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Groups: New Jersey Needs a Complete Streets Policy

October 13, 2009

Have you ever seen a road that ends abruptly in a patch of grass? It's doubtful, since engineers design roads to precise specifications. But the same can't be said of sidewalks and bike lanes in much of NJ

Have you ever seen a road that ends abruptly in a patch of grass? It's doubtful, since engineers design roads to precise specifications. But the same can't be said of sidewalks and bike lanes in much of NJ. Photo: Route 70 in Cherry Hill, by Andrew Smith

This article was co-written with Tri-State’s Steven Higashide and is cross-posted at Mobilizing the Region

2009 has been a grim year for New Jersey’s pedestrians: Through the end of September, 121 pedestrians have been killed in traffic collisions, according to a Tri-State analysis of state data. This is a 33% increase over the same period in 2008, during which 91 pedestrians lost their lives.

In response to this mounting toll, Tri-State and NJ Future joined the NJ chapter of AARP, Environment NJ, Disability Rights New Jersey, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia today to call on Governor Corzine to take his pedestrian safety efforts a step further and enact a Complete Streets policy in New Jersey. The governor announced a five-year, $74 million pedestrian safety initiative in 2006 that has had visible results in the state.

A Complete Streets policy would require that engineers design roads to accommodate the needs of all users, except where infeasible, any time a new road is built or an existing road is retrofitted. Tri-State helped win passage of complete streets legislation in Connecticut this year; other states with complete streets policies include Delaware, Oregon, and Illinois (a complete list can be found here).

There’s no guarantee that better street infrastructure would have prevented the deaths of any of the 121 people who lost their lives while walking in New Jersey this year. But as the photos below show, when transportation planners prioritize automobile movement and treat other considerations as afterthoughts, the result is incomplete streets that create dangerous conditions:

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