Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America

For those concerned about making streets safe for the most vulnerable in our Asbury Park community, we recommend the book, Right Of Way, by Angie Schmitt, and the webinar hosted by Charles T. Brown: Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America.

The facts and data presented in the webinar are illuminating and disturbing. Pedestrian deaths are not accidents, nor are they random, but they are a part of a systemic problem, with systemic causes. We have a car-oriented culture by design on the part of the automotive industry. There is a need for engineers (and there are some) to step up to acknowledge that 6000 deaths a year of people walking in the US is unacceptable. Black and brown people are the most common victims of pedestrian crashes.

Asbury Park is a small city with a lot of automotive traffic, and a high percentage of residents under the “poverty line”. Traffic is moving at unsafe speeds most of the time throughout the city. We need to reduce speeds by building infrastructure that prioritizes people walking and micro-mobility.  While we don’t advocate for enforcement by police, we do advocate lowering speed limits, and monitoring with speed cameras. #20isplenty.

There is a need for engineering, education, and enforcement – not by police – to keep streets safe for the most vulnerable road users, many of whom are Black and other people of color, and many of those are poor and must walk or ride bikes for transportation.

This website and blog are intended to be an educational tool for the community. We hope that supporters of Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition will share the site, buy the book, and watch the webinar (a little over an hour) and spread the word about how we can make Asbury Park a safer, healthier city.

Right Of Way

Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America

248 pages
6 x 9

Angie Schmitt; Foreword by Charles T. Brown

 

“The face of the pedestrian safety crisis looks a lot like Ignacio Duarte-Rodriguez. The 77-year old grandfather was struck in a hit-and-run crash while trying to cross a high-speed, six-lane road without crosswalks near his son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was one of the more than 6,000 people killed while walking in America in 2018. In the last ten years, there has been a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths.

The tragedy of traffic violence has barely registered with the media and wider culture. Disproportionately the victims are like Duarte-Rodriguez—immigrants, the poor, and people of color. They have largely been blamed and forgotten.

In Right of Way, journalist Angie Schmitt shows us that deaths like Duarte-Rodriguez’s are not unavoidable “accidents.” They don’t happen because of jaywalking or distracted walking. They are predictable, occurring in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality. These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve.

Schmitt examines the possible causes of the increase in pedestrian deaths as well as programs and movements that are beginning to respond to the epidemic. Her investigation unveils why pedestrians are dying—and she demands action.  Right of Way is a call to reframe the problem, acknowledge the role of racism and classism in the public response to these deaths, and energize advocacy around road safety. Ultimately, Schmitt argues that we need improvements in infrastructure and changes to policy to save lives.

Right of Way unveils a crisis that is rooted in both inequality and the undeterred reign of the automobile in our cities. It challenges us to imagine and demand safer and more equitable cities, where no one is expendable.”

Bicycling At The Intersections -A Webinar With Black Trans, Femme, Women, and Non-Binary Cyclists

This webinar is on right now, and I hope it will be recorded. Bicycling can be a great unifier but there are obstacles for non-white riders. We all need to learn about the experience of Black, trans, femme women, and non-binary people who ride bikes. I am personally feeling a sense of illumination about being visible vs invisible as a white rider and social safety as a privileged  white cyclist – the clothes I wear, where I ride, when I ride. I hope this excellent panel is recorded.

Bicycling and SRAM to Host Discussion With Black Trans, Femme, Women, and Non-Binary Cyclists.

THE FREE EVENT WILL EXPLORE HOW BIKES CAN BE TOOLS FOR LIBERATION AND FOR HEALTH, AND HOW WE CAN GET MORE PEOPLE RIDING.

“In a year experiencing both a pandemic and social uprising, the bicycle has never been more important, says Grace Anderson, co-director for the PGM ONE Summit, a grassroots organization that fights for environmental justice and collective liberation. A bike is transportation, it is health, it is an escape, and it’s a form of protest.

Though the people who ride bikes cover an impressively broad spectrum, many vital voices in the bike world never get a chance to speak up. So Anderson approached Bicycling about hosting a discussion that elevates brilliant riders often left out of the bigger cycling dialogs.

In partnership with SRAM, Bicycling will host Cycling at the Intersections, a free, live discussion of the experiences of Black trans, femme, women, and non-binary cyclists, to be held October 21 at 12 pm ET.”

