Safe Routes Scoop

Increasing Pedestrian Safety and Mobility in Suburban Areas

Commission (DVRPC) to undertake a multi-use trails network study.  Recently completed, the study recommends the creation of four cross-county routes comprised of multi-use trails. The trail network would serve important destinations, such as open spaces, recreational areas, employment centers, schools, transportation facilities, and existing trails. When this trail network is completed, bicyclists and pedestrians in Gloucester County will have enhanced mobility and all residents will be provided with an attractive alternative to driving in their communities.


Pathways in Bernards Township
Bernards Township, located in Somerset County, has actively pursued a bikeway and pedestrian path system for many years. Peter Messina, the township engineer and planner, initiated the process in the mid-1990’s with a series of presentations detailing his recommendations to create a pathway system that would link residents with schools, parks and local retail establishments. 


Messina’s main motivation was safety, feeling concerned with the area’s busy roads and absence of bicycling and walking. Messina said his vision was to “give people a way to walk to their neighbor’s house without fear. With the paths, they can still walk where they want to go while being safely off of busy

streets. With the path system, children are able to get to local parks safely without relying on their parents to drive them.”


The Bernards Township Greenways Advisory Committee (GAC), created as a task force in 1996 and elevated to an Advisory Committee in 1998, is dedicated to expanding opportunities for walking and biking throughout the township. Working closely with Messina and the local government, the GAC advocates for township walkers and bikers, while remaining sensitive to the concerns of the community, including local environmental issues. After proposing his pathway system, Messina worked with the GAC to rank the proposed walking and biking paths in order of priority. Particular attention was paid to paths that would facilitate school access, close missing links between existing paths, and provide access to open space.  The rankings, when completed, were incorporated into the township capital program to decide which segments would be completed first. 


The first segments of system were constructed in the late 1990s;  Messina estimates that over 90 percent of the network he originally proposed has now been completed. The types of paths include concrete sidewalks, off-road bikeways, asphalt, turf, or chip path trails, as well as dirt paths through the woods.

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