Feds Focus on New Jersey to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Thursday, February 16 by JerryFoster

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) chose New Jersey as one of 13 states which “experienced pedestrian fatalities above 150 per year and above the national rate of 2.5 per 100,000 population.” These states receive extra attention in the effort to reduce pedestrian fatalities on our roadways. According to the article “Spotlight on Pedestrian Safety” in the current issue of Public Roads, “FHWA’s aggressive approach to reducing the fatality rate in 13 States and 5 municipalities is showing promising results.

The multi-year focus on pedestrian safety produced a plan called “Pedestrian Safety Management In New Jersey: A Strategic Assessment,” which “examines the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches and recommends improvements that would provide for a more systematic approach.”

So what specific recommendations will best improve pedestrian safety? The New Jersey report covers over 100 recommendations, but 3 have been chosen as the top priorities for improving pedestrian safety, according to a recent memorandum, “Promoting the Implementation of Proven Safety Countermeasures“:

  1. Medians and Pedestrian Crossing Islands in Urban and Suburban Areas
  2. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK light, a pedestrian-activated traffic signal that stops traffic)
  3. “Road Diet” (Roadway Reconfiguration)

How can these proven safety features help West Windsor? The WWBPA recommends medians and/or pedestrian crossing islands for the new CR 571 design, along with a lower design speed and other measures, like a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK signal) at Sherbrooke Drive and 571.

A Rapid Flash Beacon, another type of pedestrian-activated signal, is planned for Sherbrooke and 571 – we hope it will greatly improve the safety of that crossing. Examples are at the trail crossing on South Mill and near the train station at Scott and Wallace. Studies of the Rapid Flash Beacon are promising, but of  the 22 roadways in one study, only 1 had a posted speed limit as high as CR571′s 40mph, and only 2 had about the same volume (17K-18K average daily traffic), and only 1 had more volume. So we’ll hope for the best.

A Road Diet is when the road is reconfigured from 4 lanes down to 3, one travel lane in  each direction and a center turn lane, plus bike lanes on each side. The WWBPA has long recommended road diets for Canal Pointe Boulevard and Alexander Road between Rt 1 and Vaughn Drive, and believes the treatment would be appropriate for Roszel Road and Carnegie Center Drive as well.

Why is the WWBPA for road diets in these areas but recommends medians and/or pedestrian crossing refuges for CR 571? The difference is in the  number and density of driveways – our Rt 571 downtown area has too many compared to office park settings like Canal Pointe and Carnegie Center.

 

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