Public Safety is Critical to Your Quality of Life

Read this candidate statement as it originally appeared June 9, 2021 on TAPintoWestfield.

Public safety is a crucial component of quality of life in a community. I’ve heard from a number of my neighbors about concerns they’ve had over the years related to street safety and listened to their suggestions about how to better protect themselves and their families while getting around Town. As the Chair of the Public Safety, Transportation and Parking Committee, I’d like to share some of the steps we’ve taken to improve street safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

From 2018 -2020, the PSTP Committee approved 17 road striping projects that were completed throughout Westfield. Road striping narrows the roads, encourages drivers to slow down and adhere to the speed limit, leading to fewer accidents.

Specific to Ward 2, which I represent as Councilman, there were several accidents and reported near misses at the intersection of St. Marks Avenue and South Euclid Avenue prior to 2019. After hearing the concerns of neighbors, we agreed to install temporary center islands and this intersection has since been accident-free.

After hearing many residents ask for heightened speed enforcement, I advocated for 15 speed box studies which were conducted by the Westfield Police Department from 2018-2020. Seven of these studies resulted in targeted speeding enforcement on Lawrence Avenue, Rahway Avenue and East Broad Street, which has directly contributed to a substantial reduction in automobile accidents.

In response to concerns about various dangerous intersections in town, we added five stop signs at problematic intersections, as well as at intersections around school drop off and pick up zones.

In addition to addressing public safety issues, the PSTP Committee also strives to improve various quality of life concerns. To support our struggling businesses the past two years, the Committee agreed to increase the hours of free parking at certain municipal parking lots and added several “15-minute free parking” pick up spots strategically placed throughout the downtown area.

We also heard from our downtown business owners that young bikers on busy sidewalks were a concern for their customers and staff considering the expanded uses of sidewalks during the pandemic. As a result, we added new signage and increased enforcement of the existing ordinance. In that same vein, my committee worked with the Westfield Police Department to reward residents “caught” wearing their bike helmets with gift cards to businesses in town and gave free helmets to kids riding without them.

We also helped commuters by adding a NJ Transit bus stop along both North and South Avenues, and supported residents by eliminating the unfair residential parking permit for those who lived on a street near the train station.

I’ve led initiatives to enhance traffic flow and improve pedestrian safety by adding signage to limit parking in several key areas. For example, we amended the Snowstorm Ordinance that deals specifically with alternate side of the street parking. We also restricted parking on one side of the street leading to and along parks to ensure ease of passage for emergency vehicles.

While the PSTP Committee may not be the most visible to the public, it has a significant impact on the safety and well-being of our residents. We work hard to keep our residents safe while ensuring traffic flow and improving your quality of life. We have many more ambitious projects in the works, including amplifying lighting throughout town and implementing the traffic light recommendations from the Bike/ Walk Study completed last year. As always, we welcome your input and thoughts on how to help make Westfield as safe and welcoming as possible.

Mike Dardia
Ward 2 Councilman
Chair, Public Safety, Transportation and Parking Committee