For immediate release
Report finds seniors especially at risk; municipal demand for funding exceeds available monies by a margin of 10-to-1
“Skimping on Sidewalks 2008,” a new report released today by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, documents a slight decline in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities from 2006 to 2007 but warns that sustained progress has yet to be made.
“The inability to meet long-term pedestrian and bicyclist safety goals overshadows 2007’s good news,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
In 2007, 162 pedestrians and cyclists were killed in New Jersey, a 9% decline from the previous year. But the state is far from achieving a 1998 goal set by Governor Whitman to halve the number of pedestrian fatalities from the 145 killed in 1997 by 2010.
Within the state, Middlesex, Essex and Bergen counties were the most dangerous places to walk or bicycle, with 19, 18 and 15 fatalities respectively in 2007. Hudson, Bergen, Essex and Passaic counties had the highest share of total traffic fatalities who were pedestrians or cyclists.
The report also finds that interest in walking has increased since 2000.
“Demand for walking is up,” said Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “The share of New Jerseyans who walk to work has increased by 26 percent between 2000 and 2006, far higher than the national average of 7 percent. With higher gas prices, we expect this trend to continue. However, only one of every ten municipal requests for biking and walking funds is met by the state.”
The Campaign’s analysis finds that New Jersey seniors are especially at risk of being killed as a pedestrian and are killed at rates that exceed the rest of the country. Older New Jersey residents are more than twice as likely to be killed as a pedestrian than members of the population as a whole. The statewide pedestrian fatality rate is 1.79 per 100,000 persons. But for New Jersey residents aged 65 and older, the fatality rate is 3.72 – and the rate is 4.62 for those aged 75 and older.
“Creating safer places for older New Jersey residents to walk will become increasingly important as the state’s population ages,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Simple changes like longer crossing times would go a long way toward making it safer and easier for older residents to get around.”
The report applauds previous leadership from state officials and says the state should implement more policies like the 5-year, $74 million initiative Governor Corzine began in 2006 that targets funding to bicycle and pedestrian projects. A recent Campaign analysis found that funding for bike and pedestrian projects is up from 2005, but declined slightly this year.
The Campaign recommends three strategies to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths and better target funding:
The full report, as well as county fact sheets, can be found at www.tstc.org/reports.html.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.