Montclair is a bucolic town designed before the advent of cars—with little village centers and parks that dot our mere 6.2 square miles. Early photos show people riding bikes, horses, and walking down streets, evolving into a community that drew many of us here. And yet, in the recent few years, our streets have become increasingly dangerous and even lethal.
It is with regret that we have yet another needless pedestrian death. Our condolences to the family and friends who have been struck and killed in recent pedestrian deaths.
Our speed limits are 25 – 35 miles per hour, yet some cars are going over 70 miles per hour, highway speeds, in residential areas. Our posted speed limits are 10 to 15 mph faster than neighboring towns. Our speed zones are way too fast.
Our policy is to not enforce speed limits within 10 mph, so on a 30mph road, a pedestrian being hit by an SUV is almost certain death. Sadly, the faster our streets are, the more Waze, Google Maps, Mapquest, etc., steer traffic through our town!
There are 60 formally identified dangerous intersections. Cars are regularly charging at crosswalks and/or going around stopped cars at crosswalks while people/kids are in them. This is a recipe for more fatalities.
Multiple crossing guards have been hit by vehicles. They are our “canary in the coal mine.” Please stop and ask any crossing guard about the dangers of traffic and thank them too! They are heroes who put their lives on the line every day for our children.
Our town has put its energies, focus and monies elsewhere. In 2022 the council announced $3 million for repaving, yet only $57,000 for street safety. More repaving and recurbing, which often pulls up perfectly fine asphalt or cement. Our previous mayor “stated that the outgoing council paved 70 miles of road, adding that the township only has 83 miles of road.” We need safe roads, not needlessly repaved roads and recurbed curbs.
There has been a street safe plan that was ratified in December 2020 and has sat on the shelf since that time although the link to the plan on the town website doesn’t work!
Almost all of these crashes are preventable. We need mass and immediate change.
Progressive towns and cities have overnight turned their communities into much safer places. It can be done by decisive, quick and purposeful actions. Hoboken has zero pedestrian deaths in four years!
We are eligible for monies (federal, state, county) for Vision Zero and our own town should be earmarking significant monies for safer streets.
We say we are implementing “Vision Zero”, yet we have put no funds, no focus, no empowerment of this task force and five months later they have not even met. It’s long overdue that we walk the walk, talk the talk and put money and action where our mouths to protect our community.
In the interim, there are some simple, quick, inexpensive solutions:
- Immediately implement a 25 mph town-wide speed limit, 15 mph school zones (like neighboring communities),
- Stop tolerating speeding and red light running,
- Start to implement the Safe Streets plan immediately.
- Put our money where our mouth is – fund and empower the Vision Zero team.
Even if you get your crosswalk, your street, your corner “fixed” and made safer, your kids are just going to walk down a dangerous street to another dangerous intersection and still be at risk of being hit.