Senate Passes Safety Legislation

Friday, December 17 by sandy

guide dog

photo by Thomas Boyd, The Oregonian

Saylor, a guide dog, pulls trainer Sioux Strong out of the path of a Prius during a training session.

Washington, D.C. (December 10, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind today commended the United States Senate for passing the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (S. 841), which will protect the blind and other pedestrians from injury as a result of silent vehicle technology.

Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently. Other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines. New vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity with each other.

?The National Federation of the Blind commends the United States Senate for the wise and decisive action taken today to preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind,? said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. ?The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities, and we must be able to hear vehicles in order to do so. This bill, which is the result of collaboration among blind Americans, automobile manufacturers, and legislators, will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent. We now call upon the House of Representatives to pass this legislation as quickly as possible so that it can be sent to the President?s desk for his signature before the close of the year.?

?I?m a major advocate of hybrids?I own one, I drive one, and I?ve seen firsthand their environmental and economic benefits,? said Senator John Kerry, the sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. ?This legislation will allow us to continue to promote our energy independence and technological innovation while safeguarding those who use senses other than sight to navigate the roads.?

?The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is proud of this legislation, which is the result of our cooperative relationship with advocates for blind pedestrians,? said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. ?We believe that this legislation represents a common-sense approach to ensure that the blind and other pedestrians remain safe as new vehicle technologies emerge.?

Update:

The House of Representatives passed the legislation on December 16, 2010.

President Obama signed the legislation on January 4, 2011.

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Shared Space: Safe or Dangerous?

Wednesday, December 15 by JerryFoster

from Shared Space: Safe or Dangerous?Township Council recently adopted the shared space concept as fundamental to the lawsuit settlement with InterCap over the new Princeton Junction Transit Village. Under this concept, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians share the roadway as peers. But is it safe?

Four European experts reported results of their studies of the shared space experience in the Netherlands in 2007 at the Walk21 Conference held in Toronto. Shared space was implemented several locations between 1998 and 2001, with studies published between 2003 and 2007.

Overall, “reported accidents have decreased substantially.” In one location, however, minor injury collisions persisted, and “bicyclists were overrepresented”.? Significantly, “police report only a (minor) part of the accidents. Particularly bicycle and pedestrian accidents are often not reported to the police. This means that reliable and valid conclusions regarding the safety of cyclists and pedestrians cannot be made.”

What makes shared space work? “At low speeds people have more time for communication and the interpretation of verbal and non-verbal utterances.”

What keeps it from working? “Children and people with a visual or mental handicap cannot be expected to comply. Also, the elderly are not always able to anticipate and react in time, especially not when it is crowded and many things happen in a short period. This group (in total 25% percent of the population!) runs a substantially raised risk.”

How do people feel about shared space? “Most respondents do not think the situations are safe. Both car drivers and bicyclists and pedestrians are critical about it. In Haren remarkably many people (90%) demand a clear choice regarding the position of the bicycle: either on a bicycle lane or on the carriageway. The experts prefer the bicyclist on the carriageway; the public prefers a separate recognizable lane.”

The WWBPA supports the shared space concept, but recognizes that to work, all roadway users must be provided with subtle guidance as to the preferred positioning within the space. Bicyclists must be encouraged to stay out of the way of opening car doors (the “door zone”), such as through the use of a special color or pattern of pavement to guide where they ride.

The current (pre-settlement) language in the redevelopment ordinance calls for buffered bike lanes to achieve this goal. This goal can be achieved in the shared space concept, but the language regarding bike lanes is proposed to be removed. Please contact our public officials with your questions or concerns regarding the safety of our proposed new shared space.

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Pedestrian Safety: Shared Responsibility

Friday, December 10 by sandy

Cars Stopped at the Canal Pt Blvd CrosswalkIn 2009, 27% of fatal crashes in New Jersey involved pedestrians.

Since 1999, New Jersey pedestrian fatalities have remained steady at about 150/year.
Since 2005, pedestrian injuries have ranged between about 5,000 and 6,000 statewide.
In Mercer County, 171 people were injured in 2009.

These are some statistics from a presentation by Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety, to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities in November 2010.

And here are more:

  • Most pedestrian fatalities occur away from intersections, on roadways without crosswalks.
  • Approximately 40% of fatalities occur between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • Most pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas.
  • More than two-thirds of 2009 pedestrian fatalities were male.

Both pedestrians and motorists must do their part to keep pedestrians safe.?NJ law now mandates that motor vehicles stop and stay stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk and at intersections.?As well, pedestrians must take ?due care,? and yield the right of way when not in a crosswalk.

