Tag Archives: Westport drivers

[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.

School’s Open. Be Careful Out There!

It took exactly one day from the opening of school for the first drivers to race by, totally ignoring a stopped bus and causing an accident.

A Greens Farms Elementary school bus pulled up to the Regents Park curb around 3:40 p.m. this afternoon. The stop sign was extended, yet cars in the opposite (westbound) direction roared past.

The driver honked. One car hit its brakes. But the 2 cars behind were going so fast, they could not stop. The result: a 3-car rear-end collision that sent one person to the hospital.

Police and fire trucks responded quickly. Still, it was quite an experience for at least one kindergartner, whose parents described the scene.

Two of the vehicles in this afternoon's Post Road East crash.

Two of the vehicles in this afternoon’s Post Road East crash.

There are 2 issues here. One is the law: When a school bus is stopped, all drivers must stop too. That’s a no-brainer. The safety of our kids trumps your need to get wherever you are late going.

The second issue is that this section of the Post Road — Regents Park, Balducci’s, and nearby areas — has become increasingly hazardous. Condo residents believe it’s just a matter of time before a tragedy occurs.

There are no stop signs, lights or crosswalks. But there are 2 active driveways and parking lots on opposite sides of the highly trafficked 4-lane street, with cars often exceeding 40 miles an hour.

Interestingly, a police car was parked this morning in the Zaniac parking lot, monitoring this situation during the school bus pickup.

Residents of Regents Park (right) worry constantly about this dangerous stretch of the Post Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Residents of Regents Park (right) worry constantly about this dangerous stretch of the Post Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Traffic will not get better. Last night, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans for a 4-story, 94-unit rental property not far away: on Post Road East, opposite Crate & Barrel.

On the other hand, the proposal includes affordable housing units that will help the town earn a 4-year moratorium on complying with the state’s 8-30g statute.

Driver Does Nice Thing. Pass It On.

Alert “06880” reader Cary Peterson writes:

Not long ago a card was left on my windshield, apologizing for accidentally scuffing my rear bumper and leaving a phone number. I never called Charles, just dabbed a bit of dealer pen paint onto the blemish on my bumper to see it disappear.

Note

Last week I took a key I found on Imperial Avenue (which had a tag saying SRC food trailer on it…Saugatuck Rowing Club?) to police headquarters, and added it to a pile of keys they have sitting on the counter. Many people have returned keys to the police station. There were loads of expensive electronic car keys there. I guess people aren’t aware of it.

Anyway, despite bad parking jobs, I think Westport’s cup is more than half full, with many people cleaning up the streets and building castles in the sand.

Stupid Parking Tricks (Balducci’s Edition)

An alert “06880” reader spotted this one the other day:

Parking - Balduccis

Here’s the story behind the photo:

In the Balducci’s parking lot, I saw this young guy drive this SUV Cadillac Escalade into a spot next to a Volvo wagon. There was nothing in front of his car (no snow bank or anything). He turned right into the spot, stopped the car, got out and walked into Balducci’s, not even turning around to look.

Had he taken a moment, he would have easily been able to straighten his car, allowing some space between his and the car next to it.

I waited around. A woman came out. She struggled to get into her car and back it out.

A couple of people wrote obscenities in the dirt on the guy’s car. When he came out he looked at the obscenities, got into his SUV and drove off. I guess he’s proud that he has achieved this status in life: entitlement.

Parking, Part 2

This morning, I posted photos of a pair of overnight delivery service truck drivers — one UPS, one FedEx — making their own rules in the Fresh Market parking lot.

Here’s one of a regular BMW driver doing the same:

Parking

But — to give him or her the benefit of the doubt — this was in the upper lot at Compo Acres, behind Trader Joe’s. It’s usually empty.

So, “06880” readers, weigh in:

  • Is it okay to park this way if there are few other cars around?
  • Or is it still the epitome of selfishness to hog extra spaces — because if everyone did it, then where would we be?

Hit “Comments” to weigh in on this First World problem. Use real, full names, please!

You’ve Got To Be Kidding

Alert “06880” reader Christine Cullen captured this less-than-stellar parking job at Kidville today:

Kidville

But hey — no problem!

Why spend precious seconds parking, when there’s a new kids’ store to check out?

Priorities, right?

If You See This Driver — Well, He Won’t See You

Spotted in the Westport Library parking lot yesterday:

Westport car

And if you’re wondering: Yes, the driver’s side of this almost new car was filled with just as much crap stuff as the passenger side.

A Guide For Summer Guests

Summer might be the best reason of all to move to Westport. Between the beaches, Longshore, backyard pools, the Playhouse, Levitt, plenty of restaurants, and tons of activities for kids and families, this is an awesome time of year.

