In a meeting on June 6, the Danbury City Council unanimously approved accepting Cramer & Anderson’s donation of cycling safety signs. The signs pay tribute to the late Attorney David P. Burke by helping foster a safer environment for a sport he loved in western Connecticut municipalities where he practiced law, cycled and lived with passion equaled by few peers.
Danbury is the second community to accept a donation of 10 reflective yellow roadside warning signs saying, “3 feet – it’s the law,” a way of highlighting the Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-232(a) requirement that motorists must respect the rights of cyclists on public roads and grant them a “safe distance” of at least 3 feet when passing.
New Milford Mayor David Gronbach and the New Milford Town Council accepted a donation of 10 signs in April. Town Engineer Daniel Stanton is working with the town’s Bike & Trails Committee to determine where the signs should be placed.
Donations of signs will also be offered to Redding, where Attorney Burke lived with his wife, June Anne, and Litchfield, where the firm has an office. Litchfield is home to Bantam Lake and Route 209, where Attorney Burke was cycling on the morning of March 12, 2016, when his bike hit a pothole and he was propelled into a guardrail.
Attorney Burke, who was wearing a helmet, was flown by Life Star helicopter to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, where he died March 15, 2016, his 63rd birthday.
“If these signs help to avoid even one tragic accident they will be invaluable,” Cramer & Anderson Partner Dan Casagrande told the Danbury City Council on June 6. “We hope it’s the start of a groundswell of support and recognition to share the road.”
Attorney Casagrande, outside Assistant Corporation Counsel to Danbury for 27 years, called Attorney Burke “an uncommonly talented lawyer,” and described his colleague as “an invaluable resource for me in representing the city” in several complex litigation matters over the past decade.
“I know he loved his service to this great city of yours,” Attorney Casagrande added of Attorney Burke, who helped establish Cramer & Anderson’s office in Danbury.
“We appreciate the donation,” said Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican and possible candidate for governor whose plan to eliminate the state income tax was making headlines in early June.
Cramer & Anderson’s donation also found support in the public participation segment of the meeting from Dave Fine, a cycling advocate who urged the council not only to accept the warning signs but also support strict enforcement of speed limits in the city as a safety measure and include a focus on creating a bike-friendly environment in ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.
In making the donations, Cramer & Anderson attorneys are stressing that while the signs offer a warning based on Connecticut law, they are not official, legally enforceable state or municipal highway signs.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-232(a) delineates the law by saying, “For the purposes of this subsection, ‘safe distance’ means not less than three feet when the driver of a vehicle overtakes and passes a person riding a bicycle.” The requirement was enacted in 2008.
At the firm’s presentation in New Milford, Partner John D. Tower also showed officials a photograph of Attorney Burke riding on part of the Tour de France route with his daughter Victoria, a world-class rower. Attorney Tower and Partner D. Randall DiBella, who attended the meeting, serve as Town Attorneys for New Milford.
“David was a terrific person, an excellent attorney, a devoted father and bicyclist, and a close friend of ours, and we think this is suitable way to remember and honor him,” Attorney Tower wrote in an email to Mayor Gronbach concerning the donation of signs.
“He just was a phenomenal person, and an incredibly talented lawyer,” Cramer & Anderson Partner William C. Franklin said of Burke in a tribute on the Cramer & Anderson website. “He very passionately represented his clients,” Franklin said. “A lot of lawyers try to get ‘just’ results. David was always troubled by the gap between what was judicially appropriate and what was fair. He always tried to bridge that gap. He’d say, ‘Can you think of a way to get a better outcome here?’”
“Everything he did, he was all in—everything from bicycling to skiing, to cooking and photography,” Attorney Casagrande said in the website tribute.
Attorney Burke was among many Cramer & Anderson attorneys and staff who shared a passion for cycling. A group participates in the Greater Danbury Ride of Silence each May as a way of remembering and honoring Attorney Burke.
Sponsored by Bicycle Advocacy of Greater Danbury, the local ride is part of the larger Ride of Silence movement, which honors cyclists killed or injured by motorists.
By donating a total of 40 cycling safety signs to four municipalities with hundreds of miles of favored cycling routes, Cramer & Anderson hopes to intervene in a poignant way and make a difference.
The firm has offices in New Milford, Danbury, Litchfield, Kent, and Washington Depot. For more information, see the website at crameranderson.com or call the New Milford office at (860) 355-2631.