CRANFORD, NJ — On Thursday, Oct. 6, residents of Cranford met at the Cranford Community Center to discuss pedestrian safety. A presentation was given by Anthony Durante, a member of the town’s Board of Downtown Management after he took town officials on a walk downtown to experience it from a new perspective. The officials took turns pushing a baby stroller through town, and they realized the issue of pedestrian safety needed to be addressed.
“The best way to experience downtown is on foot,” said Durante. “We want to start with the focus on our downtown and hopefully spread awareness to other areas of Cranford over time.”
There is now a live, interactive map where Cranford residents can drop pins and add comments about the downtown area. The map can be found at www.collaborativemap.com/downtown-cranford-walk-assessment. Residents are encouraged to share their experiences and opinions about streets, intersections and crosswalks.
“I’m concerned about the intersection of North and North Union avenues,” Cathy, Sheridan of Cranford, told LocalSource. “The angles of the roads make it difficult to cross. I’m also concerned about Eastman and North avenues due to the amount of turns made in this intersection. I also notice a lot of jaywalking on South Avenue.”
“I’m concerned about the intersection of Walnut and Lexington avenues,” Jessica Orr, of Cranford, told LocalSource. “There was a Facebook page where people were trying to get a light installed on Lexington Avenue. I’m not usually one to stir the pot, but I’m concerned about the safety of my children walking to school.”
“I’ve never been more nervous in my life crossing the streets than I have in Cranford,” an anonymous source from Cranford told LocalSource. “I have lived in New York City, and it wasn’t this bad. I live on Lincoln Avenue, and I was walking with my dog and kids in the crosswalk between Lincoln and Retford avenues, when we almost got hit twice by the same driver. I notified the police, but the driver only received a warning.”
Durante took time to relate to the audience as a fellow resident of Cranford. He talked about how his family was walking in a crosswalk between Springfield and North Union avenues when a car quickly turned, causing him to raise both of his arms in the crosswalk. No one was hurt, but he did take this as a sign that there was room for improvement if he wanted to keep his family safe. He also addressed other areas of concern, such as the diamond intersection at South and South Union avenues and the wide turns and high speeds of cars at the intersection of Centennial and North Avenues.
After introducing a few ideas for intervention, such as curb extensions, raised intersections and embedded lights, he also discussed a few short-term solutions to the issue such as painted asphalt and “sheckdowns,” or snow buildup used to narrow lanes of traffic. Durante utilized his knowledge as a professional traffic planner, and he emphasized the importance of education and enforcement, as well as keeping an open dialogue with Union County officials.
“We want to encourage residents to get involved and work as a community to enforce and educate the public,” said Cranford Deputy Mayor Mary O’Connor. “The downtown is just a starting point, and we need to get people involved in the process if we want this attention to spread to other areas of Cranford.”