An update to the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was released in December of 2016, renewing NJ’s commitment to creating a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly state. While the state has seen a number of new developments in bicycle and pedestrian safety, the bar has been set even higher with recent progress. According to Elise Bremer-Nei, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator at the New Jersey Department of Transportation, “the plan looks back at what we have accomplished since the last update in 2004 and also takes stock of where we are today in accommodating and encouraging people to walk and cycle safely in New Jersey.” Additionally, she states that the “Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan lays out a series of goals and proposes measurable actions to reach them.”
Here are New Jersey’s future strategies for making better streets, according to the Master Plan:
Goal # 1: Improve Safety
“Eliminate pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and serious injuries, and improve the sense of safety experienced by all who bike or walk.”
New Jersey contains a wide range of municipal typologies, many of which are not pedestrian-friendly. The state hopes to engage in projects that prioritize those considered most vulnerable when developing and implementing knew bicycle and pedestrian projects. A Short Trip Opportunity Analysis tool will be developed to help analyze transportation needs of certain areas. NJDOT will also work on improving their data collection and management systems in order to identify high-risk locations, “near misses” for bicycle and pedestrian safety, and safety performance measures with the creation of an online reporting tool and crash reporting trainings.
Goal # 2: Enhance Accessibility, Mobility, and Connectivity
“Provide a connected and accessible network for bicyclists and pedestrians throughout New Jersey.”
The state is looking for a bottom-up approach to transportation planning, trying to include more players from the local level such as school boards and municipalities. The Complete Streets Implementation process will continue to see successes as local planning boards assist in taking inventory of current complete streets to identify critical issues and prioritize the most pressing ones.
Goal # 3: Achieve Healthy, Equitable, Sustainable Communities
“Provide opportunities for people to become more healthy and active through walking and bicycling.”
Education is one of the major components of the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. One of the plans in the mix is to create a program about safe walking practices along with a Public Service Announcement (PSA) about bicycle safety in multiple languages. The Safe Routes to School initiatives will continue to see progress with an increased effort to work with organizations outside of transportation such as environmental agencies, placemaking institutions and community organizations.
Goal # 4: Foster a Culture Shift
“Considering the needs of all users becomes the default way of doing business, with Complete Streets integrated into everyday practice.”
Probably one of the most pressing issues addressed in the plan, fostering a culture shift could be the key to making streets safer for everyone. NJDOT hopes to conduct public surveys on travel, attitude and perceptions of walking and bicycling. The results will be used to develop educational and training materials to try and make multiple modes of transportation, rather than the car, the norm. Existing legislation will also be more enforced, such as the “Stop & Stay” crosswalk policy.
Goal # 5: Facilitate Coordination and Integration
“No one entity alone can achieve the goals of this master plan — a partnership of public, private, and nonprofit partners is needed.”
One major theme in the master plan is the idea of collaboration. NJDOT wants to receive input and feedback from all areas of a community. From schoolboards to the AARP, everyone must be included in the process of shaping the streets in order to make them accessible to all. NJDOT hopes to hold both internal and external summits to share information and brainstorm solutions to traffic problems in the state.
To learn more about the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, visit the dedicated website, here..