Friday, December 21, 2012

Tri-State Transportation Campaign releases its Northern New Jersey’s Most Dangerous Roads for Biking report

Despite New Jersey's already great cycling and our states potential to be truly exceptional amongst its peers, the unfortunate reality is that the number of bicycle / motor vehicle crashes remains all too high.   The Tri-State Transportation Campaign took a simple and objective look at these crash numbers in northern New Jersey in a new report released this past Tuesday.  From the TSTC's blog:
TSTC’s new analysis, Northern New Jersey’s Most Dangerous Roads for Biking, highlights the 19,551 bicycle (bicycle and motor vehicle) crashes in 13 Northern New Jersey counties (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren) that occurred from 2001 through 2011. Of these, 81 were confirmed fatal. The analysis supplements the 2011 TSTC report, Southern New Jersey’s Most Dangerous Roads for Biking.
The brilliance of this report is that it does nothing but simply map out the crash locations in each of the northern 13 New Jersey counties and lets the patterns speak for themselves.
Bergen County Bicycle Crashes 2001 - 2011.  TSTC.
From the TSTC's analysis it would seem that the crash rate correlates very closely with the population density of each county.

Also, as TSTC noted, a large percentage of these bicycle / motor vehicle crashes are on arterial roadways whether that might be in Essex or Hunterdon County and all others in between. This is something that most experienced cyclists know instinctively and try to avoid those roadways whenever possible, even in the most sparsely populated parts of the state.

This report is solid evidence that two things should be happening to make bicycle transportation in New Jersey much more safe:
1 – When at all possible, efforts must be made to make these arterial roadways safe for cycling whether that be shoulders, bike lanes, road-diets, cycletracks, etc. As for road diets, a good number four-lane roadways simply do not have the traffic volume to warrant the need for four lanes.  These could very easily be put on a road diet and bike lanes installed.  Elsewhere, other solutions will need to be explored.
2 – Wherever practicable, bicycle routes should be created that guide cyclists off of the arterial roadways and onto safer rural tertiary and urban residential roadways. New Jersey, unlike most other states, has great interconnected residential and rural tertiary roadway networks. Experienced cyclists know this and use this network to safely navigate all around the state. A well thought out and marked, MUTCD compliant bicycle route network could aid less experienced cyclists and those new or just traveling through New Jersey, to find safer routes off the major arterials, that still provide reasonably direct routes to their final destinations.
Again, thank you Tri-State for crunching and geo-coding the statistics.

PS - Could you use red push pins to highlight the fatalities next time?


Max Power said...

I'm concerned about the implications of including shoulders in the Complete Streets policies. It appears that cyclists using those shoulders put themselves in legally precarious conditions, considering the Polzo v. Essex decision you analyzed earlier this year, and this recent collision in Chatham:
I worry that building more shoulders in hopes of getting cyclists to use them will lead to more maimed cyclists facing tickets and lawsuits from the drivers who injured them.

Andrew J. Besold said...

Yes Max. That is EXACTLY my concern as well. Shoulders are fine in a number of situations but the law needs to clarified regarding the legal operation of a bicycle in a shoulder.

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