 

Iresha Picot (she/her), a Southern Black Woman, currently residing in Philadelphia. Iresha has spent the last decade working in Behavior and Mental Health as a Licensed Behavior Specialist and Therapist, a community activist and birth worker. She enjoys all things fitness, including cycling, Zumba, and daily meditative walks.

Tamika Butler (she/her/they/them), a contributing writer for Bicycling and a national expert and speaker on issues related to the built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, organizational behavior, and change management. As the Principal + Founder of Tamika L. Butler Consulting, she focuses on shining a light on inequality, inequity, and social justice. Tamika also served as a guest editor on the Bicycling feature story “Why We Must Talk About Race When We Talk About Bikes.”

 

 (she/her) conjures enthusiasm for life by practicing pleasure and play, living simply and seeking joy. Being a parent, organizer, creator, and adventurer are a few roles that allow her to explore the depths of her pleasure and joy. She utilizes experience as a creator as the root of her community organizing efforts to enhance the quality of life among Black folk. Her work centers Black women, children and queer folks and meets at the intersection of justice, principled living, healing, quality of life and Black liberation.

Jesi Harris (any pronouns) is a Master of Urban Planning student at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. She hails from North Carolina where as an UNC – Chapel Hill undergrad, she fell in love with the bicycle as a sustainable, affordable, self-powered form of transportation. Upon graduating in May 2021, she hopes to build a career in affordable, sustainable development.

Check it out;

Jaywalking Laws Need To Be Abolished

Charles T. Brown and Angie Schmitt are two of the top experts on pedestrian safety in the country, who think “it is time for cities to consider decriminalizing jaywalking or eliminating the infraction altogether. ” Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition could not agree more. Just last week a group of peaceful protesters were walking in the street front of the site of a recent police shooting when the organizer of the protest was arrested for being in the street. There was no traffic to obstruct, the group of people was relatively small, and the people didn’t present a danger to themselves or the community. While this wasn’t technically  “jaywalking”, the crime was simply being in the street, so the police enforced the law which stopped the protest. Thankfully there were no serious injuries in this case.

For those who follow this blog, you know that this topic has been covered extensively, describing jaywalking as “fake” here, explaining the weaponization of jaywalking here, why it’s a crime here, and the history of jaywalking here.

The subject never gets old – partly because it’s origin surprises everyone who learns about it, and critically because jaywalking been used in the extreme to target Black people (mostly men and boys) who are unjustifiably arrested and killed.

This ProPublica story, “Walking While Black”, was presented at an event in 2017 by Charles Brown at Rutgers University, which I was fortunate to attend. The study reveals the numbers which attest to the outrageous percentages of Blacks being stopped for “jaywalking” in Jacksonville, Florida. These statistics are not unusual in cities all over the US.

It’s time to get rid of jaywalking laws everywhere and create streets for people, rather than for prioritization of automotive traffic. It’s time to reallocate police responsibilities, to examine and restructure traffic enforcement by police, and for a complete reevaluation of policing culture.

9 Reasons to Eliminate Jaywalking Laws Now

They’ve rarely protected pedestrians, and their enforcement is racially biased. Two street safety experts say there are better ways to curb traffic violence.

1.  Jaywalking is a made-up thing by auto companies to deflect blame when drivers hit pedestrians.

Although jaywalking is foundational to the way we think about streets and access today, it is a relatively young concept. As University of Virginia historian Peter Norton explains in his book Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, the notion of “jaywalking”  — “jay” being an early 20th century term for someone stupid or unsophisticated — was introduced by a group of auto industry-aligned groups in the 1930s. Prior to the emergence of cars in cities, no such concept existed; pedestrians had free rein in public right-of-ways. But as city streets became sites of increasing carnage in the early days of America’s auto era — about 200,000 Americans (many of them children) were killed by cars in the 1920s — automakers sought regulations that would shift blame away from drivers.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-16/jaywalking-laws-don-t-make-streets-safer

Asbury Park Upgrades For Biking and Walking

Set to begin summer 2021, safety measures for people walking and riding bikes will be focused on 3 main areas of resident concern:

Traffic Calming on 3rd and 4th Avenues – What is traffic calming?

New 3rd Avenue Bike Lanes – How bike lanes make a city safer.

Traffic Signal Upgrade on 3rd Avenue at Pine Street – Do traffic signals keep us safer?

“Curbing speeding in neighborhoods has always been one of my priorities,” said Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn.

