RARITAN, NJ - Raritan Borough Council is planning to take part in a Street Smart Campaign from RideWise of Raritan Valley in an effort to reduce pedestrian-related crashes throughout the borough.
RideWise is an independent not-for-profit organization that educates businesses and community members on alternative transportation options in the county.
Asha Bailey, committee consultant from RideWise, spoke to the borough council about the Street Smart Campaign, which has already been done in Somerville.
She said New Jersey ranks 15th nationally for the highest number of pedestrian deaths, and Raritan alone saw 5,531 crashes between 2006 and 2016, according to the data from RideWise. Of those, 42 crashes involved pedestrians and 32 were bike-related.
The majority of those crashes, Bailey said, were on Somerset Street, between First Avenue and Lincoln Street, which has a lot of foot traffic.
“Street Smart is a pedestrian education program to change the awareness of and behavior of pedestrians and motorists,” she said. “It is about public awareness and law enforcement.”
There are five elements of the program, Bailey said, namely obeying speed limits, stopping for pedestrians, using crosswalks, waiting for the walk sign, and using the “Heads Up, Phones Down” mantra.
Bailey said it is an eight-week campaign, with two weeks for observation; four weeks for outreach and signage; and two weeks for the post campaign to compile information together.
In addition, funding comes entirely through grants from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
“It’s a matter of getting the public on board and moving forward, because it has to be understood by the public,” Bailey said.
“The next step is truly collaborative, getting the council on board and the police on board, and then we go out with the police to get the public on board,” she added.
According to Raritan Borough Police Chief Raymond Nolte, the department will be working with RideWise to implement the program, and it is expected to start in the spring or early summer.
Det. Christopher Wren will be the coordinator from the police department.
"Chris has extensive training and is a member of the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Collision Analysis Reconstruction Team," Nolte said.