Letter: Backcountry Speeding is Serious Issue

By Tony Urban

There was a recent letter posted on the Editorial Page of the Greenwich Sentinel urging residents to “Please share roads carefully”.  The author’s premise is that pedestrians need to wear brightly colored clothing for safety and visibility purposes.  While I agree this is important, what I believe to be more important is for drivers to adhere to the posted speed limits AND that the Greenwich Police Department devote more resources to enforcing speed restrictions.  

I have three dogs and I spend about 2 hours a day walking them on a number of roads in my neighborhood.  I consider myself somewhat of an experienced pedestrian.  For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t walk my dogs on I-95 or the Merritt Parkway because it is illegal and not safe.  Ironically, many of the roads in backcountry are even less safe to walk on than the highway because they are narrow, have no shoulder, lack police enforcement and many of the cars travel at the similar rates of speed (as they do on the highway). 

Speeding is a huge safety issue for pedestrians in backcountry and with COVID 19 there are many more pedestrians and bikers utilizing the roads for leisure purposes. I walk, run and bike on roads that mostly have posted speed limits of 25-35 mph. I am weary of having cars passing me and my family at excessive speeds(excess of 50 mph) with just a foot or two of distance between me and the speeding vehicles. These drivers are my neighbors and local residents driving Mercedes, Range Rovers, and Porsche’s with Connecticut plates. I have found that there are basically 3 groups of drivers:  1) those that obey the speed limits, 2) those that speed but heed to pedestrians (slowing down or moving into the far lane when passing pedestrians), and 3) speeders who neither slow down nor heed to pedestrians—- this category is my biggest concern….especially when you combine speed with the nuance of distracted driving.  

I have called The Greenwich Police Department and spoken to an Officer in charge of speed enforcement. He informed me that the Greenwich Police Department doesn’t have the resources necessary to enforce our large community, especially in backcountry. 

I live on Bedford Rd where the posted speed limit is 25 mph.  When I walk on Bedford, I literally take my life into my own hands.  There are a series of “S” turns and drivers can’t see the road beyond the curve in front of them because there are blind spots.  Yet routinely, everyday, I witness cars speed around these curves so fast that their vehicles lean heavily to one side due to the centripetal force.   And it is just not in my segment of our community…..I see it all over backcountry.  Occasionally I will signal or motion to drivers to slow down.  Their reactions range from polite to indignant/border-line violent.  I recall a Sunday morning not long ago at 7am on John Street where a white Range Rover came barreling down the hill.  This road is exceptionally narrow due to guard rails that flank both sides.  The car must have been hitting 60 mph. I motioned to the driver to slow down.  He stopped fifty yards passed me (it took him that distance to stop his vehicle) and yelled obscenities at me.  If that gentleman is reading this article, Happy Sunday to you too!

It is difficult to have laws in place where the Police Department admittedly doesn’t have the resources to enforce everywhere.  Unfortunately, even in the age of COVID 19, people are more interested in getting somewhere fast rather than getting there safely.  As all lives matter…..so do the lives of pedestrians.  I would ask Chief Jim Heavey to personally address this issue.  We need more speed enforcement on our roads.   

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