Distracted Walking Is A Myth – update.

Hello readers.

I saw the immediate aftermath of a bike rider getting hit by a driver one block from our house this weekend. The bike rider himself unbelievably seemed ok, and he said “I’m sorry…” but the driver had been far exceeding the local 25mph limit.

Why would even a bike rider himself take the blame for being hit by a driver? It’s a successful campaign by the auto industry to hijack American brains.

Let’s stop blaming pedestrians and bicyclists for their injuries and deaths.  Here’s the truth.

Why the ‘distracted pedestrian’ is a myth

This Curbed Article was written in 2018.  This is an update.

Victim blaming much?

It’s just easier, and it suits the industry to shift the responsibility for safety off the driver,  to take focus off humongous 9000lb vehicles, and away from infrastructure that is dangerous by design.

Place responsibility on the walker or on the person on a bike for their own safety. Done.

Truth: Drivers are killers. But hear me out…drivers themselves can’t be totally to blame…

Cell phones and gadgets which irresistibly distract drivers have contributed to soaring numbers of fatalities and injuries. Now cars like the 2021 Mercedes have huge dash screens, and other built-in distractions like “infotainment systems”, but car makers tell drivers to use them with caution, so oh yeah, we’re good.

Distracted driving that leads to injuries and death is a public health crisis. 

A Center for Disease Control updated study cited that one in every five people killed by distracted drivers was not in a vehicle — they were walking, riding a bike, or otherwise outside of a vehicle.

Texting while driving has been said to be as dangerous as driving drunk.”

But wow this is happening!  Automakers are starting to admit that drivers hate touch screens. Buttons are back!

For the past several years, huge SUVS and trucks are almost the only vehicles being built in America, so what’s a driver to do?  They’re marketed with features that protect people inside the vehicles, but everyone outside the vehicle is at risk. A walker hit by a driver of a Honda Civic will probably be injured, but maybe not killed. A person walking hit by the driver of a Ford F150 will be dead.

Roads are designed for speed. Most American traffic engineering designs roads to expedite traffic: Wide roads look and feel like landing strips, which invite, and encourage drivers to speed. It’s just what happens.


Polli Schildge Editor APCompleteStreets.org

Send your comments and share your email to: apcompletestreets@gmail.com


Meeting: Asbury Park Main St. Improvements. And A Short History Of The AP Road Diet

Ongoing improvements are planned for Asbury Park’s Main Street.

Mark your calendar to attend the Main Street Streetscape Improvements community meeting on Tuesday, August 29, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1 Municipal Plaza.

The Main Street reconfiguration will be complete with the addition of benches, bike racks, and trees.

The City of Asbury Park received a Federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant to provide streetscape improvements along Main Street and Deal Lake Drive. “The proposed project will include the installation of over 100 new street trees to improve the aesthetics of the roadway. In addition, new decorative bicycle racks will be installed at various locations along Main Street.”

A Short History

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition began our work in 2015 when the city rejected the plan by NJDOT to implement the road diet (video explainer here) on Main Street when we read in The Asbury Park Sun that the Mayor stated rejecting the Road Diet plan was his “finest victory”.

A road diet is a reconfiguration of a roadway to allow for smoother, safer movement of traffic, easing congestion, and improving safety, with “traffic calming”.

This was the start:

Envisioning A Better Main Street.

Envisioning A Better Main Street Road Diet Paper. By founding member, Doug McQueen. Printed, and shared everywhere!

In 2017, after about 18 months of research, communication with NJDOT, plus energetic and wide-reaching community engagement, APCSC and our supporters applauded the Mayor and city council members when the city agreed unanimously (video) to reverse their decision, and to move forward with the NJDOT $19 million planned Road Diet.

In 2021 NJDOT Commemorated the Main St. Road Diet with Director Diane Guiterrez, Lt Gov. Sheila Oliver,  NJ Senator Vin Gopal, local Assembly Persons, and Asbury Park Mayor Moor, City manager Donna Vieiro, and Council members, Kendle, and Clayton, Transportation Manager Mike Manzella, and me, Polli Schildge, proudly wearing my distinctive green APCSC T-shirt!

2021 Commemoration of the Main Street Road Diet.

APCSC has been showing up, gaining support and building a strong reputation across the state!

