Saturday, June 12, 2010

Long Beach Township Petition Reflects Lack of Respect for Pedestrians

You have been to these places on vacation, you step into a crosswalk and traffic going both ways stop. In many places in the country that is the norm but it seems that the urban Northeast Corridor never got the memo. There are plenty of idiot drivers in Charlotte and Boise but most drivers in those cities know how to react to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

In New Jersey where turning right on red is a birthright the "Stop For Pedestrians In The Crosswalk" appears to have puzzled a generation of suburban drivers trained to own the road and nowhere is this more evident than densely packed shore towns. The streets which lie on a modified urban grid are teeming with pedestrians who cannot park at the beach. Pedestrians and motorists alike seem to have little experience coexisting.

Inevitably lack of understanding generates backlash, the Atlantic City Press reports that Long Beach Township businessman Dick Jeffries has started a petition to repeal the stop for pedestrians law with the endorsement of Mayor Joseph Mancini. The local State Representatives are in agreement including Assemblywomen Gove, my 9th Grade Social Studies Teacher.

Jeffries quotes in the article totally reflect his windshield view of traffic safety:

"People don’t know what to do because the law is so unclear. Everyone is so frightened by this thing with these big signs they put up. I mean, what is it? A $200 fine and two points on your license?”

Mancini's perspective is even more myopic -

Mancini said it’s horrific that the law was enacted because of a 2009 fatal accident in Ocean City, when 21-year-old Casey Feldman, of Springfield, Pa., was killed crossing an intersection in July.

“It’s only going to work on roads with two lanes, not a five-lane highway,” Mancini said.

With New Jersey ranking near the top of pedestrian fatalities it's hard to believe that smart accomplished people are engaging in this counter intuitive argument. That allowing motorists to drive with less care is safer.

In the Book "Traffic" Author Tom Vanderbilt discusses an point that is even more counter intuitive but correct - In Chapter 7 he writes that in 1967 Sweden switched driving from the left side to the right side of the road overnight and the immediate result was that road traffic crashes declined which of course was totally unexpected. Vanderbilt theorizes that the roads felt less safe and drivers and pedestrians alike reacted with more caution. Jeffries fearful reaction is exactly the message that needs to be conveyed-be afraid it may save someone's life.



View Larger Map

Crosswalks are few and far between on Long Beach Boulevard in Brant Beach

8 comments:

Jorge said...

"People don’t know what to do because the law is so unclear. Everyone is so frightened by this thing with these big signs they put up. I mean, what is it? A $200 fine and two points on your license?”

He sounds like he's more concerned with not getting caught than not hitting people

PS. You should have left a link to the full article.

John Boyle said...

Thanks, I thought I did add a link. Anyway it's now fixed.

Lori said...

That's crazy, they need to get out of New Jersey...in California, you put your toe in a cross walk and a 6 lane highway safely comes to a stop.

lexica510 said...

Speaking as a Californian, the idea that a pedestrian right-of-way law and a right-turn-on-red law can't coexist is utterly bizarre. They manage to do so every single day out here...

Marrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marrie said...

You're right Jorge. Sometimes if you quote something it would be great if you'll also include the link for your readers to actually have a better understanding of what they are reading. Hope you do consider suggestions. Thanks!

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