Which is why many Westporters are happy to leave town. They rent their homes for substantial sums. The cost to them of renting elsewhere — even a European vacation — is far less than what they get for handing the keys to a bunch of strangers for a couple of weeks (or months).

Well, strangers, if you’re going to live here, you should know a few things. This is how to be a real Westporter:

When you leave Compo Beach and turn right on Hillspoint, don’t drive 2 miles an hour like you’ve never seen water before. You may think it’s a lovely sight, but we’ve got places to go. Speed it up, buddy.

Yeah, it’s pretty. Get over it!

Conversely, it’s perfectly all right to drive erratically — fast, slow, then fast again — if you’re talking on a cell phone. Or, better yet, texting. Technically, both are illegal in Connecticut. But this is Westport, where magically no rules apply to you. Only to other people. Trust me — it’s true.

While walking or jogging, ignore all sidewalks. They’re there for decorative purposes only. However, if you’re riding a bike or running with a stroller filled with triplets, you must use the sidewalk. It’s the law.

Parking lot stripes are mere suggestions. Feel free to land your car wherever you wish. Sharp angles are fine! And if you’re in the narrow lane in front of Robek’s and Silver’s, lined on both sides with parallel parking slots, it’s your lucky day. It’s a Westport tradition to park worse there than any other place in town.

Just another day in front of Robek’s and Silver’s.

After shopping, feel free to leave your cart wherever you wish. You might want to find a slight incline, so the moment you drive off gravity causes your cart to roll slowly downhill. Too bad you’re not around to watch it comically rocket into a random car or child!

You know those signs prohibiting unattended saving of picnic tables at Compo? What a hoot! Go ahead — reserve to your heart’s content. You’re not a real Westporter until you smush 3 or 4 tables together, plant a tablecloth on it (don’t forget the vase!), and scatter some beach chairs around the perimeter.

Here’s how real Westporters do it.

Welcome to Westport. And don’t bother cleaning up before you leave. We’ll take care of all that when we get back!

Today’s Traffic Report

An alert “06880” reader writes:

Is it just me, or has traffic in Westport increased exponentially over the last few months?

I used to limit my driving on the Post Road after 5 p.m., but now it doesn’t matter where I drive or at what time. It’s always backed up.

Wilton Road, Compo Road, Green’s Farms Road, Easton Road, Main Street — you name it, there’s traffic. What’s going on?

I’m not sure. While eastbound traffic often backs up on the Post Road between Trader Joe’s and Imperial Avenue, I haven’t noticed an increase on those other major roads.

But “06880” readers are the experts. Click “Comments” to add your observations. And be sure to mention if you’re responding by cellphone, while stuck somewhere in non-moving traffic!

New Delhi today. Westport tomorrow?

Accidents Happen

“You should write about all the automobile accidents in Westport,” an “06880” reader wrote.

Why? I wondered.  They happen with such regularity, they’re just a fact of life here.

Covering car crashes would be like blogging that “the sun rose in the east today,” or “a new women’s store opened on Main Street.”

But Wednesday’s 3-car accident grabbed my attention.

2 of the 3 cars involved in Wednesday's accident. The other vehicle was just as mangled. (Photo by Dave Matlow)

It was early afternoon.  Skies were clear.  The stretch of Main Street in front of Willowbrook Cemetery is straight and well-paved.

Yet somehow the driver of a Ford Taurus managed to smash into both a Pontiac and Mercedes.  The Taurus driver had to be extricated.

All 3 vehicles were totaled.

Readers of WestportNow.com, which first reported the crash, weighed in.  One suggested speed was a factor.  Another figured cell phones.

I’m guessing both.

Is there any place in Westport that’s so important to get to that we have to drive like madmen (and women)?

Is there any reason for racing through every light and stop sign; tailgating every guy (and gal) ahead of us, and doing it all while yapping into a device glued with one hand next to our ear?

Driving past cemeteries is fine.  Ending up in one because some other Westporter (or New Yorker) thinks the world revolves around him (or her) is not.

I’m always amazed when parents bitch about the poor driving habits of teenagers.  Kids don’t grow up in vacuums.  They take their cues from everyone around them.

And they don’t start at 16.  That baby strapped in the car seat watches — and wants to mimic — everything you do.

A bumper sticker says:  “Shut Up And Drive.”

Amen.

Do it at a normal rate of speed, too.

If not for me and you, do it for our kids.

And yours.

Photographer Dave Matlow captures the aftermath of Wednesday's crash -- on a clear day, along a very straight stretch of the road.