Infrastructure obviously needs a physical implementation strategy, but it should also include an engagement strategy that meets people where they are and helps move them, slowly and methodically, towards shared benefit. Careful communications can help.
We’ve been invited to participate in a forum on bicycling in Red Bank on 10/10/17
Polli Schildge 10/9/2017
In the late summer of 2015 a small group of Asbury Park resident volunteers got together to help update the city’s bicycle code. A few weeks later the news broke that the mayor and city council had resolved to reject a NJDOT plan to reconfigure NJ Rt 71, our Main Street. This became our first initiative, and APCSC was born.
Part of the DOT reconfiguration plan included a “road diet”, a term that has less than pleasant connotations of restrictions and starvation, and the negative reaction by the city leaders and some residents was obvious. It seemed that prevailing opinion was that our Main Street needed to remain a 4-lane highway, and a thoroughfare to move cars as swiftly as possible through the city. As a group of walking and bicycling advocates we thought the NJDOT plan was great— a “no brainer” for safety, businesses, health, and equity. We believe that Main Street should be a destination to be arrived at, not a street to speed through on the way to another destination, and we were sure it should be a simple task to get everyone to agree. We began a barrage of information, research and evidence of the efficacy of a road diet at council meetings, in-person meet-ups, and on social media, and not surprisingly we encountered push-back. Some council members began to avoid us. Some administrators admonished us. We were branded “Wild-Eyed Fanatics” by the editor of a local paper. Some residents maintained threads on social media bashing the plan. We gradually learned that it would be a marathon, not a sprint, and that many cities have been working on Complete Streets issues for many years, so we began to refine our tactics.
We were not making many friends on city council and administration, perceived as hyper-engaged know-it-alls, but we were making friends elsewhere. We had researched traffic calming infrastructure, learned what other cities were doing successfully, how their road diet plans worked or didn’t work, and most importantly devised more effective ways to communicate with residents, with actions in addition to words. We found great support and direction from Cyndi Steiner of NJBWC. We reached out to local business owners and organizations such as AARP and Tri-State Transportation Campaign who gave their support on a letter to city council, and we garnered 500 signatures on a petition. We gave away bike lights, designed a logo, set up a Face Book page and a website, printed an infographic card and other informational material, including a research paper on the benefits of a road diet. We gained visibility riding bikes and walking in the St Pat’s parade with our banner, and hosted the documentary “Bikes vs. Cars” at sold-out screening at the Showroom Theater. We’ve met with other groups in the city such as the Homeowners Assoc., and the Historical Assoc. and set up a booth and information table on National Pride Day. We helped Safe Routes to Schools with Bike Rodeos and a school zone walkability assessment, and got a grant from NJ Natural Gas to buy portable bike racks to use as a bike valet at city events. We’ve attended the NJ Bike and Walk Summit in Princeton and participated on a panel with Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives at last year’s summit. APCSC has been hosting community bike rides throughout the city,
(which are now attended by the mayor, council members and our transportation manager) with the aim of bringing all neighborhoods of the city together.
Who we are now
APCSC started small in 2015 and has grown in numbers, background and diversity. We’re fortunate to have several members with urban planning background, recently one member was appointed to the Planning Board, one to the Zoning Board, and one elected to the School Board. The 2 Asbury Park bike shop owners are members, and other members bring their tech savvy, marketing and promotional skills, community organizing experience, and history of advocacy work. We’re all energetic and committed to Asbury Park becoming a city that provides streets that are safe for everyone, especially the most vulnerable—from 8-years old to 80-years old.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is now acknowledged as an entity in the city and in the state. APCSC has been honored with a nomination for the Complete Streets Champion Award, which will be awarded at the end of October at Rutgers University. The mayor and city council members are supportive, and even the editor of the local paper that called us Wild-Eyed Fanatics is now a fan! The city acknowledges the need to further the goals of the city’s existing Complete Streets Policy and hired a Transportation Manager who supports CS and has already has a significant list of accomplishments: a bike share program, bike corrals and bike racks, and bollards at crosswalks throughout the city, along with other important initiatives in the pipeline. Together we were involved in building a parklet on Cookman Ave for National Park(ing) Day in September. APCSC is involved in the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, which will become the blueprint for change throughout the city.
