I’ve discussed this with our city transportation manager for years, and it remains in the “discussion phase” …
People who can’t easily walk, often can ride a bike or a trike – using it as their best form of mobility. We believe that residents and visitors would benefit from reinstating a robust bike share program.
Do you feel safe walking or rolling?
Asbury Park is only 1.4 sq miles. It should be walkable and rollable for everyone.
Traffic in Asbury Park swells on weekends and in the summer, but it’s often a problem throughout the year within the business district. People driving around looking for parking istraffic.
When I ask moms and dads if they’ll allow their kids to ride bikes to school the reply is, “No– because of drivers.” Parents don’t realize that they are traffic because they’re driving their kids to school.
Sidewalks are cracked, too many curbs don’t have ADA ramps, and bike lanes are only painted stripes, so it’s a deterrent to people who might be willing to walk or roll – because of #toomanycars, drivers who are speeding, and running stop signs.
What can YOU do?
Drive less, or don’t drive at all this week, and find out what it feels like to be a walker or roller in our city. You’ll benefit from the exercise, the fresh air, and the social opportunities of being out of the car!
People without a car or unable to drive should be able to get to where they need to go safely and effectively. But every day, Americans who can’t drive – approximately 25 percent of the population – face significant barriers to mobility such as inadequate sidewalks, poor transit, lack of connectivity and dangerous roads. The needs of non-drivers are too-often disregarded in transportation infrastructure and policies.
People who bought huge new SUVs and trucks when prices were down are paying the price big time (as are all drivers of personal vehicles). Drivers of these oversized machines have contributed to a huge increase in road fatalities. The consumption of gas by vehicles of all sizes has contributed to deaths due to respiratory diseases resulting from the impact on the environment.
We must figure out a way, “both immediately and over the long term, to curb the addiction to oil. In the United States, transportation accounts for over 70 percent of total oil consumption, and more than 65 percent of that is for personal vehicles, according to the Energy Information Administration. Put another way, personal vehicles alone account for almost half of the burning of petroleum in America. A whopping 80 percent of U.S. climate emissions from transportation come from driving.”
The bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t come close to addressing the real problem, which is too many cars, which will be exacerbated by expansion of highways, rather than fixing existing infrastructure, investing in transit, and helping cities reduce car dependency. It could have funded initiatives for cities to be bold, to help to create streets that are people-centric, to make transit free, and to give rebates to people who buy bikes, and bonuses to folks who get around without a car.
“…as the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) said in a statement last year, the “bill goes in the wrong direction, giving a whopping $200 billion in virtually unrestricted funding” to unsustainable forms of transportation.”
It’s still possible for Biden to make an impact. He can publicly call upon mayors to accelerate transit development, bike, and pedestrian programs using funding in the American Rescue Plan.
“The bipartisan infrastructure package has only made the challenge more difficult. But municipalities could still make it right.”
E-Scooters And E-Bikes – The Future Of Mobility Or Safety Risks On Wheels?
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition stands behind efforts to reduce car dependency to promote human health, the health of our city, and the health of our planet. Most residents see the benefits of promoting micro mobility such as electric scooters, and of course they support bicycle riding to enable people to get around without cars for daily trips, and for visitors to enjoy and support businesses in our city. Sadly some others have reacted negatively on social media to the introduction of scooters in Asbury Park. They are apparently in the thrall of auto industry influence to keep our streets flooded with cars (whether they’re gas powered, electric, or autonomous). They seem to be unable to get past the (low) incidence of crashes, they focus on “scary” encounters with scooter (and bike) riders, they neglect to acknowledge 40K deaths by car each year, and have abject fear of anything new on our streets. For historical context, here’s a fun history of cars in the early 1900’s. *
*Note that the term “accident is used throughout the article. This journalist/historian seems to be unaware that use of “accident” was promoted by the auto industry to take the onus off drivers. “Accident” implies unavoidable. They are all crashes. #crashnotaccident.*
Read this excellent article in Forbes, and the study on e-scooters globally. This is only one of many dozens of articles in the past several years, and more during Covid, available to those who would like to learn about the future of mobility across the world. The current US administration supports building infrastructure in cities for people to get around without cars. We can build our city, Asbury Park to be resilient, healthy, and possibly car-free within the decade, but only if we have the will to do so.
“Innovation in micromobility may bring new crash risks,” Alexandre Santacreu, a road safety policy analyst for the ITF and principal author of the report, said in a video statement. “But if we understand those risks, we can counter them.”
Here are some additional findings from the study:
E-scooter riders do not face significantly higher risk of road traffic death or injury than cyclists.
Traffic will be safer if e-scooter and bicycle trips replace travel by car or motorcycle.
The fast-paced evolution of micro-vehicles challenges governments to put in safety regulations in place that take into account the future of all mobility.
“Street design must also serve the safety of those using micro-vehicles,” Santacreu added. Making it safe creates an opportunity for “shaping a sustainable urban mobility landscape.”
As we move into the next phases of adjustment to what a “post-covid” world could be like, we have a great opportunity to make permanent, big changes in our cities to make streets safe for everyone, especially the most vulnerable in Asbury Park. We have a car problem, not a parking problem. #toomanycars
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition advocates for the city to adopt a Vision Zero Policy for Asbury Park to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities.
