Safe Routes Scoop
Overcoming Local Resistance in Brick

To make the street less appealing for parking and to make walking a more inviting option, the Brick Township team developed a SRTS proposal to modify the dead end and add sidewalks on key streets throughout the neighborhood.

 

The SRTS proposal won support from the school, board of education, police department, and township, but ran into stiff opposition within the community, as many local residents questioned the benefits and costs of adding new sidewalks. Even some of those living on Orion Drive, despite their repeated calls for a solution, thought that new sidewalks would prove to be a greater burden than benefit. In particular, some residents were concerned about the costs of maintaining the sidewalks, as well as possible liability. They favored strong traffic enforcement measures, said Paxton, “wanting to solve the traffic problems without addressing the difficulties in walking to school that caused so much of the traffic.”

 

SRTS supporters in the community refused to allow this resistance to deter them from their goals. Knowing that the support of parents was key to success, the SRTS proponents engaged the Midstreams School’s active PTO. A powerful demonstration of how parents can be educated about their role in causing traffic congestion arose at an early PTO meeting when a series of photographs showing the intense

traffic around the school during drop-off time was presented. “Parents were shocked to see the traffic conditions they had caused and the consequences of their own actions,” said Paxton. Understanding the need for change, the PTO responded to the appeal for SRTS improvements.
    
Through a variety of small events, SRTS supporters drew wider public recognition of the safety problems at Midstreams. For instance, on International Walk to School Day, the SRTS team with the support of the PTO persuaded students and their parents to get out of their cars and discover the benefits and obstacles of walking in the community.  With the aid of second grade teacher Joseph Sulock, students filled out a “Walk-ability Survey” provided by the National Center for Safe Routes to School to help both the SRTS team and Brick residents better understand the problems they face when walking to Midstreams School. The survey asked students to use five rankings to rate their walk based on space available for walking, the safety of drivers, desirability of walking, and street crossings. The resulting ratings indicated which areas needed some work.

 

Working again with the PTO, the SRTS team hosted a training event to teach parents how to plan and organize an effective Walking School Bus Program. This event heightened public awareness of walking as a

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