Success and future
In May 2017, less than 2 years since rejecting the NJDOT plan for Main Street the Asbury Park City Council voted to rescind the resolution to reject the plan! Right now the city is working on the NJDOT reconfiguration of Main Street on a 2-year trial basis. The road diet component is paint— the width of the roadway will remain the same. Designated left turn lanes will help move traffic smoothly, crosswalks and traffic signals will be improved for pedestrian safety, and bike lanes will be included. We believe that residents, business owners and visitors will fully embrace the plan and see the benefits in safety, equity, economics, environment and health, making Rt 71 a true Main Street. There is the possibility that there may be naysayers and resistance to what may be perceived as slower movement of cars, so we’re prepared to continue the mission of Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition. We will continue to work with the Mayor, City Council, administrators and the community to create streets throughout the city that are safe for everyone, especially the most vulnerable.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition Mission Statement:
Streets are “complete” when they have safe access for all users – for pedestrians, bicyclists, the
elderly, the mobility challenged and drivers. Complete streets make it easy to safely cross the
street, walk to school, bicycle to work and stroll through healthy business districts, making
Asbury Park a better place to live. Our streets should be designed for all road users. Speed
endangers our most vulnerable citizens. Crashes cause pedestrian, bicyclist, and driver deaths.
Local NJ Road Diet Success Stories
Doug McQueen, June 1, 2017
Take a look at Ocean City, New Jersey:
Ocean City has an off-season population of 17,000, which swells to over 120,000 in the summer. Pretty much like Asbury Park, but on steroids.
A few of us have been there to talk to local officials and see the fantastic work they did and it is very impressive. Residents, businesses and visitors are all pleased with the safety enhancements for drivers, pedestrians and bike riders. There are kids and seniors walking and riding all over the place, and the streets are safer for everyone.
Obviously Route 71 in Avon is not a direct comparison because of differences in traffic volume from AsburyPark. Nevertheless, if a road diet was ineffective, you would expect to see car crash rates that are proportional to its volume. However, that’s not the case. Long-time Avon councilmember Frank Gorman tells us that the road is substantially safer than it was seven years ago, and that reconfiguring their Main Street was the best move that Avon ever made – fewer car crashes, less speeding, and virtually NO pedestrian or bike crashes.
Still not convinced?
Did you know that Route 33 between Memorial Dr. and Route 35 is a road diet? It happens to pass right in front of Neptune’s busiest fire house, and is the primary route to Jersey Shore Medical Center. It was completed seven years ago and has a lower crash rate than its Route 33 counterpart going west of Route 35, where the road changes back to that abominable four-lane free-for-all by the hospital.
Here’s a link to the research paper that we wrote looking into many of these issues:
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition-How Far We’ve Come
June 1, 2017
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition
Street Safety – New Developments!
Over the past year, Asbury Park’s elected officials have made steady progress in street safety. Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn recently stated, “The City is committed to consistently making decisions with pedestrian and bicyclist safety at the forefront.” The City is just off the starting line and the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is here to cheer them along.
We are encouraged by recent safety improvements. City Transportation Planner Michael Manzella installed 40+ “Stop for Pedestrian” signs at intersections where there have been recorded pedestrian-involved crashes. You’ll see them in crosswalks on Memorial Drive, Ocean Ave and several other busy streets. Manzella also instituted “back-in angle parking” on Eighth Ave, which provides motorists with better vision of pedestrians and bicyclists while exiting a parking space. There are now well-marked “piano key” crosswalks in front of the Boys & Girls Club on Monroe Ave. City Manager Michael Capabianco announced that with NJDOT funding the City has started a pedestrian and bicyclist planning study. A team of technical consultants from international urban planning firm WSP USA will work with Capabianco on a pedestrian and bicyclist safety master plan, over an intense three-month period.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition anticipates its involvement as a resource to the City, as well as encouraging input from the City’s residents. The master plan is key because it will assess street conditions, communicate safety goals and prioritize the City’s initiatives. A successful plan will provide access to funding opportunities the City would not have otherwise, and the Coalition expects the plan to serve as an implementation guideline for future
The City is taking a huge leap forward with the upcoming repaving of Main St/Route 71. Thanks to the determined advocacy of the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition, the City Council finally approved a lane
reconfiguration called a Road Diet, with a two-year evaluation period. NJDOT financed projects require public input sessions, and we will keep you informed of the dates.