Crashes can be prevented by building traffic calming measures that prioritize people walking and riding bikes, like truly protected bike lanes, bulb-outs, and to #slowthecars, mini traffic circles, and other built infrastructure to effectively make it impossible to speed, and unlikely not to see a traffic signal. As long as the design of our streets make it easy to speed, there will be crashes. Let’s keep the conversation going. Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is here to help, advocating for safe, equitable access for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. This is Traffic Calming 101: https://apcompletestreets.org/traffic-calming-101/. Spread the word. Follow and support @asburyparkcompletestreets.
Buttigieg’s Infrastructure Plan Calls for a National Vision Zero
The Democratic candidate’s $1 trillion pledge to upgrade roads, utilities, and public transportation has an emphasis on road safety and climate adaptation.
His commitment to pair massive projects with a $200 billion job retraining program and 6 million new jobs has echoes of the Green New Deal, supported by candidates like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Buttigieg goes further, however, in linking road-building with road safety: As president, he’d commit to a national Vision Zero policy. Sweden, where the traffic safety movement was born in 1997, has made Vision Zero a national priority; other countries like Canada and the Netherlands have followed suit by launching country-wide campaigns and setting out sustainable safety approaches, respectively. In the U.S., however, Vision Zero goals have been set at the state and city level, with varying levels of ambition and success.
Buttigieg Says US DOT Should Support ‘Right-Sizing’ City Asphalt
Decommissioning even a fraction of our estimated two billion parking spots, for instance, could free up critical space for sorely needed affordable housing, parks, in-neighborhood grocery stores, and so much more; some advocates argue that simply ending local mandatory parking minimums so we don’t build any more unnecessary spots would have a seismic effect on American life.
Even thoughtfully removing small bits of asphalt without repurposing that land for other uses can carry benefits, for a simple reason: it reduces demand for car travel, while making streets safer for the vulnerable road users that remain.
Buttigieg says Transportation Department will push ‘bold’ thinking
“Today we face an unprecedented health crisis, we’re navigating an economy in danger and our nation is reckoning with the impacts of systemic racism,” he said in the one-minute campaign-style video. “But with new leadership comes a new opportunity, a chance to build our transportation system back better than it ever was before.”
On the Relentless Campaign to Force Americans to Accept the Automobile
“In 1995, comedian Denis Leary recorded a track called “Asshole,” a song about an all-American guy who likes “football and porno and books about war.” It concludes with a monologue:
I’m gonna get myself a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado convertible Hot pink, with whale skin hubcaps And all leather cow interior And big brown baby seal eyes for head lights And I’m gonna drive in that baby at 115 miles per hour Gettin’ one mile per gallon Sucking down Quarter Pounder cheese burgers from McDonald’s In the old-fashioned, non-biodegradable styrofoam containers And when I’m done sucking down those greaseball burgers I’m gonna wipe my mouth with the American flag And then I’m gonna toss the styrofoam containers right out the side
And there ain’t a goddamn thing anybody can do about it … “
For those concerned about the environment, cars are an ecological catastrophe, while the current president celebrates car ownership as a true hallmark of freedom for blue blooded Americans, and the US remains the “spiritual home of car culture”. Vote.
So are we doomed to live forever in a polarized country where there is a constant war for space on the road between people walking, on bikes, and driving, and over 40 thousand people die in automobile collisions each year?
Here’s something to think about as American cities (and yes, we in Asbury Park) try to figure out how to keep people safe while social distancing by opening streets to people walking, riding bikes, skateboards, scooters…there could be one good thing that comes out of Covid-19.
The spaces between parked cars can be for people, not for car domination. It’s so in cities where drivers don’t rule the roads. As one Face Book commenter in the thread notes, when he drives into one of these streets he “immediately wonders whether he should be there, then sees the benefits to everyone, and drives slowly and cautiously to his destination”. With American car culture could this happen here, or would we continue to see angry, entitled drivers claiming their right to the road, endangering us all?
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 CA, TX, KY, OH, MA, 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.
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?”
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.
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.
Do we really want to go “back to normal”? Every city in America struggles with parking issues and traffic congestion. But now, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, streets are free of traffic and air is remarkably cleaner. Let’s learn from this. We can seriously consider who needs to drive in our city – do we really need to allow large delivery trucks on Main Street and Cookman? The proposed parking garage should ease parking issues to a degree, and we’ve been discussing car-free zones, a network of connected bike lanes, and restricting deliveries to small vehicles and cargo bikes.
A quote from the article could easily describe Asbury Park or any city, “The same way we will have to reimagine so many elements in our city, we must do the same with our streets,” said Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group. “We can’t go back to streets that are littered with traffic and parking.”
The downside of open roads is that driver entitlement is more evident in an increase of speeding.
N.Y.’s Changed Streets: In One Spot, Traffic Speeds Are Up 288%
Faster buses. Plentiful parking. Cleaner air. A shift in habits offers a glimpse of what the city could be like without so much congestion.
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.
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.
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.”