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Gill Measure to Create Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Council Advances

Senator Nia Gill at the first meeting of the Senate Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill to create a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Council in the state was approved today by the Senate. The legislation is part of a bill package sponsored by Senator Gill to make it easier for senior citizens to age in place in their communities and stem from a series of meetings she held with seniors in her legislative district.

“Communities that allow people to live healthy and active lifestyles are so important to the quality of life of our residents, and especially for older residents who are looking to remain in their homes as they age,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “We have to make sure our towns and cities are pedestrian friendly and that walking and biking are viable options for getting around, either for exercise or as a practical means of transportation.”

A total of 343 walkers were killed on New Jersey roads in 2014 and 2015, The Record reported Saturday, representing 30 percent of all traffic fatalities statewide. The newspaper stated that 50 pedestrian deaths were reported this year. In addition, unlike other road-death categories, walking deaths continue to increase; they accounted for 25 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2010.

The bill (S631) would create an 18-member council in, but not of, the Department of Transportation, to study, examine and review the issue of bicycle and pedestrian safety in New Jersey and to advise the Governor, Legislature and Department of Transportation on policies, programs, research and priorities to advance bicycling and walking as safe and viable forms of transportation and recreation throughout the state for people of all ages and abilities.

Among other issues, the council would review the availability and effectiveness of driver education and training programs to educate and inform the public. The council would include representatives from transportation organizations across the state, state agencies, including the DOT, Motor Vehicle Commission and Department of Health, members of the public and the Legislature. Two appointments to the Council would represent senior citizen issues.

Senator Gill bill developed a package of bills after meeting with members of the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. A second measure (S2523), signed into law in January, allows towns, cities and parking authorities to create a parking program to offer reduced cost and designated parking to seniors. Under a Senior Citizen Priority Parking Program authorized by a municipality or parking authority, seniors could receive reduced-rate parking permits and program-restricted parking spaces.

“We should encourage our residents who wish to stay in their communities to ‘age in place,’ and that means creating policies that are conducive to living a healthy life,” said Senator Gill. “This is an important bill that will help to make our communities safer and more livable for everyone but that will also have an impact for seniors. I appreciate the work and input of the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee with regard to the challenges they are facing in the community, which inspired this and other legislation that we’ve advanced.”

S-631 was approved by a vote of 38-0.