 

MEASURES TO SLOW TRAFFIC PLANNED FOR 3RD AND 4TH AVES

ROUNDABOUTS, BIKE LANES AND SIGNAL UPGRADES TO INCREASE PEDESTRIAN SAFELY

 

By Dan Jacobson

The City of Asbury Park has been authorized by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to begin design work on traffic calming measures for 3rd and 4th Avenues. The improvements are funded by $500,000 in federal grants under the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program in partnership with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA). 

 

Tri City News Publisher Supports Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition Road Diet!

🙌AP city council was willing to change their position after APCSC persistently presented the benefits of a road diet. After 18 months they voted unanimously to accept the NJDOT Main Street plan, including the road diet. The work is almost complete, and is leading to continued improvements to make Asbury Park a truly walkable and bikeable city, and safe for everyone to get around, especially the most vulnerable.
🙌The Publisher of Tri City News was also willing to change his position from calling APCSC “Wild Eyed Fanatics”, to becoming one of our biggest supporters!
 
Read more on this site about road diets and reconfigurations all over the world!

What is a Slow Street? NJDOT Doesn’t Get It.

NJDOT ignores need for social distancing, favoring 1950’s era policy

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition has joined with NJ Bike & Walk Coalition and The Bicycle Coalition Of Greater Philadelphia, and advocates in other communities to sign a letter to tell Governor Murphy:

Allow Slow Streets for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety.

 

Asbury Park rolled out our Slow Streets plan quickly in an effort to enable people to walk, ride bikes, and move about in the city safely during the pandemic. It was a fast, but not so well-communicated effort. An explanation of Slow Streets was included at the end of the ReOPEN Asbury Park pilot for community and business recovery in June. It was disbanded in July.
Some businesses and residents didn’t understand it, and some were not fully invested in the idea. People driving into the city to do business were confused.
Plastic road barriers were utilized, and no actual signage to explain their meaning.
Slow Streets and Open Streets are intended to be welcoming to people, improve business, (not just during a pandemic but ALWAYS), and enable people to utilize city streets safely, without danger from motor vehicles. In almost every scenario all over the world Slow Streets  improve cities, by making livable streets, and improve businesses by creating walkable neighborhoods. It didn’t quite happen that way in AP,  so our Slow Streets were put on hold.
But NOW, even if AP were to re-evaluate and desire to reinstate our Slow Streets initiative, there is an effort on the part of NJDOT to shut down ALL Slow Streets in NJ based upon a 1955 AG formal opinion. Read on…
During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey residents are increasingly accessing the streets as a means to safely get out of the house and exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. In urban neighborhoods bicycling and walking have been seen as viable alternatives to short transit trips.
But our roads are not safe for vulnerable road users — this year, while overall traffic fatalities are down slightly in New Jersey, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are up and now represent 40% of all traffic deaths. In our urban areas sidewalks are too crowded for safe social distancing.
That’s why we are calling upon the Governor issue an executive order to allow communities to designate slow streets. Slow streets are designated to alert motorists that they are sharing the road space with cyclists, pedestrians, and children.
Read and sign the letter to NJ Governor Murphy.
If Governor Murphy responds and DOT reverses this decision, Hopefully AP will reinstate the Slow Streets program with community input and creative communication.
Examples of welcoming Slow Streets signage:

A Public Service Announcement: Signs – What They Mean For People Driving And On Bikes

Summer doesn’t end until September 21st, but in past Septembers the Shore towns became quiet after Labor Day Weekend. This year has been different in so many ways, in addition that visitors may be staying in towns along the Jersey Shore through the end of the month, and perhaps even longer because work and school may have been halted, delayed, or virtual.

There will be a continued, somewhat reduced volume of automobiles on the roads during Covid, but since March, even though there have been fewer vehicles miles traveled (VMT), there have been MORE fatal traffic collisions. These crashes are mostly due to excessive speeding, and partly a result of more open-feeling roads where drivers feel more entitled to run stop signs, cruise though right turns at traffic signals, and behave more aggressively toward other road users, specifically people riding bikes.

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition strives to educate drivers and people riding bikes to ensure that we can all stay safe.  While Asbury Park is gradually implementing infrastructure to #slowthecars and make it safer for people who ride bikes, there is a lot of misunderstanding about how bicycle riders may use the roadway, where, and how.

In every jurisdiction in NJ bike riders may “use the full lane”, meaning that people on bikes have the rights and privileges of people driving. If a bike rider is causing a significant slowing of the flow of traffic, the bike rider should move to the right if practicable, and people on bikes are NOT required to give way to drivers.

