APCSC Signed Letter: “America’s Transportation System Is In Crisis”

APCSC is proud to be a signatory on the letter sent to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Leader Schumer:  “We write because America’s transportation system is in a crisis…”

“The point of transportation is to get people where they need to go, meaning we should prioritize infrastructure and transportation projects that connect people to jobs and services. Since the dawn of the modern highway era, we have used vehicle speed as a poor proxy for access to jobs and important services like healthcare, education, public services, and grocery stores. The way we build roads and design communities to achieve high vehicle speed often requires longer trips and makes shorter walking, bicycling, or transit trips unsafe, unpleasant, or impossible. New data can help to address decades of disinvestment which have disconnected communities and worsened economic outcomes.”

Hundreds tell Congress that we need a new framework for transportation

14 Apr 2020

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to shift the political landscape, 293 elected officials and organizations from 45 states signed Transportation for America’s letter urging Congress to reform the federal transportation program in the upcoming reauthorization. Because rethinking transportation policy matters now more than ever.

 

When Transportation for America first wrote this letter advocating for groundbreaking changes in the upcoming federal transportation reauthorization, COVID-19 had yet to radically alter our everyday lives. But as the effects of the virus grew more and more dire, we’ve realized that establishing a new framework for U.S. transportation policy matters more now than ever.

We’re not alone: 293 elected officials and organizations from 45 states signed this letter, with many signatories joining as the coronavirus accelerated. While focused on reauthorization, adopting the reforms in this letter is necessary for Congress to guarantee that any future COVID-19 stimulus substantially improves American lives—not just pump more money into a broken highway program that fails to create new jobs.

Read more here:

http://t4america.org/2020/04/14/hundreds-tell-congress-that-we-need-a-new-framework-for-transportation/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+transportationforamerica+%28Transportation+For+America+%28All%29%29

Polli Schildge, Founding Member
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition
(APCSC)

Cars Gone – Air Pollution Drops Globally

Take a look at these photos of the astonishing improvements in air quality in cities all over the world. But what will happen when the COVID-19 pandemic is over? Some politicians are trumpeting that the goal is to “get back to normal”. But not if normal means that people are dying due to poor air quality. The EPA just declined to change air quality standards despite health risks, so when companies are back in production and and cars again choke our roads, is “normal” the goal we want to strive for?  Automotive traffic is responsible for most air pollution. After the pandemic will cities have the will to make changes to provide for alternative transportation, improved transit, wider sidewalks for pedestrians, and infrastructure for micro-mobility?

‘It’s positively alpine!’: Disbelief in big cities as air pollution falls

It is the absence of cars on some of the world’s most congested roads that seems to be making the most crucial differences.

BUT-

Indeed, the fear among environmentalists and residents is that, rather than attempting to maintain the low levels of pollution in the world’s biggest capitals, when industry and cars kick back into action post-lockdown, the situation will go back to square one, and perhaps even worsen, as people and industry attempt to make up for the lost months.

While India’s powerful car lobby has long disputed that cars are a major cause of Delhi’s pollution, Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment, said the lockdown and resulting rapid drop in pollution showed once and for all just what a polluting role vehicles had in the city.

Read it:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/11/positively-alpine-disbelief-air-pollution-falls-lockdown-coronavirus

Let’s Close Some Streets To Cars And Allow More Space For People

There’s less traffic everywhere in the world right now. More people are staying close to home, and many are walking and riding bikes. At the same time drivers are speeding more. Maybe it’s an increased sense of driver entitlement with more open roads, or the knowledge that police are less likely to engage with speeders, and in some cities even refusing to respond to calls for non-injury crashes, all making streets even more dangerous.

As always, but especially now we need to be more aware of the most vulnerable moving about in our cities: people walking, biking, and using other forms of micro-transit.  To maintain 6′ distance during the viral outbreak, people walking must move off too-narrow sidewalks into the street. Those who ride bikes must also maintain 6′ distance.  But bike riders fearful of speeding and distracted drivers may feel safer on sidewalks, even if there are bike lanes. Paint doesn’t protect.

The problem isn’t walkers or people on bikes. It’s #toomanycars, and #slowthecars.

