Strolling around Rockefeller Plaza is a pleasure for visitors this Christmas season. NYC went through the expected bureaucratic machinations, but finally did it. Streets are walkable, and cars are marginalized (at least temporarily), and even the naysayers have changed their tune, enjoying the friendliness and lack of traffic congestion. Cities all over the world are re-imagining their relationship with cars and re-designing for people. We can begin to see this becoming a reality in Asbury Park. Onward, looking forward to a people-centered city. Happy 2020 and beyond!
“Less is more, regarding traffic,” said Joe Friedman, a Connecticut resident who commutes to Rockefeller Center for his job in television production as he took a break on 49th Street. “There’s usually much more congestion and you’re fighting for space all the time.”
On the ground, the pilot program was, unsurprisingly, a huge hit with the people walking in the middle of the street. “We’re from Oklahoma, and this is great!”, one of the tourists told Gothamist. “I hope they do this with more streets,” said an Upper West Side woman out shopping with her daughter. “It’s so nice to have to have some space, and not have to worry about cars.” Even the one guy I found who may have had a legitimate reason to be irritated by the change, a Baldor’s driver on delivery who had to park his truck two blocks away and hand truck his produce in instead of pulling into the Rock Center garage, was not at all annoyed. “Look at all the happy people,” he told me. “Taking pictures, holding hands… it’s beautiful.”
The bottom line is that we ALL need to drive less. Fuel efficient cars will never be enough. The federal government is buying into the hype that we need more and bigger highways to move more vehicles. The advertising biz is in on the plan too, encouraging us to buy cars that establish our identity, that make us feel powerful, sexy, and even environmentally conscious. The influence is coming from the industry of course, with the constant goal of selling more cars, whether gasoline powered or electric. The recent introduction of electric cars to Asbury Park is to make it possible to live car-free, but still be able to access a vehicle when necessary. Reduce use, and reduce congestion and the use of fossil fuels. That’s the idea Asbury Park!
“Improvements in vehicle efficiency and vehicle electrification are being undermined by the way we design and spend money on our roadways. New highways, roads, and lanes induce more driving (Vehicle Miles Travleled, or VMT), which leads to more emissions and ultimately more congestion. This is called “induced demand.” In fact, driving increases in exact proportion with lane-mileage—a 10% increase in lane miles will lead to a 10% increase in driving.
Though building more highways increases emissions, federal transportation spending actually encourages more driving and undermines limited investments in biking, walking, and transit.”
Electric cars won’t save the planet without a clean energy overhaul – they could increase pollution
“EVs have great potential to reduce pollution and give people a more sustainable way to get around – but electricity production must also be clean. It’s not wise to rely completely on scarce natural elements required for producing EVs and alternatives have to be explored. More recycling plants are needed to make the most out of rare elements and governments need to explore ways to ensure a smooth transition to cleaner transportation.”
Asbury Park is joining cities around the world which are increasingly piloting and implementing new mobility strategies to reduce vehicle congestion and curb carbon emissions. Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition advocates for “improved mobility, equitable access and reduced car dependence in communities everywhere.”
Streets for All Coalition unveiled to advocate for safe, clean mobility
March 12, 2019
During a featured South by Southwest (SXSW) session dubbed “The Future of Transportation,” panelists unveiled the Streets for All Coalition, a group intended to advocate for “improved mobility, equitable access and reduced car dependence in communities everywhere.” Read more…
We’re still in thrall of our cars – at least older drivers are, and traffic congestion is the result. It was initially thought that ride-shares would be a solution, but for now ride-shares are not helping to ease congestion. In fact they’re adding to it, as more cars enter cities, and drivers cruise around waiting for calls. So congestion and the parking problem remain…for now. It seems as though it may change as fewer young people opt to buy cars – to protect the environment, save the cost of maintenance, fuel, and insurance … and the expense and frustration of car storage=parking. Some cities are responding in an old-school way to traffic congestion and lack of parking by striving to add parking and build garages. But younger people may turn the tide as they are opting for alternative transportation and mass transit. “Indeed, in the U.S. people under 30 are more than seven-times more likely to take public transportation than those over 60 years of age. Furthermore, over the past three decades, the percentage of younger people who apply for a driver’s license has dropped nearly 20 percent, according to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Institute.”
Smart city planners are rethinking parking by getting rid of it
Joni Mitchell sang, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” But could parking lots soon become extinct, with the lost paradise making a return?
As cities get smarter and mobility solutions and consumer habits change, more urban planners are eschewing the construction of public parking garages — or changing how they conceive of them altogether.
This article will help Asbury Park drivers, residents, business owners, and visitors understand the causes of congestion, and to envision how the the road diet on Main Street will work especially well due to our grid design (along with reduced speed limits) to calm traffic.
The Neighborhood Traffic Trade-Off
by Daniel Herriges
People like to blame traffic on one simple, but logical, cause: there are “too many cars” on the road. Opponents of new development, in particular, cite traffic more often than any other issue as a reason for their opposition. And in most places you’ll find a widespread consensus that traffic on residential streets is particularly objectionable. It introduces noise and pollution, and most importantly, it poses a safety hazard. Keep through traffic to major thoroughfares and off side streets, goes the logic. Development approvals, especially for retail businesses, often even come with stipulations about closing access points to ensure that neighborhood streets aren’t affected by those coming and going.
Cities are at peak car. Traffic congestion and crashes are a constant issue. It’s been shown over and over that adding bike lanes (and walking infrastructure) is a cheap and easy fix in large cities like Toronto, and in small cities it’s even easier. Let’s commit to bike infrastructure. We’ll patiently wait for naysayers and car addicts to calm down as traffic eases and crashes are reduced.
Bike lanes prove that transportation solutions can be cheap and effective
Learn about Vision Zero from Jerry Foster of Greater Mercer TMA in an article discussing the meaning of VZ as it relates to safer streets in Princeton and in NJ. Aren’t streets and roads designed for safety…or are they primarily designed to expedite cars?
Vision Zero: A Comprehensive Re-Thinking of Road Safety
At the local level some safety advocates have recognized the urgency of the situation (National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study showing an increase in pedestrian deaths), and are taking up the cause. Below, Jerry Foster of the West Windsor Bicycle & Pedestrian Alliance outlines Vision Zero, a safety plan that has been effective in other countries that activists are trying to bring to New Jersey.
What Is Vision Zero?
It’s not just another blame-the-victim (and enforcement) safety campaign! Vision Zero is a comprehensive re-thinking of road safety that brings everyone to the table to systematically prevent crashes and reduce crash severity — just like airline and railroad crashes.