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Milltown campaign focuses on pedestrian safety

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MILLTOWN — Paige Stryshak, an eighth-grader at the Joyce Kilmer Middle School in Milltown, said she believes the Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety campaign will make borough streets safer.

“Most of us walk to school and not all intersections have crossing guards,” Paige said. “I think a lighted crosswalk [at West Church and North Main streets toward Joyce Kilmer] would be helpful. Not all people pay attention. I once waited [at the intersection] for 15 minutes.”

Seventh-grader Casey Cumiskey said although he feels safe walking in the borough, he thinks the campaign will enhance the safety of pedestrians even more.

Paige and Casey joined their fellow students; Joyce Kilmer Principal William Veit; Bill Neary, executive director of Keep Middlesex Moving; New Brunswick, Councilwoman Doriann Kerber; Lois Goldman, director of regional planning for the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA); Borough Council President Ron Dixon; members of the Milltown Police Department; members of the Milltown Chamber of Commerce; and members of other borough departments to kick off the campaign in the parking lot of the United Methodist Church on May 10.

Veit said since Milltown is a district in which students walk to school, it is important to build partnerships for campaigns such as Street Smart NJ and value the importance of pedestrian safety and bicycle safety.

Street Smart NJ is a public education, awareness and behavioral change pedestrian safety campaign created by NJTPA. Street Smart NJ combines grassroots public awareness efforts with traditional and social media messaging and police enforcement.

Neary said members of Keep Middlesex Moving conducted an initial pre-behavior survey of several intersections on Main Street, which is one of the main thoroughfares in the borough.

“The crossing guards do a good job passing people through on Main Street,” he said. “There was nothing dramatic in what we saw. The heavy traffic and the amount of people in the area warrants a safety campaign to make sure traffic moves in and out safely.”

Kerber said pedestrian safety is a top priority for borough officials, residents, people who work in Milltown and for visitors in the downtown area.

“Everyone has a role in the campaign. The motorists have to abide by the speed limits, observe crosswalks and avoid distractions,” she said. “These are common sense safety messages.”

Students at Joyce Kilmer will help distribute campaign material, which include signs, brochures, coasters and coffee sleeves.

Neary said the signs, which state “Wait for Walk,” “Use Crosswalks,” “Heads Up, Phones Down,” “Stop for Pedestrians” and “Obey Speed Limits” can go anywhere, including residential streets.

Milltown joins more than 65 communities, including East Brunswick, Metuchen, Woodbridge and Middlesex Borough, and colleges and universities that have participated in Street Smart NJ in some way.

Neary, a former mayor of East Brunswick, said the Street Smart NJ campaign was completed in East Brunswick in shopping centers.

Goldman said evaluations of previous Street Smart NJ campaigns have shown positive results.

“There was a 28 percent reduction in pedestrians jaywalking or crossing against the signal and a 40 percent reduction in drivers failing to yield to crossing pedestrians or cyclists following campaigns the NJTPA managed in March 2016,” she said.

The campaign in Milltown will last one month and borough officials and Keep Middlesex Moving will assess the results of the campaign through a survey.

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