Let’s consider closing some Asbury Park streets to automotive traffic to allow more space for people.  If we envision the successful street closures during the Sea. Hear. Now Festival, we can see that Ocean Avenue could  be closed to cars, at least temporarily while the boardwalk is closed (and probably soon the beach).  Cookman Avenue would make a great walking plaza, especially now while businesses are mostly closed, and maybe it could remain permanently a place for people.  It’s becoming evident all over the world that cities are more vibrant where there are fewer cars. This would be a great time to try it out.

How to Open Streets Right During Social Distancing

“The first place we should start, the advocates we spoke to argued, is with closing off as many streets as possible that run through our parks to motor vehicles — not just a handful of them, as may cities are doing now. And it’d be even better to close off roads adjacent to parks, too: Mike Lydon and Tony Garcia, tactical urbanism superstars and co-principals of Street Plans, offered particular applause to Minneapolis’ decision to allow limited road closures near its river front.

Next stop: the cul-de-sacs. Streets that are already pretty quiet have absolutely no reason to allow non-resident traffic right now, when the risk of killing new crowds of of walker vastly outweighs the risk of holding up a traffic pattern that has largely come to a standstill. And that goes for through-streets that don’t connect major essential services, too.

Third stop: those small, walkable shopping districts where all the businesses are closed anyway. Jason Roberts of Better Block thinks it’s particularly important to give residents safe, contactless access to window shopping, street vendors, and even shuttered restaurants, which can be converted into open-air markets through Better Block’s free downloadable shelf plans.”

Read all about it:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/04/08/how-to-open-streets-right-during-social-distancing/

No Comparison Between Covid-19 And Traffic Deaths

Almost 40,000 traffic fatalities each year is an ongoing, catastrophic national health issue.  This week President Trump made the comparison between vehicular crash fatalities and the Corona Virus, asserting that traffic deaths are the cost of keeping the economy alive.
The president isn’t the only one making this comparison. Other legislators and administrators as well as news outlets have continued this false narrative.

Trump Says COVID-19 Deaths May Be the Price We Pay For A Strong Economy — Just Like Traffic Deaths

Deadly car crashes are not the price we must pay to sustain our civilization. Neither are coronavirus deaths.

“Trump’s comment followed an equally jaw-droppingly callous statement by Wisconsin Senator and Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson a week earlier.”

“We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways,” told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 18 in a discussion about the impact of coronavirus on the national economy. “It’s a risk we accept so we can move about.”

Read the article:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/03/24/trump-says-covid-19-deaths-may-be-the-price-pay-for-a-strong-economy-just-like-traffic-deaths/

 

Dangerous By Design Letter: Health And Safety Risk On Memorial Drive

While we are listening intently to news about containing the Covid-9 virus, and trying to stay safe and healthy, there is an ongoing problem with a local county road which needs to be addressed as a serious health and safety issue.
This story about Good Samaritans in the Asbury Park Press on March 18th needs to bring focus to the deadly Monmouth County Rt 40A, Memorial Drive, which is dangerous by design.
Please read the letter dated today, March 25th, 2020 to the Asbury Park Press from Kenny Sorenson, resident of Neptune City, bike/walk advocate, father, grandfather, aka musician, “Stringbean”:
 
Dear Austin,
 In response to your brief article about another bicyclist run over by an S.U.V. on Rt. 35 in Neptune, I would like to suggest that you further investigate the plight of bicycle riders and pedestrians in Asbury Park and Neptune.
 
While A.P. has recently made safety improvements with bike lanes and a Main St. “road diet”, Neptune lags far behind. The danger to vulnerable road users is both a public health and a social justice issue.
 
Please consider contacting the people involved with the grassroots organization known as “Asbury Park Complete Streets”. They, along with Asbury’s transportation director, have made great strides in pedestrian and bike access and safety. Contrast that with the failures of Neptune and Neptune City.
 
A road like Memorial Drive, that is maintained by Monmouth County is dangerous by design. It functions as a kind of “mote” to keep undesirables on foot, namely people without cars who live in Neptune, from entering the exclusive shore communities of Avon-by-the-Sea and Bradley Beach.
 