APCSC achievements are being recognized statewide. “With a new pedestrian and bicyclist safety plan, the Main St. Road Diet, and the advocacy of the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition Asbury Park shows promise to become one of New Jersey’s forward-thinking cities, equipped for the future with a street network where all modes of transportation are accommodated.” (Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition)
Face Book: Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition
Traffic Volume-Comparing Asbury Park with Avon and Other Neighboring Towns
Doug McQueen, June 1, 2017
Avon’s volume is different from Asbury Park. Asbury Park’s traffic volume has been steady for several years at a peak of 15,000 vehicles per day (VPD) up to 18,000 VPD. Hundreds of case studies have shown 4-to-3 lane reconfigurations can be effective at improving safety for drivers and all other users at volumes up to 24,000 VPD.
It can’t be said enough: IT’S JUST PAINT! After the two-year trial, if it doesn’t work it can go back. What is it that the naysayers and skeptics don’t want you to find out?
Thoughts about Crossing the Street/Jaywalking
Polli Schildge, May 28, 2017
Pedestrians are inherently aware that they are not any safer or protected between 2 narrow painted lines trying to get across Main Street (at the incredibly short lights at 5th or 6th Ave, for example) than they are crossing in the middle of the block (as the article states with statistics). With infrastructure like bump outs reducing the distance to cross, hand signal lights (and better timing), and wide, striped crosswalks, plus traffic calming effect of the road diet we’ll all be able to navigate Main Street safely–walking, riding bikes and driving.
Fun Facts About Jaywalking
Polli Schildge, May 26, 2017
Fun Facts. A history of Jaywalking.
“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.”
Description of a Road Diet
Doug McQueen, May 25, 2017
For those who still have doubts:
The reconfiguration is 4 lanes to 3, with the center lane being a dedicated turn lane so that turning traffic doesn’t back up the travel lane.
The design reduces conflict points between cars by 60% and typically lowers crash rates by 30%. (Main St in AP has over 10 crashes per month, which is horrendous.). Also slows excessive speeds to an average that’s closer to the 30 mph speed limit.
Cities and small towns (hundreds nationwide) have all successfully used these redesigns at traffic volumes of up to 24,000 VPD (our peak summer has been steady at 18,000 VPD for years) with no appreciable traffic congestion.
For more FACTS, research, data and links go to http://apcompletestreets.org and follow APCSC on Twitter @AsburyParkCSC
The Road Diet Resolution was passed!
Polli Schildge, May 24, 2017
Thanks to Mayor Moor and City Council for their diligent research, data collecting and education about the benefits of a road diet. The reconfiguration of Main Street is a significant part of the transformation of Asbury Park as a 21st Century city designed for people with a focus on Complete Streets throughout the city. We’re already seeing elements of safe streets for everyone-walkers, bicyclists and drivers. Applause for our city leaders!
Why we do Family Fun Social Rides in Asbury Park
Polli Schildge, May 2017
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition advocates for safe streets and equitable transportation for all users. Walkers, wheelchair rollers, bicyclists, stroller-pushers, and drivers of cars all need to have safe streets to move about and through our city. If streets are not safe for the elderly or young children, then streets are simply not safe.
We started doing social bike rides as a way to build community doing something many people do solo in the city every day Many folks ride bikes as their main form of transportation and most ride bikes separately, so we think it will be fun to ride monthly as a group to demonstrate safe bicycling, explore neighborhoods, and get to know one another.
Riding a bike is a great way to get a bit of exercise, to breathe deeply and share the experience of the sights, sounds, and fragrances of our city by the sea.
Almost all of us learned to ride bikes as kids. Most people remember their first bike and the memories of childhood- riding bikes to school, bike rides to the park, library, or to the local pool with friends…
For too many people in the US riding bikes ceases the moment they get their driver’s licenses. Others might ride a bike occasionally as they become adults, but when joints get a little creaky they gradually stop what they consider a “youthful activity”. For others, especially in many European countries bicycling is an ageless activity and built in as part of most days. These folks realize that the joy and health benefits of riding a bike can continue literally for a lifetime.
Just about everyone should ride a bike, and there are a multitude of reasons why. Some reasons are obvious, others not so much. Whether we want save money, get places quickly while enjoying the breeze in our hair and air in our lungs, get fit, or to help the environment, here’s a list of important reasons to ride a bike.
