To The Editor: On Friday, March 3 at approximately 7:45 a.m. Megan E. Villanella, 34, of Verona and her 30-year-old brother were standing on the sidewalk at Lakeside Avenue and Pease Avenue when they were hit by a person driving a car.
When people die in “car accidents” we often think, “Whose fault is this?”
This is natural. We all have the personal responsibility to mind our surroundings when walking or driving.
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But our lives shouldn’t be in the hands of an individual. Policies must be in place, so that life and death will not depend on if someone is paying attention or not texting.
Pedestrians don’t accidentally die when drivers of cars hit them. We have the technology to greatly reduce injury and the chance of death of pedestrians when drivers make bad decisions.
The same kinds of thinking that goes behind policies and systems put in place to fight racism, sexism and homophobia need to also be put in place to mitigate discrimination against people who are not in their cars.
An individual might be racist, but our system shouldn’t support racism.
An individual might be a distracted driver, but our system shouldn’t support a person’s choice of distracted driving.
The four-way highway is one of the dangerous configurations of roads. Any city or county that has a four-way highway under its jurisdiction, especially if it is near residential, park or school locations, needs to seriously consider putting that highway on a road diet.
Essex County has a Complete Street resolution. It needs to be implemented. We the constituents of Essex County need to support our politicians in implementing it. They need to know we understand this is important.
This isn’t about if a person believes in green issues or not. This is about do we believe that we should have policies and transportation construction that supports killing people.
I am sure we all believe that we should not have policies that kill people.
“Four-lane undivided highways have a history of increased crashes as traffic volumes rise, due to motorists sharing the inside lane for higher speed through movements and left turns. Additionally, as active transportation increases, communities desire more livable spaces, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and transit options, which are not easily accommodated by a 4-lane undivided roadway. One solution that benefits all modes is a Road Diet (Roadway Reconfiguration).
A Road Diet is generally described as removing vehicle lanes from a roadway and reallocating the extra space for other uses or travelling modes, such as parking, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, transit use, turn lanes, medians or pedestrian refuge islands.
Road Diets have the potential to improve safety, provide operational benefits, and increase the quality of life for all road users. Road Diets can be relatively low cost if planned in conjunction with reconstruction or resurfacing projects since applying Road Diets consists primarily of restriping.” US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Case Study, Safe Road for Safer Future
In Santa Monica, California, a city near my hometown of Los Angeles, where driving is even more king than in New Jersey, a road diet on a similar style road reduced crashes 65% and reduced injuries 60%.
Yes, people should pay attention, but we need to have systems in place that support good driving habits and reduce the chances of injury in times where an individual makes bad decisions.
Teka-Lark Lo Complete Streets Advocate at VELO Bloomfield