Sharing Complete Streets info at Pride Day
Bike Valet at Music Mondays
Marching with the banner at the AP St Pat’s Parade
Helping APPD give out helmets
Bike parking at Sea.Hear. Now 2018
Local media, once against the road diet in 2016, supports it in 2020!
Scooter education 2021
Taking every opportunity to share information at city events
Bike repair for kids
Screening the great documentary “The Street Project” to a big crowd at AP Library 2022
With Congressman Frank Pallone, APPD National NIght Out 2021
Love the Monthly Slow Roll!
With AG, Gurbir S. Grewal 2019
With Frank Pallone at APPD National Night Out in 2023

Join us!

Send your email to apcompletestreets@gmail.com

As a 1.4mile sq city, AP could be a model for a truly people-centric, walkable and rollable city. We’re looking forward to many more ongoing improvements for people walking and rolling in AP, as outlined in the Asbury Park Walk and Bike Plan.


Polli Schildge, Editor @APcompletestreets


UPDATE on Railroad Crossing Closures: CC Meeting Video

Thanks to The Coaster for this excellent coverage of the RR crossing closure issue.

The Coaster: 3 Railroad Crossing Closures Under Review in Asbury Park

Cover photo of The Coaster June 14, 2023 article.

The city council meeting went well on Wednesday night 6/14- each person who spoke made very effective points. Thanks so much for stepping up to the mic!

APTV video of the City Council Meeting

Public comment segments:

29:27 – 34:30 (Polli Schildge)

38:44 – 41;29 (Michael Kushner)

42:20 – 50:30 (Rhiannon Long; Mimi Jen; Sylvia Sylvia AP Chamber Of Commerce)

Polli Schildge
Michael Kushner
Mimi Jen
Rhiannon Long
Sylvia Sylvia

✅Thank you for your letters. Continue to spread the word: Email: apcompletestreets@gmail.com. The new DOT contact is:  Christopher.Yandoli@dot.nj.gov..

✅IF YOU WANT A TEMPLATE FOR A LETTER please email: apcompletestreets@gmail.com.

DOT communication with the city this week said that the closure at 6th is “on hold” now, pending more study. But it there is no guarantee that it will not be closed.

We need to stay diligently on top of this.


Polli Schildge, APCSC Editor




Community Opposition To RR Crossing Closures in Asbury Park

Hello APCSC friends~

Since we recently learned of the slated closure of the 6th Ave grade crossing closure (and the proposed closures at 5th Ave, and 1st Ave) we have received over 60 opposition emails, which will be compiled in a document to DOT.

The city officially and adamantly opposes the closure.

Contact AP Complete Streets Coalition to oppose RR grade crossing closures:  apcompletestreets@gmail.com

Contact Vanessa Meades at NJDOT from the Office of Government & Community Relations: vanessa.meades@dot.nj.gov 

We appreciate the great coverage from The Asbury Park Reporter!

Proposed Railroad Crossing Closures Rile Community Members

Asbury Park Complete Streets is sounding the alarm, educating people about what is being proposed and asking community members to join with the organization to oppose the closures.

NJDOT – NJTransit Sewall Ave. closure



Asbury Park’s Sixth Avenue, Fifth Avenue and First Avenue Railroad Crossings are all proposed to be closed by the NJDOT. Asbury Park’s Complete Streets Coalition says, “not so fast,” and claims the closures will not meet any one of those goals.

The study cites safety as the reason for closing grade crossings. We believe that safety would be better served if the crossings were brightly lit, with upgraded gates, and flat surfaces for bike riders, walkers, and strollers.  

Polli Schildge

Asbury Park was developed as a racially segregated community, and the railroad tracks were the border.  Today, this division is still present, and closing west-to-east crossings in Asbury Park will not be well-received here.

Kathleen Mumma

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is  committed to equitable access across the city, east to west, and north to south. for everyone. 

Let’s work together to prevent any further grade crossing closures.

Contact AP Complete Streets Coalition to oppose RR crossing closures: apcompletestreets@gmail.com

Contact Vanessa Meades at NJDOT from the Office of Government & Community Relations: vanessa.meades@dot.nj.gov 


Polli Schildge, Editor



The Price Of Automotive Addiction. New Yorker Book Reviews.

What’s your main mode of transportation?

Like most Americans it’s probably vehicular.

Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker review of two new books:

Daniel Knowles’s “Carmageddon” is a serious argument against cars. Henry Grabar’s “Paved Paradise” is an anti-parking with an entertaining tilt. Both books make an argument for alternative like rapid transit, trains and trolleys, bicycles, but they mostly criticise the current systems. 

