For the seventh year in a row, Route 1 in Fairfield County has been ranked the most dangerous road for pedestrians by a transportation watchdog group.
Between 2011 and 2013, nine pedestrians were killed while walking along the road, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The New York City-based group says it works to reduce car dependency in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
Route 6, which runs east-to-west through roughly the middle of the state, had three pedestrian fatalities during those years, making it the second most dangerous road in Connecticut.
Route 1 has topped the group’s list repeatedly in recent years.
“Without long-overdue safety improvements, it’s unlikely Route 1 can shed this label,” Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said in a statement. “Clearly, not enough is being done to transform this arterial into a corridor that is safe for all users.”
Arterial roads are ones that have multiple lanes, often have speed limits of 40 mph and, according to the group, typically have few accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists. These types of roads have seen the most pedestrian fatalities throughout Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, the group’s data indicate.
In Connecticut, half of all pedestrian deaths happen on arterial roads, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
“It’s hard to get around in Connecticut if you don’t own a car, not only because of inadequate transit options, but also because so many roads are designed without the needs of pedestrians in mind,” Joseph Cutrufo, Connecticut advocate for the group, said in a statement.
Statewide, 99 pedestrians were killed on Connecticut roads between 2011 and 2013, according to the group, an 11 percent drop from 2010-12, when 111 pedestrians were killed.
In tallying pedestrian deaths, the group used the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The group excluded interstates as well as other roads and parts of roads where pedestrians are prohibited.
Hartford County roads had the most pedestrian deaths between 2011 and 2013 with 28, followed by New Haven County with 24 and Fairfield County with 21. Middlesex County had eight; Tolland County, seven; New London and Windham counties, five each; and Litchfield County, one, the group’s data shows.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has taken various forward-looking steps to improve transportation and safety throughout the state, spokesman Devon Puglia said.
“Safer streets, historic investments in walkways and bikeways, more efficient travel — all are central to his plan,” Puglia said. “As the governor has said, you should be able to live and work in Connecticut with a car or without one. That’s why this adult dialogue on our infrastructure is so important, not just to create jobs and improve the economy but to deliver more livable, more accessible, and safer modes of transportation.”
In its report, the group praised Malloy and Connecticut lawmakers for passing a Vulnerable User Law in 2014. The law allows the state to crack down on drivers who injure or kill pedestrians and bicyclists who lack the protections that cars offer drivers.
Still, there is room for improvement, the group says. It’s urging state leaders to fully fund and implement the $101 million pedestrian and bicycle capital program in the state’s five-year transportation plan, prioritize pedestrian safety near transit hubs, and implement safety recommendations of existing studies that have been done of Route 1, among other recommendations.
The group also wants the state to fund improvements to make roads safer in areas in which there are high concentrations of senior citizens.
People age 60 and older account for one in three pedestrian deaths in Connecticut and have the greatest fatality rate among any age group, according to AARP Connecticut State Director Nora Duncan.
Several Connecticut cities — New Haven, Middletown, and Stamford — have adopted “Complete Street” policies to make roads safer, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign is urging more cities and towns to do the same.
Complete Streets, a movement launched by the National Complete Streets Coalition in 2004, advocates ensuring streets are safe for people of all ages and abilities and all types of users.
Connecticut roads would become much safer if more municipalities implemented Complete Streets, Kelly Kennedy said. She’s executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut, which strives to make roads safer for non-drivers.
“Continuing to bow to car culture and making walking and biking an afterthought is killing people, hurting our economy and our environment, and driving away the young people we need in our workforce,” she said in a statement.