WEST ORANGE, NJThe West Orange Pedestrian Safety Advisory Board and the Pleasant Valley Civic Association, as well as and township stakeholders have announced that the American Planning Association-New Jersey Chapter recognized the 2015 West Orange Walking and Cycling Graduate Studio of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University with theOutstanding Student Project Award” on Friday, Jan. 29.

“The award is the culmination of many months of work with Charles Brown, MPA, 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, and his students in creating a plan to bring state, county and municipal decision makers to the same table to make West Orange a safer place to walk and bicycle,” said Roz Moskovitz Bielski, a member of the West Orange Pedestrian Safety Advisory Board.

“The Rutgers study was the result of the hard work and efforts of the West Orange Pedestrian Safety Board, Partners In Health and Rutgers University,” said West Orange Councilman Jerry Guarino. “The results were also realized from the creation and passing of the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance, which enabled the funding of the project.”

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To celebrate, the West Orange group members are inviting the township to an event to celebrate the accomplishment on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at West Orange Liberty Middle School, which is located at 1 Kelly Drive. The event will include “before and after” renderings of proposed Complete Streets improvements; a West Orange Bicycle Network complete with street signs, bicycle racks and bicycle signage; and a West  Orange Walkability Guide for anyone wishing access to the walkability of the streets throughout the township.

The event flyer reads, “Come see how your input from the Oct. 15 public comment meeting helped form this blueprint for the award-winning ‘Complete Streets Concept Plan,’ presented by the West Orange 2015 Walking and Cycling Studio Graduate Class from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.”

“Every West Orange resident should make the effort to attend the award-winning Streetscapes presentation on Feb 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Liberty Middle School,” said Guarino. “You will be amazed at the concepts envisioned by the graduate Students from Rutgers University Bloustein School of Public Policy and Planning. Come see the future of West Orange and how we will lead the way for a safer and pedestrian friendly community.” 

The American Planning Association-New Jersey Chapter award is traditionally presented for “outstanding class projects or papers by students from any secondary education institution that contribute to advances in the field of planning on a NJ-based project,” according to the Blou Blog.

The Pleasant Valley Civic Association, Pedestrian Safety Advisory Board and other stakeholders originally reached out to the Bloustein School about developing a Complete Streets Concept Plan for the township because the members of the groups were concerned about the overall safety and comfort of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists in West Orange. According to Smart Growth America, Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.

Brown’s students created a Vision Zero plan for the township and animated video of the proposed improvements. The Concept Plan includes before and after renderings of proposed complete streets improvements, which include a West Orange Bicycle Network, complete with customized street sign toppers, bicycle racks, and bicycle signage; a customized West Orange Walkability Guide, designed and formatted for use by anyone wishing to access the walkability of the streets throughout the township; a vision for a first-ever “shared street” in the township; and customized wayfinding signage which can be attached to existing poles and bus shelters or at standalone kiosks” according to the Blou Blog.

"The Rutgers students delved into many of the unsafe and unconnected aspects of the roadways throughout our township; many that have not been evaluated for over 40 years,” said Bielski. “These industrious students came up with creative blueprint for change that catapults West Orange into the 21st century.”

She added, “Partnering with neighboring communities that are immersed in complete street design as well as Partners for Health Foundation, Rutgers Professor Charles Brown has placed us (West Orange) on the fast track for grant opportunities as well as assistance from the county and state. This visual mapping is a powerful tool for residents to witness and we hope many come out to Liberty Middle School on the 24th to be part of this exciting conversation."