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Police Chief: Norwalk Road Unsafe for Joggers

This story was updated at 4:10 p.m. March 27.

NORWALK, Conn. – Saturday’s death of a jogger is the third fatality along that stretch of Norwalk roadway in 20 years, according to a reader of The Daily Norwalk.

Norwalk’s police chief agreed, saying New Canaan Avenue is unsafe for pedestrians. “That road, in my opinion, is not meant for jogging,” Harry Rilling said. “I'm not saying the road is not safe because there's not a lot of accidents on that road, certainly not a lot of pedestrian situations. But it's not a safe road to be a pedestrian. There are no sidewalks.”

Drivers routinely exceed the speed limit on New Canaan Avenue, also known as state Route 123, Rilling said. “We've done a lot of selective enforcement in that area,” he said. “When I was a young patrol officer, I found a guy driving 76 mph down that road. That's a tremendous speed.”

Broad River, The Daily Norwalk commentator, called the situation “senseless,” citing the stretch “between the Broad River Firehouse and the armory up near the Merritt Parkway entrances” as the area where three fatalities have occurred. That included Woody, Broad River’s neighbor, who was killed about seven years ago when a BMW went around the right side of stopped traffic and hit him.

Reader David Marcus has a suggestion: go to the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s website and request a sidewalk.

Broad River would go further. “Route 123 needs to be made into a four-lane state highway, with a breakdown lane and the white fog line on both sides of the road,” he wrote. “Install sidewalks at least on one side of the road from the parkway, south to the entrance to the Route 7 connector. Electronically managed crossing lights should also be installed.”

“We can all call out for more sidewalks, but bicyclists and runners will rarely use them,” Rickaroo wrote. “They work great for walkers. Although we'd want total safety, we also want budget for schools, keeping taxes in check (mine are up 3.5 times what they were when I first moved her just over 10 years ago - I can assure you, my income or home value isn't keeping pace).”

“Children wait on New Canaan Avenue for bus stops and/or walk on this road if they live too close to their school for bus service,” wrote Gordon55. “My children's elementary school bus stop was scheduled a quarter mile away from our house on this road, and included crossing the street to their bus stop until I argued the safety issue and got the stop changed. If the Norwalk school system expects children to walk this road, the DOT should construct a sidewalk for safety.”

"It's a tragic situation all around," Rilling said in reference to Saturday's death, which involved a 16-year-old girl driving an SUV. "Vigilance is everybody's responsibility, whether it's a jogger, a walker, a family with children, a driver. Everybody needs to be alert. Unfortunately we find ourselves in a situation where we do have distracted driving. Again, I'm not saying that this is what happened in this case. But people need to be focused on their driving and somebody who is going to be in an area that could possibly present a danger to them needs to be alert and vigilant as well."

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