Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Speeding commonplace on Calf Pasture Beach Road

Vehicles on the beach road have been found traveling at 52 mph, more than double the 25 mph speed limit.

Some cars on Calf Pasture Beach Road are driving more than double the speed limit. That was one of the findings of a recent Livable Norwalk study of the popular jogging and cycling route.

Residents who live near the road have long complained about speeding and dangerous driving. We wanted to see if the data supported their concerns. It does. Speeding is especially bad on Calf Pasture Beach Road.

With a radar gun on loan from Transportation Alternatives (h/t to Ryan Lynch from Tri-State Transportation Campaign for organizing), we spent a recent Sunday clocking cars. It was sunny and 75 degrees...a great beach day...and there were a ton of folks out jogging and riding bikes. Coming on the heels of a well-publicized speed enforcement campaign, and with so many people on the road, we might expect traffic to be going a little slower than usual, but there was nothing slow about the beach road traffic.

In an hour of observation, 367 cars drove down Calf Pasture Beach Road and all but one was speeding. The speed limit on the road is 25 mph. The average car is going ten miles per hour over that limit. One in ten cars is traveling 40 mph or faster. The fastest cars we clocked were traveling at a whopping 52 mph, more than twice the legal speed limit.*

The neighborhood has voiced concerns about kids walking to Marvin Elementary on the road's narrow sidewalks contending with that high-speed traffic. It appears these concerns are well-founded.

However, it isn't fair to just point fingers at drivers. Not everybody is a reckless driver, but on the beach road everybody is speeding. That is a sign of a design issue with the road, a situation known as "dangerous by design". When a road looks like it is meant to be driven at 40 or 50, a 25 mph speed limit sign won't do much. We even clocked a police car doing 44.

Many people have asked why the same traffic that only needs two lanes on Gregory Boulevard needs a four-lane highway for the last half-mile to the beach. This is a good question.

A proposal to calm traffic on the beach road by making the right lanes vehicle-free zones for joggers and cyclists has gained widespread and universal community support. This is no overstatement. Endorsements have come from

  • The Principal of Marvin Elementary
  • The Marvin Elementary PTO executive committee
  • The Cove Marina General Manager
  • 22 of 23 residents along Calf Pasture Beach Road
  • 235 people (and counting) who have signed an online petition

The mayor is aware of the neighborhood's concerns about Calf Pasture Beach Road. However, he has not supported any plan to address the safety issues. Please call Mayor Moccia at (203) 854-7701 or email rmoccia@norwalkct.org and ask him to take street safety on the beach road seriously.

* For the nitty-gritty of the analysis, here are the raw speed counts.

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