Read the presentation Pedestrian Safety: Shared Responsibility

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Tale of Two Engineers ? One Visionary, One Recovering

Thursday, December 2 by JerryFoster

A revolution is underway in how towns are being redesigned for livability, and it’s playing out right here in West Windsor. The late Hans Monderman launched a movement for better safety without signs and signals, while in the Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, another engineer realizes that “Wider, faster, treeless roads not only ruin our public places, they kill people.”

Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), recounts the work of the late Hans Monderman, a Dutch traffic engineer who held to a maxim: ?When you treat people like idiots, they?ll behave like idiots.? In appropriate settings, he removed the signs and signals that tell drivers what to do. His goal? ?I don?t want traffic behavior, I want social behavior.? His work underlies the design for the promenade in the new transit village west of the train tracks.

In Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, Charles Marohn relates his professional experience “convincing people that, when it came to their road, I knew more than they did.” Why? “I had books and books of standards to follow.” Finally, “In retrospect I understand that this was utter insanity. Wider, faster, treeless roads not only ruin our public places, they kill people.”

This realization is slow in coming to our Rt 571 Main Street design, where the state guidelines are in place but the design hasn’t taken them into consideration.

Please help the county engineers learn from the transit village engineers by supporting the WWBPA’s recommendations for Rt 571 Main Street – slower speed, medians with pedestrian refuges and a pedestrian-activated signal that stops traffic at the crossing at Sherbrooke Drive.

This redesign is our chance to make drivers comfortable with the slower speed – just posting a lower speed limit will not effectively slow traffic. Our tale of two West Windsors might have the happy ending of a pedestrian-friendly Main Street and transit village promenade, leading to higher property values for us all.

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Pedestrians and Bicycles in Roundabouts

Sunday, November 28 by sandy

Washington State’s Department of Transportation has created five videos to explain how a roundabout works. The third one shows how pedestrians and bicycles should use them.

1. What they are and what they aren’t

2. How do I drive a roundabout?

3. Pedestrians and cyclists

4. Safety benefits

5. What does this mean for me?

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West Windsor’s New Woonerf

Wednesday, November 24 by JerryFoster

PJ Promenade as Shared SpaceTownship Council adopted a new concept Monday night for shared streets, also called a woonerf, for the Princeton Junction Transit Village. What’s a woonerf, and how does it work?

Developed by Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, a woonerf is a street where pedestrians and bicyclists share the roadway with motorists as equals.? This concept goes by a number of other names, such as Living Streets, Home Zones or shared space.

The safety of such spaces depends on extremely slow speeds and one-on-one human eye contact to negotiate movement through the space. Read about one town’s experience with removing traffic lights.

The WWBPA made several recommendations to improve the bikeability of the proposed area, including more bike parking at the Farmers Market and in residential parking structures, as well as requiring back-in diagonal parking for improved safety.

The WWBPA is confident that this plan, if built as shown in the pattern book, will be eminently walkable, and will provide those bicyclists who are comfortable in traffic with a wonderful place to stop and enjoy the amenities, like the Farmers Market. We are hopeful that motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians will embrace the new shared street and quickly learn to navigate without traditional traffic control.

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Trolley Line Trail Improvements

Monday, November 22 by silvia

Trolley-Line-Trail-Ends

A sign that will soon disappear?

West Windsor soon will install a “rectangular rapid-flashing beacon” where the Trolley Line Trail crosses South Mill Road so that trail users can safely cross this 50-mile-an-hour road. With a push of a button, users can alert motorists to their presence. Signage also will be changed.

Bicyclists and walkers currently see a “Bike Route End” sign when coming from Penn-Lyle and Brian’s Way. That was put in before the missing link along the Dataram property was added a couple of years ago, and some users are unaware that the trail continues through Community Park to Rabbit Hill Road.

In addition, the gaps in the sidewalk on Penn-Lyle will be filled in so that there is a continuous sidewalk on the Trolley Line Trail side of the street from Village Road to High School South and Clarksville Road. Work on this could begin this year and should be finished in 2011.

The WWBPA thanks the township for these improvements.

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Lawrence Township Adopts Complete Streets Policy

Sunday, November 21 by JerryFoster

Lawrence Townhall

Lawrence Township Hall

On September 21, 2010 Lawrence’s Township Council passed a Complete Streets Resolution, which calls for “all public streets … to safely accommodate travel by pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit and motorized vehicles and their passengers, with special priority given to bicyclist and pedestrian safety”.

Lawrence is one of the leaders in adopting Complete Streets in New Jersey, joining the state, Monmouth County, Montclair, West Windsor, Hoboken, Red Bank and Netcong.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes “has directed his staff to consider context-sensitive solutions that enhance safety for all travel modes whenever the County implements an improvement”, according to a recent press release. Can a Mercer County Complete Streets Policy be far behind?

