On Wednesday, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and AARP joined hundreds of residents, nationally known pedestrian safety expert Dan Burden, and elected officials to draw attention to the deadly Black Horse Pike in southern New Jersey’s Atlantic County. AARP and the Campaign organized surveys of intersections along the road, a workshop to brainstorm solutions, and a local stakeholders meeting. They also called for federal complete streets legislation.
A Tri-State report released in February found that, between 2007 and 2009, 7 pedestrians were killed on Black Horse Pike (US-322/40) in Atlantic County, making it the second-deadliest road for walking in the state of New Jersey.
“Black Horse Pike is an important road, but in too many places it is also an unpleasant, dangerous, and even deadly one,” said Kate Slevin, Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s executive director.
Some problems identified by the survey include:
- Wide lanes and other road features that encourage high speeds,
- Missing and inadequate sidewalks,
- Missing crosswalks and pedestrian median islands that would make it safer to cross the street, and
- An absence of safe accommodation for cyclists.
At the workshop, Burden showed illustrations demonstrating how changes such as better sidewalks, street trees, bicycle lanes and other traffic calming measures could eventually transform Black Horse Pike into a pleasant and economically successful boulevard lined with shops and pedestrian traffic. In June, the Campaign released a five-point plan for transforming the road.
“Black Horse Pike is a road that, frankly, makes you want to leave it as soon as you can,” said Matthew Norris, South Jersey Advocate for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Transforming it into a boulevard where people want to be would be good for business and residents’ quality of life.”
The day concluded with a stakeholder meeting including Egg Harbor Township Mayor James McCullough, Atlantic County Freeholder Jim Schroeder, State Assemblymen John F. Amodeo and Vincent J. Polistina, State Senator Jim Whelan, and local police and community leaders. Both the workshop and stakeholder meeting were held at Atlantic Cape Community College.
AARP and the Campaign also called on Congressman Frank LoBiondo to support federal “Complete Streets” legislation that would ensure that road projects receiving federal funds are designed for everyone who uses them, including pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
“A federal ‘Complete Streets’ law means better-designed, safer roads,” Norris said. “Given how dangerous it can be to walk in parts of Atlantic County, it’s a law that makes sense for Rep. LoBiondo and other elected leaders to get behind.”
Photos and illustration via AARP.