Town Council Candidates: How to appeal to residents that speed (Q#5 from MyVeronaNJ)

Question 5: Speeding is a quality of life problem on many Verona streets. How would you appeal to your fellow Verona residents to get them to slow down?

Jack McEvoy: I have an issue with this question because speeders through Verona’s streets aren’t limited to only our residents. Even if every single Verona resident obeyed the speed limits, it doesn’t solve our problem.

Verona’s main streets are conduits from east to west, north to south and vice-versa. Thousands of drivers use the county roadways that connect us to Roseland, Cedar Grove, Newark, Fairfield and beyond.

I think there are certainly appeals that can be made to our caring residents, many of which want desperately to feel safe walking through our town. This same appeal, however, may not have an effect on those who race through Verona on their way to work or an appointment.

Growing up in Verona, everyone walked or biked everywhere. And it wasn’t all that long ago! Friends that lived in the far sections of Forest Avenue and Afterglow would walk to VHS daily. Almost all children walked to their elementary schools, HBW, and families walked to the Avenue to go to Terry’s, “the Deli”, Cohen’s, Patches or to go to the Park.

Back then there were speeders too. The difference was in how many cars there were. With so much development in and around Verona, we have a definitive increase in the amount of cars that also speed. So what sort of appeals would be effective, here in Verona, to hamper that bad habit?

First, we need two matters to be addressed. There should be education on two levels. We do need our old and new drivers alike to recognize that speeding increases one’s chances of crashes. We shouldn’t call them “accidents” when people willingly speed. And certainly for those who may be distracted by cell phones, kids in the back seat or our car radios, speeding becomes that much more likely.

But education should also be administered to our engineers that helped to design our speedways. Our current road designs promote speeding. They were built to allow for the maximum amount of cars to drive from ‘here to there’ in the shortest amount of time possible. These roadway designs didn’t consider people that walk, bike, are disabled, are pushing strollers or are elderly and may need extra time to cross.

Speeding can also be hampered by adding clear visible and even expanded crosswalks, or pedestrian signals, all of which I have been promoting for years before our Town Council. We have to do away with our outdated engineering practices and institute updated common sense designs when replacing, repairing and repainting roadways that have all users of those roadways in mind.

As far as a simple appeal to my friends and neighbors in Verona, I would give them three points to think about while driving in our town and beyond.

I can’t help but to recall how in past years, every street in Verona had kids playing in the middle of them. So the first appeal is obvious. Please make a concerted effort to slow down so the kids are safer. Wouldn’t it be great if they could walk or bike to school and parents could be comfortable with them doing so? How many headaches would be avoided? Wouldn’t there be fewer cars, and thus less traffic in our area, at least at drop off and pick up times? Wouldn’t that in and of itself make for safer pedestrian conditions? Wouldn’t it also be healthier for the kids? Kids will be walking more and
the reduction in cars would mean fewer noxious car emissions. One of Verona’s main attractions is that our kids can walk to school. Let’s get that going again.

The second is the potential impact that fewer speeders would have on the downtown business district. As stated earlier our main arteries are designed to move traffic quickly through town. As residents, if we all obeyed the speed limits then others would almost have no choice but to follow. Slower traffic on Bloomfield Avenue would create a safer more attractive downtown for pedestrians. People would actually notice our stores and restaurants instead of flying by them. But again, the appeal would be to enhance the safety of foot traffic into our local business community. We all know that this would be

The third appeal is to think of one time when you either experienced or witnessed a close call. Remember that one time that you sped and almost lost control, or when you were walking, and a car came too close at dangerously high speeds? Those visions always stick with me and they scare me.

The highest level of safety both behind the wheel and as a person walking on the street is something everyone would like to see for Verona. If reducing your speed while driving can increase that, then why not stay alert and really concentrate on taking your time? It will be an effort, and hopefully a group effort, but again it will benefit our entire community. And yes, all of these appeals apply to me as well.