On the afternoon of May 22, about two dozen students, faculty and staff from the School of Medicine marched from Cedar Street to the corner of York Street and South Frontage Road, where Mila Rainof, a fourth-year medical student, died after being struck by a car a month earlier.
Pedestrians have long dreaded this and other intersections near the medical school. Drivers in a hurry to reach the Route 34 Connector feeding into Interstate 91 and Interstate 95 routinely run red lights and ignore pedestrian crossing signals.
Students have organized a Traffic Safety Group since Rainof’s death—their goal is to make the streets safer for pedestrians.
“It is important that we honor Mila and keep the traffic safety effort in the spirit of what she would have done,” said Rachel Wattier, a fifth-year medical student who is leading the traffic group. “A lot of people have deep-seated concerns about traffic that they were never able to act on. People see an opportunity to have their concerns addressed.”
Plans are already under way to improve four intersections adjacent to the medical school area. They are part of a larger plan for street improvements as part of a deal struck between Yale-New Haven Hospital and the city for the construction of the Smilow Cancer Hospital. The model will be the intersection at Cedar Street and Congress Avenue, which has pedestrian crossing lights that flash and count down the seconds remaining for a safe crossing.
The hospital will also relocate a truck loading dock at South Frontage Road and York Street under the adjacent Air Rights Garage. Traffic that now leaves the garage onto South Frontage Road will leave through a roundabout to be built where the Route 34 Connector meets the garage.
In light of the planned improvements, the safety group is developing materials to promote pedestrian and cycling safety, petitioning the city government to enforce the city’s 25 mile-per-hour speed limit, and calling for strict enforcement of traffic regulations governing stop lights and signs, cell phone use, bicycle lanes and crosswalks.