Westport residents launch campaign targeting aggressive drivers
WESTPORT — Keep calm and slow down.
That’s the message a group of Westport residents are trying to spread to motorists who frequent the Imperial Avenue and Bridge Street roadways with a lead foot.
“Westport has a lot going on, it’s wonderful and there is so much revitalization happening,” said resident Nicole Dodge. “But coupled with that, there is a lot more traffic. Pedestrian safety is a big issue and an ongoing concern for anyone who lives here.”
Dodge, along with neighbors Karen Jacobs, Jennifer Johnson, Andrea Moore, Al DiGuido and Matt Heisler, created a Go Fund Me campaign on Oct. 29 to raise money for two permanent, yet mobile solar paneled radar signs to monitor vehicular speed and create a safer environment.
The idea for the radar, Dodge said, stems from excessive traffic and speeding on the two streets, where two of her neighbors were hit and injured by cars while jogging in the last six months.
Fed up with the situation, Dodge and her neighbors first approached the Westport police department to come up with a solution.
The idea of installing two mobile, solar paneled radar signs was discussed, however, Dodge said the police department simply did not have room in their budget to purchase the signs.
“The police department is wonderful and they are totally willing to partner with us, but based on their budget, they can’t do so much,” Dodge said. “The town has a couple of speed signs, but they rotate them. So we thought, let’s crowd source this, so ours (speed signs) won’t leave our streets. It’s a great way to get people involved and elevate the conversation.”
Dodge said the group plans to install one of the signs on Imperial Avenue and the other on Bridge Street, provided funds are raised by Dec. 1.
Both Imperial Avenue and Bridge Street, Dodge said, are feeder roads to town, transit and the beach.
“Imperial Avenue has 3,000 cars travel the road each day, with 93 percent of them speeding and Bridge Street has 8,000 cars a day,” Dodge said. “Basically, the issue here is that you want your town to be a community, you want it to be fluid, to be able to safely run, walk or ride a bike. We hope (through the campaign) to elevate and prioritize pedestrian safety for the town.”
The campaign has a goal of raising $10,000, which includes the price of two speed radars at $5,000 apiece.
Dodge said the campaign is set up as “all or nothing,” which means if the target of $10,000 is not met, money will not be collected.
If the funds are reached, Dodge said the police department has agreed to partner with the group and assume responsibility for the installation and maintenance of the signs as well as monitor all speed data.
As of Friday afternoon, $5,885 had been pledged.
“I feel confident we’ll get there to move things forward and be a part of the solution,” Dodge said.