Goodbye 2020

There are no easy ways to describe 2020 as it comes to a close. In the past weeks writers have been philosophizing,  analyzing, probing for meaning and grasping for lessons going forward. In Asbury Park we can learn from the mistakes made during these months during the pandemic. We’ve had false starts, beginning with rolling out a neighborhood Slow Streets program without enough community input, and quickly dismantling it. We made the great step of prioritizing people by implementing an Open Streets plan on Cookman Ave (with the hope of making it permanent), allowing foot traffic, outdoor dining and retail on the street between Thursdays and Monday mornings. Then a we sent a conflicting message that cars rule, advertising free holiday parking and welcoming drivers back.  Asbury Park social justice advocates are working to limit police interaction in mental health calls and traffic enforcement. And Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is continually working with city leaders to make city streets safer and more livable, especially for the most vulnerable. None of it will be easy, and we are grateful for community support.

Onward to 2021.

Goodbye to 2020, a Truly Unimaginable Year for Sustainable Transportation

Black Lives Matter Plaza, created by the Government of the District of Columbia, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Photo: Ted Eytan via Creative Commons

Let’s pause for a second and imagine that we could go back in time to Dec. 31, 2019, and tell sustainable transportation advocates what this year held in store for our movement.

Imagine how those hypothetical advocates would react if you told them that, within a few months, roughly two-thirds of all car traffic would abruptly vanish from U.S. streets.

Imagine what our former selves would say you if you told them that such a rapture would prompt countless cities across the country to transform roadways that used to be dedicated exclusively to private vehicles into places to play, move, eat, shop, learn, and more.

Then imagine their faces if you told them that countless other cities would do nothing at all, even as those wide-empty streets encouraged the drivers who remained to speed out of control — forcing per-mile car crash rates to a terrifying, 15-year high.

Read this great article:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/12/30/goodbye-to-2020-a-truly-unimaginable-year-for-sustainable-transportation/

Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America

For those concerned about making streets safe for the most vulnerable in our Asbury Park community, we recommend the book, Right Of Way, by Angie Schmitt, and the webinar hosted by Charles T. Brown: Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America.

The facts and data presented in the webinar are illuminating and disturbing. Pedestrian deaths are not accidents, nor are they random, but they are a part of a systemic problem, with systemic causes. We have a car-oriented culture by design on the part of the automotive industry. There is a need for engineers (and there are some) to step up to acknowledge that 6000 deaths a year of people walking in the US is unacceptable. Black and brown people are the most common victims of pedestrian crashes.

Asbury Park is a small city with a lot of automotive traffic, and a high percentage of residents under the “poverty line”. Traffic is moving at unsafe speeds most of the time throughout the city. We need to reduce speeds by building infrastructure that prioritizes people walking and micro-mobility.  While we don’t advocate for enforcement by police, we do advocate lowering speed limits, and monitoring with speed cameras. #20isplenty.

There is a need for engineering, education, and enforcement – not by police – to keep streets safe for the most vulnerable road users, many of whom are Black and other people of color, and many of those are poor and must walk or ride bikes for transportation.

This website and blog are intended to be an educational tool for the community. We hope that supporters of Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition will share the site, buy the book, and watch the webinar (a little over an hour) and spread the word about how we can make Asbury Park a safer, healthier city.

Right Of Way

Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America

248 pages
6 x 9

Angie Schmitt; Foreword by Charles T. Brown

 

“The face of the pedestrian safety crisis looks a lot like Ignacio Duarte-Rodriguez. The 77-year old grandfather was struck in a hit-and-run crash while trying to cross a high-speed, six-lane road without crosswalks near his son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was one of the more than 6,000 people killed while walking in America in 2018. In the last ten years, there has been a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths.

The tragedy of traffic violence has barely registered with the media and wider culture. Disproportionately the victims are like Duarte-Rodriguez—immigrants, the poor, and people of color. They have largely been blamed and forgotten.

In Right of Way, journalist Angie Schmitt shows us that deaths like Duarte-Rodriguez’s are not unavoidable “accidents.” They don’t happen because of jaywalking or distracted walking. They are predictable, occurring in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality. These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve.

Schmitt examines the possible causes of the increase in pedestrian deaths as well as programs and movements that are beginning to respond to the epidemic. Her investigation unveils why pedestrians are dying—and she demands action.  Right of Way is a call to reframe the problem, acknowledge the role of racism and classism in the public response to these deaths, and energize advocacy around road safety. Ultimately, Schmitt argues that we need improvements in infrastructure and changes to policy to save lives.

Right of Way unveils a crisis that is rooted in both inequality and the undeterred reign of the automobile in our cities. It challenges us to imagine and demand safer and more equitable cities, where no one is expendable.”

A City Without Cars – Could Asbury Park Do It?

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.

Read on…

I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing

Why do American cities waste so much space on cars?

By 

NYT Opinion Columnist July 9, 2020

“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.

In most American cities, wherever you look, you will see a landscape constructed primarily for the movement and storage of automobiles, not for the enjoyment of people: endless wide boulevards and freeways for cars to move swiftly; each road lined with parking spaces for cars at rest; retail establishments ringed with spots for cars…”

What does it take to move 50 people?

 

50 cars: 55 square feet per person.

One bus: 9 square feet per person

50 bicycles: 15 square feet per person

Read it here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/opinion/sunday/ban-cars-manhattan-cities.html?referringSource=articleShare

 

World Day Of Remembrance: To Honor The Victims Of Traffic Violence

On World Day of Remembrance, we honor the victims of traffic violence. The third Sunday in November is about remembrance, but EVERY day is about action: we need to prioritize #safety over #speed & design our streets to protect the people most vulnerable to crashes.

More than 1.35 million people die on the road each year globally.

