Saturday, December 29, 2007

Giving Up on the Street - Edgewater Park, NJ Bans Street Play

I grew up in the suburbs playing football or hockey in the street with my friends. Times have changed in the US and not for the better. The township I live in, Edgewater Park NJ has a well used train station, traffic calming adjacent to school, sidewalks and quiet dead end streets. And until recently kids played safely on those streets.

In 2007 the Township passed an ordinance has decided that the street is too dangerous to play in. Once again the amazing automobile has taken more public space at the exclusion of all other users. In fact local officials state that the ordinance was created because state law prohibits anything to impede the flow of traffic.

One question that has not been answered is what constitutes street play? Are kids riding bicycles on the street now subject to fines? Secondly if backboards are impeding traffic aren't vehicles parked on the street also "impeding traffic".

The township promises more recreational facilities in its parks, but are kids willing to walk up to a mile to play on facilities the require "township permission' to use.

Meanwhile in Northern Europe, a region with the lowest pedestrian fatality rates in the developed world cities are taking the exact opposite approach. Communities has been tearing out stop signs, traffic lights and sidewalks forcing drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to share the pavement, in an approach known as shared space.

The Mayor of Bohmte Germany put it bluntly: "Generally speaking, what we want is for people to be confused. When they're confused, they'll be more alert and drive more carefully."

Hmm, forcing people to drive carefully, how revolutionary.


Anonymous said...

Hi John- Pass this article on the following Edgewater Park Blog,
Good observation and thinking on your part. I can't believe the township committee put much thought into what they did. I grew up in Edgewater Park and we always played kick ball, kick the can, wire ball, curb ball, stick ball, ect ect in the street and no one was injured by a car.