BERNARDSVILLE, NJ - Bernardsville has launched a Street Smart pedestrian safety campaign this week in the downtown area.
“This campaign is very important because Bernardsville is a walkable community and one that takes the safety of residents seriously,” Bernardsville Mayor Kevin Sooy said.
There were 46 crashes in Bernardsville involving cyclists and/or pedestrians between 2006 and 2016, according to data from Numetric, the crash analysis tool from Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT). The majority occurred in the downtown along Route 202.
“Bernardsville is committed to pedestrian safety and a walkable downtown and this campaign confirms our commitment to those priorities,” said Councilwoman Christine Zamarra.
Bernardsville is the fourth Somerset County municipality to conduct a Street Smart campaign with in conjunction with the nonprofit RideWise advocacy group, which provides technical assistance to communities conducting Street Smart campaigns.
Street Smart NJ aims to change driver and pedestrian behavior through education and enforcement. The program was created by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and began in 2013 with five pilot sites and has grown to include more than 80 community partners. Street Smart was created in response to New Jersey’s designation as a “focus” state by the Federal Highway Administration. New Jersey has the second highest proportion of pedestrian fatalities in the United States. According to New Jersey State Police statistics, 825 pedestrians were killed and more than 22,000 injured on New Jersey’s roadways from 2013-2017. This translates to one death every 2.2 days and 12 injuries daily.
“Street Smart is a common sense campaign,” said Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, who represents the County on the NJTPA Board of Trustees. “If we all follow the campaign’s simple safety reminders we can prevent crashes and save lives.”
The goals of the Street Smart campaign are to educate drivers and pedestrians with five primary messages. Drivers are reminded to Stop for Pedestrians and to Obey Speed Limits. Pedestrians are reminded to Use Crosswalks and to Wait for the Walk. A fifth message, Heads Up, Phones Down, is aimed at both. Bernardsville Police and RideWise will distribute safety tip cards with the primary messaging. Street signs will be posted in the downtown and merchants will display materials with safety messaging including coasters, coffee cup sleeves and table tent cards.
“Officers will be interacting with motorists in the downtown to make sure they know and obey the law and stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk,” said Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine. “We’ll also be reminding pedestrians to use crosswalks, to cross at intersections and not mid-block, or to not cross between parked vehicles.”