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Infrastructure can pose risk of pedestrian accidents

Pedestrian-versus-car accidents usually revolve around a negligent or reckless driver. However, a large intersection in Stamford illustrates that public infrastructure can play a dangerous role in pedestrian accidents.

Three pedestrians were killed in Stamford's downtown in 2014. A 58-year-old legal assistant and mother of two was struck and killed in a fatal pedestrian accident over her lunch hour at Summer and Hoyt streets in July. A 65-year-old retired schoolteacher was hit in the driveway of a building on Strawberry Hill Avenue in May. Finally, a 70-year-old mother of a police officer was hit while crossing Woodland Avenue in the South End in April. Four pedestrians also suffered injuries one year earlier.

Particular attention has been paid to a five-way intersection, considered Stamford's most unfriendly pedestrian intersection, comprised of the meeting of some of the streets where these accidents occurred. It is a heavily-frequented area with a high school, busy pizza parlor, doughnut shop and convenience store.

Despite crossing signals, cars jump the lights and drive toward pedestrians from various directions. A car may stop for a pedestrian while another vehicle will keep driving. At least four pedestrians were injured at this intersection since 2009.

The city, however, has made safety improvements as part of Mayor David Martin's Stamford Street Smart Initiative. It installed a dozen new pedestrian stanchions on streets in that area. Backlit no-turn on red-signs were placed at three intersections and at mid-block crosswalks. Curb extensions and more visible crosswalk lines were painted at 15 intersections. This five-way intersection will also be evaluated as part of the ordinance

The city is also working with the state to place a high-Tech crosswalk system at two intersections that stops traffic and allows pedestrians to cross streets on demand. A Complete Street ordinance is also under consideration.

Pedestrian accident victims often face difficult issues of proving liability against others that may have played a role in the crash by not taking reasonable steps to protect safety. Prompt legal assistance should be obtained to help hold negligent parties responsible for the accident and obtaining compensation.

Source: Stamford Advocate, "Stamford's 5-way intersection is city's pedestrian Everest," Angela Carella, Jan. 29, 2015

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