Fulop, Matsikoudis discuss concepts for safer streets at mayoral debate

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Safe Streets JC and Bike JC hosted a debate between Mayor Steven Fulop and his challenger, attorney Bill Matsikoudis, on traffic engineering solutions, improved enforcement and transportation safety in Jersey City.

The candidates elaborated on their vision of transportation accessibility from pedestrian walkways and bicycle lanes that properly connect throughout the city to a growth in mass public transportation.

Matsikoudis suggested learning from and mimicking other city’s master transportation plans, such as San Francisco and Seattle, by implementing all elements of Complete Streets, a safe, comfortable, and convenient means for traveling.

“The three things we need to do [are] engineering enhancements, enforcement, and awareness,” said Matsikoudis, who also continuously mentioned curb bump outs, the narrowing of roads and widening of side walks to reduce speed and enhance vehicle vision for approaching cars, throughout the forum.

“We could do simple things like curb bump outs where you’ll have a much better chance for people to reduce their speed,” he said in front of a packed auditorium at Martin Luther King Jr. School, also known as Public School No. 11.

Modeling New York City, Fulop declared his loyalty to Vision Zero, a multi-national road traffic safety project to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries during road traffic, if elected for a second term.

In doing so, Fulop stands by the idea of restructuring the local government that is currently dispersed throughout the city.

“I think the next commonsense approach is [to] look towards efficiencies towards enacting vision zero and that means creating a department or division of transportation where enforcement is there, where the RFP for a master bike plan are run out of, where the community liaisons are run out of,” said Fulop.

The mayor added he is currently working with Bike JC and Safe Streets JC on a master plan to link different areas together.

Matsikoudis also believes Vision Zero is a concept that needs to be brought to Jersey City.

Some expansions that were implemented during Fulop’s term as mayor was the NJ Transit bus 119 line in the city’s heights area, extending to overnight and weekends.

The Fulop administration also challenged Governor Chris Christie (R) when he wanted to curtail the PATH service, which was noted during the mayoral forum. Also, currently, there are additional ferry services in downtown Jersey City.

Both candidates agreed on protected bike lanes on Grand Street and expanding the initiative to the entire city, which remained a reoccurring topic during the forum.

Specifically, Matsikoudis touched base about a connecting corridor from Bayonne to Union City.

Matsikoudis also discussed a potential pedestrian walkway scenic route to connect the Hackensack River to the Hudson River.

Safe Streets JC, Bike JC and current residents of the city have major concerns on public health by reducing crash rates. According to the Jersey City open date portal, in 2016, 585 pedestrians were struck by vehicles, which is a three percent increase since 2015.

“We can all agree that one traffic death is too many. Yet, for too long we tolerated road deaths and injuries by dismissing them as accidents. These are violent crashes, not accidents as they are largely preventable,” said Kara Hrabosky, Safe Streets JC co-founder and event moderator.

Fulop thanked Hrabosky and Paul Bellan-Boyer, the other Safe Streets JC co-founder, on helping to encourage an enforcement division on Kennedy Boulevard in order to change the speeding culture.

Additionally, Fulop and Matsikoudis both addressed the expansion of traffic enforcement throughout the entire city by utilizing awareness outlets, such as social media, to reduce crash rates.

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