Matt Hankinson, Margate’s Chief of Police, says an Atlantic Ave ‘road diet’ would provide greater pedestrian safety.
The plan is to reduce four Atlantic Ave lanes, down to two. A center turn lane is also featured. Wider bike lanes, too.
Mayor Becker, Commissioners Amodeo and Blumberg will cast their vote on Feb. 4.
Not everybody wants to reconfigure traffic patterns in Margate.
Full-time resident Amy Reale, lives on Monmouth Ave. She thinks a road diet will force drivers onto the side streets… like Monmouth Ave. Reale opposes wider bike lanes too. Says they scratch her cars. Listen >
Listen: Margate Commissioners ROAD DIET Meeting. Jan. 21, 2021.
This favors summer residents. Not locals. Who are we catering towards? These changes negatively affect year-round residents. Feels a bit on the insulting side.Amy Reale
Vaughan Reale, former Mayor of Margate, is also against this public safety initiative. Wants City to prove some kind of ROI, return on investment. Reale also wants detail on costs involved with switching back to 4 lanes if not successful.
Vaughan Reale wants Margate to focus on other things, like traffic lights.
Margate Road Diet Decision
The following are excerpts from Hankinson’s letter to Mayor Becker, Commissioners Blumberg, Amodeo and other Margate city administrators:
As you are aware, April 1, 2010, “Casey’s Law,” the most recent Pedestrian-Crosswalk Law, went into effect. This law was inspired by the tragic, fatal pedestrian- motor vehicle accident in Ocean City, NJ on July 17, 2009.
On that day, 21 year old Casey Feldman was a pedestrian in a crosswalk governed by 4-way stop signs when she was struck and killed by a distracted driver.
The tragic event was the catalyst for the law that mandates the driver of a motor vehicle stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a marked crosswalk at an intersection and the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
The adoption of this law, has created what this agency has determined to be a potentially unsafe situation, for both pedestrians and motor vehicles, utilizing Atlantic Avenue, due to the current four (4) travel lane configuration.
More specifically, when a pedestrian traverses Atlantic Avenue, they make the assumption vehicles in all four (4) travel lanes will stop to allow the crossing, however, this is not always the case, as on (1) driver may stop to allow the pedestrian to cross, but a driver in any of the three (3) adjacent travel lanes may fail to do so, either striking the pedestrian or “trapping the pedestrian” on the roadway.
Additionally, it has been observed drivers who are situated directly behind vehicles which are stopped to allow for a pedestrian crossing, more often than not pass the stopped vehicle on the right, seemingly unaware a pedestrian is crossing, making it extremely unsafe for the pedestrian.
Unfortunately, this condition has been observed in increasing frequency, and no manner of enforcement or educational campaign seems to rectify this situation.
Although we have not experienced any fatal motor vehicle accidents on Atlantic Avenue, in the current configuration, we have many of the factors which have been shown contribute to fatal motor vehicle accidents.
As noted in the Road Diet Study prepared by Remington and Vernick, the benefits of a Road Diet have been well documented by both the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, they include crash and speed reduction, improved mobility and access and enhanced safety for pedestrians and bicyclist.
The Federal Highway Administration has shown there is a 32% decrease in potential reduction in pedestrian crashes with the advent of just a “pedestrian refuge.”
We have also seen exponential growth with the issue of distracted driving. The prominence of “smart” phones in the hands of many drivers is increasing the amount of distracted driving occurring on a daily basis. We have all been witness to the “close calls” happening while a driver is distracted by a cellphone.
The City of Margate has also seen an increase in both pedestrian and bicycle traffic in recent years. A Road Diet would give both pedestrians and motorists greater vision for any hazardous situations.
Road Diets lead to greater safety by slowing down through movement and redistributing space.Remington and Vernick Engineers
As recently as January 13, 2021, there was a fatal pedestrian motor vehicle accident on Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City. It was reported the pedestrian was in the crosswalk when the traffic signal for the opposite flow of traffic turned green and struck, killing the pedestrian in the crosswalk.
It’s the recommendation of this agency the current four (4) travel lane configuration of Atlantic Ave be revised and the City of Margate adopt a Road Diet to a two (2) lane with a center turn lane configuration.
This configuration would not only enhance pedestrian safety and allow for a wider and safer bicycle lane, but it would also create a roadway which is more efficient to those drivers who utilize it daily.
Matthew A. Hankinson Chief of Police City of Margate
Cc: Mayor Becker, Commissioner John Amodeo Commissioner Maury Blumberg