem. He made our heads explode.

[OPINION] Bike Lane Needed On Riverside Avenue

Alert “06880” reader Jennifer Johnson loves to ride her bike around town.

She’d love it a lot more if there were more bike lanes — especially on roads where there is enough room. She writes:

If anyone is interested in making Westport safer for biking, please come to Town Hall tonight (Monday, June 24, 7 pm ) for the “Main to Train” study meeting. 

The current draft recommendations of the Main to Train study (click here) do not include a bike lane for Riverside Avenue.

Riverside Avenue yesterday (Sunday) morning …

This is important. Without this key recommendation, Westport will have a much harder time securing state and federal grants for bike enhancements on this important road.   

You may have noticed the new and very well-marked shoulder lines on Riverside Avenue south of the Post Road. These shoulders could easily be dedicated for biking. 

Instead, cars increasingly use these wider shoulders to park. Riverside is a state road (Route 33). Parking is not allowed on other state roads in town, including most of the Post Road and  Compo Road (Route 136). 

… and this (Monday) morning.

Because Riverside is a key artery to the train station, and one of the key purposes of the Main to Train study is to “promote non-motorized modes of transportation,” the final report should include a recommendation that the wide shoulder be reserved for biking.

A stretch of Riverside Avenue with no parking (except for church services) …

Currently, the draft report shows a schematic where bikes must travel in the same lane as cars.  This is arguably an even more dangerous scenario than what currently exists.

Historically, some businesses have used Riverside/Route 33 for parking. That may have worked in the past. But it is no longer a viable solution for our traffic-plagued town. 

… and one where cars always park. (Photos/Jennifer Johnson)

If we are serious about addressing congestion, then the town should use every opportunity to make town roads more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists. The last thing our elected leaders and town employees should be doing is making it easier for people to park and harder for people to bike, especially to the train.

Please show up today. For additional information, click here for the Main to Train study website.