Safe Routes Scoop

NJ Complete Streets Summit a Success

 

Streets policy can accomplish a great deal, Ronkin reminded participants that “Complete Streets policies are not a silver bullet, they cannot solve all of the community’s issues, and they are not a one size fits all design prescription. But they are a useful tool for improving the safety, access, and livability of our streets.”

 

Exploring Topics through Sessions

Attendees had the opportunity to select among several sessions that focused on 1) Policy; 2) Cost, Funding, and Maintenance; 3) Liability; and 4) Safety and Design.

 

In the Policy Session, Speakers Nora Shepard, Monmouth County Planning; Kyle Wiswall, Tri-State Transportation Campaign; and Mayor Jerry Fried of Montclair, NJ discussed what should be included in a Complete Streets Policy as well as how to initiate and implement policy at the local level. Sheree Davis and Debbie Kingsland of NJDOT enlightened the group on how the NJ Complete Streets Policy came about and what NJDOT is doing to encourage localities to implement their own policies. Inspired to institute a Complete Streets Policy after hearing about Delaware’s new policy while attending the 2009 Delaware Bike Summit, Davis feels that “Complete Streets are a great way for the State to address the high fatalities experienced by bicyclists and pedestrians. Furthermore, these measures can

provide cost savings since retrofitting streets after they are built can be expensive.” Davis and Kingsland affirmed that Complete Streets is to remain an important part of NJDOT culture.

 

At the Cost, Funding, and Maintenance Session, Lois Goldman, NJTPA; Ian Sacs, Hoboken, NJ; and Janet Heroux; State Partnership for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention discussed the fiscal impact of Complete Streets. An important consideration discussed was the cost associated with maintaining the status quo. Very few people currently consider the costs of incomplete streets. Heroux explained that limiting people’s ability to be physically active is costly in terms of health impacts. The costs of too little physical activity can include development of colon cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Illustrating this point, Heroux offered this, if obesity continues to rise at the current rate, medical costs will also soar to four times the current rate, leading to $344 billion in healthcare costs.

 

Attorneys Dorothy Kowal and Tracey Hinson covered the much discussed topic of liability. Kowal and Hinson tried to ease participants’ concerns, urging them to “not let fears of a lawsuit stop you from doing quality community development.” Participants were offered insight into interpreting the liability risks of implementing Complete Streets

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