Hudson County’s most dangerous road for walking claimed another life last Friday, when a pedestrian was fatally struck by a driver on John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City.
The victim, 11-year-old George Gonzalez, was on his way to the school bus when he was struck by the driver of a commuter bus who was trying to pass a double-parked truck at the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Neptune Avenue. According to the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the driver has since been charged with causing a death while driving with a suspended license.
There has been a spate of collisions along Kennedy Boulevard in recent months. Just two weeks prior to last week’s fatal crash, a taxi driver struck and killed a man crossing Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City Heights. But the dangerous trend stretches back years. Last year, the county Sheriff’s Office reported that 844 people walking had been injured and 19 killed by drivers along the thoroughfare between 2004 and 2014. Tri-State has consistently ranked the road as one of the county’s most dangerous for walking since 2010.
Earlier this year, Jersey City residents called on law enforcement to better enforce the road’s 25 mph speed limit in light of several deadly crashes and rampant speeding. Double-parking is another contentious issue in Hudson County, and it played a factor in the crash that killed Gonzalez. The 14-mile thoroughfare is a county road that stretches between North Bergen to Bayonne. Any increased enforcement of speeding or double parking by police officers would require coordination between municipalities with help from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s time to fix Kennedy Boulevard before another life is lost. The crash site already has crosswalks, pedestrian signals and a 25 mph speed limit. The road is also home to Journal Square Transportation Center, numerous bus stops and two Citi Bike stations, one of which is just two blocks north of where the victim was struck and killed.
Kennedy Boulevard should be redesigned to safely accommodate people–not just vehicles. With four travel lanes and street parking on either side, the road could be a prime candidate for a road diet similar to the one proposed for Asbury Park’s Main Street, or the one scrapped for Hoboken’s Washington Street.
What’s more, Hudson County is the sixth most densely populated county in the country, and the fastest growing county in the state. To accommodate more people–and safely so–the county needs to re-think the way it uses its street space and prioritize more space-efficient modes, like biking, walking and transit.