What is a Slow Street? NJDOT Doesn’t Get It.

NJDOT ignores need for social distancing, favoring 1950’s era policy

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition has joined with NJ Bike & Walk Coalition and The Bicycle Coalition Of Greater Philadelphia, and advocates in other communities to sign a letter to tell Governor Murphy:

Allow Slow Streets for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety.

 

Asbury Park rolled out our Slow Streets plan quickly in an effort to enable people to walk, ride bikes, and move about in the city safely during the pandemic. It was a fast, but not so well-communicated effort. An explanation of Slow Streets was included at the end of the ReOPEN Asbury Park pilot for community and business recovery in June. It was disbanded in July.
Some businesses and residents didn’t understand it, and some were not fully invested in the idea. People driving into the city to do business were confused.
Plastic road barriers were utilized, and no actual signage to explain their meaning.
Slow Streets and Open Streets are intended to be welcoming to people, improve business, (not just during a pandemic but ALWAYS), and enable people to utilize city streets safely, without danger from motor vehicles. In almost every scenario all over the world Slow Streets  improve cities, by making livable streets, and improve businesses by creating walkable neighborhoods. It didn’t quite happen that way in AP,  so our Slow Streets were put on hold.
But NOW, even if AP were to re-evaluate and desire to reinstate our Slow Streets initiative, there is an effort on the part of NJDOT to shut down ALL Slow Streets in NJ based upon a 1955 AG formal opinion. Read on…
During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey residents are increasingly accessing the streets as a means to safely get out of the house and exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. In urban neighborhoods bicycling and walking have been seen as viable alternatives to short transit trips.
But our roads are not safe for vulnerable road users — this year, while overall traffic fatalities are down slightly in New Jersey, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are up and now represent 40% of all traffic deaths. In our urban areas sidewalks are too crowded for safe social distancing.
That’s why we are calling upon the Governor issue an executive order to allow communities to designate slow streets. Slow streets are designated to alert motorists that they are sharing the road space with cyclists, pedestrians, and children.
Read and sign the letter to NJ Governor Murphy.
If Governor Murphy responds and DOT reverses this decision, Hopefully AP will reinstate the Slow Streets program with community input and creative communication.
Examples of welcoming Slow Streets signage:

Do It In The Road: Asbury Park ReOPEN and Slow Streets Pilots

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 CATXKY, OHMA, 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.

WESTWORDS

TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2020

Asbury Park Says Be All You Can Be

ReOpen Asbury Park: Cookman Ave Business District.

Restaurant seating set up on the street.

 

A “Streaterie”, in this case resembling a Parklet

 

Businesses selling wares on the street.

The Book Co-Op set up on the sidewalk for passersby to browse.

 

 

 

 

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

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.

 

 

 

 

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/

 

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