A safe and scenic place for Westporters to run is needed


Chris Andrews, Staff Writer

Westport residents need a safe place to run without fear every day of being struck and killed by a car. I think it would be great if Westport had an off-road trail for pedestrians. Currently there are many joggers, bicyclists, and dog walkers on the roads; therefore, people in cars need to drive carefully as they share the road with so many trying to stay fit. We are reading many stories in the news about people being hit by cars. Many accidents are caused by distracted drivers and that will only continue until either roads are made safer for pedestrians or pedestrians have an option away from the cars.

While there are some wide streets in Westport where cars and pedestrians can more easily share the road, there are many narrow streets and many without sidewalks. Being a runner, it is hard to run throughout our town with the hills and narrow roads because I am not able to see the cars and the cars aren’t easily able to see me.

It’s a little stressful as you are running up each hill just hoping that a car won’t come from the other side and collide with you at the top. In addition to the hills, sharp turns are also a problem. The cars are blindsided when coming around some turns in the road that they don’t see pedestrians in their vicinity. And certainly it’s a problem that many people don’t like to follow the speed limits.

An off-road trail for pedestrians would be the ideal solution. Where my family vacations in Nantucket and Hilton Head, for example, there are many bike trails and it’s a lot of fun. They are perfectly safe as they are separate from the cars on the road.

For me, riding and running on these trails is more fun and relaxing because there isn’t the stress of watching out for cars. Because those trails are so convenient and safe it really encourages people to choose bicycles over cars.

An idea for such a trail in Connecticut was proposed by the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance. The group suggested a trail off the Merritt which would be a safe and scenic option for cyclists and runners. Earlier this year, Governor Malloy proposed a transportation plan for Connecticut which included a 5-year plan with a $101 million budget for a walking and biking trail along the Merritt.

I think it’s a great idea and I hope that the project gets the needed funding. The Merritt trails would get more Westporters out running and biking and help keep Westport safe while you and your neighbors stay fit!