As MTR reported last year, Newark adopted a Complete Streets resolution in September 2013, but there’s no word yet on how the City plans to implement the policy. To jump-start the effort to make Newark’s streets safer and more accessible for all users, TSTC teamed up with 40 high school student interns and their mentors from the Greater Newark Conservancy’s (GNC) Newark Youth Leadership Project, a year-round program that provides local high school and college students with job training experience, leadership development and exposure to career and higher education opportunities in the environmental and horticultural fields.
Last week, TSTC led its sixth annual Complete Streets workshop and walking audit on the streets surrounding GNC. During the first half of the workshop, students learned about the principles of Complete Streets as well as similar efforts taking place in throughout New Jersey. Following the classroom portion of the day, students conducted walking audits in various parts of Newark, and were encouraged to take on the point of view as a pedestrian, cyclist, senior citizen, someone with a physical disability, a young child or a parent/babysitter with young children.
Upon returning to the classroom, each group presented its findings. Students flagged the lack of bike lanes and bike racks, fading crosswalks, speeding cars and trucks, broken or missing sidewalks and a lack of bus shelters as common problems facing people who use Newark’s streets. While the students highlighted the bike and pedestrian amenities they saw, like bike lanes and ADA-compliant curb ramps along Jones Street, they were astute to notice that many of these improvements seemed to be implemented as spot treatments — not as part of a thorough Complete Streets overhaul.
What the day made clear is that Newark’s current leaders should look to the input of its future leaders as the City begins to implement its Complete Streets policy.