Working for Smart Growth:
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National Report Shows 1 in 5 Traffic Deaths in NJ are Pedestrians

Advocates Call on State DOT to Fix Most Dangerous Roads Including Burlington, Black Horse and Whitehorse Pikes

AARP-NJ
APA-NJ
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers
NJ Bike & Walk Coalition
New Jersey Future
Trenton Cycling Revolution
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 24, 2011

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Ya-Ting Liu, Federal Advocate (m) 908-227-0686
Matt Norris, South Jersey Advocate (m) 732-672-6296


A new national report by Transportation for America examines the alarming number of New Jerseyans killed while walking over a 10-year period from 2000-2009. Dangerous by Design 2011: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods) finds that one of the biggest contributors to pedestrian fatalities is the way streets are designed. An overwhelming proportion of these pedestrian deaths occurred along “arterial” roads, multilane roads through populated areas designed for speeding cars with little or no consideration for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles. These deaths, from the simple act of walking, are preventable with safer street design that incorporate traffic calming, road diets, complete streets policies and Safe Routes to School programs.

Among key findings of the report include:

  • 1,514 pedestrians were killed in New Jersey from 2000-09.
  • 21.3% of total traffic deaths in New Jersey are pedestrians.
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington the most dangerous metropolitan area for people who walk in the state and third most dangerous in the northeast.
  • People of color and seniors are disproportionately represented in pedestrian fatalities.
  • From 2000-2007, the average pedestrian death rate for Hispanics was 50% higher than non-Hispanic whites. The average pedestrian death rate for African Americans was 64% higher than non-Hispanic whites.
  • New Jersey seniors, aged 65 years or more, suffered an average pedestrian death rate150% higher than residents under age 65, making New Jersey 8th in the country for senior pedestrian deaths.
  • From 2000 to 2007, 87 children 15 years and younger were killed while walking in NJ. Nationwide, pedestrian injury is the 3rd leading cause of death by unintentional injury for children 15 and younger.

Advocates said these deaths are preventable if the state changes transportation policies and funding practices. According to the report, state DOTs nationwide have largely failed to prioritize pedestrian safety investments, allocating only 1.5% of available federal funds to projects that retrofit dangerous roads or create safe alternatives.

“Earlier this year, Tri-State released New Jersey’s Most Dangerous Roads Report that shows for three years in a row, the Burlington Pike continues to be the state’s most dangerous road,” said Matt Norris, South Jersey Advocate, Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “With three lanes in each direction, a speed limit of 50mph along most of the route, and dotted with retails destinations, the Burlington Pike a perfect example of the dangerous suburban thoroughfares this national report found to be most deadly for pedestrians.”

The advocates called on Governor Christie, New Jersey State Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson, State and Federal Legislators to:

  • Allocate at least $1 million to the Safe Streets to Transit program in NJDOT’s FY2012 capital program which was created under the Pedestrian Safety Initiative of 2006.
  • Expand on existing plans to improve safety along the state’s most dangerous routes for walking, including Burlington, White Horse and Blackhorse Pikes.
  • support the National Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011.

Blenda Riddick, Advocacy Associate State Director for AARP New Jersey, agrees: “AARP is deeply committed to roadway safety improvements,” she said. “Older New Jerseyans and citizens living with mobility difficulties such as those who rely on wheelchairs, walkers or canes can be especially at risk when it comes to pedestrian safety. Transportation for America is to be applauded for issuing this report which highlights the need for Complete Streets legislation and will go a long way toward raising awareness about this important issue.”

“We are especially alarmed by pedestrian fatalities around South Jersey train stations and bus stops,” said Andy Sharpe, the Communications Director of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers (DVARP). “This is especially true of White Horse Pike, which is Atlantic County’s second deadliest road for walking. Given how many rail and transit users cross White Horse Pike by foot, this is awful news for those of us who support mass transit.”
Charles Latini Jr, President of American Planning Association-NJ said, “The planning professionals working for and with New Jersey’s communities must begin to lead them toward more sensible roadway designs that accommodate all users. Roads with no sidewalks, crosswalks, or any other provisions are unacceptable and a symptom of a culture that fails to think about the safety and needs of non-drivers.”

“An ever greater number of seniors in New Jersey are looking to live in communities where they can walk to shops and restaurants or visit friends and family without having to drive,” John Hall, AARP Salem County Coordinator and Woodstown Borough Council member stated. “Unfortunately, the lack of safe and convenient pedestrian infrastructure on many Garden State roads is putting these seniors’ lives at risk. With a fatality rate for pedestrians aged 65 years or more that is more than 1.5 times greater than for those under 65, making our roads safer for walking is an issue of priority for AARP New Jersey.”

Karen Jenkins, President of New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition said, “Even one pedestrian death is one too many. While NJDOT passing a complete streets policy was an important step, this report reiterates the need for further improvement. We hope municipalities and counties around the state will implement their own complete streets policies, to make sure our roads accommodate and provide safe spaces for all users.”

“In many communities in New Jersey it is impossible to get around safely without a car because of how the road network has been designed. The NJDOT has taken steps to address this by adopting a Complete Streets policy. Now it’s time for the federal government to follow suit by passing a federal Complete Streets law,” said Jay Corbalis, Policy Analyst, New Jersey Future.

“Making roads safer for all users involves a strategy that focuses on engineering, education and enforcement. When roads are constructed or rehabilitated they must be redesigned to make it safer for pedestrians. Law enforcement needs to enforce the laws against speeders, red light runners and those who fail to yield to pedestrians. And finally a well funded public safety campaign using television and print media that ties all of the efforts together is needed to build the public awareness that careless driving kills or maims,” said John Boyle, Research Director, The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

 

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