We can be grateful that Asbury Park has resolved to calm the traffic on Main Street, thereby making crossing the street safer for everyone…and avoiding a possible legal action like the one facing Springfield and The city of Los Angeles, which recently agreed to pay $9.5 million dollars in a wrongful death lawsuit for a similar situation.
“I last visited your city in December of 2014, the night a mother and two children were struck on State Street crossing from the library to the parking lot. One of the children was killed. I am not aware of any traffic calming measures that have been taken since that tragedy, despite pleas and protests from some of your residents. The inaction speaks volumes.”
Streets are a vital part of livable, attractive communities. Everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, race, or ethnicity, ought to have safe, comfortable, and convenient access to community destinations and public places–whether walking, driving, bicycling, or taking public transportation. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars or creeping traffic jams.
“The criminalization of jaywalking may be in part justified if crosswalks were in fact safer, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Crosswalks that aren’t supported by traffic lights or stop signs are no safer than unmarked zones. One study published in Transportation Research Board of the National Academies found that the risk of injury inside the painted lines was the same as it was outside of them. On roadways with multiple lanes and high-volume traffic the crosswalk proved the more precarious option. A safety study conducted by NYU Langone Medical Center was even more decisive in its findings: Of those injured, 44 percent had used a crosswalk with the traffic signal on their side, while 23 percent had been struck crossing mid-block. In what can only be attributed to dreadful luck, 6 percent had been injured while on the sidewalk.
To compound the issue, most crosswalk buttons are nonoperational. Only 9 percent of buttons in New York City, the Department of Transportation estimates, are responsive to user commands. The remaining 91 percent, which are set to fixed timers, serve as placebos for Type A personalities or germ-laden playthings for restive children. In car-centric cities like Dallas, the number of functioning buttons is even lower. Many of these buttons worked at one point but have been deactivated to improve efficiency and flow. Explanations of this sort are par for the course. Efficiency has been the mantra of the urban planning profession for the better part of 60 years. However, by prioritizing efficiency above all other ideals, such as equity and livability, we strip pedestrians of their personal agency and demote non-drivers to the status of second-class citizens.”
Although the debate continues among a few residents, safety will remain a primary issue. School children are now able to safely cross the street, and “…residents also stepped forward, saying they felt safer walking and biking around Lincoln these days. No serious injury crashes have been reported since the road diet began, according to the study, which noted that in four of the previous five years there was a serious injury crash along that same stretch of Lincoln.”
Businesses have mostly been positively affected as well.
“One restaurant owner said the road diet has hurt her and her husband’s business. But Michael Mulcahy, who owns the Garden Theater parking lot, credited it with boosting the local economy. A Willow Glen dentist who has his practice on the avenue also called it an “unqualified success.””
“Economic data compiled by city officials show that retail and office vacancy rates have fallen in the area, while sales tax receipts from local businesses in 2015 were higher than in each of the previous two years. Restaurants and other food-related businesses saw sales tax receipts jump by almost 8 percent from 2014.”
A unanimous vote to approve the road diet on Main Street! Thanks to Mayor Moor, City Council, transportation Mgr Mike Manzella, and our supporters. This will begin to transform Asbury Park into a city designed for people. It starts with a safe Main Street for everyone–residents and visitors who walk, ride bikes and drive.
The Big Urban Mistake: Building for Tourism vs. Livability
This is a remarkably accurate description of Asbury Park on a smaller scale. We’re not building casinos but we are heavily investing in waterfront development. Will it pay off in the long term? For the moment AP is the biggest economic driver in Monmouth County. We want the city to continue to develop while nurturing the people and businesses who invested first and continue to do so.
Please take note City leaders:
“Choose to invest in your residents and local business owners—the people that invested first. Tourism, development and financial success will likely follow. Empower your people, honor the risk they took by taking one yourself, and like happy employees of a strong company, they will take care of everything else.”
Great news! Thanks to AP Mayor and City Council for making this decision, and to Mike Manzella, our Transportation Manager for your support and guidance. Looking forward to a future of safe, equitable, business-friendly streets in Asbury Park!
“…we’ve progressed to a moment in time where walking is seen almost as a novelty or action of last resort and where our accommodation of and reliance on automobiles has resulted in a regulatory environment in which the act of walking is increasingly stigmatized and disincentivized, thus making the assertion that few people walk an increasingly self-fulfilling prophesy.”