The Asbury Park Press is a car culture newspaper with aa suburban bias. You Mr. Austin have a unique opportunity to change that.
 
Please feel free to call me. I would also be happy to take a walk or ride a bike with you when we are free to do so.
 
Sincerely,
Ken Sorensen
Neptune City

Slower Speed Limits Will Help Stop Corona Virus

With a concern for overcrowding in hospitals, Italy and Spain have, as of March 16th, banned cycling in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Health authorities there are urging cyclists not to ride because of the risk of being injured on the road and putting additional stress on an already over-burdened healthcare system.  This is a backward approach.  The real danger is speeding motor vehicles. Cars, particularly speeding cars killed over 40,000 people in the US last year. Each year, 1.35 million people are killed on roadways around the world.  Driving a motorized vehicle is far more dangerous than riding a bike, so let’s #slowthecars so we can ride safely, now – and always.

Let’s encourage people to ride bikes as the healthiest way to get around.  We need to limit speeds for motorists to make roads safe for people riding bikes and walking. #20isplenty

Lowering Speed Limits Will Help Stop COVID-19

The last thing our hospitals need right now is more car crash injuries.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/03/16/lowering-speed-limits-will-help-stop-covid-19/

Encourage Bike Riding During The Covid-19 Crisis

Thankfully Asbury Park residents don’t need to use public transport to get around. Because it’s only 1.4 miles sq, we can bike, scooter or walk almost anywhere. Surprisingly, Italy and Spain have banned cycling during the coronavirus crisis, even though they have well-developed bike infrastructure. It’s counter-intuitive to ban bikes – drivers of motor vehicles are responsible for 1.3 million deaths a year. During the viral pandemic there are fewer drivers, but riding a bike is safer than driving a motorized vehicle. So especially now, it should be made easier to ride bikes. “The Colombian capital, Bogotá, has begun to do this.”  Besides avoiding crowded mass transit, the benefits of outdoor exercise to physical and mental health are well-documented.
The logic for these bicycling bans is to avoid the strain on health services in case a cyclist is injured and needs to be hospitalized, but this “approaches the issue from the wrong way”. Cycling is inherently safe, and the “the danger is almost all external” – from drivers of motor vehicles. If the intention really is to prevent bicyclist injuries and fatalities, then the best way would be to reduce speed limits.

So let’s encourage bicycling, especially now.

Why not encourage cycling during the coronavirus lockdown?

Bikes allows people to maintain isolation but provide important respite from being indoors

Cycling for everyday transport has not so far been restricted outside places which have imposed hugely draconian containment measures, like China. While Italy and Spain have placed temporary bans on leisure cycling, riding a bike for permitted everyday travel is officially allowed, albeit with reports of some over-zealous police enforcement.

On Thursday, the chief executive of British Cycling, Julie Harrington, wrote to the health secretary, Matt Hancock, urging ministers to add cycling to their list of recommended activities during the outbreak.

Earlier this week, a group of nearly 50 academics and experts on public health and transport wrote an open letter to the government, urging ministers to not discourage walking and cycling amid the pandemic, noting their vital importance in the wider public health issue of combating inactivity.

Read about it~

Let’s encourage bicycling now.

Less Driving During the Pandemic Has Had A Dramatic Effect On Air Pollution

After the Covid-19 pandemic is over will Americans will acknowledge that fewer motorized vehicles on the road had a great effect on the environment and human health?  Will we change behaviors and opt to drive smaller vehicles, and drive less?  It remains to be seen, but “… these preliminary numbers demonstrate that this global health disaster is an opportunity to assess – which aspects of modern life are absolutely necessary, and what positive changes might be possible if we change our habits on a global scale.”

Using the Tropomi instrument on the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, images taken from 1 January to 11 March 2020 showed nitrogen dioxide dropping dramatically. See the amazing video.

New Evidence Shows How COVID-19 Has Affected Global Air Pollution

JACINTA BOWLER 17 MARCH 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is getting more overwhelming by the day, with increasing lockdowns, a death toll of more than 7,000 people across the world, and a direct hit to the global economy.

