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SAFE ROUTES MOVES AHEAD IN RED BANK

safe-routesMarc Dostie, Jim Willis and Jenny Rossano of the Safe Routes initiative.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A grassroots group focused on making it safer to walk or ride a bike in Red Bank is getting a little closer to fulfilling its mission.

Safe Routes Red Bank recently secured a non-financial grant of engineering help from the state Department of Transportation to raise awareness and implement new ways to make for safer, easier modes of getting around without a car.

Now that the grant is secured, it’s up to the DOT and borough officials, with some help from the Safe Routes group, to see the program through.

According to  Safe Routes organizers, the DOT will pay for an engineering company to come into town to help address biking and pedestrian issues.

Group member Jenny Rossano said the DOT will provide planning services to determine the best action to take to designate certain areas as “safe routes.”

Exactly what that could mean is still unknown.

Jim Willis, who helped start the citizen action group (and for disclosure purposes, provides tech services to redbankgreen), said making Red Bank a safe routes town could mean a number of things: Better visibility of signs, enhancing crosswalks, and extending curbs at sidewalk intersections out just a couple of inches, to give drivers the feeling that the road is narrowing, and hopefully trigger them to slow down,.

The most likely locations will be near borough schools and parks, and the train station, Rossano said.

“Red Bank is a very walkable town. Our objective in general is to get more people to walk and ride,” Willis said. “More people should have the option to walk and bike in town.”

The group feels that getting from east to west, and vice versa, in Red Bank is more of a challenge than it should be. Willis said there’s also a push among residents for “walking buses,” where parents walk their kids to school in fragments, passing them off to other adults and so on, until the students gets to school safely.

A recent cut to busing on the West side, makes getting the national safe route designation all the more important, Rossano said.

When will these changes take place?

There’s the $64,000 question. Being that it’s in the hands of state and local officials, it could take some time consider the logistics of getting schedules organized. Doesn’t matter to the group, though.

“We’re prepared for the long haul,” said Marc Dostie, of Mori Place.

They’re also looking beyond Red Bank.

“The end goal for me,” Willis said, “is, I want, at some point, to safely ride a bike from Red Bank train station to Sea Bright public beach with my family. That would be very cool, and there’s no reason why that can’t happen.”

But first, the task at hand. The group will stay in contact with the borough of DOT to help along  the planning process.

Meantime, they’re busy raising awareness individually.

Willis spoke at Monmouth University on Tuesday about Red Bank Safe Routes, and there’s a walking bus workshop coming up at the end of the month. Those interested in the program can check out the workshop at 6:30p on May 25 at the Red Bank Primary School.

Here’s the flyer for the workshop: walking-school-bus-red-bank

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