Roselle Park Adopts A Complete Streets Policy

At the August 16th municipal meeting, Roselle Park joined almost 150 other New Jersey municipalities in adopting a Complete Streets policy by approving Resolution 231-18.

According to Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio, “The purpose of the Complete Streets policy is . . . to put together standards that will help increase pedestrian, bicycle, and traffic safety by setting a policy affording guidelines to our engineering firm, to our public works, to our governing body when planning or designing safe passages to and from locations throughout the borough.”

Nationwide, a Complete Streets policy proposes a community’s intent to fund, plan, design and construct community streets to accommodate all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation users, motorists, and freight vehicles. Statewide, the New Jersey Department Of Transportation (NJDOT) designed the policy to implement Complete Streets as routine construction, reconstruction, and repaving projects are completed. The NJDOT’s policy is not intended to retrofit a community’s entire street network all at once.

NJDOT includes six (6) key elements for a Complete Streets policy:

  1. Purpose and Intent: describes the goals, vision, or desired outcome of the Complete Streets policy
  2. Definition of Users and Modes: depending on local context, this element may include groups beyond pedestrians and bicyclists (e.g., transit passengers, persons of all ages and abilities, freight and goods movement, emergency responders, farm vehicles, equestrians, etc.)
  3. Types of Improvements: indicates the type of projects that are covered by the policy (e.g., new construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, resurfacing, maintenance, operations, private development, public-private partnerships, etc.)
  4. Design Standards: stipulates that the latest national and local standards will be used and/or points to specific documents
  5. Exemptions: clearly defines the types of exemptions that may be granted (e.g., cost, equivalent facility, need, critical safety issue, environmental impact, context sensitivity, user restrictions, etc.) plus the process and individual/entity in charge of making such a decision
  6. Implementation Plan: provides guidance for putting the Complete Streets plan into effect

Councilman DeIorio added that another benefit of having the policy is that it gives the borough ‘an advantage of earning points when we submit for grant funds’. The councilman-at-large was referring to Sustainable Jersey’s certification program. The non-profit group Sustainable Jersey provides training, programs, resources, and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability policies; these include opportunities for grants and funding. Certification from Sustainable Jersey gives those municipalities special priority access and notification of incentives and grants, including the Sustainable Jersey Grants Program (link). A Complete Streets policy is worth 10 points towards a Sustainable Jersey certification.

According to Sustainable Jersey (link), a Complete Streets Policy is not:

  • A design prescription. It’s not about adding sidewalks and bike lanes to every road, but it is about considering those options as part of municipal planning and decision making and coordinating designs with other municipal and regional authorities.
  • A mandate for immediate installation or retrofitting of existing transportation networks. Rather, it is about creating a structure for implementing these improvements over time and whenever feasible.
  • A magic formula. While instituting a Complete Streets program is an important sustainable community feature, other initiatives and issues must be addressed by municipalities, including land use planning, environmental concerns, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction, and proximity of recreational land and other open space.

The policy adopted by the governing body will explicitly impact the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) and the borough’s engineering firm. Both will have to make the Complete Streets policy a standard part of everyday operations including planning and design studies.

Contrary to Councilman DeIorio’s recent requests to have those boards and departments impacted by certain positions and policies provide input, the Complete Streets policy was not reviewed by the MLUB before being approved by council.

The text of the Complete Streets policy resolution is included below:

WHEREAS, the Borough of Roselle Park (“Borough”) is committed to creating street corridors that accommodate all road users of all ages and abilities for all trips; and,

WHEREAS, a Complete Street is defined as a means of providing safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit vehicle users, and motorists, by designing and operating a comprehensive, integrated, equitable, connected multi-modal network of transportation options; and,

 WHEREAS, the benefits of Complete Streets include i) improving safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, children, older citizens, families, non-drivers, the mobility-challenged and other non- vehicular users of the roadway, as well as those who cannot afford a motor vehicle or choose to live motor vehicle-free; ii) providing connections to bicycling and walking trip generators such as employment, schools, residential, recreation, transit, retail centers, public and civic facilities; iii) promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing social connectivity and sense of community belonging; iv) creating more livable and walkable communities; v) reducing traffic congestion and reliance on carbon fuels thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality, water quality and storm water management; vi) saving money by incorporating sidewalks, on-streets bicycle facilities, safe and convenient crossings and transit amenities into the initial design of a project, thus sparing the expense of retrofits later; and vii) stimulating economic prosperity through enhanced access to local businesses, increased property values and employment, and private investment, especially in retail districts, downtowns and historical areas; and,

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council fully support these initiatives and wish to reinforce their commitment to creating a balanced, flexible, comprehensive, integrated, connected street network that accommodates all road users of all ages and abilities and for all trips. Implementation efforts of a Complete Streets policy will ensure the fair treatment, equitable funding and resource distribution, and meaningful involvement of all communities in all phases from selection, planning, and design to construction and long-term maintenance; and,

WHEREAS, a Complete Streets policy will be implemented through the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of new and retrofit transportation facilities for the entire right-of-way; and,

WHEREAS, Complete Streets have the potential for improving physical and mental health either directly or indirectly in the following ways:

