Hoping For Change At US Department Of Transportation, And Locally Too

Highlights from Pete Buttigieg’s Confirmation Hearing

We love hearing Pete using Complete Streets language!

League Of American Bicyclists tweeted “Pete Buttigieg called out “auto-centric” transportation, and notes the importance of street design that enables biking and walking and people to get around in other ways. He says funding should follow. We’ll certainly be following up on that commitment.”

StreetsblogUSA reports Buttigieg  is “introducing the language of safe streets advocacy into the chambers of Congress, where words like “auto-centric”, are rarely used to describe why our road network is so dangerous.”

Kudos for this: Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz: “our departments of transportation tend to be the departments of cars”.

NPR reported He received a “damn refreshing” friendly reception” at the hearing.

We’re feeling hopeful that there may be change on US roads, and our own streets too. We must continue to call for more and better infrastructure to #slowthecars, and demand that the city address the prioritization of cars in street design. #toomanycars

 

1. Buttigieg plans to put dollars behind multi-modal travel 

Secretary Pete’s use of the word “auto-centric” got a lot of love from advocates, and for good reason; it’s easily the most apt adjective to define the last century of U.S. transportation planning, which has typically privileged the fast movement of cars above all else.

2. A not-so-subtle nod to Vision Zero 

As a presidential candidate, Buttigieg famously proposed a national commitment to end traffic violence deaths in the U.S.

3. Complete Streets gets a shout-out

The surprise breakout star of Buttigieg’s confirmation hearing may have been Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz, who gained some fans in the safe streets crowd when he asked the nominee whether he would “clarify that the objective [is to] not to always think in terms of widening the aperture through which the maximum number of cars can move at the maximum speed.” (He also lamented that “our departments of transportation tend to be the departments of cars” — a slogan which belongs on a coffee mug, stat.) Buttigieg’s response earned him some high-fives on Twitter, too:

When we were undertaking a Complete Streets approach in the city of South Bend, it meant a lot to us to have moral support from folks in the [U.S.] DOT under Secretary [Anthony] Foxx, who agreed with that vision. I think it’s very important that we recognize the importance of roadways where pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles in any other mode can coexist peacefully. That Complete Streets vision will continue to enjoy support from me, if confirmed.

Goodbye 2020

There are no easy ways to describe 2020 as it comes to a close. In the past weeks writers have been philosophizing,  analyzing, probing for meaning and grasping for lessons going forward. In Asbury Park we can learn from the mistakes made during these months during the pandemic. We’ve had false starts, beginning with rolling out a neighborhood Slow Streets program without enough community input, and quickly dismantling it. We made the great step of prioritizing people by implementing an Open Streets plan on Cookman Ave (with the hope of making it permanent), allowing foot traffic, outdoor dining and retail on the street between Thursdays and Monday mornings. Then a we sent a conflicting message that cars rule, advertising free holiday parking and welcoming drivers back.  Asbury Park social justice advocates are working to limit police interaction in mental health calls and traffic enforcement. And Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is continually working with city leaders to make city streets safer and more livable, especially for the most vulnerable. None of it will be easy, and we are grateful for community support.

Onward to 2021.

Goodbye to 2020, a Truly Unimaginable Year for Sustainable Transportation

Black Lives Matter Plaza, created by the Government of the District of Columbia, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Photo: Ted Eytan via Creative Commons

Let’s pause for a second and imagine that we could go back in time to Dec. 31, 2019, and tell sustainable transportation advocates what this year held in store for our movement.

Imagine how those hypothetical advocates would react if you told them that, within a few months, roughly two-thirds of all car traffic would abruptly vanish from U.S. streets.

Imagine what our former selves would say you if you told them that such a rapture would prompt countless cities across the country to transform roadways that used to be dedicated exclusively to private vehicles into places to play, move, eat, shop, learn, and more.

Then imagine their faces if you told them that countless other cities would do nothing at all, even as those wide-empty streets encouraged the drivers who remained to speed out of control — forcing per-mile car crash rates to a terrifying, 15-year high.

Read this great article:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/12/30/goodbye-to-2020-a-truly-unimaginable-year-for-sustainable-transportation/

The 99% Invisible Built Environment Around Us

For most of my life I paid almost no attention to the design of the built environment around me. As a person walking, riding a bike, and driving, plus teaching 6 children to navigate their neighborhood on foot, on bikes, and cars, I moved about in my world – using streets and sidewalks without taking much notice of the actual design of crosswalks, or striping of lanes.

This changed dramatically when I became involved in the issue of a road reconfiguration in Asbury Park. Suddenly, clarity! I began to notice every detail of the design of the city, and the ways that people utilize the infrastructure that exists around them. What had been invisible to me is probably invisible to most people who move through their days to school, work, recreation…and it’s been planned to function that way.  I began to notice how much of my (any) city, or suburb is devoted to the level of service for motor vehicles, and street storage (aka parking). I researched city and suburban planning and design, and learned that automotive industry titans were the major players in the early 20th century in get everyone into cars, and the rest is history. Over the course of time we’ve been conditioned to use, but not to notice design around us.

