Working for Safer Streets in Gloucester County, NJ

Patty Woodworth, Action Wheels Bike Shop owner and Anthony Preziosi, Gloucester County cyclist, discuss the need for pedestrian and bicyclist-focused road safety improvements with Mayor Harry R. Riskie of Woodbury, NJ.

Last Friday, Tri-State Transportation Campaign joined Action Wheels Bike Shop, Mayor Harry R. Riskie of Woodbury, NJ, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, area municipal officials and local volunteers to highlight the dangerous conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists on three Gloucester County, NJ roads – Route 45 in Woodbury, Berkley Road in Mantua and W. Mantua Avenue in Wenonah. Volunteers conducted safety audits at these locations in an effort to formulate effective ways to address specific local pedestrian and bicyclist problems.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s most recent analysis of dangerous roads shows that between 2007 and 2009, 13 Gloucester County pedestrians were killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. Safety is a major concern for area bike riders as well – according to a forthcoming TSTC analysis, 177 Gloucester County bicyclists were involved in accidents with automobiles¬†between 2008 and 2010, with 7 of these individuals losing their lives. During this same period, 16 bicyclists were involved in accidents on Route 45 in Gloucester County alone.

“Local residents of all ages walk and bike on Gloucester County roads, such as Route 45, but many of these thoroughfares weren’t constructed with their needs in mind,” said Matthew Norris, Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s South Jersey Advocate. “Whether for recreation or to reach places of employment, it is essential that improvements are made to these area roadways to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to travel more safely.”

This sign on Route 45 in Woodbury is meant to notify motorists that pedestrians frequently cross this wide thoroughfare. But with no accompanying crosswalk markings, pedestrian signal or median refuge island, area walkers risk their lives by crossing here.

Survey participants noted a number of a safety deficiencies, including:

  • An absence of safe accommodation for cyclists, such as bicycle lanes or continuous wide shoulders,
  • The lack of a posted speed limit on Berkley Road,
  • Signage notifying motorists of the presence of pedestrians without accompanying pedestrian safety infrastructure – such as crosswalks and median islands,
  • Broken or cracked sidewalks with a high number of curb cuts that are not marked for those with visual impairments.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Action Wheels Bike Shop, survey participants and other area advocates will use the data collected to call on Gloucester County and the New Jersey Department of Transportation to make significant pedestrian and bicyclist-focused improvements on area roads.

Results from the surveys will be compiled into a comprehensive report that will aid in efforts to work with local leaders to improve opportunities for walking and bicycling. The report will demonstrate how changes such as better sidewalks, continuous shoulders, bicycle lanes and safer crosswalks would allow a greater number of area residents to walk or ride as a primary mode of transportation or for leisure purposes more safely.

Patty Woodworth, owner of Action Wheels Bike Shop and a Mantua Township resident, explained, “My husband and I encourage our children to walk and ride bicycles, but it is difficult to feel safe with our children, as area roads are traffic-filled and don’t have shoulders or sidewalks. Kids should be able to safely recreate and adults should be able to safely run errands upwards of two miles from home without driving a car. It’s important for us to make changes so that this is possible.”

Look for updates on these and other South Jersey road safety efforts on MTR or by joining Action Wheels Bike Shop’s Facebook page.

Photos: Matthew Norris/TSTC.

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