Asbury Park Prepares For A New Normal

Asbury Park is known as a progressive city, meeting challenge, and welcoming diversity. AP is ready to be proactive, by creating streets that provide safe and equitable access during COVID-19, and onward.

By Polli Schildge, Editor

Asbury Park is preparing to create a new normal. City leaders are discussing opening streets for people to walk, bike, and move about in the business district and at the waterfront. It’s good to know that we are not alone and that other cities in NJ, around the US, and around the world are taking strong measures to increase walking and bike ridership. The UK just announced a “once in a generation” £2 billion plan to boost cycling and walking both during and after the lockdown, and stressed that “business would be boosted by more people cycling and walking” Forbes.

Asbury Park is unique in that we have world-renown beaches, and a vibrant restaurant and music scene which make AP a destination that attracts visitors from everywhere.  As the weather warms up we’ll see thousands of people flocking to our waterfront and into the city. This requires special consideration in allowing people more space to move about with social distancing on Ocean Ave. and Cookman Ave. This is a novel virus and an unprecedented situation for cities all over the world.

The question is whether we can resist the inclination to hop back into cars when we feel that the crisis has passed.  Along with opening streets to people, driving even 10% less will make a difference. We need to maintain people-friendly streets and promote alternative transportation options to prevent the return of “car culture” Outside .

By preparing now our cities and suburbs will be more livable, and residents will be healthier while the viral pandemic persists, and will remain so afterward.

Traffic mixed with bike riders and parked cars on Ocean Ave. Asbury Park on a sunny Sunday during COVID-19
Traffic on Ocean Ave. on Sunday during the pandemic.

Visitors to Asbury Park 3rd Ave. Beach in early May, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advocacy In Action Panel Video: NJ Bike & Walk Coalition Summit 2020

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition founding member, Polli Schildge was invited to lead a panel at the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition Summit on March 7th, 2020.  The panelists invited represented a swath of Jersey Shore towns, and each member of the panel shared experiences in their unique journeys to implement Complete Streets initiatives in their cities.  The audience so had many questions for each panelist that we ran out of time to answer them all, indicating the need for us to stay connected so we can learn from one another. Thanks for another great NJBWC Summit!

The panelists included Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli, the 2016 NJBWC Advocate of the Year, and Eatontown Mayor Anthony Talerico, who advocates Complete Streets as a policy initiative. Nancy Blackwood, is chair of the Red Bank Environmental Commission and Green Team, and an advocate for Complete Streets.  Rick Lambert is a Steering Committee member of Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition, and Doug McQueen is a founding Member of APCSC. Kenny Sorensen is a passionate advocate for safe streets in Neptune City, and Kathleen Ebert is founder of Point Pleasant Borough Complete Streets.

Watch the video here.

Complete Streets USDOT definition:

Complete Streets are streets designed and operated to enable safe use and support mobility for all users. Those include people of all ages and abilities, regardless of whether they are travelling as drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or public transportation riders. 

In short: Complete Streets are designed to enable safe access for all users, especially the most vulnerable.

Advocacy In Action: Initiative to Acceptance to Implementation

Attendees heard from a panel of activists, city leaders, and administrators about ways that they’re working within their communities on issues like speeding, bike lanes, road diets, scooters (and other micro-mobility), and parking.

They shared strategies that work (or don’t work!) in their efforts to enable their cities to provide ways for residents and visitors to get around safely without dependency on cars. We continued the discussion from a previous Summit panel about the possibility of establishing a Jersey Shore Complete Streets Coalition.

Left to Right: Polli Schildge, Rick Lambert, Nancy Blackwood, Ben Lucarelli, Anthony Talerico, Kathleen Ebert, Kenny Sorensen, Doug McQueen

 

Polli Schildge, Panel Moderator, Founding Member APCSC

Watch the video

Covid-19 Recovery And Long-Lasting Change

City leaders all over the world are establishing measures to permanently maintain the improvements to the environment by creating ways for people to get around without cars. Asbury Park can do this.

“Action needs to be taken now which will help people move around without the congestion, pollution and ill-health that comes with car use now and after lockdown is lifted.”

“…the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis could be “a catalyst for long-lasting change in the way we live and travel, especially in towns and cities. What Covid-19 has also done is to highlight the crossovers between the quality of our places, public health, economy, transport, education, air quality and social justice.”

City leaders aim to shape green recovery from coronavirus crisis

Mayors coordinating efforts to support a low-carbon, sustainable path out of lockdowns

Cities around the world are already planning for life after Covid-19, with a series of environmental initiatives being rolled out from Bogotá to Barcelona to ensure public safety and bolster the fight against climate breakdown.