Recommended listening: 99% Invisible Podcast, and the following article about the new book, The 99 Percent Invisible City: a Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, reveals the secret history of urban errata around the world and on your own block.

‘A City is a Series of Choices Over Time’: Roman Mars Reveals the Secret Histories That Shape Our Streets

For over 10 years, the “99 Percent Invisible” podcast has been a touchstone for anyone interested in the often-overlooked design choices that shape our world — and particularly, the auto-centric design choices that shape our streets. More than 400 million downloads later, host Roman Mars collaborated with producer Kurt Kohlstedt to co-author The 99 Percent Invisible City: a Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, which reveals the secret history of urban errata around the world and on your own block.

From the surprising insights that gave the jersey barrier its curves to the bizarre crash that lead to the invention of the roadway centerline, the stories in its pages inspire us to give the everyday a second look — and realize how profoundly our streets can be remade by simple design choices, no matter the violent history that may have built them.

We talked with Mars about his new book, and why wonder might be the missing ingredient in the fight to end traffic violence.

From the interview:

“I think it all comes from the relatively recent concept that streets are for cars, so there’s no reason to look at them any closer. And of course, that’s a relatively recent narrative, and it was consciously created by the powerful voices of motordom. For centuries, our streets were a truly multimodal and multipurpose space: they had pedestrians and trolleycars and horses and vendors and all these things, until we ceded that territory a hundred years ago to the automobile. We’re just now starting to figure out what we lost when we made that shift, and how to get it back.

What I’d most like people to do with the book is recognize that a city is a series of choices over time, and there is nothing inherent in a street that says that a car belongs on a road and a pedestrian only belongs on a sidewalk — or maybe at crosswalk, but only when the light changes. It wasn’t always that way, and we can modify it to be however we want it to be.”

Read more:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/12/11/a-city-is-a-series-of-choices-over-time-roman-mars-reveals-the-secret-histories-that-shape-our-streets/

 

A Great Conversation About Mobility In Asbury Park

The Newest Episode Of Asbury Pod: “Mobility”

Listen to the most recent episode of Asbury Pod, “Mobility” with hosts Deputy Mayor of Asbury Park,Amy Quinn, and Joe Walsh. A great interview with Mike Manzella, Asbury Park Transportation Manager and Deputy City Manager, and me, Polli Schildge!

A wonderful discussion about the evolution of Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition, the Main Street Rt 71 reconfiguration, open streets, bicycling, explaining road diets, bike lanes, sharrows, the history of trolleys, and how open streets are working in Asbury Park. Learn about the focus on accessibility, equity, and the future of mobility in AP.
Love feedback, so post your comments!

The Term “Cyclist” Is Dehumanizing, Especially Of Black People Who Ride Bikes

The media routinely refers to a person riding a bike as a “cyclist”, especially when there’s a police report as a result of a crash. It is often unintentional on the part of the journalist, but that’s not an excuse. It’s a dehumanization of the person, taking the onus off the driver in a crash. The auto industry has deliberately co-opted our language to devalue people who ride bikes as “cyclists” and the same goes for people walking, labeling them “pedestrians”.

We need to change our perception of who a person riding a bike is, who a Black person riding a bike is, who “owns’ the sport, and we need to change our language….and that’s just a start.

The author of this article, Tamika Butler makes a point that she’s a person, as opposed to a “cyclist”. A Black person, a genderqueer person, a mom. “A person who—particularly when the world seems to be falling apart—needs to bike to feel sane, balanced, and healthy.”

Tamika participated in a panel: Bicycling At The Intersections, with a group comprised of Black trans, femme, women, and non-binary cyclists who collectively shared their experiences of race and identity within the sport, and breaking through white supremacy.

“Bikes Are an Expression of Black Joy. Here’s How 5 Riders Break Through White Supremacy”.

“WE’RE HAVING TO PUSH WHITE PEOPLE’S IMAGINATION OF WHAT WE ARE, AND WHAT WE CAN BE.”

 

I Love to Ride My Bike. But I Won’t Call Myself a ‘Cyclist.’

THE WORD HAS EVOLVED TO EXCLUDE SO MANY PEOPLE LIKE ME.

I have always thought of myself as “a person who bikes.” More than that, a person who loves to bike. A person who—particularly when the world seems to be falling apart—needs to bike to feel sane, balanced, and healthy. As a mom who is also a genderqueer, Black woman from the Midwest, there are lots of identities I use to describe myself—and plenty of words other people use to describe me. But “cyclist” has never been one of them.I am not skinny. I am not white.

I am not straight. I am not a man. Just Google the term and see that the central casting version of “cyclist” seems to check most or all of these boxes. I have never checked those boxes.

