Last week I spent time with a friend who was up for the holidays visiting his family in Ocean City, NJ. We were driving to Brigantine to go for a walk along the natural area on the north tip of the island. I've never been to Brigantine before but I already knew that there was only one way on to the island and that was through Atlantic City. When I've looked at online imagery before however I though it was easier then the actual conditions.
The image above is of the approach to the bridge from the Marina District of AC. You can see that there was never any consideration with the design of this roadway to accommodate anything other that motor vehicles (the causeway to Brigantine begins at the upper right). No shoulder, nor even an easier approach to the bridge from an access road. The speed limit is 45mph over the bridge which is ignored by at 10 mph on average.
From this aerial of the Marina District of AC you get a better idea how bad the approach is and the lack of alternatives to at least approach the beginning of the bridge by side streets. At least on the Brigantine side things are easier with a shoulder beginning once the bridge ends but this is far from a pleasant place to loiter.
Take a closer look for yourself to see what I mean.
Now I know that NJDOT is now highly sensitive to the needs of cyclists, particularly with their new bridge designs to the shore resorts. This is clearly evident with the new Route 52 Causeway being built to connect Ocean City to Somers Point on the mainland. That project was intended by design to be a bicycling and walking destination (like the Brooklyn or Golden Gate but smaller of course) and will not just merely accommodate bikes and peds with the most minimal of facilities.
Still the Brigantine Causeway is very dangerous if not impossible to cycle across and since it is relatively new it will remain a hazard to non-motorized users for many decades to come.
Yet, the Rt 72 bridge to LBI is probably even more dangerous and formidable to cyclists due to its length without any shoulder. Rt 37 from Toms River to Seaside is also very bad but at least there one has the option to approach from Point Pleasant 16 miles to the north (oh yeah! so close). Still at least these bridges are on schedule to be replaced some time soon.
While access to crossing of the Hudson or the Delaware are annoying, at least with these water crossings there is usually an option to use another bridge or transit like PATH or PATCO or even a ferry. With these bay crossings however, riders (and pedestrians) have absolutely no other option but to run the gauntlet and risk their lives or to just shut up and get in a car.