Mayors from cities in Europe, the US and Africa held talks this week to coordinate their efforts to support a low-carbon, sustainable recovery from the crisis as national governments begin to implement huge economic stimulus packages.

Many cities have already announced measures, from hundreds of miles of new bike lanes in Milan and Mexico City to widening pavements and pedestrianising neighbourhoods in New York and Seattle.

Here’s a start Asbury Park!

Seven things city leaders can do to drive a green, fair recovery from Covid-19

  • Remove through motor traffic from residential streets and extend pavements near shops, schools and parks to make walking safe and enjoyable for transport and exercise.
  • Introduce safe access routes on foot, bike and scooter from homes to parks and green spaces and introduce automatic pedestrian lights at crossings so people do not have to push buttons and risk infection.
  • Establish safe cycle routes to and from work for key workers, especially hospital staff, by closing roads and carriageways where necessary so people have a safe alternative to private cars and public transport.
  • Create safe walking and cycling routes to and from schools, and close down streets around schools to motor vehicles at drop-off and pickup times.

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/01/city-leaders-aim-to-shape-green-recovery-from-coronavirus-crisis

This Is Our Future. The Birth Of A Healthy, Resilient City

Asbury Park is looking at a great opportunity to initiate progressive, and permanent change to prioritize people walking and people riding bikes, to offer alternative transportation, and to restrict the use of cars. We owe it to ourselves. This is our future, so let’s plan for it.
Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been countless articles about cities creating more space for people to protect the environment and to save lives.  I’ve had so many in the queue I can barely keep up.
Read more here in this deep dive into what’s happening all over the world, followed by a great Twitter thread for more illumination.

Are we witnessing the death of the car?

By Francesca Perry29th April 2020
“Cities around the world are seeing dwindling numbers of fossil-fuel powered cars on their streets, and many are planning to keep it that way after
lockdowns ease.”

 

To accommodate streets now busier with bikes, as well as facilitate social distancing, some places have installed temporary cycle lanes or closed streets to cars. Pop-up bike lanes have appeared in cities including Berlin, Budapest, Mexico City, New York, Dublin and Bogotá. Governments from New Zealand to Scotland have made funding available for temporary cycle lanes and walkways amid the pandemic. In Brussels, the entire city core will become a priority zone for cyclists and pedestrians from early May for the forseeable future. Meanwhile, temporary street closures to cars have taken place in Brighton, Bogotá, Cologne, Vancouver and Sydney as well as multiple US cities including Boston, Denver and Oakland. In England, restrictions have been lifted to enable and encourage councils to more quickly close streets to cars.

But these, of course, are temporary measures.  What will happen when lockdowns are lifted?

Cities that seize this moment to make it easier for people to walk, bike and take public transport will prosper after this pandemic and not simply recover from it – Janette Sadik-Khan

This Twitter thread from @modacity, begins with a post from PhD candidate Brett Petzer.

“Cities across the globe are moving quickly and ambitiously to reclaim hundreds of kilometres of streets from the car monopoly and reallocate these public commons to people walking, cycling and rolling. It‘s like seeing decades of activism happen in a month.”
“The Great Reclamation: I am losing track of the number of cities that have moved suddenly and ambitiously to reclaim hundreds of kilometres of streets from the car monopoly and reallocate these public commons for people walking, cycling and using wheelchairs.”
@modacity began with a family’s move in 2010, and was the impetus to educate people and cities about the inherent benefits of moving away from a car-centric transportation model, to a more inclusive one that is accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and economic means.”
“Using writing, photography, film, and the power of social media, we used this revelation to communicate a more human image of multi-modal transportation.”

“It is like watching decades of activism happen in a month. Like watching generations of ‘cycling and walking plans’ or ‘sustainable mobility plans’, which have always been aspirations, turn into facts (literally) overnight. 

It has taken a crisis that is new, sudden, total and full of unknowns to break, albeit briefly, the car monopoly on urban space which has been in place for 70-100 years in the rich West…”

Read the tweet here.

 

 

Life Now And after Lockdown – A Call To Action

We shouldn’t look forward to “back to normal”

From The Editor

Polli Schildge April 26th, 2020

Most of the world was experiencing an environmental and human health crisis before the onslaught of the Corona Virus. Vehicles were spewing pollution, and we were experiencing a human health catastrophe in crash deaths.  Air quality around the world has vastly improved with the reduction of driving, and the crash fatality rate has plummeted. (Unfortunately entitled drivers are currently speeding more.)

