For nearly 15 years, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has operated the Bicycle and Pedestrian Local Planning Assistance Program, which provides resources that help local communities produce pedestrian and bicycle circulation plans in consultation with professional engineering firms and the DOT. But word of the program has not spread to many municipalities in the Garden State—there is no readily-accessible program page on NJDOT’s website and the agency has done relatively little to advertise its existence.
Even with the program’s low profile, NJDOT has worked with 73 communities to develop bicycle/pedestrian circulation plans and studies on specific trail corridors, bikeways, and traffic-calming areas. These studies help to identify a municipality’s most significant pedestrian and bicycle issues and identify ways to fix them. Crafting a plan helps municipalities prioritize transportation solutions, and can lead the way towards creating communities in which residents can access transit, shops, and services without using their cars.
It is clear that communities that have yet to take advantage of the program need it now more than ever.
New Jersey municipalities are passing complete streets policies at a steady pace, demand for transit village designation continues to grow, and communities are hungry for resources that help create livable streets. NJDOT’s complete streets workshops and website have helped, but more needs to be done. Expanding the accessibility of this program would be a good, and cheap, way to expand these opportunities for communities willing to improve the safety of all users of the road by creating more walkable and bikeable environments, enhance quality of life, and bolster economic development.
NJDOT should be applauded for this innovative support to help municipalities achieve more bikeable and walkable futures, but they must do more to make sure that communities know that this program is available.