Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pedestrian "Safety"

I've been complaining for years that Waterbury is extremely unfriendly towards pedestrians. In a city where a very large percentage of the population doesn't have a car, this is a serious problem. According to the Hartford Courant, this is also a dangerous problem:

For Older Pedestrians, Waterbury And Bristol Are Most Dangerous Places In State
By DON STACOM, dstacom@courant.com
9:56 PM EDT, May 25, 2010

Waterbury and Bristol were the two most dangerous Connecticut cities for older pedestrians, according to a new report by a mass transit advocacy group.

The report, released Tuesday by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, listed five Connecticut cities in which disproportionate numbers of senior citizens have been killed in recent years. The cities are spread throughout the state, but one factor remained consistent both in Connecticut and in adjoining states: Older pedestrians — especially those over age 75 — are at much higher risk of being run down than any other group.

"Pedestrian fatality rates for people 65 years and older living in New Jersey, downstate New York and Connecticut are 68 percent higher than for the rest of the country," the campaign said in its report, "Older Pedestrians At Risk."

"Those 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is 84 percent higher."

That pattern is especially troubling because the population in the tri-state region is aging, the organization said, so more seniors will be at risk in future years.

The nonprofit group studied pedestrian deaths between 2006 and 2008 in all three states, and concluded that Connecticut has the overall best safety rate on a per-capita basis.

But several Connecticut cities stand out for their grim statistics concerning senior citizens walking on their streets and sidewalks, the transportation group reported.

In Waterbury, five of the six people killed in the study years were 60 or older. The comparable figures were three of four in Bristol, and two of three in three cities: New Britain, North Haven and Norwalk.

The organization is recommending more funding for the Complete Streets program, a nationwide campaign to improve or create sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes to promote walking and bicycling.

State Rep. Frank Nicastro, D-Bristol, said Tuesday that he will call on the General Assembly to look into the matter.

"I know the DOT has been looking at making Route 6 safer," said Nicastro, a former mayor who serves on the General Assembly's transportation committee. "The DOT has a responsibility to make sure all state roads are as safe as possible."

State Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said that Connecticut's signalized crosswalks are designed to account for the average age of users. The state also uses large LED-type signals to be more visible to those with vision deficiencies, and its newest crosswalk signals use "countdown" clocks to show pedestrians how much time remains to cross safely.

"The engineering of our transportation infrastructure is obviously very important, and we continue to work diligently to make it as safe as possible, but the safety of the public, without question, requires their cooperation as well," Nursick said.

In 2008, "unsafe use of highway by pedestrian" was the most common reason for pedestrian-involved accidents — including those in which victims were hit but not injured, he reported. Those accounted for 45 percent of all pedestrian accidents. The "driver failed to grant right of way" category represented 20 percent of pedestrian accidents.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

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Mission Statement:
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

New "Neighbors"

There have been some new birds at the feeder since I switched to inexpensive sunflower seeds. I don't know what kind of bird they are (anyone know?), but they usually show up in a group of three--one male, two females.

Unlike the chickadee, who is fearless, these birds are very skittish. The feeder is on the back porch, just outside the kitchen door. If they see me looking at them through the screen door, they fly away. If I'm not looking at them, but they see me move, they fly away. If I slowly raise the camera to my face, they fly away. Fortunately, if I hold the camera in front of my face and then move to where they can see me, they don't fly away. Silly birds.

I also had an unusual visit from a squirrel today, but I was on the phone and the camera was upstairs, so I didn't get any pictures. The squirrel appeared suddenly at the kitchen window, and then started trying to get the window screen to move or tear open. I had no idea what he was up to until I remembered that the open bag of bird seed is sitting at the window. The squirrel left shortly after the cats noticed he was there.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Today I finally had time to plant flower bulbs purchased ages ago. First, though, I had to take out all the weeds in the way. Hours of physical work in the hot sun--a huge change from from how I've been spending most of my time lately (working at a computer in artificial light).

Clover and crabgrass were tough to pull out. Easier to pull out, but more prevalent, were wild cucumber and something called Greater Celandine.

Greater Celandine (assuming I've identified it correctly!) grows like crazy in my yard. It first appeared last year, and seems to grow even in the winter. Nothing stops it, but it is very easy to pull out. It has a bright dark orange sap, which has been used to cure warts and can be used as a mild sedative (hmmm.... maybe I should farm it instead of treating it as a weed--it's even been used to help toothaches).

I was rewarded for my labor at the end of the day, when the iris finally bloomed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I wouldn't have guessed it, but the blue plastic garbage cans issued to every household by the city are highly susceptible to fire. There's a firebug in my neighborhood who has set a few on fire--the result is a surprisingly small pile of blackened, hardened goo where the can used to be. An abandoned mattress or couch has also been torched

Whoever it is has been setting them on fire one at a time. Maybe three so far, and apparently always around three or four in the morning. I haven't witnessed anything, (my trash can is untouched so far, and I sleep on the other side of the house), but it certainly is making people nervous. What's next, a car? a house?

Maybe the firebug will get bored and quit. But we can't count on that. One of my neighbors said she'll let Deputy Chief Riddick know about this. I can't help but wonder if there is a connection to the big fire downtown last week. Scary stuff.