Safe Routes Scoop

How to Save the World,
One Sidewalk at a Time

council meeting appearance should help get attention. Persistence can certainly pay off, as winning the support of key public figures can spell the difference between success and failure.

 

Who is in Charge?

To get a project moving, it is necessary to identify who owns the target roadway. Is it a local street maintained by the municipality, a county road or a state highway? In some cases, a seemingly simple sidewalk project may involve multiple jurisdictions. The guiding logic for addressing pedestrian/cyclist issues, said Meth, is to contact local officials, as well as the county and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT.)

 

Project planning is managed by the agency responsible for a roadway and municipal, county, and state road construction projects are developed according to the priorities of each level of government. Large projects, which cannot be easily modified, are rarely re-prioritized on scheduled improvement lists. According to Meth, a small project for a specific trouble spot on a state or county road is far more likely to get built than a larger project.

 

However, the costs associated with a small project may prove problematic. If a professional study is required (likely in the case of a traffic light or bicycle lane,) planning and design costs may approach amounts akin to

those for a full road reconstruction project. In these instances, projects can be delayed due to finances. There may be cases, however, where sidewalk repair, minor maintenance programs and other policies may already be in place, obviating the need for extensive study. Other project costs, such as pavement, labor, and record-keeping, are usually proportionate to the size of the job, according to Craft.

 

Gathering Support

Have you identified needed areas of expertise in your project? This looks like a job for a specialist who can lend expert advice and data. Obtaining crash data for a target intersection, for example, establishes the need for improvements on the basis of facts, rather than opinion. Traffic officers can enliven the data with anecdotal evidence. A school nurse, physical education teacher, or cycling advocate can affirm the health value resulting from cycling and walking. Assembling a dynamic team of community members, including both specialists and average citizens, can bring home to local officials the need for a project.

 

Various methods are available to build comprehensive community support. A petition signed by neighborhood residents is a simple example, while rallying the support of local advocacy groups, or forming your own advocacy group, requires more effort. Montclair provides an excellent example in which two advocacy groups -- Bike & Walk Montclair and

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