Spring 2002, p.19

Metropolitan

New Jersey

"Context Sensitive Design:" New Thinking or Repackaged Baloney?
The New Jersey Department of Transportation has been harshly criticized by environmental advocates for its infatuation with endlessly building and widening highways. One way it has responded is by creating a "Context Sensitive Design" (CSD) program; the NJDOT sees this program as a way of incorporating community ideas and concerns early-or earlier-in the planning process. An optimist might say that NJDOT's new program heralds a new way of thinking and planning that will lead to pedestrian-, bicycle- and transit-friendly designs.

A pessimist, however, could point to the past failures of CSD-horrendous highway widening projects like the extension of Route 21 to Route 46 in Nutley and Clifton, north of Newark.

Janine Bauer, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign hopes Context Sensitive Design "will evolve into something positive." But she also notes that CSD is the hot new thing for DOT's across the US, and, as such, might be little more than a way to blunt community criticism. NJ Residents should see the New Jersey DOT web page at www.state.nj.us/dot/csd/index.htm or contact

Jeff Maclin, Director of Communications
NJDOT
P.O. Box 600
Trenton, NJ 08625
609-530-4280

Garden State Cyclists and Pedestrians Wonder "Where are the Benjamins?"
New Jersey has eight million people, many of whom bicycle and walk. Yet, out of $150 million in state local aid funding last fiscal year, the state legislature slated a pathetic $12 million ($1.50/person) for bicyclists and pedestrians. By comparison, the construction of Route 29 alone cost $25 million per year for four years.

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Connecticut

Showdown with SDOT as Groups Seek 15% of Federal Safety Aid for Bikes/Peds
Led by the Connecticut Bicycle Coalition, a determined group of advocates is close to getting a law passed that would set aside 15% of Federal "Hazard Elimination" money for local bicycle and pedestrian grants. If passed, the law would guarantee an additional $1.5 million a year for towns and cities to fund traffic calming and cycling improvements. The legislation, #5506, is winding its way through the Byzantine legislative process fueled by strong grassroots support from children safety groups. "Deadly by Design," a 2000 study by the Bike Coalition found that 16% of CT traffic fatality victims are pedestrians. However, only a tiny bit of the $60 million in Federal Hazard Elimination aid spent by CTDOT since 1992 has been for pedestrians. Connecticut DOT-like NYSDOT-opposes any laws that restricts its ability to spend money, including safety money, on traditional road widenings. New York advocates are carefully watching the legislation as a possible model for New York State.

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Region

Massive Study Links Diesel Lung Cancer
Prolonged exposure to air tainted with tiny particles of soot significantly raises the risk of dying of lung cancer or other lung and heart diseases, according to a new study of 500,000 people in 116 American cities. The finding adds urgency to efforts to reduce fine-particle pollution, which comes from power plants and motor vehicles. The Environmental Protection Agency has written rules to crack down on pollution, but they have been held up by lawsuits brought by the power industry and by vehicle manufacturers and operators. Now, in the aftermath of a Supreme Court ruling favorable to the agency, the regulations could take effect late next year.

[Editor's Note: A British study conducted a decade ago demonstrated that the cardiovascular benefits of cycling actually outweigh the harm caused by air pollution. Hopefully, the British research team will weigh in on this recent study.]

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