Safe Routes Scoop

Increasing Pedestrian Safety and Mobility in Suburban Areas

Design and construction of a particular path depends on its intended usage and projected user population.  Most are constructed of asphalt and measure 8-to-10 feet wide, generally considered the standard width for bike paths. Because of Bernards’ relatively low population and limited activity, Messina was comfortable using more narrow paths in some locations and, in fact, found them preferable because they create less impervious surface and motorists would be less likely to confuse them for roads.

 

Most of the pathway system has been located or planned on property that the township either owns or has right-of-way for a path. In some cases, the township will need to acquire property. When completed, the paths will provide a township-owned system located entirely on publicly owned property.

 

When asked for suggestions he would offer other interested communities, Messina said “just do it,” adding “local people know the community and they are the best ones to come up with a plan.” When forming a plan, Messina suggested coming up with a priority system and taking “baby steps,” noting that he had presented his plan as a 10-year project which was “was more palatable to the governing body.” He also suggested taking advantage of developer agreements. Large sections of the Bernards pathway

system were constructed by developers who agreed to build or contribute to the construction of the pathway system where it passed near their properties.

 

The true success of any program is measured in results. Messina recalled how parents in one Bernards neighborhood never felt comfortable permitting their children to go out trick or treating on Halloween due to heavy traffic and safety concerns. Since the pathway system was completed through their neighborhood, parents now feel more comfortable. “Now people can be seen walking and biking in that neighborhood,” Messina said. “They are really using the paths; it has changed their lifestyle.”

 

For more information on increasing pedestrian safety and mobility in the suburbs, check out these resources:

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