Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On walking...

Recently, BlogStamford had an interesting blurb on walking, and I decided to put in my two cents. As commented on his post, I live literally within 400 yards of everything I need to survive, and a lot of extra ammenities to boot. Even the library, mall, restaurants, and movie theatres are within walking distance. When I was working at my last job, I was within walking distance of that, and thus never needed to drive.
Therefore, when I first moved here a number of years ago, I decided on an experiment that started almost by chance and grew into an amazing experience. From June of 2006 to December 2007 I used my car as little as possible (there were 3 emergency times). I finally broke down after needing it for my new position (my commute went from a 30-minute walk to a 90-minute drive). But even though I'm driving a lot now (average $75 a week on gas), I still walk to most places, even if they're miles away. It definitely saves on gas and makes me feel better when I do so. Also, since I'm working from home 3 days out of the week, I'll use any excuse to be in a world filled with people every once in a while. While it doesn't bode well for the amount of money I spend for coffee, it does make it easier to socialize.
That being said, there is a huge issue afoot(sorry) regarding pedestrian safety in Stamford, and with my expertise I feel qualified and obligated to comment on it. I can recall several instances where I've almost been run over (once where the car stopped just fast enough to graze my shin) by cars. I arrived to the point where I actually disregard all signals and just look at the cars to see where they are going, due to safety concerns and in some cases insufficient walking signals. I've had cars actually honk at me when I'm in the crosswalk and I have the signal (more than once driving around me with colorful sign language). To cross the Bedford/Summer/High Ridge/Long Ridge intersection, you have no option but to jaywalk. To cross Broad St from Summer from the east side of Summer, you actually have to cross over to the west side of Summer before crossing Broad, because even though there's a walking signal there you'll never get the signal. Again you must jaywalk or go the long way around. And this doesn't get into the accidents that have happened in town in years back, the lack of lighting along Bedford, and the cars that love to dragrace down Summer (on a walk last night, I saw one said dragracer make some kids cry when startled by the racket from the engine).
I think the authorities are doing a lot already to help with pedestrian issues (the countdown signals are great even though they aren't plentiful enough, and there's a concerted effort to catch DUIs). However, I think that timing on some of the crosswalks would help issues (at least to make some of the streets crossable) and enforcement on the late-at-night dragsters that wake people up at all hours and scare the crap out of other pedestrians, jaywalking or no. Also, during the winter, it'd be nice if there was a bit more effort to make some of the sidewalks walkable instead of just plowing the snow over the sidewalks (I know that the traffic is more important but at least people should coordinate their efforts). Finally, it'd be great if there was some effort to educate the people who do drive in Stamford to be more respectful towards the walking set, as they do move a lot slower and are easier to dent.

In short, I do agree that Stamford is a great walking town. It'll just take a little more effort from the city to make it into a safe walking town.


patty said...

If I might add, Stamford drivers should also be more careful with runners and bikers.

And I am with you on the snow plows. I live a few miles north of you, and there are private sidewalks in front of many homes. Although it's the responsibility of the home owner to keep the sidewalks clean, it simply doesn't happen. It makes running or walking dogs a real trick in the winter.

Anittah said...

Agree that it's scary to walk around Stamford.

I will say that when I lived up there, it was hard to shovel snow regularly, esp. as a single woman working 65+ hours a week with a 2 hr+ RT commute. I felt badly that I couldn't shovel regularly, and I never had the time to hire someone to shovel for me -- I barely had time to sleep and eat :(

Anonymous said...

Some towns (as mine does) fine homeowners who do not keep the sidewalks clear.

I do agree about Stamford's crazy road traffice and safety issues for walkers, which will get even worse as more and more condominiums open up in already congested areas.

HOWEVER, there are many cases where the pedestrian is just not paying attention due to cell phones, MP3 players or both. That does not help matters.