Friday, September 12, 2008

New Jersey Ranked as 41st Worst State For Bicycling

I congratulate the State for being ranked number 9 among the Bicycle Friendly States, although that is impressive it is also a reflection of a nation that has not invested in bicycling, another words we are the best of a bad lot.

So as King of NJ here is what I will implement to leave the top 5 states in the dust. And while my wild dreams are focused on bicycling, similar strategies could be applied to pedestrian and transit issues. The approach should be that this is part of an infrastructure Marshall Plan that transportation reformers keep talking about, we should not be fighting for the crumbs on the floor.

A - Increase local aid dedicated bikeway funding tenfold. It is only $4 Million annually and it is only for off road projects, Portland Oregon estimates that to build out their bicycle network they will need $150 Million, how much will an urbanized state that has a tiny fraction of that city's infrastructure have to spend? Award bikeway funding only to governments that have adopted bicycle plans. The Governor wants $3 billion to widen the Turnpike and the Parkway. $40 million a year is chump change.

B - Identify and eliminate the existing barriers and hazards.
1- Expand the rapid design team's mission to include fixing bicycling hazards on state roads.
2 - Implement a comprehensive inlet grate replacement program, this should be easy since thieves are stealing these things in earnest.
3 - Require every road engineer in the state complete a bicycle and pedestrian design course. The recent road work that I have seen going on in Camden is appalling: multi lane ramps and turn lanes in front of the Campbells Soup site, a crosswalk in the middle of a right turn lane between Cooper Hospital and Walter Rand TC, push button signals in front of Rutgers at the RiverLINE station, right turn on red is everywhere.

C - Expand the Bicycle and Pedestrian Department
1 - Each of the four district offices should have a full time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

D - Improve the County's and Municipalities

1 - A complete streets requirement that is tied to local aid money
2 - A requirement that all county and municipal comprehensive plans adopt a bike/ped section or chapter. The state could offer guidelines and planning assistance and review to assure that the county/municipal plans are sound.

E - Improve School Districts
1 - A statewide school siting policy is desperately needed.
2 - Federal Safe Routes to School Funding should be matched by the state.
3 - Implement a statewide bicycle education program

F - Make Transit 100% Bike Accessible
1 - Every new rail car has interior bike racks.
2 - Retrofit buses so that the state is 100% bike accessible by 2010. Every bus has an exterior bike rack (including long distance coaches and contracted carriers).
3 - Eliminate the silly holiday restrictions (short term) and only restrict bicycles on the most crowded trains (long term).
4 - Work on bike parking siting (under cover and close to the platform) and design (no more ribbon racks!).
5 - Increase safe routes to transit funding or at least give transit access weight in expanded bikeway funding

G - Create a State network of signed bike routes

H - Create stronger laws and codes to link land use and transportation planning.

For all it's flaws the Bicycle Friendly States program is a great way to start a conversation on what we need to do.


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