Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things Worth Saving (Monday, Wednesday and beyond)


Triple-digit heat and news feeds full of horrible things made the last couple of days lousy ones to spend indoors or out. It also would have made it easy to miss hearing about a Milford, CT Driver's depraved vehicular assault on a cyclist. This past week, 20-year-old Louis A. Melfi III, having reportedly verbally threatened and knocked down a bicyclist with his car, then reversing toward the man again, crushing his bicycle, was arrested and slapped on the wrist with a paltry $500 bail and evading responsibility and reckless driving charges.

Think about that.

From a minimal blurb about this case, I'm hearing an assault using deadly force, multiple counts of threatening by TWO people including a death threat, violation of the three-foot passing law and destruction of property. From the charges and the paltry fire-sale bail, it sounds more like a lousy driver who pulled a stupid and took off. That sounds astoundingly and irresponsibly inadequate. Would someone who deliberately fired a gun at someone's head TWICE but merely grazed their ear be let off so easily? Would the person who shouted, "FIRE!" to the shooter face no repercussions whatsoever? If so, remind me to stay the hell out of Milford. I feel safer in Hartford. It sounds like the Milford Police consider a person to be less than a person when they climb on a bicycle. Shameful. If this angers you, one of the things you can do is support Bike Walk Connecticut's efforts to protect vulnerable users. Advocacy is the more positive and attainable goal than, say, crushing Mr. Melfi's car with a monster truck (though, in theory, if you did so without being reckless or fleeing the scene, Milford Police might not charge you at all!)


The historic Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry, hobbled by reduced hours of operation, is being dangled over the chopping block by Governor Malloy along with the Chester-Hadlyme ferry. The ferry is the nicest way I know for a bicyclist to get across the Connecticut River, and it connects two especially nice areas to ride to boot. The threatened Aug. 25 closing of the ferries would be a sad day, indeed. If you'd like to get involved and informed, there will be a Save The Ferry Roundtable this very Monday, July 25th at 7 PM at the Welles Turner Memorial Library, 2407 Main Street, Glastonbury, CT.


As mentioned previously in this space, Cedar Mountain in Newington is threatened by the Toll Brothers' desire to replace natural settings with shoddily-built McMansions and condos. Your next opportunity to speak your mind about this affront is this coming Wednesday, July 27. The turnout at last week's Conservation Committee meeting was weak, so please take some time this Wednesday evening to be seen (I seem to recall organizers suggesting that supporters wear green) and heard. Newington Town Hall is at 131 Cedar Street, Newington, CT. Meeting is called to order at 7 PM.


Anonymous said...

The comments sections of newspaper websites that have covered the Milford incident are a case study of the stark contrast in opinion between the motor vehicle and bike worlds. The usual attitudes -- that bikes are an anachronism that don't belong on highways, that the cyclist is presumably a scofflaw himself and that cyclists and pedestrians assume the risk of whatever outrageous conduct those encased in multi-ton metal boxes might impose upon them when they venture onto the roads -- are rampant there, although people advocating for cyclists, pedestrians and the rule of law are well-represented, too. A large number of the comments simply won't believe the cyclist's allegation, even though the driver at least initially denied the incident occurred notwithstanding physical evidence linking his car to the crushed bike and, therefore, would seem to be the one with the credibility problem. Why the cops are skeptical enough not to charge one or more intentional criminal acts is hard to figure out from the reports.

Edgefield Avenue is a wide road with marked shoulders and is a recommended route on the ConnDOT bike map.

According to the state courts website, Melfi has another motor vehicle infraction charge pending, for unnecessary noise, for which he was ticketed in June.

If there is another side to the story, it may be presented in court when Melfi makes his next appearance next month. It's doubtful that the media will cover this case further.

It looks like the Glastonbury - Rocky Hill ferry loses about $200K a year. Between them, those towns could fill the gap at a cost of about $4 per resident, even if ticket prices aren't raised and there isn't a way to reduce operating costs. This is a fraction of the $7 to 10 million capital cost of adding a pedestrian and bike lane to the Putnam Bridge. Any suggestions about how one might argue that the ferry reduces miles traveled by vehicles via routes using bridges? Work happening now or planned on the Arrigoni and Putnam bridges may impel more people to use the ferry to avoid bridge backups.

Interstatement said...

The G-RH ferry is part of state route 160. If we view it as an integral part of our state transportation system (which isn't a stretch), it actually recoups more of its cost than the other roadways in CT which collect no tolls and still require millions in upkeep. Fuel taxes and other direct motor vehicle-related revenues don't cover the majority of these costs. Taxpayers pay for the roads whether or not they ever set foot in a motor vehicle.