 

 

Road traffic injuries

Key facts

  • Approximately 1.35 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
  • The2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set an ambitious target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.
  • Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product.
  • More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
  • 93% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles.
  • Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years.

 

Our Lives Depend On It. The Future Of Transportation – It’s About Choices

The tools we need are right in front of us. If we have any hope of mitigating the effects of transportation on our health, climate, and our very lives, the solution is simple.  Bikes and other micro-transit, and buses/mass transit are obvious answers, and the elevator has also enabled people in cities to do more in less space, while in suburbia buildings are limited to one or two stories, requiring that residents are dependent on motor vehicles to get to work or for any services. This article covers every aspect in detail of why we must cut dependency on motor vehicles, while the industry continues to create ways to get more cars on the roads. Besides the critical health impacts from emissions, “last year, 36,560 Americans died in car crashes, not including 6,283 pedestrians killed by cars.” The auto industry has anesthetized us to these statistics, but we can wake up.

The Hyperloop and the Self-Driving Car Are Not the Future of Transportation

The bus, the bike, and the elevator are.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/future-of-transportation-bus-bike-elevator.html?fbclid=IwAR0E0nfkjXQji2OY9pZO9xKSmjii1Fje-XRaiuzJ7L8XvKoYx2bHUYtTtzU

#FATALFACTS

We can’t ignore this anymore. Scooters and bikes ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. These numbers are unacceptable.  We’re working on  solutions in Asbury Park. #toomanycars #slowthecars

Vehicle Deaths Estimated at 40,000 for Third Straight Year

For the first time since the Great Recession, the U.S. has experienced three straight years of at least 40,000 roadway deaths, according to preliminary estimatesreleased Feb. 13 by the National Safety Council. In 2018, an estimated 40,000 people lost their lives to car crashes – a 1% decline from 2017 (40,231 deaths) and 2016 (40,327 deaths). About 4.5 million people were seriously injured in crashes last year – also a 1% decrease over 2017.

Discouragingly, last year’s estimated 40,000 deaths is 14% higher than four years ago. Driver behavior is likely contributing to the numbers staying stubbornly high. The Council’s estimates do not reveal causation; however, 2017 final data show spikes in deaths among pedestrians, while distraction continues to be involved in 8% of crashes, and drowsy driving in an additional 2%.

“Forty-thousand deaths is unacceptable,” said Nicholas Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC. “We cannot afford to tread water any more. We know what works, but we need to demonstrate the commitment to implementing the solutions. Roadway deaths are preventable by doubling down on what works, embracing technology advancements and creating a culture of safer driving.”

Read more.

https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatality-estimates

The Two Most Deadly Years

Between 2008 and 2017 drivers struck and killed 49,340 people who were walking on streets all across the United States. That’s more than 13 people per day, or one person every hour and 46 minutes. The last two years on record (2016 and 2017) were the most deadly years for people killed by drivers while walking since 1990.

A frightening report just came out from NJ.com ranking the deadliest N.J. counties for traffic accidents, ranked from least to most. 

It’s time to accept that we are at #peakcar, and people driving vehicles and speeding kills people walking and on bikes. #slowthecars.

Take a look at the report from  Smart Growth America , and join the webinar on Thursday, January 24th at 2:30pm EST. 

Dangerous by Design ranks states & metros on danger to pedestrians

Too many Americans are being struck and killed by the drivers of cars, trucks, and SUVs while walking. Dangerous by Design 2019, released today, chronicles the preventable epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, which have been steadily increasing in recent years, even as traffic fatalities overall have been decreasing.

Dangerous by Design 2019 takes a closer look at this alarming epidemic.

We can and must do more to reduce the number of people who die while walking every day on our roadways. For too long we have disregarded this problem by prioritizing moving cars at high speeds over safety for everyone. It’s past time for that to change. Protecting the safety of all people who use the street—especially the people most vulnerable to being struck and killed—needs to be a higher priority for policymakers, and this priority must be reflected in the decisions we make about how to fund, design, operate, maintain, and measure the success of our roads.

Overview

In the past decade, the number of people struck and killed while walking increased by 35 percent. Though fatalities decreased ever so slightly in 2017, the last two years on record (2016 and 2017) were the most deadly years for people killed by drivers while walking since 1990.

 

 

Read more about it:

https://smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design/

There Are No Accidents

A stunning personal story about how a tragic car crash changed a life, starting with the realization that there are no accidents.  “…over 35,000 people die every year in the United States from traffic violence. Every two years, more people die in our streets than the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War.”

Misfortune changed this young man’s life. But he knows (as do we at APCSC) that the problem is solvable.  He observes in his city: “We continually see elected leaders prioritize publicly-subsidized parking ahead of safe streets. Some publicly shame folks who get around using a bicycle. They wait to improve safety until after people are hit and killed. And most importantly, they often do nothing. They aren’t just killing bike lanes. But we know they can do better because sometimes electeds show leadership. APCSC knows that our Mayor and City Council are showing real leadership.  Stay tuned for the Walking and Bicycling Master Plan, and design and implementation all over the city to make it safe for everyone to get around with slower, and fewer cars on our streets.

sA Better Street

“This misfortune irreversibly changed my life, the lives of everyone in that car, their families and their friends. I reacted by imagining life as capricious. Death and suffering seemed to be arbitrary “accidents” caused by human error. Life forced this on me every time I got in a car. With no effort at all I could be killed or kill someone else.

But seventeen years later, I feel much different. My friend’s death was not an accident. All of the 35,000 deaths each year in our streets include painful personal stories like the one I’ve recounted. These deaths are not accidents. Traffic violence is caused by public policy. It’s the result of our collective decisions about street design, speed limits, and land use. We know how to minimize crashes but we fail to care. ”

Read more…

https://www.theurbanist.org/2018/10/23/a-better-street/