“We pay an enormous price for our automotive addiction—in congestion, time wasted, neighborhoods destroyed, emissions pumped out, pleasant streets subordinated to brutal expressways—but telling the addict that the drug isn’t actually pleasurable is a losing game. There is some slight hope in saying that it isn’t healthy, and that the replacement for the drug is about as good. But understanding this emotional infrastructure in favor of cars is vital to imagining their possible replacement.

The grip of the car as a metaphor for liberty is as firm as that of guns, if perhaps with similarly destructive results.”

Any thoughts about parking?  It’s the most contentious issue in many US cities. Gopnik references Donald Shoup’s 2005“The High Cost of Free Parking,”

Americans have been brainwashed to believe that they’re entitled to parking. Bitter battles about storing cars, and mis-belief that more cars = more business leads city leaders to backtrack on beneficial community projects like Open Street on Cookman Ave.

Cookman while it was open to people, and car-free.
Cookman after the brief single season of being open to people is again a car sewer.

Parking has its very own official committee in Asbury Park, with enough stuff about car storage to discuss in lengthy monthly meetings. We propose a Transportation Equity Committee, but that’s another story.

Parking minimums were established by The  Institute of Transportation Engineers, (which still exist in Asbury Park) whereby builders have to provide x-number of spaces for residences, and businesses, leading to cities’ swaths of asphalt dedicated to car storage, contributing in part to a housing shortage, suburban sprawl, and the development of neighborhoods where you can’t get anywhere to do or buy anything without a car.

Asbury Park is a “15 minute city”, as the now contentious concept is described in the article. It’s a walkable, rollable city, but private cars still rule. We propose on-demand transit to reduce car dependency, mitigate the parking problem, and to make our streets safer. Yes, that’s another story.

Now that parking minimums are being abolished in many cities, car owners are angry that they have to pay for it themselves. Oh the inequity of it.

What if we had reliable, affordable, convenient transit options? What if we didn’t need cars?

Read or listen to the book reviews:

How To Quit Cars

They crowd streets, belch carbon, bifurcate communities, and destroy the urban fabric. Will we ever overcome our addiction?


Vote now for the playground in Sunset Lake Park!

Asbury Park Residents age 14 and over!

Participatory Budget voting ends tomorrow, Friday, 3/31

Support 8A Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park, an all ages, active, engaging space for people in Sunset Lake Park.

What is the Participatory Budget Program?
Residents of Asbury Park age 14 and over were invited to submit projects for the city.
All of the submissions are excellent.
Many people have not heard about the program, and in future years we hope many more people will submit project ideas for neighborhoods all over the city.
This year $250,000 will be allocated to the proposal with highest votes, then to the next, and so on.
Proposal 8A is for an engaging play space for all ages, which would utilize $50-75,000 of the $250,000 total budget. We hope this will be the beginning of adding fun, active amenities to all of our parks. 
You can see the APTV video of all of the the presentations. 8A Playground Improvement: Sunset Lake Park is at 38:49. https://www.asburyparktv.com/aptv.
Take a look at the description of the 8A proposal: Participatory Budget Proposal _Play and Connection in Sunset Park
Sunset Lake Park was designed by the founder in the 1870s as a “passive park”, and has remained the same since then. There are no amenities for people in the park nor in most of the city parks…). Now concrete “roads” slice through it, with unwelcoming, stone “benches” on a “helipad” in the middle. People are encouraged to pass through this literally “passive park”.
Sunset Park is located in the center of the city, and should be a true destination for everyone, to play and socialize, as a “community backyard.”
Please support the proposal “8A Playground Improvements: Sunset Park”, 
Remember voting ends tomorrow, Friday 3/31!
This flyer with the QR code makes it so easy to vote!

Polli Schildge, Editor

VOTE For Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park

Asbury Park Residents!

Voting for Participatory Budget Proposals is open!

The meeting last night was positive and exciting. It was wonderful to see all of the ways in which residents envision places and spaces for people.

I am voting for 8A. Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park, which was presented at the meeting under the title “Play and Connection in Sunset Park: A Vibrant Active Community Space”, and I hope you will too!

Vote right here online, or get a paper ballot at City Hall, or at Second Life Bikes at 21 Main St.

This proposal offers EVERYONE in Asbury Park a place to play, relax, and socialize. Our parks have been underutilized for too long, especially beautiful Sunset Lake Park.  This proposal envisions a creative area at the western end of Sunset Park along Main Street, centrally located, and where many residents walk with children.

Parks are the city’s backyard, and should be the favorite destination for recreation, and socialization.

