Last week, Cranford became the latest New Jersey municipality to pass a Complete Streets policy. The Union County township sits along the NJ Transit Raritan Valley Line and received the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Transit Village designation in 2003. Since then, Cranford has been focused on improving pedestrian access to transit and is considered a regional example for smart transit-oriented development.
With such strong TOD credentials, Cranford was primed for a Complete Streets policy, but it wasn’t on the agenda of any local leaders.
Fast-forward to summer of 2012, when a 23-year-old Rebecca Hoeffler recognized how difficult it was to get around her safely on foot in her community after she had trouble crossing an intersection with her 5- and 6-year-old brothers.
On that fateful day last summer, it took Hoeffler and her young siblings at least 10 minutes to cross Centennial Avenue starting where the Krauzer’s store is, at the the northwest corner of South Avenue East. The light changed three times and they were still unable to cross.
“Drivers kept making right turns on red from southbound Centennial even though I was halfway into the intersection, so I kept backing up,” she said.
In an October 2012 letter to the editor, Hoeffler asked members of the community to join her call for safer streets by signing a petition calling upon the Cranford Town Committee to adopt a Complete Streets policy. Soon thereafter, the Township Committee passed a resolution forming a Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School Committee, “responsible for assessing the current walking, biking, and drop off conditions at schools throughout Cranford, assessing the ability for pedestrians to get to points of interest, ensuring that Downtown Cranford is readily accessible for pedestrians, and ensuring the accommodation of (multiple) modes of transportation during future road construction.”
Along with Hoeffler and Ranjit Walia of Civic Eye Collaborative, Tri-State staff worked with Cranford Township officials and residents over the past year to draft a policy that best fit the needs of the community. Cranford joins a fast growing list of over 66 municipalities and 5 counties that have passed Complete Streets policies since 2009.