LETTER: Chaos Reigns at Greenwich Ave Intersections When Pedestrians Control Traffic Flow

Submitted by John Cooper, Greenwich

In First Selectman Fred Camillo’s Community Connections column Friday evening (5/6/22), he wants to address misinformation regarding the Greenwich Avenue bump-outs.

I fully understand, as do most, that if we don’t do the project, we can’t keep the money and re-direct it elsewhere. First thought, remember the adage that “nothing free is truly without cost,” in this case an expansion of the dubious improvements at the Elm Street intersection.  

No one needs a history lesson, but ever since Chief Ridberg removed Traffic Officers from the Avenue at Lewis Street, and officers were later removed from Elm and Havemeyer/Arch, they have been greatly missed by everyone except pedestrians.

Why not the pedestrians?

Because now they completely control the flow of traffic. At each of the intersections chaos reigns, and the bicycle officers sit and observe. Ask them what they personally think, and you’ll get a different answer from department pronouncements.  

One very consistent problem we have in Greenwich is that we do big things but never look back to see if they truly worked.

Elm supposedly cost $300,000, so chump change compared to what’s next. But does it work? Maybe the RTM can hold up the one in the offing and do a study of the hard, fast results. Maybe some Town Hall folks can take a walk one of these days and watch the intersection for an hour at lunchtime on a nice sunny day and take notes.

Observe 5 lunch goers crossing two streets in one fell swoop, like SW Elm to NW Elm to NE Elm. They’ll see cars lurch and stop, oops they thought they were only doing one cross, were an officer there, he’d direct them across diagonally.  

I have a lifelong friend who lives on West Elm. His place of business is on Church Street. When he is finished for the day, he no longer drives down Mason Street to Elm, turning right towards home. “I go the Post Road to Benedict, turn left across traffic so that when I get to Elm, I no longer have to cross the Avenue!”

Think about how that affects all the other roads he just took to avoid Elm.  

Finally, I truly read Fred’s missive carefully and in fact clicked on the video link. I imagine that people today, even with disabilities, forget the incredibly safe environment of these intersections when officers directed things.

Were Stephanie and Alan to come upon a traffic officer who could address them verbally and say please cross while holding the cars at bay, I’m sure they’d be satisfied that their personal safety was foremost in the officer’s mind.

I had one great issue with the drone shots in the video – no cars were on the street, no pedestrians on the sidewalks or anywhere else for that matter. Not your average day except for the bicycle officer hanging out by the bank entrance.  

We can easily remedy this error in judgement from many years ago, and there must be room in a $450MM budget for it, as there was in 1968 when I moved here, and the budget was $43MM.  

John B Cooper, Greenwich