Encouraging Children to Walk and Bike to School in Asbury Park
Among Asbury Park residents, pedestrian and bicycle safety is a concern. Between 2016 and 2017, there were 35 vehicle crashes involving pedestrians in our community. The City announced a simple goal: to implement programs to encourage safe walking and biking in the City of Asbury Park.
As a partner in the Alliance for a Healthier Asbury Park, EZ Ride and its bike and pedestrian team partnered with the City of Asbury Park in this effort. They helped to restart the Mayor’s Wellness Committee. They worked with local schools to offer bike and pedestrian safety presentations, bike rodeos, walk to school days, poster contests, bike to school days and other wellness-focused activities, including educational campaigns about healthy meals and afterschool snacks.
The EZ Ride team participated in the Street Smart NJ campaign to increase awareness about walking safety, and they purchased bike racks to encourage biking. The team conducted walk audits at two schools and made recommendations to improve safety and promote walking and biking in town. The team’s recommendations included re-striping or re-painting crosswalks, “slow” school zone pavement markings, and fixing radar signs, bicycle lanes and pedestrian signal heads – all of which were adopted and implemented. The Asbury Park School District is another valuable partner in this work, and regularly holds walk- or bike-to school events. EZ Ride has also helped the school district develop walking and biking policies for students. In addition, hundreds of bike helmets have been distributed to kids in our community.
Building on this work, EZ Ride has also partnered with local stores and the pharmacy to stock healthy food options and hosted health-related events, such as preventive health screenings.
“The health and safety of all the city’s residents is our highest priority. The Alliance for a Healthier Asbury Park’s efforts to improve health outcomes by promoting healthier corner stores, safe streets for walking and biking, access to health care and transportation and physical activity in our parks is so important and much appreciated,” said Mayor John B. Moor in our Blueprint for Action.
These efforts are paying off, to our community’s benefit. In 2017, Bradley Elementary School and Thurgood Marshall Elementary School earned New Jersey Safe Routes to School’s Gold recognition, and in 2018, the City of Asbury Park and Barack Obama Elementary School earned the Gold honor. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School earned the First Step Safe Routes to School award. Additionally, the school travel plans prepared by the EZ Ride team have helped the City of Asbury Park apply for federal and state infrastructure and technical assistance grants to support this work.