Safe Routes Scoop

NJ Complete Streets Summit a Success

 

In October 2010, officials representing 27 municipalities and 14 counties attended the first NJ Complete Streets Summit, a full-day educational event designed to communicate the benefits of adopting a more holistic approach to road design and to encourage NJ localities to adopt their own policies. The aim of the Summit was to educate engineers, planners, and elected officials about the Complete Streets concept, the idea that roadways should be designed and operated to enable safe access for all users—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Speakers discussed the benefits and costs of adopting a Complete Streets policy and explored ways to overcome barriers to implementing such a policy.

 

Through presentations and discussion, speakers demonstrated how instituting a Complete Streets policy can enable agencies to routinely design and maintain the entire right of way and provide safe access for anyone who may seek to use it. Complete Streets can promote:

 

  • Reduced crashes through safety improvements;
  • Improved health by encouraging more walking and bicycling;
  • Eased transportation woes by providing real travel choices; and
  • Improved air quality by encouraging alternate forms of transportation and giving people the option to safely and effectively get around without their cars.

 

The event was hosted by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center and sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) with funding from the Federal Highway Administration. The NJ Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Metropolitan Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers co-sponsored the Summit.

 

Setting the Stage

Internationally-recognized expert on innovative, practical street design, Michael Ronkin, opened his keynote address by asking “Who here has never heard of Complete Streets?” Not one hand went up in the audience. According to Ronkin, “the change is amazing.” He noted that only three years ago, no one had heard of Complete Streets and 30 years in the future, young people will not be able to understand why someone would not want to build a Complete Street. However, to achieve our Complete Streets goals, we must remember policies of the past. Mr. Ronkin noted, “We simply have to unlearn the 50-60 years we spent in an auto centric mindset, and remember to design our streets for multiple users.” While a Complete

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