Human Traffic Signals

Apr 11, 2011

For at least 20 minutes on Friday evening, no one ran a red light at the corner of Church and Chapel Streets downtown.

It may have been all those human red lights, on a mission.

“We’re here because we’ve noticed a problem in New Haven, where drivers run red lights pretty frequently,” said Juli Stupakevich (pictured), who organized a “Red Means Stop” protest at that intersection. “Red just doesn’t mean stop anymore.”

Stupakevich pulled together the event to draw attention to the danger of cars running red lights. “There are people who live and work down here and cross these streets all the time,” she said.

“It’s not worth putting people’s lives at risk to save a few seconds.”

Stupakevich, a safe streets activist and bartender at Prime 16, flooded the Chapel and Church intersection on Friday night at 5:30 with 10 other protesters. It wasn’t the turnout she’d hoped for, she said.

“But this will be first of many events like this, I think.”

The demonstrators carried signs reading, “Red Means Stop,” and crossed the busy corner at every four way walk sign. Some drivers honked, most just stared.

But no one ran a light.

The protest, associated with the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition and the Elm City Cycling Club, also aimed to highlight a bill moving through state legislature that would allow cities to use red light cameras to catch people running traffic lights.

“This is the eighth year the bill has been up for consideration,” said Doug Hausladen, a real estate property manager who lives downtown. “But it’s making progress. It’s not going to die this year,” he said.

Next protest? Maybe a stoplight bar crawl, he suggested.