By Kelsey Bridges
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center is pleased to share 2014’s highlights of Complete Streets projects and active transportation in New Jersey. The resource center has published several reports documenting bicycle infrastructure and the state has surpassed 100 Complete Streets policies within the past year, continuing the state’s goal of becoming a multimodal-friendly state.
The year started off with the introduction of a Complete Streets Policy Atlas located on the BPRC website. The atlas is an interactive map identifying New Jersey counties and municipalities that have adopted Complete Streets policies. Users can click on the pinned municipalities (red pins) or counties (black pins) to reveal information on when each policy was adopted and follow a link to a PDF of the policy.
The beginning of the year also saw the first meeting of the newly-restructured New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council (NJBPAC), which serves to promote best policies and practices that increase bicycling and walking for transportation and recreation. The group is comprised of political leaders, planners, activists, and bicycle enthusiasts from across the state and is open to public involvement.
In early spring, BPRC published two reports: the 2012 Pedestrian Safety Tracking Report and the 2013 Benchmarking Report: Bicycling to Rail Stations in NJ. The former provides a detailed analysis of the patterns of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in New Jersey in 2012, as well as an analysis of the origins and destinations of pedestrians and drivers involved in crashes in select municipalities. This information can be used to prioritize projects or promote Complete Streets infrastructure. The 2013 Benchmarking Report: Bicycling to Rail Stations in NJ report uses bicycle counts, inventories, a survey of bicyclists who travel to stations, and focus groups in order to better understand the successes and challenges for New Jersey’s last-leg bicycle commuters.
In March, BPRC proposed a road diet for Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, which was partially adopted in May. Livingston Avenue previously had two lanes of traffic flowing in each direction. The corridor’s land use consists primarily of several churches, schools, and businesses, and has high pedestrian activity. To make the intersections safe for pedestrians and bicyclists, BPRC recommended a road diet that would eliminate a lane in each direction and add a center turning lane, reducing traffic speeds and allowing pedestrians to be more visible when crossing the street. This type of design also increases safety for motorists and bicyclists.
During the fall of 2013, New Brunswick held its first Ciclovia. Over three miles of roads were closed off to traffic and people were invited to bike and walk in the street. The event also provided opportunities for additional exercise such as Zumba, Yoga, and bicycle checks from the New Brunswick Bicycle Exchange. In 2014, New Brunswick held three additional Ciclovias in May, July, and September. BPRC released the New Brunswick Ciclovia Evaluation, a project funded by the Together North Jersey Local Government Capacity Grant Program. The report evaluates the success and effectiveness of the first Ciclovia in 2013 in order to improve the event in the future.
The New Jersey Executive Department took a big step in bicycle promotion this year by issuing a proclamation designating May as Bike Month in New Jersey. May is National Bike Month across the country, and this proclamation shows the state’s support for alternative modes of transportation. New Jersey’s bicycling community held events throughout the entire month of April, such as Bike to Work Week, Swap-A-Ride, Employer Bike Challenge, and several Bike to School Day events.
This past summer, the New Jersey Ambassadors in Motion (NJAIM) participated in several bike rodeos, Street Smart campaigns, and community safety outreach throughout the state. Each week the Ambassadors visited between three and six communities, passing out literature on bicycle and pedestrian safety. Over the course of the summer they went to over 60 communities and spoke with thousands of New Jersey residents. They ended the summer by holding a bicycle safety course for international students at Rutgers University.
BPRC also collaborated with several groups to offer a series of workshops and webinars. A June webinar, “Complete Streets: From Policy Adoption to Implementation in New Jersey”, discussed the benefits of Complete Streets and had 500 registrants. The Center continued promoting Complete Streets throughout the year with county-wide workshops and in December hosted a series of Complete Streets Planning and Design Workshops in southern, central, and northern New Jersey.
NJDOT published their newest bike route, Explore the Jersey Shore by Bicycle, over the summer, which showcases four route segments stretching from Cape May to Sandy Hook. Riders can access the routes using their phones or can download and print the maps from the NJDOT website. The guides not only have directions but also information about sites that the routes pass through.
BPRC is excited that through all of their efforts (and the collective efforts of many other groups throughout New Jersey) – reports, webinars, workshops, and outreach – 27 municipalities within the state adopted Complete Streets policies, ending the year with 111 total policies. The successes over the past year show that bicycle and pedestrian safety are becoming a priority due to the joint efforts of groups and organizations across the state. Join BPRC in reaching even higher goals this year!