The Quest for Safer Streets In Asbury Park – And A New Documentary

We’re excited to share the documentary,The Street Project, premiering on PBS International and Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 25.

The film will be illuminating for many, especially those who drive – which is almost everyone. It brings the American traffic safety crisis — and its possible solutions — to a TV audience.

Bicycle fatalities increased more than 40% between 2010 and 2020, according to the National Safety Council, and preliminary 2021 data from the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that last year saw 7,485 pedestrian fatalities, the most in 40 years.

Bicycle infrastructure on Asbury Park streets, particularly protected infrastructure) is far behind were we have hoped it to be since we began advocating in 2015, outlined in the AP Complete Streets Resolution, and in the city’s Plan For Walking And Biking.

Asbury Park Slow Roll, June, 2021

The surge in vehicle crashes is disproportionately harming lower-income families and Black Americans.

Many people in Asbury Park walk and ride bikes or scooters for daily transportation.

Pedestrian behaviors like jaywalking (fake, made up by the auto industry) have been a smokescreen to get drivers off the hook for the surging numbers of walker and bicyclist injuries and deaths in the US. Drivers have gotten off for years claiming, “she came out of nowhere”, and the media, influenced by the auto industry has been blaming people walking distracted by cell phones, or blaming people riding bikes and scooters.

It’s almost NEVER the case that crashes happen because people ride or wander into traffic.

The US leads the world in traffic deaths.  Crashes have increased to catastrophic numbers in 2022, the highest in 20 years, and it’s NOT due to the behaviors of people walking or rolling.

The design of our roads encourage (or do little to deter) speeding, and the proliferation of huge vehicles, and driver distraction from dashboard screens have led to a surge in crashes, injuries and deaths of people outside of vehicles.Tom Flood, a former auto ad executive, now a walking and biking advocate using his ad skills created this jarring video: Dashboard screen experience: iCrash, iKill.

Apple Car Play dashboard screen.

Drivers are speeding in gigantic “living rooms on wheels”, with built-in dashboard distractions, on roads that were designed to expedite the movement of vehicles. The incredible power of auto industry advertising has hijacked our brains into believing that we have a human right to drive, that our vehicles are tied to our identity, and that drivers own the road. Safety campaigns aimed at the behavior of people walking and rolling, and the mistaken idea of “shared responsibility” on our roads are contributing to the ongoing problem of traffic violence.

The government has blamed the increase on speeding, impaired driving and other reckless driving behavior.  The USDOT has pledged to fund investments in speed enforcement and to build safer roads. We can do the same here in Asbury Park. 

We can do things right now to stop traffic violence in Asbury Park.

Crash on Memorial Ave in August 2022.

Crashes have been occurring with greater frequency in Asbury Park.

Reducing car dependency with alternative transit options (Via in Jersey City is an idea!) will reduce traffic. Traffic calming measures are not always laborious or expensive, and there is already grant funding appropriated for projects which have not yet begun. AP administration has been advised by APCSC of NJDOT grants, and Federal grant programs: SS4A and RAISE grants.

There is funding available, but it takes prioritizing, commitment, and political will to get things done.

We are advocates of safe streets for the most vulnerable road users in Asbury Park – that’s literally anyone not inside a car. Cars still rule here, and there’s a political fear of alienating and angering drivers. We get it. Drivers vote, and votes matter. But what matters more is the human health crisis of traffic violence.  We believe that a message promoting a safe and healthy city will win votes.

APCSC supports bold candidates who will step up to make permanent change on our streets. Stay tuned.

Onward~

Polli Schildge Editor APCSC

 

Speeding Is A Problem In Asbury Park

No surprise there.

Our streets are especially dangerous for people walking or rolling.  There’s an ongoing need to build more and better protected biking and walking infrastructure. We need to enable people to get around safely without dependency on cars, whether walking, riding a bike, riding a scooter, skateboard, or using a wheelchair.

What can be done right NOw?
We must design physical elements on our streets to deter speeding.

Bicyclists, scooter riders, skateboarders, elderly, children and their families are the most vulnerable road users. Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is committed to helping to make our streets safe for everyone to get around safely – if streets are safe for an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old, they are safe for all.

Asbury Park is the recipient of a generous grant of 500,000 from Safe Routes To School for a project utilizing roundabouts as a traffic calming method to prevent speeding.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) safety and access improvements will provide traffic calming measures on Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue between Prospect Avenue and Comstock Street. The project Design and Construction cost is funded by federal funds administered through NJDOT Local Aid Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program and Design Assistance.

The SRTS funds are intended to install mini-roundabouts in key locations where speeding has been a serious problem.

Proposed roundabouts in Asbury Park
How effective are mini roundabouts?

The city of Carmel, Indiana has more than 100 roundabouts and is installing more. Studies have consistently found roundabouts to be safer than conventional stop signs or signal systems. In fact, replacing signals with roundabouts has been shown to decrease an intersection’s number of traffic fatalities by 90 percent (PDF).

  • Mini-roundabouts throughout the US are showing promising results as safety-conscious, cost-effective solutions, replacing less efficient all-way and stop-controlled intersections.
  • Mini-roundabouts are used where the existing speed limit is 25 mph or less and in urban, suburban and smaller municipal environments.
Mini-roundabout in Princeton

 

Mini-roundabout in Staten Island
Bottom line:

“Traffic calming is a full range of methods to slow cars, but not necessarily ban them, as they move through commercial and residential neighborhoods. The benefit for pedestrians and bicyclists is that cars now drive at speeds that are safer and more compatible to walking and bicycling. There is, in fact, a kind of equilibrium among all of the uses of a street, so no one mode can dominate at the expense of another.”

For a deeper dive, take a look at the USDOT Federal Highway Administration Lesson In Traffic Calming:

FHWA COURSE ON BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN TRANSPORTATION describes objectives, considerations, and various methods to calm traffic, such as circles and roundabouts, medians, bumps, speed humps. raised crosswalks. raised intersections,  bump outs, curb extensions, and more. All of these devices are intended to #slowthecars, and are carefully determined to be applied in areas in which they will be most effective.

How you can help:
  • Subscribe to this website to stay informed.
  • Share your email to APCSC mailing list/Google Group: apcpompletestreets@gmail.com.
  • Call and email Mayor and City Council to offer your support for safe streets for the most vulnerable, and using traffic calming methods, especially mini-roundabouts.
  • Talk to neighbors and friends.
  • As always we welcome your constructive comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWS! Asbury Park Bikeway Grant

NEWS!
THE CITY OF ASBURY PARK AWARDED $1,135,000 from NJ Department of Transportation through Bikeway Grant and Safe Streets to Transit Grant Programs.
The City will begin the Asbury Avenue Bikeway project and upgrade the intersection at Bangs and Prospect Avenues.
The Asbury Avenue Bikeway project will include upgrading the traffic signal at Asbury and Grand Avenues and bike infrastructure improvements to benefit cyclists and pedestrians.
Safe Streets to Transit projects facilitate the implementation of projects and activities that will improve pedestrian conditions within a 1-mile radius of a transit facility or station.
The grant funded by this program will be used to install a new traffic signal at Bangs and Prospect Avenues as well as to make necessary safety upgrades to the intersection.
“We’re thrilled to be awarded these NJDOT grants and look forward making much-needed improvements to Asbury Avenue and the Bangs Avenue/Prospect Avenue intersection,” said Mayor John Moor, “Funding like this allows us improve overall safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in Asbury Park without burdening local taxpayers.”
Friends, share your emails! Please email apcompletestreets@gmail.com for the new Google Group!

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