From providing guidance to community advocacy groups, to advocating for statewide legislation and funding, to supporting federal policy campaigns, NJBWC was on the job throughout the year, working to make our streets safer for everyone. Although we changed the conversation everywhere we campaigned, there is still so much more to be done in the state. Here is a recap of our accomplishments in 2016:
- We held our 7th and largest state-level bike & walk summit ever, at 275 attendees! We also celebrated the new venue – the Friend Center of Princeton University.
- Guest speakers included USDOT’s Barbara McCann, the League of American Bicyclist’s Board Chair Karen Jenkins and Executive Director Alex Doty, along with Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert.
- We congratulated two stalwart community advocates with the NJBWC Advocate of the Year Award: Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli and advocacy group Bike OCNJ.
- The Regional TAP program, an idea we proposed to NJDOT, was officially kicked off in 2016, with approximately $15 million being awarded to large projects up and down the state. This significant advocacy win funds large regional bike and pedestrian projects, such as trails in the Delaware Valley region that are part of the Circuit, trails in south Jersey, and the Morris Canal Greenway project in north Jersey, and will spawn many smaller projects that will connect to these trails.
- In January 2016, we testified in Trenton in support of the safe passing bill which passed the Assembly Transportation Committee.
- We helped shape the update to the state’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which was last updated in 2004.
- Along with our partners, we called upon the state legislature and Governor Christie to solve the state’s Transportation Trust Fund Crisis and to include funding for pedestrian and bicycle improvements.
- We participated on the Executive Council of the state’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council (BPAC) and chaired the Education and Outreach Subcommittee, which produced a new chapter for the New Jersey Driver Manual on sharing the road with bike riders.
- We participated in the update of the Port Authority’s new bicycle master plan.
- Our successful outreach in support of the lane markings in Clifton that mark the Morris Canal Greenway saved this project and encouraged the Passaic County Freeholders to expand their Complete Streets efforts to Totowa, Patterson and Little Falls.
- We are partners with the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition in their ongoing campaign for the city to adopt NJDOT’s proposed road diet on Route 71. We also joined APCSC in their presentation of “Bikes Vs Cars,” helping residents and visitors to understand the benefits that the road diet will bring to the city.
- We spoke out against Jersey City’s time limit on the use of public bike racks by commercial bikes, an ordinance, while directed at Hoboken’s bikeshare system, has impacts to all commercial bikeshare and bike rental systems in Jersey City, effectively limiting options for riders.
- We were awarded one of the highly sought-after People For Bikes Community Grants to build a Bike Depot in Morristown.
- We announced our partnership with the East Coast Greenway Alliance and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance in advancing the Ice & Iron Greenway/Meadowlands Connector, a proposed greenway from Montclair to Jersey City.
- We adopted the Let’s Walk! Program from its creator, Bike & Walk Montclair, enabling the program to expand to seven of the communities served by Partners For Health, the program’s main funder.
- We gave bicycle traffic skills classes to the entire third grade in both the Freehold Borough and the Rutherford School Districts.
- We assisted advocates in Millburn to create Bike & Walk Millburn, the latest edition to the Bike & Walk family of local advocacy groups.
- We successfully advocated along with Bike JC and Safe Streets JC in support of a road diet for Grand Street in Jersey City.
- We joined Newark’s Lower Broadway Coalition along with 17 community groups, who called upon NJDOT to include in the new Routes 280 and 21 Interchange construction improvements that will make the neighborhood safer and provide better access for pedestrians.
- We led the 2016 New Jersey delegation to the National Bike Summit, visiting US Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez and many of the US Congressional Representatives from the state, urging them to support federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects, and to call for performance measures that consider the numbers of people walking and biking in policy decisions.
- We highlighted the risks to bicycle and pedestrian federal funding by the new Congress and administration, and call upon residents to join us at the National Bike Summit in March 2017 to bolster support for this funding.
- We joined a host of partner organizations across the nation in calling upon the CDC to keep funding in place for the Healthy Community Design Initiative (HCDI), an effort that brings together transportation and health through health impact assessments and other research to advance our built environment in ways that encourage active transportation.
- We signed on to a letter requesting that the Trump Administration allocate $120 million to the CDC to implement the first national, coordinated, comprehensive framework to increase physical activity through the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO).
- We spoke up for increased bike access aboard Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor as part of the NEC Future initiative conducted by the Federal Railway Administration.
We had a busy year, but there is much more to be done. We are now the only state on the entire east coast with no type of safe passing protection for pedestrians and bike riders. We are one of only 10 states in the country without an anti-dooring law. Our percentage of road deaths attributable to pedestrian and bicycle fatalities increased in 2015 and remains the second worst in the nation. Our municipalities continue to pass Complete Streets policies and then ignore them. Our elected officials still prioritize driver convenience over the safety of pedestrians and bike riders, opting to “strike a balance” instead of aiming for zero deaths. Our state is a long way off from being a place where people can ride a bike or go for a walk and not have to be concerned that they will be hit by a car. Working to make our roads safer, and ultimately, to make our state a more livable place for all of its residents, is every elected officials’ responsibility and continues to direct the work of the NJBWC.
Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director