Thursday, September 18, 2014

Planning Board Hears Benefits of Complete Streets

"Complete Streets" advocate Jerry Fried urged the Planning Board Thursday to join dozens of other New Jersey municipalities in support of making streets safe for all users - drivers, walkers, bikers and people with disabilities.

Fried, the former mayor of Montclair, showed how streets there were modified to slow traffic and create access for all. The New Jersey Department of Transportation adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2009 and since then numerous counties and municipalities have followed suit. Not only do complete streets give access to all, Fried said, they can improve health and make towns more attractive.

The NJDOT has published a Complete Streets guidebook that explains all the benefits of walkability and bike lanes, with step-by-step advice on how to develop, adopt and implement a Complete Streets policy.

Fried saw Plainfield as being well-suited for such a policy, noting the city's "great bones," in contrast to cities such as Orange and East Orange that were split by highways.

On a personal note, I have been an advocate of walkability since deciding not to get another car about six years ago, and certainly Plainfield has no stronger advocate for bike access than Planning Director Bill Nierstedt, who often rides to work on his bike.

Fried mentioned the possibility of increased safety for seniors when car drivers learn to share the road, and anyone trying to cross at Park & Seventh would surely welcome that change.

Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott-Bey said the board will consider a Complete Streets policy when revising the master plan...



  1. That all sounds pretty and progressive but let's concentrate on the traffic and pedestrian safety issues that exist first.

    - missing and unpainted crosswalks
    - missing street signs in all wards
    - unenforced stop-for-pedestrian laws
    - unenforced speeding laws

    Try crossing the East 7th or South at Belvidere to catch a train - forget about it!

    Did I mention the litter? Downtown and in the Netherwood shopping district on South Ave. Where is the PMUA?

    And I would be afraid to ride my bike on South Avenue as an illegal banner in the right of way may whip me in the face.

    Grrrrr, too much caffeine this morning.

    1. So then what you are saying is that since those issues are of concern the planning board, which doesn't have much jurisdiction of those issues, should just shut down until such time that all other issues in the city are resolved. OR, we as a city can learn to walk and chew gum at the same time - although not while cross 7th street near Belvidere.

      On that note - the Administration could start getting building owners to clean-up the properties regularly - as is required by law. Thats a great start.

      And by the way - Complete Streets improve walkability and also can impact the speed and flow of traffic to accommodate safer walking and biking.

  2. Jim - You forgot ...
    - no enforcement of bicycling not allowed on sidewalks

    As a pedestrian, I feel the sidewalk bicycling is getting more brazen and dangerous as time goes on without enforcement.

    As for the litter, I actually can see why so many trash cans have been removed. People living in apartments and the businesses kept using them for free. They should design trash cans so that large bags cannot be put in them, yet the basic litter generated by people in the streets (fast food wrappers, etc.) can be tossed. Oh, wait. Those cans exist elsewhere! Oh, PMUA ...?

  3. Don't worry. Eric Watson is on the scene! He'll take care of it.