Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla signed an executive order this morning to launch the Mile Square City’s “Vision Zero” program, with the goal of reducing pedestrian injuries and automobile-related fatalities to zero by 2030.
Before discussing the specific details of the pedestrian safety program, Bhalla highlighted some of the crashes that have occurred between 2014 and 2018 involving bicyclists and pedestrians competing for mobility space with automobiles.
“Unfortunately, however, our streets and roads aren’t nearly as safe as they need to be. As our population grows, so do traffic-related injuries. Over the previous five years there have been 376 people injured, and sadly, three people were killed due to crashes,” Bhalla said at the press conference in his office.
He noted that the total number of crashes involving pedestrians is 83 percent, and 76 percent of bicyclists, which is compared to 17 percent of overall crashes in the aforementioned four-year time frame.
He said the challenge to reduce those injuries and fatalities to zero begins with the formation of a task force that will be tasked to develop a Vision Zero action plan that outlines “concrete steps.”
The task force will include two co-chairs, director of transportation and parking Ryan Sharp, and a designee appointed by Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante – traffic commander Lt. John Petrosino.
The task force will also include various departments at City Hall, as well as school and public housing leaders and advocates for safe streets.
“Pedestrian safety isn’t just confined to one department or the walls of City Hall, for that matter. It’s an initiative that requires a collaborative approach and extensive community outreach,” said Bhalla.
In order to get to zero traffic-related injuries and deaths, Bhalla noted that the city has to enlist the involvement of the residents.
To that end, the executive order establishes a Vision Zero ambassador program which will connect strategies of Vision Zero “down to the neighborhood and block level by hosting Vision Zero community events and meetings.”
In addition, a component of the plan to meet the Vision Zero’s objectives include infrastructure upgrades, design improvements to roadways, educational tools for schools and innovative enforcement strategies.
“We can and we must engineer our streets and our infrastructure in a way that slows down cars and protects the safety of residents crossing the street, especially those with limited mobility,” said Bhalla.
“This can take the form of curb extensions, pedestrian countdown timers and the narrowing of roadways that encourages and lowers vehicle speeds.”
During the question and answer portion of the press conference, we asked Bhalla to clarify the type of input stakeholders will have in the overall development of the action plan.
“It’s a collaborative process between the various stakeholders who are members of the task force, the people on the ground, the residents who want to join our ambassador program and anyone else who wants to have a seat at the table,” Bhalla said.
He also noted that the city will be contracting with a “nationally-renowned” planning firm that was used in other municipalities such as Jersey City who will integrate all the intelligence that the town’s stakeholders and residents provide for a comprehensive action plan to reduce pedestrian-related traffic injury and deaths.
The contract to award the planning firm a contract will go before the city council at their September 4th meeting.
Jersey City Mayor Fulop signed a similar executive order back in February 2018.
We live streamed the entire press conference to our Facebook Page, which can be viewed below: