Safe Westport Sidewalks: Imminent Threat to Pedestrian & Child Safety

Safe Westport Sidewalks: Imminent Threat to Pedestrian & Child Safety

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Michael Fleming
Michael Fleming signed this petition

Petition: When constructing or reconstructing sidewalks, the town should maintain existing sidewalk buffers, and develop new ones, to the extent practical.

Background: The town is currently replacing the sidewalk on North Avenue near Bedford Middle School and Staples High School and is choosing to move the sidewalk closer to the street, removing the grass buffer (aka "safety strip”).  This strikes us as the wrong direction for the town, primarily for safety reasons, but also aesthetic ones.

Why you should care:
1) This construction trend will make pedestrians less safe, and feel less safe, by streets where cars regularly travel at high speed.
2) Town sidewalks are often used by families with young children for which the additional few feet can be valuable (e.g., for keeping children out of the street).
3) A simple Google search shows that best practice is to have a buffer between vehicle traffic and pedestrians (see this document from the US Highway Administration: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/univcourse/pdf/swless13.pdf One has to wonder why Westport has to be an exception, when standards are generally so high here.
4) Removing the sidewalk buffer goes against the trend of adding buffers between vehicle traffic and pedestrians (e.g., New York City).
5) For additional benefits of sidewalk buffers, see https://www.pedestrians.org/tips.htm
6) Building/rebuilding sidewalks without buffers is a town policy, so what affects the BMS/SHS area today is coming to other parts of town tomorrow.
7) The grass buffers are aesthetic and environmentally friendly, benefitting property values.

Please sign this petition, and if you want to do more:
Send the petition to your Westport friends.
Email Westport’s First Selectman Jim Marpe JMARPE@westportct.gov and your RTM members.

Questions?  Contact me.
Michael Fleming, westportfleming@gmail.com or text 917-345-8190