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.
Drivers in the US are attracted to huge SUVs and trucks party because fuel prices are so low, and mostly as a result of the brainwashing effect of the automotive industry advertising the feeling of personal empowerment and freedom. The industry has slowed or stopped production of less-profitable sedans and focused on bigger vehicles with higher margins, so they sell the truck drug to willing consumers. This article from 2005 from The University of Rochester describes ads for SUVs and trucks triggering an emotional response with the promise of liberation and freedom. The names of vehicles like Ford’s Discovery and Freelander, Subaru’s Forester and Outback, Ford’s Excursion, Expedition and Escape evoke the All-American love of wilderness and exploration. The names of these giant vehicles conjure up the great American outdoors, while disregarding the negative environmental impact, as described in 2006 in this article from The University of Colorado Center Science and Policy.
The SUV Durango Hellcat is marketed in this ad, driving on a completely empty road in the middle of nowhere, as a “family” SUV (a family vehicle named Hellcat??), with top speed of 180 mph and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. The reality is that these are death vehicles operating in our cities and suburbs.
Tall front grills will more likely kill a pedestrian by striking at chest level, or crushing an unseen child, than a sedan, which would strike at leg level.
As a result of these statistics, citing “U.S. vehicle safety standards are much lower than those permitted for vehicles sold in the U.K.”, experts in the United Kingdom are urging their government to ban import of American-made SUVs.
The UK is considering banning American SUVs and Trucks deeming them too dangerous,. Will the US follow suit and eliminate them from American streets? Doubt it.
Everyone deserves to have safe streets to access work, businesses, and recreation, especially now when we need more space to move about our cities with appropriate social distance without risk of vehicular traffic.
Asbury Park ReOPEN, a pilot which currently runs Thursdays through Monday mornings, is helping businesses to generate revenue with restriction of capacity, mask requirements, distancing, and limited hours. Separately, “Slow Streets” will be set up on various streets in the city, where vehicular traffic will be limited to local only, allowing residents to move about safely on the street playing, bicycling, walking, and rolling without risk from cars and trucks.
Many cities across the US and the world have implemented these measures, including in CA, TX, KY, OH, MA, and many more. Jersey City’s Slow Streets pilot program is 24/7, described here:
Due to the Covid-19 safety measures, the City of Jersey City is working to provide residents additional open space that supports safe physical activity by designating certain streets throughout the City as “Slow Streets”. These streets will be closed to through traffic so that people can more comfortably use them for physically distant walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging, biking and exercising all across the City.
Enjoy the following blog post and photos from a visitor to Asbury Park’s Business District.
Stay tuned for continued adaptations to the program in neighborhoods all over the city, and upcoming implementation and photos from Slow Streets in Asbury Park. We welcome your thoughts and constructive comments.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition supports a reallocation of police resources, specifically of traffic enforcement, and also in calls involving mental illness, homelessness, and other non-criminal issues where other professionals can be of much more effective service. Since the early 1920’s the often violent consequences of policing traffic has been borne mostly by people of color. You’ll read below how our roads have become over policed, and how Berkeley, California is “de-copping” traffic enforcement.
To fully understand the history of the policing of American roads, take a listen to this great War On Cars Podcast:
“For a century, the automobile has been sold to Americans as the ultimate freedom machine. In her groundbreaking new book, “Policing the Open Road,” historian and legal scholar Sarah Seo explodes that myth. Seo shows how modern policing evolved in lockstep with the development of the car. And that rather than giving Americans greater freedom, the massive body of traffic law required to facilitate mass motoring helped to establish a kind of automotive police state. Is a car a private, personal space deserving Fourth Amendment protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures?” Or is a car something else entirely? It’s a question that courts have struggled with for decades, ultimately leaving it up to the police to use their own discretion, often with horrifying results, especially for minorities. In this revelatory conversation with TWOC co-host Aaron Naparstek, Seo offers an entirely new way of looking at the impact of the automobile on American life, law and culture.”
“The overpolicing of cars is a fact of life for people of color in the United States.”
“In their book In Context: Understanding Police Killings of Unarmed Citizens, scholars Nick Selby, Ben Singleton, and Ed Flosi concluded, “No form of direct government control comes close to [traffic] stops in sheer numbers, frequency, proportion of the population affected, and in many instances, the degree of coercive intrusion.”
To learn about Berkeley, CA becoming the “first in the United States to take police officers out of traffic enforcement, read this Streetsblog USA article:
This NYTIMES article, filled with great graphics and data has evoked many responses from readers, and inspired other opinion pieces like this from StreetsBlog.
What are your thoughts about minimizing or eliminating automobiles in Asbury Park? How do you envision our city in 2 years, 5 years, or 10? We know that real estate has been strong, even during the pandemic, and gradually we will see more condos built on iStar’s lots, meaning more people, and undoubtedly more cars, unless we start now to mitigate car use and parking availability. Within the past couple of weeks traffic we’ve seen traffic escalate back to pre pandemic congestion in the business district and waterfront. Drivers are speeding in every neighborhood in the city.
APCSC believes in a walkable, bikeable, livable Asbury Park where everyone, especially the most vulnerable can access every part of the city without the dangers associated with motor vehicles.
“Automobiles are not just dangerous and bad for the environment; they are also profoundly wasteful of the land around us, taking up way too much physical space to transport too few people. It’s geometry.
It’s a critical time to address how bicycling and biking infrastructure impact People Of Color in Asbury Park. Everyone deserves safe access through neighborhoods, and many people in the city ride bikes and walk as their main ways of getting around. So while we need to continue to create safe ways for people to move about the city, we also need to address the fear that the correlation of bike lanes and gentrification will lead to displacement . The city is currently following the Plan for Walking and Biking, created in 2018, gradually adding bike lanes, sidewalks, and intersection bump outs, and it is critical that we engage now and listen to how this infrastructure affects People Of Color in our city, and seek to mitigate negative impacts.
While we continue to advocate for biking, and we’re putting in bicycle lanes and other infrastructure to make Asbury Park a more vibrant and livable city, we may have also played an unwitting role in the gentrification of our city. Listen to the excellent interview with Stehlin here.