Read more:

What Is A “Cyclist”?

 

 

Cars Should Not Own Our Cities

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition has focused on making the city safer for everyone – streets that are safe for anyone “8 to 80″, in other words, for the most vulnerable. We have worked with the City Transportation Manager and gotten input from the community to create a Plan For Walking And Biking, an evolving plan, which now during the pandemic is adapting to include open streets and other methods of making streets more open to people walking and using micro-mobility, and less accommodating to cars. Cars should be guests in cities, not OWN cities.

Traffic must be slowed, and every effort needs to be made to reduce the need to drive, especially during the pandemic, when people are in need of safe spaces to be able to spend time outdoors for exercise, shopping, and dining.

We are intent upon creating a safe, healthy, and environmentally equitable city, not divided by city streets teeming with traffic.

In cities all over the US, “transportation issues negatively affect people of color” .  Highways and roads that cut through, or over, Black, Latino, and immigrant neighborhoods.” Asbury Park’s Memorial Drive, train tracks, and our own Main Street have served to bisect the city into the east and west sides, and maintained the inequity of a city with a history of two faces. But now Main Street is currently nearing the end of a years long DOT reconfiguration, calming traffic and allowing people to walk and ride bikes for transportation and recreation,  and a safer Memorial Drive is on the horizon.

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is committed to helping to build infrastructure that enables everyone to safely access the city on foot, a wheelchair, or on a bike or scooter, throughout this time of COVID, and beyond.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2418853/reclaim-cities-from-cars

This Is Our Chance to Reclaim Cities from Cars

The pandemic has led to an unexpected positive—people reclaiming streets in ways that have made urban America more bikeable, walkable, and enjoyable. Preserving that will take work, but it’s worth it.

“It’s callous to call a global pandemic an opportunity, but the crisis has altered our view of public spaces in ways no other event could. In Denver, which closed several streets to through traffic, that wouldn’t have happened without a catalyst. “If we had tried to roll this out pre-pandemic, we would have been met with opposition,” says Eulois Cleckley, executive director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. “But the situation people were placed in changed their perspective overnight.””

“For walking, cycling, and so-called micromobility options like scooters to really function as everyday transportation choices for more than just hardcore commuters…there has to be a safe route from anywhere in a city to anywhere else.”

Read more about it.

 

City Streets Should Always Be Safe For The Most Vulnerable

City streets should always be safe for everyone riding bikes or walking.  Asbury Park is not alone among municipalities in NJ working on ways to #slowthecars and reduce reliance on automobiles on city streets. 

The Asbury Park Slow Roll, November 14th, 2020

The monthly Slow Roll was a pleasure as usual, spending time with others cruising around Asbury Park on bikes. We noted the bike and walk infrastructure appearing in the city, but as usual we also experienced impatient drivers, and a close pass as we navigated Main Street. It underscored the ongoing need for more and better infrastructure to make streets safe for people walking and biking, to slow and calm traffic #20isplenty, and the need for reduced the use of automotive vehicles in our small city.

According to NJ Bike Law, bicyclists may use the full lane, and are not required to ride in the bike lane. Bike riders are more visible riding in the lane, but often rightfully feel frightened and vulnerable among motor vehicles. Paint doesn’t protect, and these striped lanes are within the space where a driver door will open, either hitting the person on the bike or forcing the bike rider into traffic. Whenever possible “take the lane” if you are a bike rider, and if you are a driver please be aware that bike riders are permitted to do so.

Visibility is of utmost importance (contact us to get bright bike lights!). Science has proven that drivers are most likely to see other vehicles, but too often completely unable to see people walking or biking.

#takethelane #bicyclistsmayusefulllane

This is the way city streets should look all the time. Let’s keep working on safe streets for everyone, especially the most vulnerable in Asbury Park.

 

Today is World Day Of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims, and we hope that you will sign & share this pledge for a NJ where no one dies on the roads: tinyurl.com/visionzeronj

World Day Of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims

11.15.2020

Follow Tri-State Transportation Campaign and NJ Bike &b Walk Coalition

 

 

Slow Roll In Honor Of World Remembrance Day For Road Traffic Victims

Slow Roll Bike Ride Saturday, Nov.14th at 1pm.

In honor of World Day of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims – Asbury Park Slow is Roll Saturday, November 14th Meet at The Carousel at 1pm for about an hour cruise around the city. We encourage a bright, white flashing light on the front, and red flashing light on the back of bikes. Cars have daytime running lights. So should bicycles. Until all bikes come equipped with lights we have to buy them – or message us if you’re unable to get lights and we’ll hook you up. 👍🏻🚲🌠🎇

Please join the FB Live Event on Nov. 15th at 11am (link below) and consider a donation to NJ Bike & Walk Coalition,which works tirelessly to make streets and safe for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. NJBWC has been incredibly helpful to Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition.

 

World Day Of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims

 

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;