Taking glimpses of cities around the world: “The skies are clearing of pollution, wildlife is returning to newly clear waters”… But “how people react to the return of normalcy after the pandemic will help define the crises racking the environment… “A key question will be do we have a green recovery, do we seize the opportunity to create jobs in renewable energy and in making coastlines more resilient to climate change?”

We need to reduce the use of motorized vehicles, and reduce vehicle speeds to protect the environment and human life.  Milan, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, and Oakland, CA are beginning now and planning for the future, creating networks of bike lanes, and widening sidewalks to enable more walking.

The plan in Milan, Italy , which will “boldly and beneficially re-imagine our lives, landscapes, and future on the other side is hailed as an “excellent example of #buildbackbetter and activists like Greta Thunberg called for “crafting similar schemes for other major cities like New York, London, and beyond.”

The World Resources Institute cites cities like Bogota, Mexico City, London, Chicago, and Philadelphia which are opening streets to people for walking and biking, and planning permanent infrastructure. “Today’s COVID-19 lockdowns could reveal solutions that have far-reaching benefits for cities long into the future, pointing the way to more resilient, accessible and safe urban transport. A city with more cycling is a city with healthier people, safer streets, cleaner air and better connectivity.”

Asbury Park’s Plan for Walking and Biking, outlines incremental development of a network of bike lanes and walking infrastructure. There are discussions about future re-allocation of road space to provide for walking and biking, and to reduce traffic and parking problems. We believe that this is the perfect time to launch some of these plans and ideas. People are walking and biking more than ever now, and we’re demonstrating the need for more space. As the weather warms there will be more walkers and people biking, and our sidewalks are too narrow, and our streets are too accommodating for cars and trucks.  We can’t immediately build wider sidewalks, or instantaneously create bike infrastructure, but we can open streets to people, and reduce access to motor vehicles. Asbury Park can emulate other cities and countries where they have utilized tactical urbanism to quickly turn streets into places for people: New Zealand makes tactical urbanism a part of its national policy during the pandemic. 

 

This is a call to action. When the pandemic is over, will streets be even more clogged with cars, risking the lives of people walking and on bikes?  It doesn’t have to happen. We can start now to prioritize people, and not vehicles on our city streets. This article in The Atlantic sums it up. The Pandemic Shows What Cars Have Done to Cities.


New York City before the pandemic ERNST HAAS / GETTY

Let’s stay safe and healthy walking and riding bikes now, and let’s work to make streets safe for the most vulnerable users for after this terrible and challenging time has passed. We can learn from life during a pandemic, and work diligently to create a new normal.

 

 

 

 

Can We Opt Out Of Driving?

Can We Opt Out Of Driving?
Listen to Talking Headways or read the transcript: Laws Prioritizing Cars Over People.
 
Since the 40s suburban design has prioritized cars, and many have no option other than driving to get around. That was the plan. After WWll newly created suburban neighborhoods attracted young families where they’d need cars to do everything. And it’s not just residents of the suburbs who are tethered to their vehicles. We’ve all been brainwashed into believing that we need cars to get around, and it’s killing us. The road to big and lasting change is policy, and the will to make change. Meanwhile, let’s all make an effort to drive 10% less.

 

Check out the interview with Greg Shill –transcript with Jeff Wood at Streetsblog.

Listen to Talking Headways,  Episode 280: Laws Prioritizing Cars Over People

Greg Shill is at the top left corner of this cool montage featuring three costs of driving that we’re all stuck with, even if we don’t drive.

This week, we chat with University of Iowa Law Professor Greg Shill. In our broad-ranging conversation, Shill discuss his recent research on the normalization of motordom and how we can’t really opt out of it, the idea of automobile supremacy, the legal subsidies to driving and even the tax benefits associated with cars.

When asked “Can we opt out?” The reply was:

“You can’t opt out. Even if someone says — as many in the audience and among your listeners do — that they have sold their last car, they’re never gonna own a car again and they’re committed to walking, transit, biking, they can limit what they maybe contribute to this, but they can’t limit their own exposure to secondhand driving. You’re always at risk of being hit by a car or dying or you know, developing a condition based on car pollution that 95,000 people a year are killed by either crashes or pollution and many, many more develop or have respiratory and other health issues or have those issues aggregated at the population level by vehicular emissions.
So, you know, I’m all for people doing the best they can, but I think we also need to be realistic that this is a collective action problem and true change will come from coordinated policy.”