Asbury Park is implementing bike lanes which so far are mostly painted outside of parked cars next to moving traffic.  These lanes are useful for indicating that bike riders may be present, and they serve as traffic calming to #slowthecsars, but paint doesn’t protect.  The vast amount of asphalt is still devoted to motor vehicles, leaving a narrow slice of roadway where driver side doors may swing open (the “dooring zone”), causing bicyclists serious injury or death.  In places where there are no bike lanes at all, there may be grates, or debris in the shoulder, so people on bikes should ride on the roadway, ride predictably, and NOT hug the curb. Use bright bike lights, especially on the back, even during the day.

Bike lane in the “dooring zone”.

 

Finally, on signage:

In many cities like AP, where the jurisdiction or DOT has built infrastructure and put up signage for bicycling, there’s the ubiquitous yellow “Share The Road” sign, which is intended to mean that drivers should defer to people on bikes, but it’s often read the opposite way, that people on bikes should share the road with drivers. Even more problematic, are signs in Asbury Park that state “Bike Lane Ahead” or “Bike Lane Ends”.  Drivers may easily misconstrue these signs to mean that people on bikes are only permitted in these areas on the bike lanes, and not to ride on the roadway, and that they must somehow vaporize when the bike lane disappears.

 

No more Share The Road signs.

BEST sign!

Misleading sign indicating that bike riders are only permitted here.

Misleading signage indicating that bike riders are not permitted beyond this point.

Let’s urge city leaders to address the need for more, and better infrastructure for people riding bikes. Help APCSC educate about bike riding. And meanwhile let’s get on our bikes and ride! There will be more driver awareness when there are more people riding bikes.

Onward!

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Time To Break Up With Cars

Americans didn’t immediately fall in love with cars.  It’s been a Machiavellian relationship for a century, so maybe we can break up now.

The Car Culture That’s Helping Destroy the Planet Was By No Means Inevitable

Jeff Sparrow

On the Relentless Campaign to Force Americans to Accept the Automobile

“In 1995, comedian Denis Leary recorded a track called “Asshole,” a song about an all-American guy who likes “football and porno and books about war.” It concludes with a monologue: 

I’m gonna get myself a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado convertible
Hot pink, with whale skin hubcaps

And all leather cow interior
And big brown baby seal eyes for head lights
And I’m gonna drive in that baby at 115 miles per hour
Gettin’ one mile per gallon
Sucking down Quarter Pounder cheese burgers from McDonald’s
In the old-fashioned, non-biodegradable styrofoam containers
And when I’m done sucking down those greaseball burgers
I’m gonna wipe my mouth with the American flag

And then I’m gonna toss the styrofoam containers right out the side

And there ain’t a goddamn thing anybody can do about it …

Yes, there is. Vote.

For those concerned about the environment, cars are an ecological catastrophe, while the current president celebrates car ownership as a true hallmark of freedom for blue blooded Americans, and the US remains the “spiritual home of car culture”.   Vote.

So are we doomed to live forever in a polarized country where there is a constant war for space on the road between people walking, on bikes, and driving, and over 40 thousand people die in automobile collisions each year?

Maybe there is hope.   Vote.

Cars don’t have to own us.

Here’s something to think about as American cities (and yes, we in Asbury Park) try to figure out how to keep people safe while social distancing by opening streets to people walking, riding bikes, skateboards, scooters…there could be one good thing that comes out of Covid-19.

The spaces between parked cars can be for people, not for car domination. It’s so in cities where drivers don’t rule the roads. As one Face Book commenter in the thread notes, when he drives into one of these streets he “immediately wonders whether he should be there, then sees the benefits to everyone, and drives slowly and cautiously to his destination”. With American car culture could this happen here, or would we continue to see angry, entitled drivers claiming their right to the road, endangering us all?

Here’s the link to Modacitylife FaceBook page, where you can enjoy beautiful city inspiration, listen to the audio book,  Building The Cycling City, and buy the book here.

Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure – The Best Investment

A GRAPHIC FROM OUR FRIENDS AT

WEST WINDSOR BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ALLIANCE

In this time of massive unemployment and government spending, it’s great to know that building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates more jobs than other infrastructure spending (because it’s less automated).

Perhaps more importantly, creating a safe way to bike and walk places improves health, reduces pollution and improves the local economy, since people who bike and walk to shopping buy more frequently.

There’s no better investment.