-It’s good for the heart.
20 miles a week on a bike can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. Even an average, middle-aged individual could probably mange that in just over 120 minutes.
-Boost the immune system.
Riding a bike as a way of getting moderate exercise can boost the immune system, to prevent colds and minor infections. Humans evolved to be physically active most of the time. Our bodies work more efficiently the more active we are.
Save on mass transit fares, and save on gas.
-Increase Vitamin D.
A lack of sunlight can have a major impact on vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and can have an affect at a genetic level…grab some sunblock and get on a bike.
-Save the planet.
Riding a bike is good for the planet. 70% of all car journeys could be made on a bike in less than 20 minutes. In the USA, 30% of all greenhouse emissions are motor vehicle related. Travel under human power and the overall reliance on harmful nonrenewable fuel sources will be reduced.
-Spend quality time with family.
Cycling is something the whole family can do together. The youngest can go in a bike seat or trailer and others can pedal together at a speed that’s comfortable for everyone.
-Demonstrate a healthy lifetime activity to children. Children are influenced by the behaviors of their parents and this is as true of exercise as it is as
teaching them to read. It is also true that we never forget how to ride a bike. If parents share the joy of bike riding, kids will be more likely to ride and be fitter and more active for a lifetime.
Enforcement or Good Design?
Doug McQueen May 16, 2017
Enforcement is really a part-time backstop that should supplement good street design. Under current NJ law, municipalities only keep half of the traffic ticket revenue they collect. The state gets the other half. After officer and court costs, not as much of a revenue boon as some might expect.
A poorly designed street encourages speeding and puts all road users at risk. That’s why our Transportation Planner will be using the most effective tools available in a given community context. Enforcement isn’t practical around the clock. On the other hand, enforcement is a useful supplement for those who still drive dangerously on a well-designed street.
4th Ave, Asbury Park; Traffic Calming
Doug McQueen, May 15, 2017
The Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition has been advocating for traffic calming and pedestrian safety techniques to be incorporated into the 4th Ave and Sunset Ave repaving plans as those plans are developed. Please join us in that chorus to make those streets work better for vulnerable users.
There are a variety of street design techniques that can be used to slow traffic.
Speed bumps are typically a last resort used when other options aren’t available, since typical speed bumps come with a number of downsides – they are hard on city vehicles like plows and fire trucks. Also, they cause neighborhood noise at the site of the bump due to deceleration and acceleration. Fortunately there are a few designs like speed tables and raised intersections that mitigate these effects.
Hopefully the city could try some other street design techniques like lane narrowing using intersection bump outs or periodic center islands.
See the NACTO guide for traffic calming street design for more discussion:
ITE has examples with expanded explanations (but the techniques listed on their page tend to be a bit outdated):
Finally, FHWA has a primer on traffic calming:
Please let the City Council and our City Transportation Manager know about your desire to see our Streets made safer for pedestrians. They are very willing to listen and Mike Manzella is a knowledgeable, talented and energetic guy who is working on solutions.
See the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition Facebook page, Twitter feed @AsburyParkCSC or or website at http://apcompletestreets.org
Main Street, USA
Doug McQueen May 12, 2017
It should come as no surprise to anyone who has studied these issues that the economic decline of Main Street in Asbury Park is directly correlated to the expansion of roadways under the 1956 Federal Highway Act at the exclusion of all other road users. The expansion of roads and highways in the subsequent five decades came at the expense of Main Streets and downtowns just like Asbury Park. People fled to the malls and suburbs, and the economic and physical costs to communities like Asbury Park were just devastating.
The economic and safety data from locations that have reversed this trend by using inclusive design is irrefutable. The original article you posted is anecdotal, at best, and contains no hard data or research.
Why anyone would continue to want a dangerous four-lane highway bisecting their own community is pretty much beyond belief.
The National Complete Streets Coalition Smart Growth America Webinar
Doug McQueen, May 11, 2017
Here’s a free webinar next week titled “Making the Most of Main Street”:
The National Complete Streets Coalition is excited to continue our monthly webinar series, Implementation & Equity 201: The Path Forward to Complete Streets, exploring a new issue each month related to creating safer, healthier, more equitable streets.
