Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


New Jersey Future Blogrss

With the Parks Closed, Now is the Time to Open the Streets

April 15th, 2020 by

woman walking dog Nearly every medical expert offers, among others, the same two pieces of advice for coping with stress, anxiety, and depression: exercise and go outside. These two activities have significant benefits to both physical and mental health–something we could all use during this time of pandemic.

New Jersey has ordered all non-essential businesses, including gyms, to close, making the outdoors a natural solution for exercise and casual recreation. Students can replace gym class and recess with a lap around the block or a nature walk. Running and biking require little equipment, but they do require space. With more people choosing to be outside–whether for exercise, alone time, walking the dog, or picking up dinner–social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 grows increasingly difficult to practice.

Our state and county parks have been ordered to close in an effort to reduce crowding on trails and in outdoor spaces where social distancing has not been practiced. People who have relied on these spaces to maintain physical and emotional health are now forced back to local sidewalks. Sidewalks are rarely more than 4’ wide, making social distancing impossible if passing someone walking in the opposite direction. 

Cities like Philadelphia, OaklandDenver, and Minneapolis have embraced a solution that allows residents to go outside while practicing social distancing: opening streets to pedestrians and cyclists

New Jersey saw a 63% drop in personal travel use from March 28 to April 3 when compared to a typical week, but this doesn’t mean our streets are safer. In fact, early data suggests that the rate of car accidents has actually increased despite there being fewer cars on the road.

Now is the perfect time for cities to experiment with complete streets practices such as protected bike lanes, trails, and greenways  that prioritize pedestrians and cyclists to keep our streets safe for everyone. 

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

© New Jersey Future, 16 W. Lafayette St. • Trenton, NJ 08608 • Phone: 609-393-0008 • Fax: 609-360-8478

Are you receiving our email newsletter?

  • Latest news on land-use policy issues
  • Research and reports
  • Upcoming events
  • Monthly

Click to subscribe