THE DUDES OF HAZARD

rb-walkinghazard1The guys over at Red Bank’s e.d. Design, shown standing at one of Red Bank’s many walking hazards they noticed while taking a smoke break.  (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Over the summer, John Donnelly and Andrew Edelman would step outside their Broad Street office for a cigarette break and take notice of a fairly common occurrence where the concrete of the sidewalk meets the brick, or is supposed to: an abrupt dip. It’s right next to a bench on the west side of Broad, in front of The Bistro at Red Bank.

“There’s this one spot where we always see people trip,” Edelman, 24, said. “And we thought, there’s got to be other places like this in town.”

They were right. The two, who run e.d. design studio, did a little footwork and found more spots that pose what they believe are dangers to Red Bank’s pedestrian population. The result, launched last week in the form of an online compendium of the downtown’s cracks, potholes and otherwise harmful walking spots, is called redbankwalkinghazards.com.

rb-walking-hazardDonnelly’s right foot is on one of the hazards listed on the Red Bank Walking Hazards website. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

The look of the site is pretty simple, but it’s really a comprehensive database that took several weeks for the two graphic designers to complete, with an index of hazard types, a section for new hazards and a map of the borough pinpointing their findings.

Donnelly and Edelman, Middletown natives who’ve been friends since high school, call the website a “zero utility project.” It was done on their down time, in between professional work for places like Rutgers Univeristy and the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, and isn’t the result of some sort of crusade to get the borough to fix its blemishes. In fact, they couldn’t care less if they ever get fixed.

“The project isn’t to make change. It’s for the public,” Edleman said. “We do stuff for no reason just because it’s really cool. This is one of many projects we’re going to have.”

Edelman thinks the website will become a way for people to take notice of the small things in Red Bank, and maybe even look at things in a different light.

“It’s a new way to appreciate the town, not so they can avoid tripping, but so they can appreciate the places in town where they might,” he said.

They’re hoping the public will help play a large part in the development of the site. Since it’s a side project, they don’t have the time it takes to walk and survey the miles of road in Red Bank.

“We want this thing to grow on its own,” Donnelly, 25, said.

The quirky, light-hearted duo spend a lot of their free time testing out new ideas, some of which don’t have any purpose. For example, they created a website that allows users to build their own sandwich, but it ends there. You get no sandwich, just a pixelated version of one. And, just in case New Jersey ever secedes from the United States, they’ve got a website that features all types of logos and propaganda for the Republic of New Jersey.

“If there’s no work for money, we’ve got to do work for awesomeness,” Edelman said.

The walking hazards site may only be the first you see of these guys’ work. Still in their first year doing business in town, they said they’d eventually like to get more involved in the local arts scene. Namely, pushing to get more of it and in more prominent locations.

“This town desperately needs weird sculpted art that people need to walk around,” Donnelly said.

Sure beats twisting an ankle on a crack in the sidewalk.