NJAIM season has arrived! Ambassadors attended their first event of the year on May 9 at Island Beach State Park, where the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) released the New Jersey Bicycle Map and Resource Guide. Be sure to keep an eye out for NJAIM throughout the next 6 months, especially while you’re touring the state with the help of NJDOT’s comprehensive new guide. Never heard of the New Jersey Ambassadors in Motion? No problem – here’s an overview of the program.
What is NJ AIM?
In 2012, the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center (NJBPRC) teamed up with NJDOT to pilot a bicycle and pedestrian outreach program: The New Jersey Ambassadors in Motion (NJAIM). A goal of the program is to reduce fatalities throughout the state, as thousands of pedestrians are injured and hundreds are killed in vehicle-pedestrian crashes on New Jersey roadways each year. While improving the built environment and making our streets complete is necessary to reduce accidents, influencing the behavior of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers is also crucial to this mission. NJAIM’s public outreach and education efforts not only help encourage safe travel behavior, but also advance conditions for bicycling and walking throughout the state.
What do Ambassadors do?
Ambassadors employ four forms of outreach: event, in-class, on-street, and governmental outreach and technical assistance. Utilizing these four different methods helps NJAIM reach a diverse audience, including recreational cyclists, students, the elderly, government officials, and those who live car-free.
NJAIM educates people at bicycle tours, farmers markets, foot races, and NJDOT press events in this form of outreach. Some highlights from 2012 include the Ramapo Rally, Gran Fondo NJ, Woodbridge Township’s Farmers Market, and the Route 52 Causeway Bridge Opening. If you attend any events like these this summer, come play bicycle and pedestrian trivia games facilitated by the prize wheel. Just look for a table fitted with a bright red NJAIM banner!
Ambassadors perform in-class outreach in presentation settings, where they educate audiences about bicycle and pedestrian safety and laws. This is an important form of outreach as attendees are exposed to a lot of valuable information. A highlight from last year was NJAIM’s bicycle safety workshop at Rutgers International Students Orientation Day, which attracted approximately thirty students from countries such as China, France, Mexico, Colombia, India, Kenya, and Germany. The ambassadors are looking forward to presenting to a new group of students at orientation in August. NJAIM also created a bikes on buses instructional film to add to their educational toolkit, which is available for viewing on our website and on the big screen in the Bloustein School’s lobby, where it airs multiple times every hour.
On-street outreach occurs at the state’s most dangerous intersections and at streets with large volumes of pedestrian traffic. Last year, Ambassadors focused these outreach efforts in New Jersey’s 10 largest municipalities (Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Woodbridge, Lakewood, Toms River, Hamilton, and Trenton). In addition to these 10 municipalities, ambassadors were also stationed on the shore in Point Pleasant and Atlantic City and in suburban communities such as East Brunswick and Parsippany.
Governmental Outreach and Technical Assistance
Ambassadors educate municipal officials about Complete Streets and assist them with drafting and adopting policies in this form of outreach. A goal of the program is to leverage a network of community organizations and leaders who can advocate on behalf of safe bicycling and pedestrian activity and this is the best way to accomplish that. In 2012, ambassadors assisted with the adoption of 8 policies (Essex County, Mercer County, Newark, New Brunswick, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Dover, and Maplewood).
The 2012 NJAIM program was extremely successful. Ambassadors attended a total of 69 events and reached roughly 166,000 New Jersey residents. NJAIM plans to exceed these numbers this year. Not only will ambassadors be utilizing the regular forms of outreach, but they will also be visiting parks, trails, colleges, local YMCAs, malls, rail crossings, boardwalks, and beaches. This year, you can expect to see NJAIM in a community near you!
If you’d like to volunteer as an ambassador, or if you’d like NJAIM to attend or organize an event near you, please contact us at the email address below.