Read and listen:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/04/16/talking-headways-podcast-laws-prioritize-cars-over-people/

The World Without Cars – Let’s Keep It This Way

Do we really want to go “back to normal”?  Every city in America struggles with parking issues and traffic congestion. But now, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, streets are free of traffic and air is remarkably cleaner. Let’s learn from this.  We can seriously consider who needs to drive in our city – do we really need to allow large delivery trucks on Main Street and Cookman?  The proposed parking garage should ease parking issues to a degree, and we’ve been discussing car-free zones, a network of connected bike lanes, and restricting deliveries to small vehicles and cargo bikes.

A quote from the article could easily describe Asbury Park or any city, “The same way we will have to reimagine so many elements in our city, we must do the same with our streets,” said Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group. “We can’t go back to streets that are littered with traffic and parking.”

The downside of open roads is that driver entitlement is more evident in an increase of speeding.

N.Y.’s Changed Streets: In One Spot, Traffic Speeds Are Up 288%

Faster buses. Plentiful parking. Cleaner air. A shift in habits offers a glimpse of what the city could be like without so much congestion.

 

Read about it:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-empty-streets.html

The Big Picture : We Can’t Afford Car Domination

We’re drowning in asphalt.

It’s become obvious with the thousands of miles of empty roads and highways during the COVID-19 outbreak. We need to rethink the way we get people around.

The nation is criss-crossed with roads that we can’t maintain. “…highways just don’t make financial sense. And not just in the age of COVID-19, when almost no one is driving if they don’t absolutely have to. It’s true all the time — even when our economy is at its peak.”

This article is about federal dollars and highways, but the story is the same for states, cities, and local roads. We need to rethink about the way people can get around without cars. “Highways get 67 percent of total transportation dollars, and are already deeply subsidized by the federal government (but operating budgets and maintenance are left to the states, which is a little like giving someone a puppy that they can’t afford to feed.)”

 We Could Never Afford America’s Highways — Even Before COVID-19

We’ve never been able to afford our car-dominated roads. Coronavirus just reveals how bad the situation has always been.

To put it bluntly, in the nearly 70 years since the Federal Highway Act of 1956 gave states a 90-percent discount on a brand new freeway systems of their very ownno state has ever found a reliable way to maintain all that asphalt without extensive federal assistance. We have 50 distinct road-funding structures across 50 states, and no one has found the magic amount to charge for gas taxes, DMV fees and sales taxes to make the math work and subtract from the $786-billion highway maintenance backlog. Highways are always “crumbling.” Car-focused road infrastructure always needs more money. Politicians are eternally showing up at ribbon-cuttings for new highways, then quickly realize that they can’t maintain the roadways they just opened.

Read all about it:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/04/13/we-could-never-afford-americas-highways-even-before-covid-19/

The Social Distancing Machine – Music Video!

A Toronto man made a “Social Distancing Machine” and created a video with an awesome soundtrack. He walked around the city to show that sidewalks are too narrow, particularly when people are being asked to physically distance amid the coronavirus pandemic.  The only safe place to walk is in the street.

Coronavirus: Man wears ‘social distancing machine’ to show Toronto sidewalks are ‘too narrow’

“We wanted to demonstrate the absurdity of trying to do anything safely — this isn’t even about gathering, this is just about going to get your groceries. You can’t do that while maintaining six feet or you put yourself in danger by stepping into live traffic.”
Read more about it and watch:

https://globalnews.ca/news/6812047/coronavirus-toronto-social-distancing-machine/

How Do We Think About Bikes Now?

LET’S CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER

Stop shaming people riding bikes.

Cars are killing us.  

Stop shaming people running/jogging.

The reduction of driving is at least temporarily clearing the air we breathe.

The enemy is not each other.

It’s the virus.

And cars.

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COVID-19 may change the way people think about bikes

 April 6, 2020

In fact, everything about the way people on bikes are treated in North America is absurd. Right now there are so many people competing for sidewalk space that some cities are converting the almost empty traffic lanes to create more space for bikes, runners and pedestrians. It’s got to the point where people have stopped complaining about cyclists and are complaining about runners instead, which is a nice change. It really is time for a reallocation of road space to give more room for people who walk, and a safe, separated space for people who ride bikes or use other micromobility platforms. It’s also time to recognize how useful and important bikes can be in a crisis like this.

Read more:

https://www.treehugger.com/bikes/covid-19-may-change-way-people-think-about-bikes.html