Complete Streets for Kindergarteners

Bloomfield’s Halcyon Park is a great example of Complete Streets. Complete Streets as defined by Smart Growth America is:

Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work.

Essex County has a Complete Streets resolution.

Every morning Montclair mom Nicole Gray has to walk her 6 year old kindergartner down Upper Mountain Road in Montclair to reach the school bus stop. Upper Mountain Road is CR-631, which means it is a county road and under the jurisdiction of Essex County.

CR-631 has no sidewalks on the southeast side and the posted speed limit is 35 mph.

As I traced Gray’s walk to her kindergartener’s bus stop, a walk that we did in the street owing to there being no sidewalk, I noticed some people were going up to 60 mph.

CR-631 is a major thoroughfare. People use it to rush to work and to rush home. People use it to access Montclair University. People do need to get to where they are going. We all understand that, but kindergartners use that road to walk to the bus to go to school.

Children who are 5 years old have to share the road with 4,000 pound cars going 50 mph.

A text, a hiccup, a sneeze or seizure, owing to this street’s design could lead to tragedy.

According to the blog Safe Speed:

If someone is hit by a car at 40 mph they are 90% likely to be killed.
If someone is hit by a car at 30 mph they are 50% likely to be killed.
If someone is hit by a car at 20 mph they are 10% likely to be killed.

Imagine those odds for a 40 pound kindergartner?

Gray is advocating for a safer bus stop for her child, a bus stop that is closer to her home, but she shouldn’t have to.

All the streets in Essex County should be Complete Streets. The roads in Essex should be safe for children, disabled people and the elderly.

Children’s lives should not depend on an individual driver not making a mistake and being lucky enough to have a mother like Gray,  who knows how to advocate for her child’s rights.

Kindergartners should not have to depend on luck, to get to school.

by Teka-Lark Lo

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