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New Haven Safe Streets Coalition Edit

SectorsPublic Safety
TopicsTransportation, Health Equity Alliance, Traffic Safety
CityNew Haven



Advocacy organization

New Haven Safe Streets Coalition


The New Haven Safe Streets Coalition ( is an umbrella group of individual citizens, elected officials and organizations committed to improving traffic safety and public health throughout the city.

A petition put forth by the coalition calls upon the city for specific traffic safety measures to be implemented in pedestrian-rich school, hospital, retail and residential zones, increased monitoring of enforcement activity, improved street design and a progressive and measured reduction in citywide traffic injuries by 90% by 2015. It also calls upon signers to commit to following all traffic regulations. The group’s petition has garnered the official endorsement of all 12 of the city’s 12 Community Management Teams (New Haven’s community policing organizations, which often consist of the most politically active residents of each city neighborhood), plus nearly 100 neighborhood associations, churches, advocacy groups, businesses and elected officials including virtually all of the city’s aldermen, state senators and state representatives. Over 2,000 individual citizens have also signed the petition. In addition to residents affiliated with several Management Teams, the Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group and Elm City Cycling were particularly active in promoting the petition.

Through an associated Steering Committee of residents and elected officials known as the Connecticut Livable Streets Campaign, the coalition worked with partners to lobby for, and successfully pass, both local (New Haven) and statewide (Connecticut) “Complete Streets” Legislation in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The Campaign has also lobbied at the state level for legislation that would enable the use of automated traffic enforcement cameras, and hopes to pass this and other laws to improve traffic safety during the 2010 legislative session.

Additional high-profile collisions and deaths in New Haven, including several at the hands of hit-and-run drivers, have increased the urgency with which this coalition has been calling for change. The group’s activities have been the focus of at least 50 major articles in the broadcast, online and print media.

Discussion: Pedestrian Safety in Downtown New Haven

Serious concerns over pedestrian safety in New Haven, and other Connecticut towns, were recently highlighted when three high-profile events occurred within a short time period– the death of a 27-year-old Yale medical student who was crossing a busy city street; the hit-and-run-death of an 11-year-old girl on another street in New Haven; and the severe injury resulting in quadriplegia of a 78-year-old male pedestrian in a hit and run crash in Hartford. Our project is the extension of an ongoing effort to prevent pedestrian injuries in New Haven since these events, and has the potential for expanding to other towns in Connecticut.

Several tactics are currently being developed and deployed by our project team including: intersection redesign and repair; traffic flow improvements; improved signage; law enforcement; community enforcement programs; and education and awareness programs including content on traffic safety in student and employee orientation.

In this project the team will implement a multifaceted approach to decrease pedestrian injury, including the continued building of coalitions of concerned residents and professionals who will work with law enforcement and traffic safety personnel to improve pedestrian safety in and around the Yale-New Haven Medical District. The traffic safety coalition will work to 1) improve the design of intersections that are used by vehicles and pedestrians; 2) educate pedestrians and drivers, through collaborative and widespread efforts in the Yale University, Yale-New Haven Hospital and New Haven communities; and 3) aid law enforcement officials in their efforts to decrease risks to pedestrians.

Expected outcomes include decreased numbers of motor vehicle-pedestrian crashes, decreased rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, improved awareness of pedestrian safety as a public health issue, increased driver compliance with traffic regulations within redesigned or improved intersections, and measurably safer use of streets and crossings by pedestrians, particularly within targeted areas, but also in more densely populated and traffic congested areas of New Haven.

As a result of the study, we expect a better understanding of which specific measures are most effective at improving traffic safety, as well as a better understanding of how best to raise community-wide participation in and awareness of efforts to consider traffic safety as a serious public health issue.

Discussion: Yale Medical Area Traffic Safety Group

The Yale Medical Area Traffic Safety Group's efforts to improve traffic safety in the medical district of New Haven began in response to the tragic death of Mila Rainof, a Yale University medical student who was about to graduate and enter her emergency medicine residency. Mila was struck by a car and killed while crossing South Frontage and York Streets, the major intersection in front of Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The North and South Frontage Street intersections have long been considered dangerous, given the high pedestrian density near the hospital, large traffic volumes at high speeds, the proximity to the on-ramp for Route 34, a high-speed limited access highway, and the propensity for drivers to speed and run red lights. Among several other recent serious injuries in the area, a Yale public health student was struck by a car and seriously injured in 2006 near the off ramp for Route 34 on the corner of North Frontage and College Streets.

While the City of New Haven has long-term plans to replace traffic signaling at these intersections and ultimately replace the Route 34 Connector highway altogether with a network of city streets, many of Mila’s fellow students as well as faculty and administrators from Yale School of Medicine were motivated to take immediate action to prevent further injuries in this area. The Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group was formed, joining forces with other community groups and city officials in New Haven that have long been working to improve traffic safety in the city. Successes so far include organizing a Traffic Safety Awareness Event at the medical school, which consisted of advocacy activities, talks by the Chief of Trauma Surgery at Yale and the Director of Transportation for the City, and a group pedestrian walk to the South Frontage/York intersection with signs asking the traffic to slow down and obey traffic signals. The support from the media and community groups in response to this initial event was strong. Since the event, attendance at the Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group’s meetings has been very high, including over 100 individuals and invited speakers from a broad array of institutions such as city aldermen, New Haven and Yale police officers, Yale-New Haven Hospital security officers, hospital and university administrators, and community groups.

Data Points

1. Of the 23,000 New Haven public school students, approximately 17,000 take a bus to school. This sedentary practice contributes to high obesity rates and is dramatically at variance with a movement in the broader community toward transit-oriented development. It is, however, understandable from the parents’ perspective. Even when children reside within the traditional ¼ - ½ mile walking distance of school, many parents choose to drop off students. New Haven streets are heavily congested spaces and the per capita rate of pediatric pedestrian injury in New Haven is over twice the national average (Source: City of New Haven, November 2009)


1. "In Wake of Two Deaths, Making Streets Safer." NY Times, 10/3/08, accessed November 2009. Feature on New Haven Complete Streets Legislation.

2. "Complete Streets Legislation Passes New Haven Board of Aldermen: Next Stop Hartford." Design New Haven, 8/30/08, accessed November 2009. Blog post with many links regarding Complete Streets movement in New Haven and Connecticut.

3. New Haven Safe Streets website. Accessed November 2009.

4. Recent studies have shown that narrow streets slow traffic and reduce vehicular crashes, increasing neighborhood safety. Following is a summary of a study by Peter Swift, and an email from Patrick Siegman.

5. Safe Streets Gets a Boost (New Haven Independent, 2010)

6. Health Impact of Transportation resource page on DataHaven.

7. Discussion and Petition to Stop the Violence in New Haven (NH Safe Streets, 3/28/11)

Data on Streets in New Haven

1. Infrastructure and pavement condition surveys (City of New Haven)

2. Mileage of Streets in New Haven

Neighborhood - Street length (# of miles)

  • Beaver Hills 13
  • Wooster Square/Mill River 9
  • Newhallville 13
  • Westville 23
  • East Rock 18
  • Prospect Hill 11
  • Fair Haven 23
  • Edgewood 9
  • Dixwell 12
  • Dwight 8
  • East Shore 20
  • Hill 29
  • Fair Haven Heights 13
  • Amity 13
  • West River 9
  • Annex 17
  • Downtown 12
  • Quinnipiac Meadows 13
  • West Rock 7
  • Long Wharf 7
  • New Haven Citywide total 280 (2012 estimates, City of New Haven)

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