Improving pedestrian and bike safety in a local town


My small town of Little Silver (population <6,000), is a quiet riverside surburb in the New York metro area that attracts young families because of its good school system, community values, and nearby recreational resources.  Yet despite these attractive features, Little Silver has limited infrastructure for pedestrian and bicycle travel within town.  In the last year, the town has had 2 major pedestrian and bike accidents involving students, one fatal.

Contiguous sidewalks are limited in Little Silver, and when they do exist, they are usually only on one side of the street and in suboptimal condition.  Street shoulders are extremely limited and dedicated bicycle lanes do not exist, forcing cyclists to ride in traffic or on the sidewalks.


This poor bicycle and pedestrian access is a problem for Little Silver residents, particularly students.  Many students walk or bike to school since school buses are limited.  In fact, the lower grade schools do not provide free busing since all students live within a walking radius of the schools.  Students often ride their bicycles in car passage lanes or in sidewalks; walking students will sometimes travel in open streets.

Since virtually all residents live within 1 mile of a school, the train station, or an area of commerce in this small town, improving pedestrian and bicycle access via adding sidewalks and bike lanes would support overall street safety, access to community businesses, and also physical fitness.  Although some opponents to adding safe passageways such as sidewalks and bike lanes argue that these will affect Little Silver’s rural “charm,” the overall benefits would outweigh the supposed cosmetic impact.


5 Responses to “Improving pedestrian and bike safety in a local town”

  1. oforthep Says:

    I really like the topic you’ve picked and notice the same problem in other parts of America as well. I think your argument might benefit if:
    1. you provide the expected number of pedestrian accidents based on a standard population. It’s hard to know if 2 accidents per year is too many for a town with the population size of Little Silver.
    2. alternative solutions, such as more public transportation options, are discussed.

    Jogging in Baltimore made me notice the same problem, especially in the area around Homewood Campus, where students are more likely to walk or ride a bike. I think the problem might be part of a larger problem in America’s built environment.

    Yen-Yi Juo

  2. tliccardi Says:

    I like this topic! I am a community member of Rumson, one town over from Little Silver. I agree this entire peninsula is in need of a new roadway infrastructure for safety. As you have probably seen, the traffic patterns in our area have necessitated new traffic lights which were never required at intersections before. Roads are busier and not safe for pedestrian or bicycling. there have been 2 serious accidents over the last several years in the same spot just crossing a local street in one of our communities.
    It would be a great idea to develop policy to improve safe access for pedestrians and cyclists using roadways and be able to encourage even more exercise such as walking and biking to and from schools instead of parents driving their children.

    • hwang12 Says:

      Hi, I noticed that there were a good number of people from our two-river area taking this class…cool! I definitely agree with you about the need for better traffic planning in this peninsula. I know Red Bank and Fair Haven recently implemented strategies to improve ped/bike safety. Would be interesting to see their impact and if those programs could translate to LS.

      Anyway, hope to see you around!

  3. stallingss Says:

    It was really unbelievable that anyone would think that the “charm” of the town should out weigh the safety of the communities children and students. You would hope that would be everyones first priority- not to mention I would think that in providing safe side-walks would promote the charm of the town…??

  4. jenniferheffernan Says:

    Thank you for your post! In visiting suburbs outside Baltimore, I often wonder as to the planning that went into new towns with limited sidewalks and few bike lanes. In small communities such as yours, the absence of sidewalk clearly makes pedistrian commuting difficult.

    I’d like us to think of the parallel issue in big urban areas. Where sidewalks may exist, or even bike lanes, there are even more impediments to pedestrian travel: poorly lit streets, unsafe areas, congestion. As Little Silver appears to be a community without these more urbane obstacles, it seems the town is relatively well-positioned to implement the changes you suggest. Hopefully, the decision-makers heed your call before you have unfortunate stats of injury or worse.

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