A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.
Left: Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker, Photo: ct.gov | Right: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Photo: nysenate.gov
Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker — The ConnDOT head described the agency’s big plans for the years ahead, including more BRT: “I’d like to have CTfastrak East, CTfastrak West and CTfastrak North.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — When asked what Brooklyn needs more of in 2015, BP Adams replied “…Cars are so old school. We need to embrace bicycling as a transportation alternative, but the infrastructure needs to come with it. We need more bike lanes, buildings should have bus shelters, and we need to remake the entire borough based around that.”
Lower East Side resident William Mojica — Mr. Mojica spearheaded the installation of new pedestrian safety measures for his neighborhood.
Motorists and Pedestrians: Both in New York City and across the nation, driver and pedestrian fatalities have significantly declined.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders — Now the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Sanders recently announced his plan to authorize a $1 trillion, multi-year infrastructure program to improve roads, bridges and transit.
The Federal Highway Administration — A YouTube video showing how the agency strives to “make biking and walking safer, affordable, more accessible, and an integral part of livable communities across America” complements their recent acknowledgement that driving is not as popular as it used to be.
Waterbury branch commuters — Weekend ridership has surpassed Metro-North’s projections after the addition of two late-night weekend trains on the Waterbury branch.
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Even Santa takes public transit! | Photo: LakeCharles.com
2014 has been a huge year for news from the transportation and transit sectors — especially in the tri-state region. We worked hard this year and are proud of our many accomplishments, including:
But we couldn’t have done ANY of it without you, our readers and partners. We thank you for your support, which will be put to great use in 2015. We’ve got a lot to do!
Until then, Tri-State’s offices will be closed through the remainder of the holidays, and MTR will return after the new year.
Safe travels, and happy new year!
Subaru plans to move its U.S. headquarters to the Gateway Office Park site in Camden, NJ. Image Source: Philadelphia Business Journal
It was recently reported that car maker Subaru of America will be moving its national headquarters to Camden, New Jersey, bringing along 500 of its employees who currently work in Cherry Hill and Pennsauken, NJ. The company has also pledged to add 100 new jobs to the new headquarters in the next two years. Subaru will become the anchor tenant of a vast tract of land known as the “Gateway Office Park” owned by Campbell’s Soup, which is based adjacent to the site.
With such significant new development in this section of the city, it is imperative that the City of Camden continues to work with developer Brandywine Realty Trust, and with Subaru and Campbell’s, to promote access to nearby transit and active transportation amenities. The development site is just over half a mile from the Walter Rand Transportation Center, which houses the Broadway PATCO High Speed Line station, NJ Transit RiverLINE and 25 NJ Transit bus lines – not to mention the planned Glassboro-Camden light rail and South Jersey Bus Rapid Transit lines. The new offices will also be adjacent to existing and planned Circuit walking and biking trails. By using transit and trails, employees can quickly and easily travel to and from downtown Camden, Philadelphia, Trenton and the surrounding South Jersey suburbs.
The development is also adjacent to two major highways, so it will be essential for the site and surrounding area to be designed in a way that promotes transit usage and active transportation. In order for this to be successful, the following must occur:
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New Jersey’s red light camera pilot program has officially come to a close as cameras went dark at midnight this past Tuesday after a long battle in Trenton. Supporters of the program cited myriad motorist, pedestrian and cyclist safety benefits, while those opposed insisted it was nothing more than a cash cow for municipalities. Nonetheless, efforts are underway to breathe life back in to the red light camera program. Legislative leadership in Districts 28 and 29 have introduced legislation to reinstate the program with a new requirement that one-half of the revenue be dedicated to improve highway safety:
“The bill provides that not less than one-half of any fine received by a municipality or county for a violation of a traffic control signal monitoring system is to be deposited into a fund established by the municipality or county to be used exclusively by the municipality or county to reduce traffic accidents and deaths, injuries, and property damage resulting from traffic accidents in the municipality or county.”
Half is a good start, but all would be better.
Just next door, Pennsylvania has dedicated total net revenue from the ARLE (Automated Right Light Enforcement) program to improve highway safety. System administrators are permitted to recoup costs for operation and maintenance, but are required to deposit the remaining revenues into a restricted Motor License Fund account used to fund the ARLE Funding Program. These fines deposited in the fund are used by PennDOT for a Transportation Enhancements Grant Program, a competitive statewide grant program. Click here for a detailed list of eligible projects.
Since 2011, 126 safety projects have been funded, and at least 17 projects were clearly bike or pedestrian specific. Philadelphia’s Bicycle Encouragement and Enhancement Project was also made possible through the funding from the revenues from red light camera fines.
Establishing a program similar to Pennsylvania’s would be a boon for bike and pedestrian safety in New Jersey. Pedestrian accidents in New Jersey have reached numbers twice that of the national average, earning it the status of “focus” state by the Federal Highway Administration, and New Jersey’s Bike-Friendly State status has dropped. The silver lining is that the number of municipalities and counties adopting Complete Streets policies is increasing every month. For all three of these reasons, more dollars must be made available for funding needed bike and pedestrian safety infrastructure projects.
Newark PO Benito Torres helps students with drill (stopping, hand signaling, entering traffic)
Meeta Patel from Meadowlink giving instructions for a stopping and hand signal drill
Meeta provides a helmet fitting while mom looks on.
Basic bike maintenance and pre-biking check
Several Newark elementary school students braved the unseasonably cold weather (and a few rain drops) in early November to attend a bike rodeo, a fun interactive event to teach children the skills and precautions necessary to safely ride a bicycle. As part of a Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure grant, five New Jersey organizations—Tri-State, Meadowlink, La Casa de Don Pedro, Urban League of Essex County and Ironbound Community Corporation—have partnered with six elementary schools—Camden Street, Hawkins Street, Horton, McKinley, Sussex Ave and 13th Ave Schools—to prepare School Travel Plans and also to facilitate a variety of educational outreach events to encourage safe biking and walking.
The students at November’s bike rodeo were guided through a series of drills to teach them the importance of pre-ride safety checks, bike sizing and helmet fitting. Drills and information about traffic safety were also conducted, including: where to ride on the road; stop, look left-right-left before entering traffic; hand signals; and visibility and predictability.
Since adopting a Complete Streets policy in September 2012, Newark has installed dedicated bike lanes and sharrows and promoted advanced safety initiatives to improve bicycling in the city. The City is currently in the midst of preparing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Action Plan and recently held the first informational and interactive open-house. Unfortunately, this applaudable progress is being undermined by the fact that Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is reportedly removing the recently-installed protected bike lanes on Mount Prospect Avenue in response to complaints from local business owners. The enthusiasm of the children at the bike rodeo shows that bike safety goes beyond engineering and education – true bike safety cannot succeed without public support for cycling.