Santa Claus has officially arrived in Morristown and that means more pedestrians will be strolling the downtown to shop, dine and celebrate the holidays.
The Morristown Pedestrian Project (MPP), a coalition organized by the Alliance for Morris County Parks to promote the benefits of walking and the importance of motorists and pedestrians sharing the road urges all residents, employees and visitors to making safe walking a priority this holiday season and throughout the New Year.
"Community walkability matters–it’s good for the residents, the businesses and the environment," said Denise Lanza, assistant deputy director of the Morris County Park Commission. "And while people who live and work in walkable communities are more physically active, it’s essential that they feel safe walking across the street."
According to Lanza, safety not only involves having the infrastructure to support safe walking such as crosswalks, sidewalks and signals, but an understanding among a town’s residents, employees and visitors of the importance of knowing and following the rules of the road. For pedestrians that means using crosswalks and obeying all signs and signals. Motorists, meanwhile, must stop for pedestrians when they’re in crosswalks–a New Jersey state law–and slow down to accommodate all roadway users.
Working with the Morristown Partnership, which represents the town’s businesses, MPP volunteers recently provided retailers, restaurants and other establishments palm cards and posters in both English and Spanish that remind their patrons and employees that pedestrian safety is a “Shared Responsibility.”
Additionally, red signs reminding motorists who park on the street to use crosswalks instead of crossing mid-block are posted on parking meters in and around The Green courtesy of the Morristown Parking Authority.
“We fully support this important initiative,” said Jennifer Wehring, marketing director of the Morristown Partnership. “Morristown is recognized as a highly walkable community thanks to our proximity to meaningful amenities and exciting holiday events. But we have to make sure that everyone who visits understands that safety must be a top priority.”
Morris County Tourism Bureau executive director Leslie Bensley echoed Wehring’s sentiments. “We love visitors and want everyone to discover all that Morristown–and our County–has to offer, “ she said. “Safety, however, must be paramount particularly as we encourage people to come and enjoy Morristown’s wonderful Holly Days, which are best experienced on foot.”
The MPP Coalition partners offer these tips for safe walking:
- Wear bright colored clothing especially at night.
- Walk on sidewalks and always use crosswalks or cross at the corner. Do not cross mid-block or between parked cars.
- Learn the purpose of Walk/Don’t Walk signs.
- Look left, right and left again before crossing and be on the lookout for turning vehicles, particularly at intersections where vehicles can turn right on red.
- Make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a vehicle.
- Use the buddy system. Walk and cross with others when possible.
- Avoid walking at night and during inclement weather in areas without sidewalks and/or lighting.
The Morristown Pedestrian Project (MPP) is one of five ACHIEVE Healthy Communities Morris County initiatives funded under a three-year, $35,000 grant awarded to the Alliance for Morris County Parks by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The goal of ACHIEVE is to enhance a community’s ability to develop and implement policy, systems and environmental change strategies that can help improve the overall health and well-being of its citizens. Starting in Morristown (with a goal of replicating the pedestrian initiative in other municipalities throughout the County), the MPP includes representatives of local, county and state government agencies, the business community, non-profits, public health and law enforcement who are working collaboratively to share resources and best practices with a particular emphasis on walking.
The Alliance for Morris County Parks was established in 1998 to support and enhance the Morris County Park Commission in its mission to serve our county through protection of open space, preservation and conservation of natural and cultural resources, and promotion of recreation and well being.