The cost of this proposal would be $50,000 – $75,000, depending on the equipment and the scope of the project.

Take a look at the Powerpoint: Participatory Budget Presentation: 8A: PLAYGROUND IMPROVEMENTS TO SUNSET PARK.

Watch the presentations, especially the proposal for 8A. Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park at 39:10

Slides from the Participatory Budget Proposal “Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park”

I hope you’ll vote for the proposal 8A. Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park here.

Please share the Participatory Budget Presentation: 8A: PLAYGROUND IMPROVEMENTS TO SUNSET PARK proposal, and encourage friends and neighbors to vote for 8A. Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park here.

“Play and Connection in Sunset Park: A Vibrant Active Community Space”

This proposal represents the submissions from numerous residents for an active community play space for all ages in Sunset Park, identifying the need for a range of equipment and seating options that cater to various ages, interests and abilities. 

While there has been an historic desire to keep large swaths of Sunset Park entirely passive, there is enough space at the west end of the park along Main Street to accommodate active play space. This would be easily accessible to families from all corners of the city, especially to visitors and the many families who live, and walk to school and businesses in that area. 

A majority of residents live in residences without yards, or have houses with limited outside space. Sunset Park (and all parks in the city) should be our shared backyard – a place where we can all relax, play, exercise, and connect.

An all-age active space including equipment for: climbing, stretching, swinging, bouncing, pushing, pulling, and comfortable seating:

  1. Fitness equipment 13+: A section with outdoor fitness equipment for adults and teenagers. This could include pull-up bars, push-pull, balance, and other equipment that promotes cardio and muscular endurance, strength and agility. There would be signage indicating how to use the equipment safely
  2. Play equipment: A playground area with swings, slides, climbing structures, and other equipment that caters to children and adults of all ages. The playground would have a soft surface to prevent injuries.
  3. There would be benches and tables for conversation, games and picnics, and for parents or caregivers to relax while their children play.

In summary, an active community play space for all ages would be designed to encourage physical activity, socialization, and fun for everyone in the community – people of all ages and abilities.

Examples of playgrounds all over the world:


Chicago, Ill.

Please vote for 8A. Playground Improvements: Sunset Lake Park here.


Polli Schildge, Editor




Child Mobility = Mobility For Everyone

The premise of Old Enough!, a Japanese reality show streaming on Netflix is simple. In 10-minute episodes a tiny kid sets off to complete the child’s first errand alone. (Well, “alone,” with the cameramen.)
Get your earbuds ready and go for a walk today and listen to
this podcast episode, First Errand on 99% Invisible, based upon the show.
(Here’s the transcript if you’d prefer to read.)
It’s about everything we want for kids, for everyone on our streets – safety from drivers, and streets designed for human mobility.
From the show “Old Enough”

Needless to say, the show couldn’t be set in the United States.

Parents who have allowed young kids independence to play alone have been arrested, or at the very least are labeled terrible parents. This paranoia about kids’ safety in general, and especially on our streets says a lot about our culture.

Only 10% of American kids walk to school, compared with over 80% of kids in Japan. Kids start walking to school in Japan at a very early age, because they CAN. Roads and street networks are designed for kids to walk. Drivers in Japan are taught to yield to pedestrians. Speed limits are low. Neighborhoods have small blocks with lots of intersections. And there is little or no street parking in neighborhoods.

Everyone should be able to safely, REALLY safely walk on American streets.
Streets designed for kids are safe for everyone.
The possibility – solutions exist!
Polli Schildge – editor




Oppose The NJ Helmet Law

APCSC stands with other advocacy groups in NJ in opposition to the proposed NJ helmet law.

Feel free to copy and paste any part of this article and contact your state legislators.

No state currently has helmet laws for adults.

Turns Out, Mandatory Helmet Laws Make Cyclists Less Safe

Proposing a helmet law is a diversion to focus away from the real problem – the lack of comprehensive, effective, safe road design.
Safe roads for walkers and rollers will also be safer for drivers.
Pete Buttegieg, USDOT Secretary, plus state, and local legislators support safe road design, and there is local and gov funding available, but we need political will to implement traffic calming measures.

Road design must change to PREVENT crashes involving people who bicycle, walk, run, scooter, skateboard, push strollers, as well as people who drive cars.

The Federal Highway Administration lists proven safety measures including paths and sidewalks, protected bicycle lanes and roundabouts instead of signalized intersections.  Here’s the  Federal Highway Administration link to proven countermeasures.
One of the most effective ways to make our roads safer is MORE bicyclists.

