The following letter was submitted to Patch by Stanford residents Lenka Pichlíkova-Burke and Marcus B. Burke
As Mayor Simmons stated, the December 3rd double fatality on a Stamford crosswalk is a tragedy for Stamford as a whole. Unfortunately, this is just the latest in an unacceptably long string of pedestrian accidents on crosswalks in Stamford and throughout Connecticut. Just this year, four pedestrians were killed by September, out of a staggering 459 accidents involving pedestrians. As of the Dec. 3 accident, 62 pedestrians have been killed in Connecticut in 2022 (with an additional 62 in 2020). Nor is this a new phenomenon. Stamford police records provide hundreds of examples in recent years.
The suffering of the deceased’s family, as well as the hundreds of other pedestrian victims who had to endure injuries, was exacerbated by a legal structure that required victims to hire attorneys simply to pay medical bills, and a court process that effectively placed plaintiffs in a pedestrian accident case Go to trial. To put it bluntly, it benefits insurance companies, which often provide lawyers to defend drivers who cause pedestrian accidents, even if the accident happened at a crosswalk.
While Mayor Simmons has talked about a criminal investigation, no one in city government appears to be doing anything to address the issue. Clearly, the current system of crosswalk warning signs, sometimes combined with flashing beacons on crosswalk markings, is simply not enough. Every pedestrian in Stamford can recall pressing the button to activate the beacon, only to see a stream of vehicles unable to stop. (At least drivers get an extra warning in their field of vision when there’s a paddle marking a crosswalk in the middle of the street.) This is especially true for heavily used crosswalks, such as along Tresser Boulevard and Hope Street, where the Springdale train station is at Duplicate crosswalks are generated there.
The only crosswalks that work are those where pedestrians can light up a flashing red light, creating a temporary “stop sign” that drivers must stop to look at before proceeding. Drivers are much less likely to run or run red lights, and the temporary nature of stop lights is less of a disruption to traffic flow, especially at train stations. Although there will be a cost, the wires are already in place from the beacon. Transition programs should be urgently funded immediately.
Long-term solutions include erecting ramped pedestrian bridges over the most frequently affected pedestrian crossings. Unfortunately, during a recent public meeting about the Hope Street “plan,” city officials dismissed inquiries on this and other related topics and withdrew further comment. Many left the meeting concerned about the length of time to completion and, frankly, about the ability of the city officials who will have to lead the rebuild. So far, no officials have come up with a viable, less comprehensive plan to address this civic emergency.
Dr. Lenka Pichlíkova-Burke (accident victim, patch subscriber)
Dr. Marcus B. Burke Stanford