A new report finds New Jersey is one of the most dangerous states in the nation for pedestrians.
The Dangerous By Design report, released by Smart Growth America, finds pedestrian fatalities are on the rise.
In 2021, there were 220 pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey, the highest total in 30 years, up from 179 in 2020.
According to Tim Evans, the director of research for New Jersey Future, the roadways where pedestrians are getting killed are usually four or six-lane roads in urban areas where people might be walking to destinations.
“Having the road designed for high-speed vehicle through-put, but also putting destinations along it where people are likely to be walking, is a dangerous combination,” he said.
Examples of these roads include:
McCarter Highway (Route 21) in Newark
Route 130 through Burlington County
Whitehorse and Blackhorse pikes
He also noted while traffic volume is actually down since the pandemic began, with more people are working from home these days, pedestrian fatalities have gone up.
“The congestion that was normally on these roads was actually probably protecting people by forcing them to go slower than the speed for which the road was really designed,” he said.
Other danger signs
Evans pointed out conditions that can also pose significant risks to pedestrian safety include places without sidewalks, crosswalks or street lighting, which is more common in parts of South Jersey.
So how do we start to solve the problem?
He said towns and cities can make minor changes that significantly improve pedestrian safety, including enforcing regulations that prohibit cars parking within 25 feet of an intersection.
He said in Hoboken, curb “bump-outs” were built so it is not physically possible to park within 25 feet of an intersection, “which improved visibility for drivers, and it reduced the turning radius at the intersection, which encouraged drivers to slow down more when they’re making turns.”
He said encouraging smart growth with apartments, retail stores and restaurants close together is important to reduce roadway congestion and promoting walking.
“But in order for it to really pay off, you have to make sure that non-driving modes are safe, that it’s safe to walk from one place to another within town.”
The Smart Growth America report ranks Jersey as number 19 of the top 20 most dangerous states for pedestrians .
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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