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Ensuring Roads Fit for All Users

January 20th, 2011 by

Pedestrian navigating Route 46 over the Hackensack River. Source: Don Smith, Bergen Record

Below is a letter to the editor I wrote in response to John Cichowski’s “Road Warrior” column focused on pedestrian safety, which ran in Sunday’s Bergen Record. The letter was published today.

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.

Jay Corbalis

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.

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No Responses to “Ensuring Roads Fit for All Users”

  1. It’s nice to see that John Cichowski’s has used his “Road Warrior” column to champion the plight and rights of pedestrians. It wasn’t always that way but he’s been converted.

    As for “Complete Streets,” it seems the concept is still up for wide interpretation. The original proposal for NJDOT’s first big project since adopting the policy, the Rt 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge to Long Beach Island, left much to be desired. I covered the original proposed bike/ped facilities in WalkBikeJersey back in Summer here:

    I was told that my blog commentary caught the attention of project managers at NJDOT and now it seems that the proposal has been changed pretty much in line with my suggestions. See here:

    I also feel that there is a scourge of sidewalks not being cleared along side and over state highways all over the state. However, when I was up in Mahwah just after the December blizzard, I was pleasantly surprised to see the sidewalks over Rt 17 cleared. It seems the town understands that bus passengers need to be able to walk to the bus stop first before they can get on it. My friend who I was visiting told me that the town has always cleared these sidewalks as long as he could remember. Other towns need to follow Mahwah’s lead.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Sheridan, blogs of the world. blogs of the world said: The state Department of Transportation recently adopted a ?Complete Streets? policy ? ensu… #ensuring […]

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