On Monday, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign conducted a walking tour with the Greater Newark Conservancy and 40 teenagers in its Newark Youth Leadership Program. Campaign staffers led the 1.5 mile walk from NJTransit’s Newark Broad Street station to the Rutgers campus, talking about pedestrian and cyclist safety and potential improvements to Newark streets.
Many students pointed out that the abundance of parking lots and desolation along the route would make them feel unsafe walking the street at night. Others noted that the streets they lived on were too wide to walk across safety, or that they feared riding their bikes due to lack of bike lanes. Others wondered about a lack of police presence that made enforcement of traffic rules unlikely. Some hoped that the site of the demolished Westinghouse Building just next to the Broad St station (above) would be developed into housing, or a bowling alley. (They aren’t alone. Earlier this year, Mayor Booker also announced plans to redevelop the area around Broad St. station.)
Afterwards, the students wrote letters to Mayor Booker about potential improvements, and many were quick to find linkages between pedestrian improvements, street aesthetics and crime.
The old Jane Jacobs “eyes on the street” adage came to mind. But what also became apparent was that traffic calming and walking tours like these can be used as a tool to encourage the eyes on the street, and a method to improve youth community activism and involvement.
The walk was made possible by the Schumann Fund for New Jersey, whose executive director also participated in the day’s activities.