Health & Wellness

Essex County Street Smart NJ Kicks Off At Bloomfield Town Hall

Executive Director Mary K. Murphy, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia. Credits: John Lee / TAPinto.net

BLOOMFIELD, NJMayor Michael Venezia and County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo were among the numerous state and Essex County officials attending the Street Smart NJ kick off campaign earlier this month.

Executive Director Mary K. Murphy said North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) is now more than half way to its goal of securing 100 campaign partners statewide. She said: “Any community can run a Street Smart campaign. We have everything you need on our website.” www.bestreetsmartnj.org

Montclair Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville stated that Essex has the most towns currently participating in the program. Bloomfield is one of the six Essex County Municipalities participating in the Street Smart NJ Pedestrian Safety Education program. It is designed to get motorists and pedestrians involved in improving street safety. Other participating towns are: Verona, Montclair, Glen Ridge, Caldwell and West Caldwell.

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TAPinto Nutley spoke with Lisa Lee, Safe Routes to School Coordinator and Manager of Bike & Pedestrian Programs at EZ Ride/Meadowlink. “We would love to come to Nutley and deliver our free 30 minute pedestrian safety programs to Nutley seniors. We also provide Safe Routes to Schools Education for K-8 schools.”

Lee stated that Street Smart campaigns are available to universities. “We offer programs for faculty as well as students. Often students are coming to NJ institutions of higher education from outside of the US where driving and pedestrian rules are quite different.” She intends to reach out to administrators of the new Seton Hall/Hackensack Medical School in Nutley to provide bike and pedestrian safety programs.

Walkable Bloomfield: How Transportation Affects Your Life

Last month, twenty Bloomfield citizens attended the Walkable Bloomfield Focus Group and explored how transportation impacts quality of life in municipalities.

The group and several staff and board members of the Bloomfield Health Department participated in several exercises led by Charles T. Brown. Maya Lordo, Bloomfield’s Health Education Coordinator introduced Brown as a livability and healthy community advocate and thought leader in bike equity. He was assisted by Jasmine, an intern from Rutgers University who is studying Urban Planning and Design.

Brown presented Crash Data Analysis in an informative slide presentation. The data included that most pedestrian, bike and car crashes occur:

  • In the month of June (more citizens are out)
  • When conditions are dry (citizens are not as careful in dry conditions)
  • During daylight (more cars, pedestrians, bikes are on the roads)

Data presented showed that Bloomfield ranked 3rd with 420 total number of crashes, while neighboring Nutley ranked 8th with a crash frequency of 192. Data provided was for all municipalities in Essex County 2015-2016.

There was a discussion on how would Bloomfield rank if crashes occurring on the Garden State Parkway and county roads within the municipality were removed from the data. Attendees expressed concern that the Parkway and several county roads were not under the jurisdiction of Bloomfield and therefore little could be done to impact crash reductions.

One group exercise had participants working in groups to generate ideas for new “Programs, Policies and Projects”

The ideas shared included one by Joel Elkins, President of the Bloomfield Board of Health to “fix all broken sidewalks” in order to eliminate walking hazards from uneven walkways. Karen Lore, Bloomfield Director of Health and Welfare also participated in the idea sharing.

In the final group exercise, participants were asked to imagine being hired as the ‘Bloomfield Director of Transportation’ and to list the ‘Top Three Priorities’ as Director. Priority topics that emerged were meetings and enforcement: enforcement of existing policies and procedures and meetings with Township Departments and Services i.e. Planning, Zoning, Police etc. to review existing laws and ordinances to determine alignment with the walkability vision.

All ideas were to be compiled and available to citizens from the Health Dept. Contact: Maya Lordo, Bloomfield Health & Human Services 973.680.4024 mlordo@bloomfieldtwpnj.com

Earlier this month, Bloomfield School District announced its participation in New Jersey Safe Routes to School. The Board of Education approved a resolution supporting the initiative citing the health, safety and physical activity of children, as well environmental and traffic concerns.

In March 2011, Bloomfield adopted a “Complete Street” Policy. The Resolution in part reads: ‘the Mayor and Council supports this “complete streets” initiative and wishes to reinforce its commitment to creating a comprehensive, integrated, connected street network that safely accommodates all road users of all abilities and for all trips…Complete streets” safely accommodate travel by pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit, and motorized vehicles and their passengers, with special priority given to pedestrian safety.’

As part of the ongoing Complete Street policy, the current Bloomfield Walkability initiative project kickoff was March of this year.  The Walkability audit is scheduled for May. Streets included in the audit are:

  1. Glenwood Ave (Bloomfield to Prospect)
  2. Conger St (Bloomfield to Glenwood)
  3. Watchung Ave (Broad to E. Passaic)
  4. Grove St (to Watessing)

All focus group members were invited to participate in the Walkability Audit. It was also recommended that Bloomfield High students be asked to participate if accompanied by an adult.

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Resources

Street Smart NJ is coordinated by NJTPA. Contact David Behrend @ 973-639-6423 or dbehrend@njtpa.org for additional information

Charles Brown is a Senior Research Specialist with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) and adjunct professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. http://njbikeped.org/staff/charles-brown/

Bloomfield Board of Health http://www.bloomfieldtwpnj.com/main/services/board-health

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federal, state and local effort to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school. http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/community/srts/

Read about Lisa Lee here: http://www.njhealthykids.org/undeterred-by-detours-lisa-lee-pursues-her-mission-to-serve/

Note: In 2013, Nutley Township received a $175,000.00 grant for its Safe Routes to All Schools Project. According to the Township website the Nutley Traffic Safety Officer oversees all school guards and works with the school guard coordinator to maintain a safe environment for children going to and from school as well as the township Engineering Department to provide the "Safe Routes to School Program". http://www.nutleynj.org/traffic-safety

 

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