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Hudson County Aims for Safer, More Sustainable Streets

Emmanuelle Morgen, President / Hudson County Complete Streets

Hudson County Complete Streets is a 501(c)3 organization focused on promoting safer and more sustainable streets in Hudson County, New Jersey. Considering that more than 50% of trips taken in the U.S. were less than three miles in 2021, and 28% were less than one mile, walkable, bikeable streets and access to transit play a major role in mitigating the climate crisis. Safe streets encourage active transportation to local destinations and transit stations and stops, which in turn help reduce greenhouse gas-emitting pollutants. These solutions, which are a departure from auto-oriented streets, are key strategies in addressing historical injustices experienced by overburdened and environmental justice communities, including those within Hudson County.

Hudson County is the most densely populated county in New Jersey, and though 75% of trips are made within the county, much of the area’s mass transit is focused on travel to and from New York City. In 2020, Jersey City responded to local demand for more travel options by introducing Via, a public rideshare system; however, residents and workers in other cities and towns within the county still face inter-county mobility challenges.

First and last-mile solutions are critical for allowing people to travel safely and efficiently to a transit station or stop. Safe streets solutions such as pedestrian-focused infrastructure, multi-use cycle lanes, and other traffic-calming measures are proven to reduce crashes and pollution while increasing accessibility. Prioritizing pedestrians and other vulnerable road users (VRUs) has a profoundly positive effect on public health and the local economy.

Our organization advocates for transportation projects that adhere to the standards set by Hudson County’s Complete Streets Resolution. “Complete Streets” refers to streets designed for all users, regardless of age, race, income, ability, background, or travel mode. Complete Streets prioritize pedestrians and other vulnerable travelers, such as people on bicycles, scooters, and other personal mobility devices. To this end, Hudson County Complete Streets (HCCS) works closely with local elected officials, transportation planners, and community organizers to revitalize public streets, making them more walkable and bikeable. We campaign for Vision Zero and Complete Streets redesigns, expanded bike-share systems, and greenway connectivity. HCCS member groups, such as Bike JC, Bike Hoboken, and Bike North Bergen, organize and lead free community bike rides, educational presentations, and bike/walk audits with elected representatives and transportation planners.

With the support of the NJ Climate Change Resource Center, Hudson County Complete Streets has been able to further our educational and advocacy efforts. Between late Spring and early Summer of 2023, we organized, led, and contributed to:

  • community meetings with elected representatives and transportation planners,
  • a pre-election candidate forum with a full roster of panelists,
  • multiple community bike rides per month,
  • “learn-to-ride” bike events,
  • presentations in both secondary school and university settings,
  • and new initiatives, such as the JC Bike Bus, an incredible tool for advocacy.

As we look ahead to the next few months, we plan to continue these activities and add:

  • walk and bike neighborhood audits with elected representatives and transportation officials,
  • commissioned artwork for JC Bike Bus educational materials,
  • and
    op-ed writings for various publications.

We also intend to consider additional educational and advocacy opportunities and efforts, such as multimedia work and direct action. To stay updated on these activities and more, please see our website.

Meet the Climate Corps

Angel Alguera, Rutgers Climate CorpsAngel Alguera
I am a first-year Atmospheric Science master’s degree student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and my work focuses on meteorology and applications of climate change resiliency. My professional interests include severe weather forecasting and community preparedness regarding weather-related disasters. I work with Dr. James Shope at the NJ Climate Change Resource Center to produce applied research and reports relevant to New Jersey stakeholders. I currently assist with climate change data analysis, large dataset management, and report writing.

Daniel GilkesonDaniel Gilkeson
I’m a second-year master’s student in the City and Regional Planning Program with a concentration in environmental planning. As a planner, I hope to build more resilient communities in the face of increased risk due to climate change. With the Climate Change Resource Center, I am working on a project to aid the state in an update of its floodplain buyout program, known as Blue Acres, to be more proactive and comprehensive. Prior to this position, I interned in the Community and Economic Development Office at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Association. I’m also an AmeriCorps alum, having completed a year of service working on affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Benjamin GoldbergBenjamin Goldberg
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in climate adaptation and resiliency planning, with experience in sustainable food systems. I joined the Climate Corps last summer to help develop a GIS-based food waste recovery tool, and currently support community resilience through flood vulnerability analysis. I hold a B.A. from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.