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Thanks, Congressman Oberstar

Monday, November 15 by sandy

The WWBPA trustees sent the following Letter to Congressman Jim Oberstar (MN), the chairman of the House Transportation Committee who lost his bid for re-election earlier this month. He has served in Congress for 36 years and was a champion for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, including the Safe Routes to School program.

November 13, 2010
Congressman Jim Oberstar
2365 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Oberstar,

The trustees of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (WWBPA) thank you for your steadfast advocacy of Safe Routes to School and of bicycle-friendly programs and policies. We know that support and funding for many of these initiatives would not have happened without your leadership.

As a local, grassroots organization, the WWBPA incorporates the principles of the Safe Routes program in our effort to make West Windsor Township, New Jersey and the surrounding region safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. We also advocate for ?Complete Streets? (our town has signed on; our county is our next goal) and bicycle lanes as well as fund bicycle racks and promote bicycling and walking through a number of events.

We will miss your vision and vocal support for non-motorized transportation in Congress. It is up to us and the many like us across the country to honor your legacy by working for better and safer roadways, complete with bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and clearly marked crosswalks in all communities.

With sincere thanks,
Trustees,
West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance

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Drivers, Cyclists, and Pedestrians

Sunday, November 14 by sandy

A StreetSmart demonstration urges drivers, riders,?and pedestrians to look out for each other.

Street Smart

For more, please go to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s blog, Fast Lane.

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Morning Commute

Saturday, November 13 by sandy

The WWBPA conducted another in our series “West Windsor Walks” on Monday, November 8 from 6:45 to 7:15 a.m. at the intersection of Cranbury-Wallace Roads and Route 571. As we watch the construction of a sidewalk and new travel and turn lanes on the bridge over the railroad tracks and await the addition of marked crosswalks, we continue to see conflicts with pedestrian and cars.?Many people cross mid-block both across Route 571 and across Wallace Road as they look for the quickest and, what they perceive to be the safest, routes to the Princeton Junction Train Station.

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AARP Supports Safety Bills

Tuesday, November 9 by sandy

senior crossing a street in Miami Beach

www.pedbikeimages.org / Dan Burden

A letter in The Princeton Packet from Douglas Johnston of the AARP urges passage of ?two Congressional transportation safety bills: HR 1443, The Complete Street Act, and ?HR 3355, The Older Driver and Pedestrian Safety Act.

Johnston notes, “In 2008, the 65-plus population comprised 18% of all car-related pedestrian fatalities, which they made up only 13% of the population.” The bills will fund proven road-design improvements, including the installation of
countdown timers at crosswalks and making traffic signals and markings more visible — improvements that benefit all of us.

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Pedestrian Safety

Sunday, November 7 by sandy

pedestrian crosswalk in Boston

www.pedbikeimages.org / Laura Sandt

Along with our letter of ?thanks to members, we’ve been enclosing bookmarks with the ABC’s Quick Check for bicycles and?A Kid?s Guide to Safe Walking. Member Dick Snedeker reminds us that safe walking skills are for everyone.

The card you enclosed giving safety tips for crossing the street was addressed to kids, but there are many adults who could profit from the same tips. Over the last few years, I have noticed that when driving in Princeton, many pedestrians have become arrogant enough to assume that once they’re in a crosswalk, there’s no need to look out for traffic. Some people don’t even bother to look to see if cars are coming or have a reasonable chance to stop even before they enter the crosswalk. It’s like they’re playing Russian roulette: “If I get hit it’s your fault”–no matter that I’m badly injured, or worse, or that my carelessness was the real cause of the accident.

Case in point: A couple of days ago I was going south on Harrison Street near Southern Way at about the speed limit (25 mph) when I noticed a woman with a stroller in front of her waiting to cross from the other side. She was at a crosswalk, but I was only about 15 yards or so from it (a little more than one second at 25 mph), so I assumed she would wait to start crossing until I had passed. No such luck. Without even looking up for possible oncoming traffic–none was coming in the other direction–she started across, and I had to make a very sudden stop. Even then, she never looked up or seemed to notice my car. Then I saw that the stroller was empty and that she was carrying an infant in a sling around her neck. Her right hand was pushing the stroller and her left hand–you guessed it–was clutching her cellphone tight against her left ear. So much for being a responsible pedestrian. Bah, humbug!!

Since I grew up in the city (Brooklyn) and played in the street a lot, I learned very early that cars are much larger, faster, and harder than you are, and to stay out of their way–even if you’re in a crosswalk.

Dick Snedeker

Dick, thanks very much for the reminder! We’ll create a new bookmark and, in the meantime, please see our Walk Smart Stay Smart page for a list of suggestions and links to more resources about safe walking practices.

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