  1. Incorporating physical activity into our daily lives by increasing pedestrian activity and bicycle use.
  2. Reducing rates of several chronic diseases related to increases in physical activity from walking and bicycling. Key impacted diseases include diabetes, heart disease, depression, and some cancers.
  3. Reducing rates of injury and death from decreased traffic crashes and improved road safety for all users.
  4. Reducing rates of asthma and other respiratory issues due to improved air quality through emissions reductions and vegetative air filtration.
  5. Multiplying health and wellness benefits resulting from improved access to necessary amenities for vulnerable populations.
  6. Reducing the risk of illnesses related to water-borne pathogens resulting from improved storm water infiltration.
  7. Increasing the sense of social connectivity & sense of community belonging.
  8. Improving aesthetics through decorative and functional vegetation.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Roselle Park, County of Union, State of New Jersey that all public street projects, both new construction and reconstruction in the Borough of Roselle Park, shall be designed and constructed using Complete Streets polices where practical and safe, in order to accommodate travel by pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorized vehicles and their passengers.; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Municipal Land Use Board, and the Borough Engineer should make Complete Streets practices and principles a standard part of everyday operations including planning and design studies, should approach every transportation project and program as an opportunity to improve public streets, public health, and the transportation network in the Borough for all users, and should work in coordination with other departments, agencies, and jurisdictions including public health to achieve robust Complete Streets; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Complete Streets policy as set forth above shall be implemented where practical and safe as follows:

  1. All Borough streets shall be designed and constructed to include accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit, and motorists. Complete Streets shall accommodate users of all ages and abilities.
  2. Recognizing the inter-connected multi-modal network of street grid, the Borough will work with Union County, state and federal agencies through existing planning efforts to ensure Complete Streets principles are incorporated in a context-sensitive manner.
  3. While Complete Streets principles are context sensitive, these features should be considered during the design, planning, maintenance and operations phases and incorporate changes into some retrofit and reconstruction projects. Departments shall reference current editions and best practices of New Jersey Roadway Design Manual; the AASHTOGuide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities; AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities; the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices; the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and other design criteria as necessary, striving to balance all needs, when repaving or reconstructing streets.
  4. The Municipal Land Use Board , along with their respective planning and engineering professionals, shall incorporate this Complete Streets policy into its reviews and recommendations of major site plan and development/redevelopment projects; that all initial planning and designing studies, environmental reviews and other project reviews for projects requiring funding or approval by the Borough should (a) evaluate the effect of the proposed project on safe travel by all users, and (b) identify measures to mitigate any adverse impacts on such travel that are identified; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that to facilitate timely implementation of the Complete Streets policy, the following steps shall be taken:

  1. Within two years of the effective date of this Policy, the Borough shall inventory, audit, and modify its procedures, policies, documents, training programs, performance measures and other guidance documents. This includes but is not limited to funding, planning, design, operating, maintaining transportation infrastructure
  2. A memorandum outlining this new policy will be distributed to all department heads and appropriate consultants within 90 days of adoption of this resolution outlining this formalized policy.
  3. At least one training session about Complete Streets will be attended by appropriate staff and consultants of the Borough within 180 days of adoption of this Resolution.
  4. Implementation and oversight of the new policy will be handled by the Borough Engineer, or such other person or group designated by the Borough Governing Body.
  5. The Borough shall provide a good faith effort to collect, track, and monitor data to determine compliance with the Borough’s Complete Streets policy using the following benchmarks:
    1. Mileage by of new and existing bicycle infrastructure including in communities of concern (e.g., bicycle lanes, bike parking, paths, and boulevards).
    2. Linear feet (or mileage) of new and existing pedestrian infrastructure (e.g., sidewalks, trails, transit amenities, etc.).
    3. Number of new and existing ADA-compliant infrastructure (e.g. curb ramps, pedestrian buttons, etc.).
    4. Number of new street trees.
    5. Number of green street practices (e.g., rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavement, etc.).
    6. Number of pedestrian and bicycle lighting improvements.
    7. Bicycle and pedestrian counts.
    8. Commute mode percentages (e.g., drive alone, carpool, transit, bicycle, walk).
    9. The number and percentage of designated transit stops accessible via sidewalks and curb ramps.
    10. The number and locations of motor vehicle crashes that are disproportionately above the average for the Borough, the number and locations of all fatalities within the Borough, and the location and causes (when they can be determined) for all motor vehicle crashes that involve pedestrian(s) and bicyclists anywhere in the Borough.
    11. The total number and percentage of children walking or bicycling to school.
  6. A transportation project shall not be required to accommodate the needs of a particular user group if the Borough Engineer determines in writing that:
    1. The use of the transportation facility by the particular user group is prohibited by law or would create an unsafe condition;
    2. There is a demonstrated absence of both a current and future need to accommodate the category of user (absence of future need may be shown via demographic, school, employment, and public transportation route data that demonstrate, for example, a low likelihood of bicycle, pedestrian, or transit activity in an area over the next 20 years);
    3. The adverse impacts of accommodating the needs of the particular user group significantly outweigh the benefits.
    4. Non-motorized users are prohibited by law on the roadway or project area.
    5. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities are not required where they are prohibited by law or would create unsafe conditions.
    6. Scarcity of population, travel and attractors, both existing and future, indicate an absence of need for such accommodations.
    7. When the cost of incorporating new bicycle, pedestrian, and/or public transit facilities is excessive, defined as greater than 20% of the overall project cost, the need for and/or probable use of the facility shall be considered in making the determination as to whether or not an exception should be approved at this time or held for future consideration. This determination may occur during the budget and capital improvements program approval process or when project plans and specifications are being prepared.
    8. The safety of a project is compromised by the inclusion of Complete Streets.
  7. In any project, should the inclusion of pedestrian, public transit, and/or bicycle facilities prove detrimental to wetlands, floodplains, streams and/or historic/social resources, as determined by the Borough Engineer, those facilities shall not be approved. Transportation projects shall consider sustainable design elements, including, but not limited to:
    1. Green storm water infrastructure practices.
    2. Traffic Calming.
    3. Shade trees and other vegetation.
    4. Permeable pavements – including those made from recycled materials such as rubber, concrete, glass, and plastic; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution shall remain on file in the Borough Clerk’s office and a copy be provided to the Union County Freeholders, Union County Division of Public Works, New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Transit.