Our next webinar in the series will be Making the Most of Main Street: Complete Streets & Walkable Communities on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 from 1:00-2:00 PM EDT.
Speakers from the City of Langley, WA and Langley Main Street Association will join the Coalition and our co-host America Walks to discuss how a Complete Streets approach can help communities revitalize their downtowns. The speakers will discuss their experiences developing and implementing Complete Streets, the intersection of public health and rural economic development, how to get community members involved, and finding funding. We will also offer lessons from implementing a Complete Streets project in a small town. Registration is now open—we hope you’ll be able to join us.
Livable, Walkable Neighborhoods
Doug McQueen, May 10, 2017
Walkable and bike friendly locations have lower carbon footprints than those places that are automobile-centric. (It’s in the data on the sources I shared above – and below. Proven over and over.) So thanks for the heads-up about how dense, walkable neighborhoods have a lower carbon footprint than car-centric suburban sprawl.
Can we talk about lower crash rates and economic improvements, too? (It’s also in the data.)
Here are some MORE links to resources, organizations and experts in the “livability” field:
1. The WALC Institute: http://www.walklive.org
2. Transportation Alternatives: https://www.transalt.org
3. Dr. Donald Shoup, author of “The High Cost of Free Parking”: http://www.shoupdogg.com/about/
4. Street Films – Capturing good and bad urbanism on film: http://www.streetfilms.org
5. Janette Sadik-Kahn, NYC Planner and author of “Street Fight”: http://www.jsadikkhan.com
6. Brent Todarian – Award winning urban planner in Vancouver: http://www.toderianurbanworks.com
7. Taras Grescoe – Author/Urbanist: http://www.tarasgrescoe.com
8. City Lab: https://www.citylab.com
9. Better Block: http://betterblock.org
10. Strong Towns: https://www.strongtowns.org
11. Congress for New Urbanism: https://www.cnu.org
12. New Jersey Future: http://www.njfuture.org
13. NJ Bike Walk Coalition: http://njbikewalk.org
14. American Planning Association: https://www.planning.org/research/street…
15. Jeff Speck – Walkable City: https://www.amazon.com/Walkable-City-Dow…
City Design for Everyone
Doug McQueen, May 9, 2017
It’s interesting that one side of the conversation about Asbury Park Main Street (NJ Rt 71) wants street design that safely includes all users, INCLUDING CARS. Meanwhile, the other side prefers to maintain street designs that exclude all other users EXCEPT CARS – not safe or inclusive for bike riders or pedestrians, kids, seniors or those with mobility challenges.
Inclusive street design, or “complete streets,” is supported by research and data from all the major urban planning and “livability” advocacy groups, including:
National Association of City Transportation Officials: https://nacto.org
Safe Routes to School Partnership: http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/who…
Smart Growth America / National Complete Streets Coalition:https://smartgrowthamerica.org/program/n…
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials “Green Book” Design Guide:https://youtu.be/UwKeFVfkbtc
880 Cities – Places that are designed to be livable for users of all abilities – from age 8 to 80: http://www.880cities.org
(The list of research and advocacy goes on.)
In addition, the NJ Complete Streets policy, Monmouth County Complete Streets policy and Asbury Park Complete Streets policy all support using inclusive design where data and factual research show that these designs can be accommodated. Finally, the City’s Master Plan and related studies have been crystal clear for decades on the need for more inclusive street design and use of alternative modes of transportation, including biking and walking.
Despite the extensive research and policy, there are inevitably some who would insist that, somehow, science and objective data seem to stop outside the Asbury Park border. That “whatever works there won’t work here.”
I’m very glad that Asbury Park now employs a Transportation Planner with a level of expertise that exceeds any of us on this forum. He can help the city sort through nonsense and use research, facts and data to implement solutions that work for all of us, including a Main Street that works for everyone.
Equity in Transportation
Polli Schildge, May 9, 2017
How do the people who need to ride bikes (and walk for that matter) and who do not own cars reach their destinations for daily business like laundry, food shopping and jobs? It’s not a choice whether or not to ride on Main Street. We’re talking about equity in transportation–although recreational bike riders and casual walkers also deserve safe streets throughout our city. Main St. does not serve any mode of transportation except for speeding cars. But we’re not just talking about Main Street. If all of our streets are not safe for the most vulnerable–elderly and children–they are not safe for anyone. Let’s keep this conversation going.