Spring is here, which means warmer weather – perfect for getting outside and walking more! But with more people on the streets, the risk of pedestrian/vehicle conflicts increases dramatically – which can have tragic outcomes. What can we do to make our streets safer and save pedestrian lives? This problem can be addressed through Street Smart New Jersey campaigns.
Since 2016, RideWise has conducted Street Smart campaigns for six Somerset County communities – North Plainfield, Somerville, Manville, Raritan, Bernardsville, and Peapack-Gladstone. Each campaign saw improvements in pedestrians using crosswalks and drivers stopping for pedestrians. The most recent campaign was conducted for Peapack-Gladstone in May/June 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign was successful in evaluating areas where Peapack-Gladstone can improve pedestrian and cyclist safety while also raising awareness of the Street Smart NJ message.
Across the US, COVID has shown us that fewer cars on the road equals faster speeds. According to the NJ State Police’s Fatal Accident Statistics, at the height of the pandemic in April 2020 fatalities were down compared to 2019. But in May and June, with fewer cars on the road, the fatality rate increased to pre-pandemic numbers. This is attributed to speeding and distracted driving, which can have disastrous results for pedestrians and cyclists.
Street Smart NJ is a statewide public education and awareness campaign developed by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), the metropolitan planning organization for northern and central New Jersey.
The campaign highlights messages for drivers and pedestrians in two categories: Walk Smart (We look before crossing; We use crosswalks; We wait for the walk) and Drive Smart (Heads up, phones down; We stop for people; We slow down for safety).
The key to keeping pedestrians safe on your roads this spring lies in your hands – by addressing distracted driving and creating Street Smart communities. To conduct a Street Smart campaign in your community, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.