NORWALK, Conn. – Calling it "an injury waiting to happen," a group of Norwalk citizens is urging Norwalk's city government to narrow the road to Norwalk's beach, making it a one-lane road in each direction.
The government has responded: Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) has organized a special meeting of the council's Public Works Committee, which he chairs, May 31 and has invited residents to voice their safety concerns about Calf Pasture Beach Road.
"Calf Pasture Beach, Taylor Farm, Cove Marina and Ludlow Park are among the wonderful public resources that make our city such a great place to live and visit. But Calf Pasture Beach Road, the main pathway to those places, is an injury waiting to happen," said Peter Libre, a member of the group pushing for safety measures along the road from Ludlow Park to Calf Pasture Beach. "The solution, recommended by both of the city's consultants, is to make the outer lanes vehicle-free for use by everyone not in a car, from school kids to retirees. That's the step we are urging the mayor and the council to take."
The group, which has an informational website and a petition drive, is pushing for an idea presented in the Norwalk Pedestrian and Bikeway Transportation improvement plan, submitted to the city in January by Fitzgerald and Halliday Inc., a Hartford firm.
Hal Alvord, director of the Department of Public Works, said May 1 the city would propose sharrows, a traffic lane marked to indicate that motor vehicles are expected to share it with bicyclists. McCarthy said he spoke to Alvord and that proposal has been postponed while the council studies the issue. He said he called the special meeting based upon a request from councilwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District C) subsequent to concerns, discussions and personal experiences throughout her district.
The sidewalks in question are shown in the video posted with this story, from the group's website, which also invites visitors to send letters to the mayor and the council calling on the city to fix the problem.
David Marcus, an activist who is behind the blog Livable Norwalk, recently used a speed gun to clock the traffic on the road. He found most people are speeding, an observation that was confirmed by Police Chief Harry Rilling. Marcus also has a petition, which has 239 signatures on it.
Marcus is in favor of the "Road Diet" outlined on Page 32 of the Norwalk Pedestrian and Bikeway Transportation improvement plan, assessable by this link. It says, "The resulting roadway profile would include a 6 feet wide bicycle lane on both sides of the roadway, with a 14 feet travel lane and a 4 feet inside shoulder. These changes would not require reconstruction of the roadway, rather restriping and signage improvements. This solution has been proven highly effective on a number of projects throughout the country, having been used on roadways with average daily traffic volumes exceeding 20,000 vehicles per day."
The special meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. May 31 in the Common Council Chambers at City Hall. Norwalkers can speak for five minutes.