But if there’s a sliver of good news, it’s about how the spread of the new coronavirus has been decreasing air pollution, and possibly even saving lives in the process.

Back on March 8, Stanford University environmental resource economist Marshall Burke did some back-of-the-envelope calculations about the recent air pollution drop over parts of China and potential lives saved, posting it on a global food, environment and economic dynamics blog, G-FEED.

The situation has continued to unfold since then, so those numbers won’t stay current for long; but according to Burke, even conservatively, it’s very likely that the lives saved locally from the reduction in pollution exceed COVID-19 deaths in China.

“Given the huge amount of evidence that breathing dirty air contributes heavily to premature mortality, a natural – if admittedly strange – question is whether the lives saved from this reduction in pollution caused by economic disruption from COVID-19 exceeds the death toll from the virus itself,” Burke writes.

“Even under very conservative assumptions, I think the answer is a clear ‘yes’.”

Read about it:

https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-pollution-levels

Open Streets RIGHT NOW

We’ve been urging people to get out of their cars for years. Right now when our physical, emotional, and mental health are at risk it would be a great time to consider opening streets to walkers, bicycle riders, and any other modes of transportation that would enable people to get around and get fresh air and exercise.  We can walk, jog, roll around our towns with 6′ between us, smile and wave, and remain a community.  We can prioritize people over cars right now.  **This photo is of a dead bollard at the corner in front of my house. It’s an intersection that kids use every everyday for school, and now for breakfast and lunch. Someone ran over it, then later another driver ran over it again and dragged it down the block. Let’s make streets for people NOW.

Guest opinion: We should open up neighborhood streets for social distancing

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 16th, 2020

**This article is by Sam Balto, a Weston Award Winner and Physical Education teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in north Portland. We last heard from him when he launched a guerrilla safety campaign using red cups to protect bike lanes.**

During our time of social isolation, our community still needs physical activity and fresh air. Our network of neighborhood greenways should be carfree while we are in a State of Emergency. This would allow for ample open space for people not using cars. People could enjoy safe social distancing without the threat of being run over by drivers.

Read about it:

Guest opinion: We should open up neighborhood streets for social distancing

Green Transportation Not Just For St. Patrick’s Day

You’ve read it here again and again: almost 40,000 Americans died in automobile-related crashes last year.  Injuries from crashes are a national health crisis, as well as illnesses related to pollution and obesity.  We’re spending more time than ever in our cars because our roads have been designed to prioritize driving above any other mode of transportation. Many are carrying unsustainable debt for their vehicles, not to mention the cost of insurance, fuel, and car storage (aka parking). It doesn’t have to be this way.

THE GREEN NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORTATION IS HERE.

And polling shows that Americans want it, too

A GREEN NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORTATION

Polling shows that Americans want more options than just driving. The Green New Deal for Transportation can get us there.

In February 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Senator Ed Markey introduced the Green New Deal to Congress, momentous legislation that, if passed, would set goals for future climate lawmaking. But the bill had one glaring omission: it was “devoid of the bold reimagining of federal transportation spending which encourages more roads, more driving, more sprawl, and more emissions,” as T4America director Beth Osborne wrote at the time.  

Download the report here:

A GREEN NEW DEAL FOR CITY AND SUBURBAN TRANSPORTATION

A preview of the report:

The overwhelming majority of federal transportation spending is allocated for roads, leaving limited funds available for more sustainable modes like transit, walking, and biking. As a result, fewer than 10% of Americans currently live within walking distance of frequent transit. The collective “sidewalk gap” in U.S. cities easily adds up to tens of billions of dollars, and the Americans with Disabilities Act mandate to make streets accessible remains unfunded, leaving too many people isolated in their homes. Our roadways are designed to move vehicles at the highest speeds possible, with devastating consequences. More than 35,000 Americans die in automobile-related accidents every year, and pedestrian fatalities have increased by 35 percent
in the past decade. Americans are spending longer than ever in their cars – and taking on unsustainable levels of debt to pay for those cars. These realities are treated as a necessary part of the American transportation system, but it doesn’t have to be this way.