SAFETY PUSH MAKES IT TO MASTER PLAN

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

bicyclist1Red Bank’s team of two-wheeled street safety activists earned a small victory Monday night in their effort to make borough paths safer and more accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians.

As anticipated, the borough planning board voted to incorporate a lengthy bike and pedestrian safety report and recommendations into Red Bank’s Master Plan, the principle guiding document for development in town.

With the addition of the “Red Bank Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning Project” report, the group’s vision of shared streets and consideration of walkers and non-vehicular riders in future planning is coming into focus.

“We’re hoping (Red Bank) is safer and more community friendly,” said Jenny Rossano, one of the founders of Safe Routes Red Bank, whose members pulled in a non-cash grant to prepare the 106-page report. “We’re hoping people will walk and bike more, and that makes a community better.”

Along with the recent addition of “sharrows” — arrows marked on a street serving as reminders that bicyclists are on the road — on Chestnut Street, the adoption of the safety plan is a sign of promise that spokes and sneakers will increasingly share streets with those behind dashboards, Rossano said.

It also elevates Red Bank on lists for outside funding to accomplish that end, she said. The group, as it continues to push for more sharrows, specifically on Bridge Avenue, will further seek out dollars to raise awareness and implement more safety measures, Rossano said.

The group, formed on a grassroots level nearly two years ago, hit the ground at full speed and has gotten the support of borough leaders who continue to push for improved bicyclist and pedestrian safety in a town that’s seen a handful of accidents, including a few fatalities, in recent years.

Rossano and her counterparts also secured funding to make their push. Last year, a division of the state Department of Transportation awarded the group a non-cash grant to fund the 100-plus page study, prepared by Urban Engineers, that the planning board approved into the Master Plan.

Although the move doesn’t mean every plan and project in town will get a mandate from the board to make any additions or improvements related to bike and ped safety, the body will use it as a guide when considering applications before it.

“Hopefully now they’ll look at it every time they do a road improvement” or other project, Rossano said, adding with a laugh, “and we’ll be there to nag them when they don’t.”

Here’s the full report in PDF format. It’s a sizable file, so be patient while it downloads.