Monday, February 27, 2012

Complete Streets Featured At Saturday's NJ BikeWalk Summit

New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition's third annual BikeWalk Summit was held Saturday at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy in New Brunswick. Notable guests included Jeff Miller, Executive Director of the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Professor John Pucher, as well as Mayor Cahill of New Brunswick.

The summit featured many topics of discussion, including the Federal transportation bill crisis, bikes on trains, and local bicycle planning being conducted on the Rutgers Campus by Bloustein Students. Perhaps the most interesting session involved NJ Bicycle/Ped Coordinator Sheree Davis, Charles Brown of the Voorhees Transportation Center, and Ranjit Walia of the Civic Eye Collaborative.

Slideshow from a BikeWalk presentation
Davis gave an update on the implementation of New Jersey's Complete Streets policy. She signs off on every state highway scoping statement (the parameters of the project). Scoping precedes design so the decision to include or waive bicycle and pedestrian improvements is agreed to at an early stage. A Complete Streets checklist is also part of every new project. Best of all, New Jersey DOT is working on a new Complete Streets website that will enable the public to track the bike/ped recommendations included in each project.

Brown announced a statewide ambassadors programs. Inspired in part the Bicycle Coalition's successful Bicycle Ambassadors program, New Jersey's Ambassadors will be a statewide effort using volunteers to conduct outreach promoting bicycling and walking safely. VTC promises to reach out to our education department as they further develop the implementation plan.

Walia's presentation was a Complete Streets video the Civic Eye developed for New Jersey DOT. Using the real-world success stories of Hoboken and Ocean City, the video shows how innovative complete streets are implemented in the real world and how communities can reap the benefits. The video is expected to be distributed online in the upcoming weeks.

We may be entering a watershed year for the NJ BikeWalk Summit. The NJBWC now has a full-time executive director (Jim Nicholson) and, as an organization, is getting comfortable in its role as the glue that holds local advocacy efforts together. At the same time NJ DOT's resistance to change seems to be incrementally coming down. We believe that it is time to take the show to the Statehouse in 2013.