Rumson resident Ron Reiswig is on a mission to make drivers slow down in his neighborhood, which happens to be on a main thoroughfare.
The West River Road resident is relatively new to the area. He loves it. He loves everything about it — except the speeding vehicles that he says barrel down West River Road, in front of his house, and cause him fear and angst over the safety of his and other people’s families.
Reiswig says he has nothing but respect for Rumson police and their vigilant patrols, but he wonders if something can be done to quell the infractions he says he’s witnessed when police do not happen to be within that one two- to three-block radius and there are speeders.
Saying he understands full well that there cannot be patrols in one spot of the borough all day long, Reiswig said, “My goal here is to make the sidewalk and residential areas along River Road a safe and pleasant place to walk for us and our children.”
People just seem to be in too much of a hurry to travel through a sleepy suburb, he added, noting that the main street is an artery to commuter ferries, schools and beaches in the morning and late afternoon/early evening hours.
Reiswig’s fear is that a wake-up call about speeding on the road will end up coming in the form of a bad or, worse, tragic accident.
“It seems Rumson is a transit point for traffic to the beaches and ferry terminals and something needs to be done to slow this down a bit,” Reiswig said.
Reiswig went to Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl and Borough Council on the issue. Ekdahl said there are two major hindrances to abating the problem quickly: the road is a Monmouth County road, and, therefore Rumson does not have jurisdiction to change the speed limit without going through a lengthy approval process; and, there is a quick 10 mph speed limit change, from 40 to 30, heading east, giving drivers roughly two blocks to slow down.
Reiswig was told in May that steps had already been taken to lower the speed limit on one portion of the road where there are two or change the limit on the entire road to just one.
A formal request had already been made to lower the 40 mph speed limit on the one portion of roadway to 35, Ekdahl told Reiswig at a May meeting. The mayor added that the span of roadway that has the 40 mph limit is relatively short and the higher speed does not seem warranted.
He reminded Reiswig that the borough had used its speed message sign, which is equipped with radar, at the spot where the limit changes abruptly as a temporary means to slow drivers down. And, he said, police are aware of the problem and are vigilant in their patrols.
The sign is posted at different spots in town on a rotating basis.
The mayor said it would be returned to the West River Road spot when it is available. Reiswig said it has not yet returned.
“In a perfect world, there would be a walking/biking path and/or sidewalk all the way down River Road, from Red Bank through Fair Haven and Rumson that would encourage less driving and more walking and biking between towns," he said.
Reiswig pointed to Fair Haven’s adoption of a Complete Streets policy, which is administered in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation.
In adopting the policy, towns agree to create more pedestrian- and bike-friendly travel by creating dedicated cycling lanes and share arrows on the roads as well as more sidewalks, rest areas and curbing.
Fair Haven also recently dropped speed limits on a few of its residential streets from 25 to 20 miles per hour. However, the roads on which this was done are borough roads, not county.
Reiswig has been rallying neighbors to keep watch and persist in some sort of change. He recently circulated a memo to neighbors outlining his mission and asking for their help in giving the county an extra push to lower the limit.
In the meantime, he said his personal appeal as well as that of his neighbors is for people to realize that the “15-20 seconds or so folks might be delayed by following the law and posted speed limits,” is worth it for the community safety’s sake.