NJ Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise: Most Dangerous Roads

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A new report reveals that New Jersey is one of the most dangerous states in the country for pedestrians.

The Dangerous By Design report, published by Smart Growth America, finds that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise.

In 2021, there were 220 pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey, the highest total in 30 years, compared to 179 in 2020.

According to Tim Evans, director of research for New Jersey Future, the roads where pedestrians are killed are usually four- or six-lane roads in urban areas where people might walk to destinations.

“Having the road designed for high-speed vehicles to pass, but also placing destinations on it where people are likely to walk, is a dangerous combination,” he said.

A close up of police crime scene tape

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Examples of such routes are:

McCarter Freeway (Route 21) in Newark

Route 130 through Burlington County

Whitehorse and Blackhorse pike

Route 70

Route 73

Route 38

He also noted that while traffic volume has actually been down since the pandemic began, with more people working from home these days, pedestrian fatalities have increased.

“The congestion that was normally on these roads was probably protecting people by forcing them to go slower than the speed the road was actually designed for,” he said.

Other Danger Signs

Evans pointed out that conditions that can also pose significant pedestrian safety risks include places without sidewalks, crosswalks or street lights, which are more common in parts of South Jersey.

So how can we start solving the problem?

He said cities and towns can make minor changes that significantly improve pedestrian safety, including enforcing regulations prohibiting cars from parking within 25 feet of an intersection.

He said that in Hoboken sidewalk “bump-outs” have been built so that it is not physically possible to park within 25 feet of an intersection, “which has improved visibility drivers and reduced the turning radius at the intersection, which encouraged drivers to slow down lower when making turns.

He said it was important to encourage smart growth with apartments, retail stores and restaurants close to each other to reduce traffic congestion and promote walking.

“But for it to really pay off, you have to make sure the non-driving modes are safe, that it’s safe to walk from place to place in the city.”

The Smart Growth America report ranks Jersey 19th out of the 20 most dangerous states for pedestrians.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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