JERSEY CITY, NJ - Jersey City will implement a Slow Streets Pilot Program to enhance COVID-19 safety measures by supporting safe outdoor activity and recreation for residents’ physical and mental health, Mayor Steven Fulop has announced.
The innovative plan provides residents additional open space by designating certain streets throughout Jersey City as “Slow Streets” which will be temporarily closed to through traffic, with access for local traffic only at very low speeds while maintaining all existing parking. Slow Streets will have partial closures at intersections to allow for more comfortable use for adequate physically distant walking, jogging, biking, exercising, commuting, and playing all across the city.
“We have been working to bring outside-the-box solutions to address the various issues created by this unprecedented crisis," said Fulop. "We were the first to implement strict and effective social distancing measures, and now as we work to carefully reopen, these Slow Streets will act as a relief valve for safe outdoor activities this summer as we see the streets and parks start to get crowded again. This program will also support further recovery efforts on the horizon.”
“The street we want to slow down in Ward A is located near a park, so we have enlisted the Triangle Park Neighborhood Association to help utilize the new expanded open space for programming that benefits the local residents while maintaining social distancing such as sports events, kids activities, and a flea market,” contributed Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley.
The Slow Streets pilot is the latest program the city is introducing to utilize city streets to assist business owners and residents with adhering to social distancing requirements. The city has been working with restaurants to expand outdoor seating into areas of streets to maintain capacity while indoor dining remains limited. Along with the expansion of the established Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall, other temporary Pedestrian Plazas are also being incorporated citywide to further support social distancing efforts. The new plazas include: Grove Street from 1st Street to Montgomery Ave.; 1st Street from Jersey Ave. to Newark Ave.; Bergen Ave. from Reed Street to Duncan Ave.; Rose Ave. from Cator Ave. to Old Bergen Rd.; MLK Drive from Woodlawn Ave. to Armstrong Ave.; and Bergen Ave. from Sip Ave. to Newkirk Street.
Considering the new need for additional space on city streets for pedestrians and cyclists, Jersey City is also expediting the construction of permanent bike lanes, with 1.5 miles completed since the pandemic shutdowns, with six additional miles of protected bike lanes planned for the remainder of the year. Since 2019, a total of 6.75 miles of bike lanes have been constructed citywide to encourage a safe space for bicycle use as a more environmentally friendly transportation option. The extended bike lane network will also help commuters looking to avoid crowded mass transit.
As with all reopening efforts, changes to the Slow Streets may be made throughout the pilot project based on public feedback and the impact on public health and safety. Designated Slow Streets will be marked with traffic barricades and signs at intersections. The first closure will begin on Wednesday, June 24.
"We will start with a few Slow Streets and roll this out on additional streets based on public feedback, as we want this to be a community-driven initiative," said Barkha Patel, Director of Transportation Planning.
"This is about the physical and mental health of our residents. As the weather gets warmer, and popular destinations like our parks and plazas become increasingly crowded, we want to provide residents with a safe outlet to go outside of their homes and comfortably use neighborhood streets for recreation.”
“After incorporating the community’s feedback, this will be a welcome addition to make the street and surrounding area much safer not only for social distancing purposes, but also to help slow traffic down in areas where residents have expressed concern,” said Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh.
To launch the program, the streets listed below will be transformed into slow streets immediately: Senate Place and Dey Street (entire length); Nelson Avenue - Bleecker St. to Leonard St.; and Jersey Avenue - 8th St. to Newark Ave.
“We need to work together to help our businesses and residents recover from this health and economic crisis. From installing Slow Streets and Pedestrian Plazas to expanding outdoor dining and offering testing and supplies to help business owners safely reopen, as restrictions are slowly lifted we are looking at every angle to see where and how we can provide assistance,” concluded Fulop.
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