NJDOT Commemorates Asbury Park’s Main Street Road Diet

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition was created in 2015 when we learned about the proposed NJDOT reconfiguration on RT 71, Asbury Park’s Main Street. After some initial hesitancy, and much lobbying on the part of APCSC, Mayor Moor and City Council agreed to move forward with the project, which is now nearly completed. Almost all agree now, including many original naysayers, that this was a great step in enabling Asbury Park residents and visitors to walk, ride bikes, and drive more safely on Main Street, and to improve the health and economic stability of the community.
Among many documents and evidence of the effectiveness of this type of traffic calming measure was an educational piece, A Better AP Main St FINAL ROAD DIET PAPER, created by APCSC founding member Doug McQueen. It was helpful in communicating the goal of a road diet to community members and city leaders.
As an advocate for safe, equitable access for everyone in Asbury Park, I personally appreciate the ability to engage with city leaders, and NJ legislators who want the best for our city, and NJ. It was a pleasure to see and speak with Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, NJDOT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Senator Vin Gopal, NJ Representatives Eric Houghtaling, and Joann Downey.
This is a great example of how our legislators truly get what it means to embrace complete streets philosophy. Making streets safe for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition worked with AP city council and DOT to move forward to implement the Rt 71 road diet, improving the way traffic flows, and creating a safer, better, healthier environment for people and businesses on Main Street, Asbury Park. This is how we work together.

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:

NJDOT Has The Money – It’s Time To Use It To Save Lives

NJDOT has money available for walking and biking projects, but small towns and municipalities find it very difficult to access the funds. NJDOT claims that there are not many projects in the pipeline — NOT TRUE.

“New Jersey has the second-highest amount of uncommitted federal transportation dollars in the nation, and it consistently ranks among the worst when it comes to spending a specific type of transportation funds — Transportation Alternatives, which is intended to fund trails, walking, and biking projects. ”

As of last week in NJ, at least 165 people have been killed in 2019 while walking or bicycling. In 2018, New Jersey State Police reported that bicyclists and pedestrians comprised 34% of the state’s crash fatalities.

NJDOT has a responsibility to make the funds available for biking and walking projects in cities like Asbury Park.

 

Dozens are killed each year walking and biking in N.J. We have the cash to make roads safer. | Opinion

Sonia Szczesna and Liz Sewell

As of Dec. 9, 2019, at least 165 people have been killed this year while walking or bicycling on New Jersey’s roads. Meanwhile, New Jersey has millions in federal transportation funds it can spend, Sonia Szczesna and Liz Sewell say.

New Jersey has the second-highest amount of uncommitted federal transportation dollars in the nation, and it consistently ranks among the worst when it comes to spending a specific type of transportation funds — Transportation Alternatives, which is intended to fund trails, walking, and biking projects.

At the same time New Jersey has a backlog of transportation dollars to spend, it has an enormous bicycle and pedestrian safety problem. As of Dec. 9, 2019, at least 165 people have been killed this year while walking or bicycling on New Jersey’s roads. In 2018, New Jersey State Police reported that bicyclists and pedestrians comprised 34% of the state’s crash fatalities — the second deadliest year for walkers and bikers on record. The deadliest year was in 2017.

Read more…

https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/12/dozens-are-killed-each-year-walking-and-biking-in-nj-we-have-the-cash-to-make-roads-safer-opinion.html?fbclid=IwAR20L1WLdGy92nbip0OWW9rWj91zCvWQ0R5jgzHqlyuZ0bL6QR3UG-5Nyx0