Groups: New Jersey Needs a Complete Streets Policy

This article was co-written with NJ Future’s Jay Corbalis and is cross-posted at Garden State Smart Growth:

2009 has been a grim year for New Jersey’s pedestrians: Through the end of September, 121 pedestrians have been killed in traffic collisions, according to a Tri-State analysis of state data. This is a 33% increase over the same period in 2008, during which 91 pedestrians lost their lives.

In response to this mounting toll, Tri-State and NJ Future joined the NJ chapter of AARP, Environment NJ, Disability Rights New Jersey, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia today to call on Governor Corzine to take his pedestrian safety efforts a step further and enact a Complete Streets policy in New Jersey. The governor announced a five-year, $74 million pedestrian safety initiative in 2006 that has had visible results in the state.

A Complete Streets policy would require that engineers design roads to accommodate the needs of all users, except where infeasible, any time a new road is built or an existing road is retrofitted. Tri-State helped win passage of complete streets legislation in Connecticut this year; other states with complete streets policies include Delaware, Oregon, and Illinois (a complete list can be found here).

There’s no guarantee that better street infrastructure would have prevented the deaths of any of the 121 people who lost their lives while walking in New Jersey this year. But as the photos below show, when transportation planners prioritize automobile movement and treat other considerations as afterthoughts, the result is incomplete streets that create dangerous conditions:

A 54-year-old woman was killed after being hit by a car at the intersection of Route 9 and Smithville Blvd. in Galloway.

In September, a 54-year-old woman who had just exited a bus was killed after a car hit her at the intersection of Route 9 and Smithville Blvd. in Galloway. Would sidewalks and crosswalks have made this area safer?

Routes 1 & 9 pose a danger for pedestrians throughout the state, since they border developments where people may be walking but offer little in pedestrian infrastructure.

Routes 1 & 9 pose a danger for pedestrians throughout the state, since they border developments where people may be walking, but have little pedestrian infrastructure. In January, a 21-year-old man staying in the motel at right was killed attempting to cross Routes 1/9 in Avenel.

A 51-year-old cyclist died last month after being hit by a truck on Route 322 in Logan. Could the addition of shoulders make this a safer road?

A 51-year-old cyclist died last month after being hit by a pickup truck on Route 322 in Logan. Would the addition of wider shoulders make this a safer road?

Bergenline Ave. in Union City is streetscaped here, but is it complete? A 49-year-old woman was killed in August crossing near this intersection, which is missing a crosswalk.

Bergenline Ave. in Union City is streetscaped here, but is it complete? A 49-year-old woman was killed in August while walking near this intersection, which is missing a crosswalk on one side.

Images: All others via Google Street View.

2 Comments on "Groups: New Jersey Needs a Complete Streets Policy"

  1. You note:

    “when transportation planners prioritize automobile movement and treat other considerations as afterthoughts,”

    There is no transportation planning in NJ — there is only highway engineering.

    Big difference.

    And even the planners not wedded to cars have zero influence among planners (who have so little role anyway).

    And other professionals not committed to developers and cars have even less (e.g. urban design, landscape architects, environmental planners, etc).

    YOu gotta ramp up the criticism – 121 people dead is an outrage.

  2. After 30 plus years in the business- I can tell you it is and has been an uphill fight to get the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists recognized in the great Garden State. We need to elect officials that recognize the importance of the environment including human safety rather than kowtow to big business and other strong lobbyists. Yes, there are cases when pedestrians and bicyclists make a bad mistake with horrible consequences, but we can help prevent many of these tragic events through reasonable planning and sound engineering with not an outrageous cost to the taxpayers. This also includes having municipalities and counties enforcing and developing reasonable ordinances that help protect and provide for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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