Ensuring Roads Fit for All Users
January 20th, 2011 by Jay Corbalis
John Cichowski’s “Trolling the pedestrian minefield” (Road Warrior, Page L-1, Jan. 16) makes the important point that pedestrian and cyclist safety would be enhanced by enforcement and education. But design is a much bigger problem. As the column notes, most roads in the state were designed exclusively to move cars quickly, and many facilities in the state (not just the Meadowlands Stadium, but also many schools, hospitals and shopping centers) were designed almost solely for automobile access and are inhospitable and dangerous for pedestrians.
The state Department of Transportation recently adopted a “Complete Streets” policy — ensuring that roadways are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, not just cars. But it applies only to state roads (and not highways), which account for only about 10 percent of roadways in the state. The other 90 percent are controlled by municipalities and counties. A handful of jurisdictions have adopted their own “Complete Streets” policies, Montclair and Monmouth County among them. But most have not.
If we are really going to improve the pedestrian climate in New Jersey, “Complete Streets” must be the law for all roads. Many people in the state do not drive. We can’t continue to ignore them when we design our transportation systems.
Trenton, Jan. 17
The writer is a policy analyst for New Jersey Future, a non-profit research and advocacy organization focused on smart growth and sustainable development.