In Newark, Community Empowerment via Traffic Calming

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.

Above, TSTC staffers and Newark City Planner Perris Straughter talk to students outside Broad St. station before a walking tour. In the background, the site of the demolished Westinghouse building, an area slated for redevelopment by the City.

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.

Newark Youth Leadership Program students walk down University Ave, noting street conditions.

The walk was made possible by the Schumann Fund for New Jersey, whose executive director also participated in the day’s activities.

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6 comments to In Newark, Community Empowerment via Traffic Calming

  • Cap'n Transit

    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.

    Traffic calming won’t help that, but infill development that creates a welcoming sidewalk space would. Related, but separate.

  • Cap’n Transit, True, but the broader point of the story is that walking tours like these, which are focused on traffic calming, can help the teenagers understand how to get involved in larger community issues that shape the fabric of their cities.

  • [...] August, Tri-State and the Greater Newark Conservancy organized a walking tour around the Broad Street train station for local high school students. Students identified [...]

  • [...] Over half raised their hands, in a memorable moment from a traffic calming curriculum held on Monday, July 13 and Friday, July 17. For the second year in a row, the curriculum combined classroom and field components to highlight the relationships between pedestrian safety, land-use and environmentalism, and how communities can organize around these important issues. MTR covered the curriculum’s first year in this article. [...]

  • [...] have focused on traffic calming along the Newark section of the East Coast Greenway and around Broad Street Station, and have led to tangible improvements such as better pedestrian signage and more visible [...]

  • “In Newark, Community Empowerment via Traffic Calming | Mobilizing the Region” zuisg.com ended up being
    actually engaging and informative! Within todays world that is challenging to achieve.

    I am grateful, Denice

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