Town officials say they received a request from a resident to swap the angled and parallel parking on Elm Street to opposite sides along the busy one-way stretch—a suggestion that, if New Canaan’s traffic authority considered it, could open a larger, longstanding discussion about the direction of traffic flow in the center of the business district.
The suggestion was made in the context of safety, according to members of the Traffic Calming Work Group, an administrative team of public works, police and fire officials that met March 20 at the New Canaan Police Department.
The resident “suggested moving the angled parking to the other side because when you are looking over your right shoulder as you back out of a spot, you have a better line of sight than your left shoulder,” Police Capt. John DiFederico said.
“It’s blocked by the vehicle. It makes sense but that is a dramatic change. That would be a lot of retraining.”
Ultimately, the New Canaan Police Commission is the municipal body that takes up such matters. The Work Group fields requests for traffic calming and makes recommendations to the commission, which meets Monday night.
Public Works Director Tiger Mann said he wanted to research the history of how the angled and parallel parking ended up as it is, in order to determine whether a change is warranted and then ask whether the “grand leap” to reversing the flow of traffic on Elm Street between Park and Main Streets makes sense.
There are reasons to leave it be, including motorist habits and the knock-on effect on traffic patterns elsewhere in New Canaan.
In addition, stores on Elm Street that long have paid close attention to window displays because angled-parking cars are facing them when pulling in might push back.
“When you pull in you are looking right at the storefront, right? If you change the parallel, you are not looking at them any more,” Mann said.
The Work Group also has fielded suggestions that additional signage is needed at South and Elm because, some say, motorists are turning right instead of left as they come into Elm Street there, including a tractor-trailer recently.