Elmwood Government Public Works

West Hartford Hosts Walk Audit in Effort to Improve Bike-Walk-Transit

Community members taking part in Walk Audit on New Britain Ave. Courtesy Photo.

The Town of West Hartford, in partnership with co-sponsor State Rep. Kate Farrar and Bike West Hartford, hosted a walk audit on Friday to discuss the improvement of bike-walk-transit. 

By Bridget Bronsdon 

Town locals and leaders met in the parking lot of the Faxon Branch Library on New Britain Avenue Friday morning to gain a first-hand understanding of local streets in the Elmwood area and ways in which the town can improve bike-walk transit. 

As improved transportation safety remains at the forefront of West Hartford as well as Connecticut Department of Transportation leaders, it is critical to examine how major roads in the region can be safely improved for bus passengers, walkers, and bikers. New Britain Avenue, being one of the major roads in the area that cuts right through West Hartford and Hartford alike, is a focal point.

With this walk audit being the first of many, participants said the overarching goal was to improve bike-walk-transit for all. The walk audit hosted this past Friday was the first of many and focused on the section of New Britain Avenue that runs from Mayflower Street to the train/bus bridge near New Park Avenue.

To provide critical research and data for the walk audit, five years of crash data research on New Britain Avenue was analyzed by participants. The major road stood out due to two main reasons: Not including I-84, New Britain Avenue was found to have the second-highest number of all crashes (11% of West Hartford total), and the highest number of crashes with any injuries (13% of West Hartford total). 

In addition to this data, research also revealed that after dividing the three-mile roadway into equivalent one-mile sections, the highest number of crashes were recorded in the east and middle sections. The middle section runs between Wolcott Park to Quaker Lane and the east sector spans from Quaker Lane to the Hartford border. 

Map of crashes with any injuries from 2018-2022 along New Britain Ave. Courtesy Photo.

Jack Dougherty, secretary of the Bike West Hartford nonprofit group, stated the reasoning for choosing New Britain Avenue as the focal point for the walk audit. “New Britain Avenue is a street that many people drive on but fewer people have walked on or ridden their bike on, or taken a bus on – unless they live right in that neighborhood and we’re trying to make sure more people in West Hartford and the state of Connecticut get a sense of ways we can improve safety for everyone.” 

Dougherty explained that while one audit will not solve the entirety of the problem, it’s a step in the right direction. “It’s a great way to get outside of meeting rooms, get first-hand experience walking on local streets, and discuss ways of improving safety for all, especially walkers, bike riders, bus passengers.” 

Community members and town officials engaging in walk audit along New Britain Avenue to improve Bike-Walk-Transit. Courtesy Photo.

The walk audit proved to be a stepping stone toward success due to the event’s turnout. State Rep. Kate Farrar (D-20th District) in addition to several town officials, Town Manager Rick Ledwith, Department of Public Works Director John Phillips, Community Development Director Duane Martin, and several Town Council members all helped make the walk audit possible. 

Dougherty expressed his gratitude to Farrar for making bike-transit safety a priority. “New Britain Avenue is a state road that cuts through local neighborhoods in West Hartford and Hartford so it’s going to require more coordination from the state and local leaders to make it safer for all,” Dougherty explained. 

Community members attending West Hartford’s walk audit. Courtesy Photo.

“More needs to be done but we know that walk audits do more in the real community than just another meeting in a boardroom,” Dougherty added. 

Farrar also provided insight as to how the Walk Audit can benefit the region. “The New Britain Avenue Walk Audit was a great opportunity to imagine how we can create a more livable and greener community,” Farrar stated. “As a member of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, I look forward to continuing to work with our state, our town officials and staff, advocates, and residents to improve safety and accessibility for all bikes, pedestrians, buses, and cars along this roadway.” 

In the wake of the audit, town officials and constituents can remain hopeful that efforts will be mobilized to take steps toward bettering local bike-walk-transit.

The efforts of Bike West Hartford leaders Dougherty, Mary Donegan, and Tom Martin were noted as instrumental to making the audit possible.

West Hartford crashes and most severe injury report from 2018-2022. Courtesy Photo.

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About the author

Bridget Bronsdon


  • The roads are in horrendous shape for cars and bikers. A friend of mine is always getting flat tires on his bike due to the road conditions

    • Yes! After my 3rd flat I discovered tire liners and have had fewer issues. Even after mitigating the risk of flats by using a combination of tire liners and flat-out, the high traffic from heavier vehicles creates cracks and potholes that make some streets very difficult to ride on.

  • I’m grateful this is a priority. Whenever I need to bike to a place on New Britain Ave, I take backroads, either crossing at Berkshire and riding a parallel road south of New Britain, or going by Conard High School across to Mayflower. Even then, the plaza on the corner of Mayflower and New Britain is tough to navigate through. The extra mileage to avoid riding on New Britain Ave is worth it for safety but it would be nice if fewer detours like this were necessary for non-car commuters.

  • The widening of New Britain Ave to create left turn lanes back in 2014 I believe, was a great start to deal with the congestion and traffic accidents. Now hopefully some more enhancements can be made to make the road safer for not just cars but pedestrians and bikes too. The Trout Brook Drive Trail is 30 a block away from NB Ave at the Walgreens but there’s no signage to let people know about this safe off road path that accessible to all. Some clearly visible signage would help get people to use this great asset the town has.

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