MyCentralJersey is reporting of an early morning hit & run crash on Monday that left a Highland Park man in critical condition. The crash happened on Raritan Ave (NJ Route 27) at Rolfe Ave. This section of the State Highway is exceedingly difficult and dangerous for cyclists to navigate as the roadway is four narrow lanes, no shoulder, no center turn lane, poor asphalt conditions and is posted at 40mph which is regularly exceeded.
Approximate location of August 15th hit & run crash with cyclist. View Larger Map
I am personally familiar with this stretch of road and do all that I can to avoid it on my bike and even in a car due to what I perceive to be unusually hazardous conditions. Fortunately for those that are familiar with the neighborhood, there are safe and quite parallel residential streets that one can choose to ride between Highland Park and Metuchen, which totally negate the need to for cyclists to use Rt 27 at all except for that last block if one's destination is in Rt 27. Unfortunately these alternative routes are somewhat circuitous and are not immediately obvious to cyclists not intimately familiar with the neighborhood.
I have gone to several Middlesex County meetings suggesting that an alternative route to NJ 27 be marked for cyclists using simple and discreet MUTCD compliant signage between the towns of Highland Park and Metuchen. Unfortunately the county officials needed to defer on this one since both the State Highway Route 27 and the local roads are beyond there jurisdiction. However this issue is not beyond the scope of NJDOT. If a roadway is obviously dangerous for cyclists to use as Rt 27 between these two towns and there is an alternative route using local municipal roads (in this case mostly in Edison), I personally feel that NJDOT is obligated to find a solution.
I understand that budgets are tight and staffing levels are low at all New Jersey State offices but that's okay. I've already done half the work and have figured out routes on both the east and west sides of Rt 27. All NJDOT would need to do is shoot me an email. Maybe together we can prevent another tragedy and maybe even get more people using bikes to travel in this area.