New Jersey’s Mean Streets
December 3rd, 2004 by Tim Evans
- One out of every five people killed in a traffic accident in New Jersey is a pedestrian. That is twice the national average.
- Yet a new national report shows New Jersey only spends one half of one percent of its federal transportation dollars protecting walkers and cyclists. That is half the national average.
- Pedestrian traffic fatalities increased in 10 New Jersey counties between 1995 and 2003, despite the fact that the numbers of people who walk to work decreased in every single county.
(Source: “Mean Streets 2004,” jointly sponsored by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, AARP, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, American Planning Association, American Public Health Association, and American Society of Landscape Architects. The report can be viewed online at www.transact.org)
MAKING WALKING SAFER
Smart growth is about giving people more transportation choices, including walking. This goal is thwarted when communities do not offer sidewalks or bike paths or plan their stores, homes, and offices in close enough proximity to make walking an attractive and safe alternative.
People are walking less in New Jersey than they were 10 years ago. Despite this fact, pedestrian fatalities increased in 10 New Jersey counties over the past 10 years – Burlington, Hunterdon, Monmouth, Warren, Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Union, Camden, and Bergen. The solution is not to discourage people from walking. Instead, New Jersey should strive to see a lower pedestrian death rate AND more people walking. Transportation dollars should be invested so that walking becomes a viable transportation option for more people, and in a way that people will be safe once they decide to walk more.
It’s noteworthy that more than a hundred thousand New Jerseyans walk to work each day, or 3.2 percent of all commuters – higher than the national average. Instead of spending fewer of its federal transportation dollars on pedestrian projects than the national average, New Jersey should be spending more to make our walking environments safer.