Surya Jacob, Rutgers Climate CorpsSurya Jacob
I am a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School concentrating in community development, focused on housing, land and finance, as well as pursuing the Real Estate Development/Redevelopment Certification. Prior to Bloustein, I worked as an architect and interior designer in India and Canada and am pivoting towards a career in urban planning to engage in extensive projects at the macro level. My interests include affordable and mixed income housing, urban redevelopment, and housing finance, and I am deeply passionate about climate resilience in community planning. Being part of Climate Corps is a foundational step towards helping to solve equity issues in vulnerable communities along the coastal region.

Vineesh Das Kodakkandathil, RutgersVineesh Das Kodakkandathil
I am an urban planner with five years of professional experience in community-led ecotourism development and land use and environment management planning in ecologically sensitive areas. I have worked on and conducted extensive environmental sensitivity analyses, flood and landslide vulnerability assessments, and human impact assessments with the help of GIS tools. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in City and Regional Planning at Bloustein School with a concentration in Transport Planning and GIS.

Douglas LeungDouglas Leung
I am working with the Climate Change Resource Center to identify vulnerable communities and places affected by climate-induced flooding in coastal New Jersey municipalities. I am a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a planner, I want to develop strategies and solve problems affecting our cities and communities that enable more equitable outcomes in housing and transportation. I am also a recent Army veteran, having served as a company commander of recruiting in the northern suburbs of Chicago and as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division. For fun, I enjoy weightlifting, running, reading fiction, and board games.

Nihar MhatreNihar Mhatre
I am a master’s candidate in city and regional planning at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on urban design and land use planning. Before being accepted at Rutgers, I worked as an architect at JD Studio and had my own architectural practice, Vastu Insights. My research interests revolve around designing and developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies to promote equity in urban landscapes. Having the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Climate Corps will be an essential step in the development of my understanding of addressing climate change issues in vulnerable regions.

Justin MorrisJustin Morris
Justin is a master’s student at Rutgers University studying discovery informatics and data sciences. He is working under Professor Mark Rodgers to develop an optimization model that will act as a decision support tool for university financial investments with the end goal of eliminating Rutgers’ scope 2 emissions. He is excited to apply his background in data analytics and mathematical programming to help the university fight climate change.

Josephine O'GradyJosephine O’Grady
I am a first-year student in the Master of Public Policy program. Through the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) certification, I am focusing a significant portion of my graduate coursework on topics including coastal geomorphology, environmental justice, and hazard mitigation planning. Before beginning my studies at the Bloustein School, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health from Kean University, where I first became interested in how coastal dynamics shape lived experiences. I previously served as an intern at the New Jersey State Policy Lab and currently work for the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

Jessica Parineet Jessica Parineet
I am a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Bloustein School with a strong interest in climate change policy and related topics. In my previous work, I gained experience in a number of dimensions of climate change issues through carbon capture storage research, urban heat island research, and community level engagement as I am currently on the Student Advisory Board for the Rutgers Office of Climate Action. I am excited to expand on my interests in environmental justice and local level resilience planning through my involvement in the Climate Corps.

Dillon Patel Dillan Patel
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Environmental Planning and International Development. I have previously worked as an economist performing cost-benefit analysis and conducting monitoring and evaluation for renewable energy in developing countries. I have also spent a summer in western Massachusetts mapping stormwater infrastructure and working with planners to identify suitable places for green stormwater infrastructure.

Moira Sweeder, Rutgers Climate CorpsMoira Sweeder
I am a graduate student enrolled in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. My concentration is environmental planning with a focus on coastal resilience. Before pursuing my master’s degree at Rutgers, I studied sustainability at Stockton University. During this time, I interned for the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve, and NJ Audubon. I am thrilled to now be a part of the Climate Corps, researching coastal resilience as a part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

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