Thoughtful planning makes cities safer.
The Waterbury Green in Waterbury, CT is a lively hub for public transit in the heart of the City and is surrounded by popular everyday destinations for residents and visitors alike. Its surrounding transportation network sees significant use and has great potential for improvements for bicyclists, pedestrians, and bus riders. During a time where pedestrian deaths have increased 53% in the United States over a 10-year period, our planning professionals were challenged with the task of creating a safer space for people of all ages and abilities.
FHI Studio implemented a plan to reduce crossing width, enhance the visibility of pedestrians, encourage the use of crosswalks, and slow vehicular speed through the area. To achieve these goals, our designers shortened three crosswalks in the area by designing curb bump-outs. Curb bump-outs are extensions of existing curb lines into unused roadway space in no-parking zones around corners and crosswalks. In addition to shortening crosswalks and increasing pedestrian visibility, bump-outs reduce vehicular turning speeds by tightening corners so that drivers most slow further to navigate a turn. Since this project was a demonstration of the effectiveness of bump-outs, none of the existing concrete curbs were modified. Rather, bump-outs were painted on the existing pavement and flexible delineators used to define the edges and provide additional visual cues, especially at night.
The vibrant colors and patterns within the painted bump-outs were inspired by local artist Kristin Baker's "The Unfair Advantage," a piece found at the nearby Mattatuck Museum. The striking design and flexible delineator posts further help define the intersections and reduce crosswalk distances on roads surrounding the area.
In partnership with the City and the Waterbury Public Art Committee, approximately 40 volunteers helped paint more than 6,700 sq. ft. of pavement. “Overall, people loved it and enjoyed being outdoors on a nice day doing something positive for the city. There was truly something for anyone and everyone in the community to do – lots of middle-school-aged kids and some committee members, too,” said WPAC Chairman Angie Matthis.
Left: FHI Studio planners Rory Jacobson, AICP, and Parker Sorenson, PE, coordinating the demonstration project with community volunteers
Through thoughtful planning and strategic implementation, the project significantly reduced the time pedestrians are exposed to traffic while using crosswalks by reducing overall crossing distances an average of 46%. Before and after speeds show reductions of more than 10% at a couple of the area’s most complicated, busy intersections. Slowing speeds and shorter crossing distances increase the safety of this popular destination for pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
This project was performed under the Active CT program, made possible with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Connecticut Department of Public Health . FHI Studio has worked on more than 15 projects under this contract and has several more underway. We have served several roles on these projects, hosting charrettes and workshops, engaging stakeholders across the state, developing project branding and outreach strategies, and providing technical expertise on complete streets and bicycle and pedestrian planning and design. For more information, please visit www.crcog.org/2020/03/cdcproject.
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