Saturday, September 12, 2009

The 9W Bicycle Phenomenon - Part 1

Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to investigate what is probably the single most popular bicycle ride in New Jersey. I was invited by the ever so lovely Jen Benepe of Benepe's Bike Blog to do the 9W ride. Jen has been reporting about the New York City competitive bicycle scene for some time with her blog and recently moved to this side of the Hudson. The popularity of riding 9W for New York City cyclists and two recent violent bicycle crashes on 9W in New Jersey (that Jen reported here & here) had me curious to see for myself what was going on.

View Larger Map

For those of you who don't know about what is happening in this northeastern corner of the state let me take a moment. Everyday hundreds and often thousands of athletic New York City cyclists cross the George Washington Bridge to ride up 9W to the towns of Piermont and Nyack just over the boarder in New York State. After doing the ride for myself I can understand why. It was one of the most beautiful rides I've ever done in New Jersey.

Jen and I started out around 9am on a foggy Sunday morning only to find dozens of riders already returning from the north. The first couple miles north of the GWB, 9W is 4 lanes with no shoulder. Jen told me that only recently were the shoulders eliminated in this section to add more travel lanes. Car traffic was light early that Sunday and cyclists were clearly outnumbering the cars however I was told that 9W is a totally different beast on weekday evenings when many NYC cyclists ride the route to train. Jen also told me that the elimination of the shoulders has made things very difficult for cyclists and has caused aggravation between drivers and cyclists. Fortunately that wasn't an issue this morning.

Further along we passed the sight where Camille Savoy was killed last November by, what seemed by all accounts, an incompetent driver (killed by an overtaking driver while riding to the right of the fog line). My observations of the sight found nothing about the area that would indicate a problem with the roadway that could have contributed to the cause of the crash.

Further along I notice signs that said something like this (I'm paraphrasing):
Bicyclists are required by law to ride single file.
Strictly Enforced

To which I say BULLSHIT!

And I quote:
NJ Provision -39:4-14.2. Keeping to right; exceptions; single file

Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that any person may move to the left under any of the following situations:

(a) to make a left turn from a left-turn lane or pocket;

(b) to avoid debris, drains or other hazardous conditions that make it impracticable to ride at the right side of the roadway;

(c) to pass a slower moving vehicle;

(d) to occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic;

(e) to travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded.

Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise shall ride in single file except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

As you can clearly see that sign is obviously wrong and the right for cyclists to travel two abreast when traffic is not impeded is actually mention twice in Provision - 39:4-14.2.

Unfortunately, Jen told me that a cyclist friend of hers was recently ticketed for riding two abreast while both he and his wife were riding in the shoulder. The two of them obviously couldn't be obstructing moving motor vehicle traffic in the shoulder so it would seem that the ticket was totally bogus. Someone needs to educate the local police and take down or at least modify these signs. We happened to bump into this fellow later in the trip and he reassured me that he was going to fight the ticket.

Wow this has gotten long really quickly!

Well then you will just have to stay tuned till I have the time to write Part 2 (there will be no Part 3, I promise). There is much more to this story.

1 comment:

pest control nj said...

Pest Control NJ Pest Control Bergen NJ Pest Management Services New Jersey. New Day Pest Control offers pest control, pest management, pest removal, pest extermination, and other pest control services NJ pest extermination