Advocates Call for a Statewide Complete Streets Policy
A new national report by Transportation for America and Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign/) shows that 1 in 5 traffic deaths in New Jersey are pedestrians. The report finds:
- 22.1% of total traffic deaths in New Jersey are pedestrians.
- Only 0.5% of New Jersey’s federal transportation funds are spent on pedestrian infrastructure, an average of $0.47 per person.
- New Jersey ranks 48 th in the nation for federal spending on walking and biking.
- Children, older adults, disabled and low-income Americans are being killed at disproportionate rates and are subjected to the least safe walking conditions.
121 pedestrians have been killed in traffic collisions alone this year, a 33% increase over the same period in 2008. Local advocates said future deaths are preventable if the state changes transportation policies and funding practices.
“New Jersey State Department of Transportation has made strides in directing more resources to pedestrian safety, but a recent uptick in fatalities proves that it still has a ways to go,” said Ya-Ting Liu, federal advocate of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit policy watchdog organization. “The state could double its current federal allocation on pedestrian safety and it would still be spending less than it costs to buy a coffee from Starbucks per resident. This small investment will save lives and improve quality of life.”
The advocates called on New Jersey Department of Transportation, Governor-elect Christie and the State Legislature to:
- Pass a statewide complete streets policy that would require engineers design roads to accommodate the needs of all users any time a new road is built or an existing road is retrofitted.
- Designate 10% of federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and 10% of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funding for pedestrian safety programs.
- Increase funding for Safe Routes to School, Safe Routes to Transit and Safe Routes for Seniors, programs aimed at reducing traffic injuries and fatalities for schoolchildren, transit riders, and older residents.
“This report shows how we are systematically failing a large percentage of our population by designing roads without the needs of all users in mind. NJ needs a Complete Streets policy to ensure that roads are safe for all users, not just those behind the wheel,” said Peter Kasabach, Executive Director of NJ Future.
“Despite the grim statistics some officials still believe that traffic flow is more important than bicycle and pedestrian safety. It's time to put the most vulnerable road users at the top of the priority list by setting a goal of reducing bicycle and pedestrian traffic deaths by strategies that include traffic education, engineering and enforcement,” said John Boyle, Advocacy Director for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and founding board member of WalkBikeJersey.
“Ensuring the streets are safe for people with disabilities ensures that the streets are safe for all people,” said Jennifer Halper, Senior Staff Attorney for Disability Rights New Jersey.