Last June, Ray Rauth walked across Connecticut. Literally — from the New York border to Rhode Island.
Even more impressive was the 120-mile route he took: US 1.
But the Weston resident — a member of the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board — was not planning to see every Jiffy Lube, Stop & Shop or Dunkin’ Donuts along the way.
His goal was to build awareness of road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. What better place to do that than the Post Road — the state’s deadliest.
Ray Rauth is a very brave man.
Now — after massaging his feet and evading death — Rauth has written a report. In 19 pages, he summarizes our woeful neglect of safety.
Of course, he also gives shout-outs to Connecticut’s beauty and health.
It’s a fascinating document. He covers lots of territory — literal and figurative — starting with Byram (zip code 06830) and ending in Pawcatuck (06379).
But since this blog is “06880,” I’ll limit this story to the dozen or so times Rauth cites Westport in his report.
The first mention comes in a section on pocket parks. “You don’t need a swing set or a swimming pool,” Rauth writes. “Just a calm nicely-kept shaded area with benches, maybe a picnic table and a relaxed atmosphere.”
Fairfield’s town green is one such spot. Another is “Barron’s [sic] North.”
Ray Rauth likes Winslow Park (which he calls “Barron’s North”).
Rauth likes beautiful downtowns. He is impressed with — among others — Darien, Fairfield, Clinton, Branford, Guilford and Mystic. However, he writes, Westport’s “sprawl of strip malls” makes “an almost deliberate effort to be ugly.”
In a section on safety, Rauth suggests that
town officials and employees should actually walk the streets and the sidewalks that they build and maintain. Bring along a few advocates for comment, advice and support. Pedestrian and bike access to areas such as the train station in Westport benefit from the knowledge of how awful they really are for the pedestrian.
Rauth calls the sidewalks from Post Road West from Whole Foods to the “lovely” Saugatuck River “meaningless. They did not exist, or changed sides of the road willy nilly, or were poorly kept.” In fact, he says Westport’s sidewalks are the worst in Fairfield County.
Actually, he notes in the next paragraph, “Westport has the worst Route 1 sidewalks in the state.” (He adds, hopefully, “I know that they are working on the problem.”)
Rauth then describes the Compo Shopping Center/Trader Joe’s intersection as arguably the town’s worst — and it has been for the nearly 30 years he’s lived in the area. However, he decides that “the really, really bad intersection” in Westport is at the train station. He does not, however, say exactly which one it is.
Ray Rauth used a photo like this in the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board’s 2016 annual report. It illustrates a crosswalk at the Riverside Avenue/Railroad Place intersection that leads to a parking lot, not a sidewalk.
We can argue about which is the worst intersection in town, or how bad our sidewalks really are. But we really don’t have a statewide comparison unless we’ve walked a mile in Ray Rauth’s shoes.
Make that 120 miles.
(Click here to read Ray Rauth’s entire report.)