Thanks to everyone who wrote to their NJ State Senator, we generated 475 letters from every district asking to pass the Target Zero Bill  (S2885/A4296) Establishing the “New Jersey Target Zero Commission” with the goal of achieving zero traffic deaths in New Jersey by 2040.

I’ve got good news for you: the bill, which was ready for final passage, was taken off the Senate calendar at the last minute.

That’s good news because on December 21st there were unfriendly amendments added to the bill that would have rendered it toothless and ineffectual, good only for political grandstanding. The amendments took out two essential elements for a strong commitment to zero traffic deaths: the requirement to produce an Action Plan, and the mapping of a statewide High Injury Network. The latter is an important tool to target investment in road safety infrastructure, especially where the network intersects with disadvantaged neighborhoods. Instead, the Commission would have been charged to review the State Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) and make recommendations (a process that is already built into the SHSP).

Hitting the Reset Button

January 9th marked the end of the 2022-2023 legislative session and in just the past 3 days, two versions of the Target Zero Commission bill have already been reintroduced:

Senate S361 (the better bill) – This bill restores some of the language and spirit of the bill as it was originally introduced. It’s not perfect but it’s at a good starting point to make the adjustments.

Assembly A1476 (we’ll call it the “Zero Target Bill”) – This re-introduces the watered-down amended bills that NJDOT favors. We’ll be talking to the sponsors to amend the bill to bring it in line with the Senate’s bill.

I do want to end this by giving a big thanks to the NJ State Lawmakers who are working on this potentially groundbreaking legislation. Democracy is messy — look at the six-year campaign struggle with the PA State Legislature on Parking Protected Bike Lanes. If you’re reading this and want to make a change (and have a thick skin), run for office!  And we’re not talking about Congress; we need change agents at the state and local level. Fortunately, there are lots of great organizations out there to get you started such as, for example, Run for Something, and Vote, Run, Lead.


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