Please see: Safety in numbers: More walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling. A helmet law will worsen safety by discouraging bicycling, making it appear to be an inherently dangerous activity – dangerous of course because of drivers. A helmet law will mean the end of bike share programs.

Inequitable NJ law already exists requiring a bell and bike lights, and 3 out of 4 people ticketed for bell or light infractions are people of color.

Many people who ride bikes for daily transportation may not have the ability to acquire a helmet – therefore enforcement of a helmet law will lead to even more people being targeted by police.

Racial profiling of the Black and Latino community,

By Stefani Cox And Charles Brown: “For many, bicycling felt like an activity that simply makes one too vulnerable to be worth it.”

Source: New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center.

Helmets are of dubious efficacy – they are not tested in real-world scenarios. Please see: Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. “A styrofoam hat is no match for a box truck or speeding Dodge Charger,” said Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke.

Says Chris Bruntlett

… it is hard to overstate how our unnatural obsession with head protection is stifling the growth of our bicycle culture. It achieves little, except deterring the most casual cyclists, who also happen to be the slowest and safest ones on the road.

Bad driver behavior is a problem, but…

It has never worked to continually remind drivers to stop texting, obey traffic signals, and slow down. It’s impossible to change human behavior with signs, PSAs, even with laws. Automobile ads promote driver entitlement, and manufacturers are building distractions right into the dashboard. Larger and larger SUVs and trucks are killing more people, and cars that can exceed 100mph, and roads that invite speeding are all ongoing problems.

Jesse Singer’s book There Are No Accidents makes it clear that the system is responsible, not the individual. A helmet law will not keep bike riders safe from crashes, which kill 45,000 people a year in the US, and the number is rising. Crashes are not accidents, “preordained and unavoidable”.

A critical mass of cyclists improves the safety for everyone.



Yale student How Sen writes, “If you do choose to wear a helmet when biking, don’t stop there: Learn how to properly and safely interact with vehicles. Share the road. Know your rights. Learn to take the lane and feel comfortable about it. Not only do motorists treat you differently when you’re wearing a helmet, studies show that helmets may be giving you a false sense of safety.”

“Statistics show that cyclists’ fear of head trauma is irrational if we compare it to some other risks. Head injuries aren’t just dangerous when you’re biking—head injuries are dangerous when you’re doing pretty much anything else.”

Only safe road design will mitigate traffic violence.

Everyone outside of a car is a vulnerable road user, and we cannot and should not depend on helmets, bells, and lights – or even drivers – to keep us safe. Only safe road design will mitigate traffic violence for everyone, including drivers themselves.


Polli Schildge – Editor


The Big Lie: Cars = Freedom

Since the 1920s automobile manufacturers have been touting the wonders of car travel.

The goal of the industry was to create this pervasive myth to sell more cars.

Through the 1940s, 50s and 60s owning a vehicle was aspirational, possible for the well-to-do, mostly white American consumer. Racism was structurally built in. Robert Moses leveled minority neighborhoods to build highways to make way for cars.

Sara Seo in Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom, ” reveals how the rise of the automobile led us to accept – and expect – pervasive police power. As her book makes clear, “this radical transformation in the nature and meaning of American freedom has had far-reaching political and legal consequences.”

I wrote in this blog in 2020: Change Policing Of Our Cities, Starting With Traffic Enforcement

The NYTimes article below reveals the continuing racism built into car ownership and policing.


Polli Schildge, Editor

Once You See the Truth About Cars, You Can’t Unsee It

NYTimes December 15th, 2022

Andrew Ross and 

Andrew Ross and Julie Livingston are New York University professors, members of NYU’s Prison Education Program Research Lab and authors of the book “Cars and Jails: Freedom Dreams, Debt, and Carcerality.

”Today, officers make more than 50,000 traffic stops a day. “Driving while Black” has become a major route to incarceration — or much worse.

When Daunte Wright was killed by a police officer in April 2021, he had been pulled over for an expired registration tag on his car’s license plate. He joined the long list of Black drivers whose violent and premature deaths at the hands of police were set in motion by a minor traffic infraction — Sandra Bland (failure to use a turn signal), Maurice Gordon (alleged speeding), Samuel DuBose (missing front license plate), and Philando Castile and Walter Scott (broken taillights) among them. Despite widespread criticism of the flimsy pretexts used to justify traffic stops, and the increasing availability of cellphone or police body cam videos, the most recent data shows that the number of deaths from police-driver interactions is almost as high as it has been over the past five years.”