|A sample of the bike lane and streetscaping.|
So hearing that the day's were numbered for this innovative facility, I made a small detour during my day at work on Tuesday and visited Mt. Prospect Ave by car and then walked around on foot around the entire Streetscape Area. For those of you who don't know this project is located in Newark's North Ward which is a vibrant Spanish speaking neighborhood just south of the town of Belleville (see map below). The bike lanes extend right to the Belleville boarder.
Some of the concerns voiced in Carter's columns may have some validity. Merchants complained that with the road narrowed there is no place for them to receive deliveries without blocking the roadway. Similar projects in New York City rededicated some parking spaces for deliveries. I didn't observe any specific loading zones here but there were also no deliveries going on. Also, residents complain with the road narrowed, garbage pickup now backs up traffic. However this only happens for a few minutes several times a week at most. With the traffic volumes I observed this didn't seem likely to be a big problem, no more than illegal double-parked cars (more on that later).
|Cars allowed to park in the bike lanes due to the Mayor's executive order.|
The other concern was that the city doesn't have a plan to deal with snow removal from the bike lane. The photo below of this now legally parked van shows the width of the lane. However I also think this is non-issue. In Montreal they don't plow most of their parking protected bike lanes and use them for snow storage. There is no reason why that couldn't be the plan here in Newark too.
|This van shows the width of the bike lane.|
However the crux of the argument to remove the bike lanes was that they had eliminated valuable parking that was preventing customers from visiting the stores on the avenue. Also, since the addition of parking protected bike lanes had narrowed the width of the the avenue, customers now would not longer be able to double park to quickly visit store. However in the hour I was there on Tuesday December 16th between 2pm and 3pm, parking was not at all a problem. Again, I arrived by car and was able to find a parking space on just about every block, if not on Mt. Prospect Ave itself, on the immediately adjacent side streets.
|Plenty of parking on this side street when I was here.|
Now I will confess that I was only here for one hour on a Tuesday afternoon. I do not live or work there. Things could be vastly different after 5pm and/or on weekends. Still parking was plentiful on Mt. Prospect when I was there and on the immediately adjacent side streets. To the west a block away most of the curb space was free for car parking. I would be hard pressed to believe that one couldn't find a parking space within any one block on this portion of Mt. Prospect at any time or day. The only real bone of contention here seems to be people's ability to double-park directly in front of the establishment of their choosing which has always been illegal.
|Plenty of parking on both sides of Mt. Prospect here too.|
Many more photos and the conclusion after the break.