A recent ride along the greenway further South brought together almost 200 participants. ECGA plans to attract even more in New Jersey this coming year (photo by Jerry Markatos)
Even after the outstanding recent progress of our greenway through New Jersey, a great deal of work lies ahead. We need to make bicycling and walking universally safe and accessible throughout the Garden State so that they move from the margins of our transportation system to center stage. For the health of our economy, our people and our environment, we aim to make 2011 a breakthrough year for active transport in New Jersey.
A recent study comparing the 50 states placed New Jersey as tied with California for second behind New York in terms of active transport mode share. But as the most densely populated state, our potential is much greater than the ~12% share of all trips done by bicycle and on foot. The population density of the Garden State is highest in the country at more than 1,100 people per square mile. This density is even higher than the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark who all have active mode shares above 30%.
Therefore, using our density as a guide for active transport potential, we can triple the number of trips by bicycle and on foot. The key obstacle to such progress is a current lack of safe continuous corridors. The East Coast Greenway Alliance will help change that in 2011 and beyond.
Soon, the majority of our New Jersey route will be off-road, separated from traffic. And for the rest, as Mike Oliva mentioned last week, we plan to integrate more sidewalks, bike lanes, and sharrows (arrows with bicyclist symbols that encourage drivers to share the road) for safety and accessibility.
Some of the walkers enjoying last May’s Big Walk from Iselin to New York City. Many group walks are in store for 2011
Then our focus can go fully to public outreach so that the millions of people living within the East Coast Greenway corridor of New Jersey know about this resource in their backyard. Once our route is fully complete with signage from the Delaware River to the Hudson River (within a matter of months), we plan extensive media outreach. We want to ensure everyone knows about this route that can help them lower their transportation costs, increase their fitness, and help foster a healthy local and global environment.
Working with our many partners throughout New Jersey, we can make 2011 a breakthrough year for the state to assert its active transportation leadership on the national stage. Let’s take this opportunity to forge even more partnerships and achieve our common goals in the New Year!
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends, partners and colleagues. We are grateful every day for your contributions toward a society more humane and a world more livable.
The staff of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.