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Monday, January 28, 2008

Traffic Accidents Pile Up On Erie Street

Sunday morning began as a typical day in the neighborhood-- screeching rubber, scraping metal, and the clatter of a car jumping the curb. Serious traffic accidents have become all too typical along Erie Street with Sunday's wreck only the latest on this quiet residential street in Harsimus Cove.

At the corner of Second and Erie Streets, two vehicles collided sending one over the curb and into the fence of Grace Van Vorst Church. Early last summer, at the very same spot, a small vehicle was spun completely around. Then there was the accident this past autumn at Third and Erie with one car jettisoned into the wall of a house. Below, the dented wall and the smashed fence on the northwest corner of Third and Erie.

In the past year, we've personally observed four serious accidents at these two intersections alone, and its not as though we are hanging around Erie Street waiting for cars to jump curbs. The commonality between all the accidents has been a car heading north on Erie, usually speeding, colliding with a car at the cross streets.

Certainly speeding drivers are largely responsible. But also at fault are cars parked to the very corner of the streets, preventing drivers on both streets from seeing on coming cars until its too late. The curbs at these intersections were at one time painted red-- probably shortly after the city was founded four hundred years ago, and then forgotten about. Many of the curbs around the street corners have been replaced, and never repainted; for the rest, the paint is so faded its almost as though they were never painted at all.

In the short term, the city needs to repaint no parking zones on street corners. This clearly is a safety issue, not only for drivers, but for pedestrians as well. Imagine for instance, a pedestrian caught underneath a car-- below, the remains of the iron fence:

But repainting curb corners does not provide a long term solution. One alternative would be installation of speed bumps on Erie Street. However, speed humps spaced too far apart won't inhibit speeding, and spaced too close together would greatly impede traffic flow. An alternative solution is construction of bulb-outs, also known as curb extensions. Curb extensions literally extend the curb and sidewalk at street corners. This is a multifaceted approach. First, cars are unable to park too closely to the corner because street space becomes an elevated sidewalk. Second, drivers perceive the street as more narrow, naturally causing them to slow down. A third benefit is shortening the distance between curbs for pedestrians, though this benefit is best realized at larger avenues. Bulb outs are not unprecedented in Jersey City. Below, a small bulb out in Paulus Hook, on Morris Street.

Regardless of the final solution, something needs to be done. Only coincidence has kept pedestrians out from under careening cars to date; eventually the city will be scraping bodies off the sidewalk.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in this area and something needs to be done. I come close to being run over almost daily while walking my dog. The speeding is also bad down First and Third Street as people attmept to cut around the Newark Ave traffic.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous jcwalkingman said...

I was wondering what had happened there as I passed by during my run this evening...I figured it was construction, but it's really discomforting to me that so many accidents occur there.

9:05 PM  
Blogger jkind said...

Nice write up! bulb-outs seem like a good solution as hump will only force drivers onto other north bound streets with no lights. The reason people speed is because in both hoboken and jc there are no good north south corridors. Marin gets snarled in mall and tunnel traffic so the traffic routes itself to Erie where there are no lights. This is a larger downtown quality of life issue that the gov needs to start addressing. If you build thousands of housing units you need to rework traffic patterns. In washington dc I saw the struggle as dead-end (one-way heads into one-way) traffic patterns established to fight drug trafficking were never updated to satisfy the gentrification as people need a quick way to get to whole foods and trade joes.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's JC, speed limits are just suggestions!

10:40 AM  
Blogger jkind said...

Stop signs use the octogon shape to help indicate to drivers that the other road must stop. Oops some bright person decided that on one-way streets we should cover up this visual cue with a do not enter sign.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This city needs better roads so that cars don't have to zip through tight side streets. There is a lack of through streets and the traffic just gets worse every year. Newark, Grand, etc. are disasters. I cannot believe Grand was not widened when the Liberty Harbor stuff was approved. And it's stunning to me that there is no push for short elevated north-south and east-west intracity roads to get cars off the side streets. The traffic is here, we need to deal with it, not wish it away.

8:35 PM  

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