The rate of drivers stopping for pedestrians in Somerville crosswalks increased 23 percent according to before and after surveys conducted by RideWise as part of the Borough’s Street Smart pedestrian safety campaign. This is according to a report released this week by RideWise.
The Borough of Somerville is the second municipality in Somerset County to partner with RideWise on a comprehensive six-week campaign, which also saw a 10 percent increase in the rate of cyclists obeying traffic laws, and a four percent increase in the rate of pedestrians using the crosswalks.
Street Smart is a statewide initiative to promote safe travel behavior through education and enforcement of pedestrian and motor vehicle laws. The campaign was developed by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) in response to New Jersey’s designation as a “focus” state by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. New Jersey ranks sixth in the U.S. in pedestrian fatalities at a rate of 24 percent – nearly double the national average 14 percent.
Locally, Somerville has seen 135 incidents involving vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians between 2009 and 2016, according to Numetric, the crash analysis tool from Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT). 47 of these incidents involved bicyclists and 88 involved pedestrians. More than half of the incidents occurred on Main Street in downtown Somerville. In response to these findings, representatives from RideWise met with Somerville Borough officials in late 2016 to propose a Street Smart campaign.
Somerville’s Street Smart campaign lasted approximately six weeks, with education and enforcement activities occurring during the months of June and July 2017. After the June 1 kick-off, Somerville Borough police and RideWise staff engaged in education and outreach by distributing warning cards to pedestrians and motorists who failed to comply with pedestrian safety laws, and by hanging signage in store fronts and at key locations around town. The Somerville police organized a detail to enforce pedestrian laws among motorists. This involved monitoring behavior at the intersections of Main Street and Grove Street, Main Street and Division Street, and Main Street and Union Street.
“Somerville is to be commended for taking a leadership role in keeping residents safe and joining other communities like Morristown, Summit, Flemington, Princeton and North Plainfield and Hillsborough to conduct a Street Smart campaign. After seeing the results, it’s clear the campaiagn is effective in reducing dangerous behaviors among drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.” Donna Allison, Executive Director.