Safety first. It’s a mantra we’ve all heard since childhood. Here in New Providence, we take immense pride in the security of our neighborhoods. It is of utmost importance to residents with school-age children to know these students can walk to and from school safely. For seniors—and community members of all ages—dedicated to fitness through walking, it’s about having the assurance that pathways are clear and areas for rest and recharging are available. For commuters, it’s about being able to confidently walk or bike to and from the train and bus stations to reduce commuting costs or get in a workout. We recognize that efforts have been made to alleviate reservations members of the community have about pedestrian and traffic safety. However, among the residents we have spoken to, this very topic was among the top issues in every neighborhood, and they, and we, believe more must be done.
When we reflect on your voices, we are able to establish a singular vision for how we can advance as a Borough. You told us that sidewalks are still a problem; that while local activism has pressed the Council into action, too many streets remain untouched and lacking safe passage for children to get to school without walking in the street. You’ve also said there are still too many street crossings that remain dangerous, whether it’s because of ineffective traffic patterns or speeding by motorists looking to cut corners or skip traffic lights. We’ve also heard you when you express concern regarding poor sightlines pulling into and out of parking areas within our downtown district, and how poor planning has created hazardous parking areas in/around the development at Oakwood Park. We’ve heard arguments that, specifically on Union County owned roads, these are problems that have always existed, and at a local level here in New Providence, when it comes to County road issues, our hands are tied. To admit this is to deny one’s true ability to fight for and affect positive change within the community.
Our pledge as Borough Council candidates is to build new alliances with County officials on your behalf to get these projects in motion. Whether it’s a traffic pattern or parking study, cost to cover new signage or road markings, change to reduce speed limits, or assistance in traffic enforcement, New Providence residents should never accept the idea that because an issue may be related to the County that it is not actionable. And when we look at the big picture, pedestrian and traffic safety does not exist in a bubble. As we consider how best to address the concerns we hear from you, the residents, we must recognize how our goal to achieve a more walkable community directly correlates to increasing the safety and security of our roads and pathways. In fact, we can draw lines to directly connect how improving pedestrian and traffic safety in our Borough builds upon our other goals in achieving a more sustainable and shopper-friendly downtown district, all of which can ultimately enhance our quality of life. It’s about providing safe routes to and from our homes and neighborhoods, and in turn, taking cars off our streets. It’s imagining a future that includes redeveloped park space with new walking trails, dedicated bike lanes through town, and walking plazas in our shopping districts free of vehicular traffic, which prioritizes safety while providing friends, family, and neighbors a place to gather. Safety is a pillar of our community’s foundation.
We commit to ensuring your concerns surrounding pedestrian and traffic safety are always part of the discussion, and reflected in the decisions Borough Council makes. We ask for your vote to elect Keith Doll and Jamie Baer Peterson to New Providence Borough Council on Nov. 7.