Monday, February 13, 2012

NJ TRANSIT Bike Policy a drag on NJ bicycle tourism

The New York Cycling Club has recently gotten wind of our petition to NJDOT Commissioner to reverse NJ TRANSIT's recent policy that restricts bicyclists from boarding trains with their bikes at low-level platform stations (ones that are not ADA accessible).  This has brought about a new flood of petition letters from New York City cyclists, many of whom do not own cars and rely on NJ TRANSIT to access New Jersey's excellent riding destinations.

Most NYCC members have complained that they won't be able to bring group rides into New Jersey anymore or will at least be forced to greatly reduce the number of recreational rides they do in New Jersey due to this policy shift.  NYCC Ride Leaders have said that they will have no other choice but to take more of their group rides out to Long Island, Upstate New York and Connecticut using the MTA rail systems.  With that, they also add that they will spend their money in those areas instead as most rides usually include buying supplies like water, snacks and Gatorade, and often finish with lunch or dinner at a local establishment.  It's important that NJDOT Commissioner hear that this policy is a drag on economic growth for New Jersey as many cyclists are well-off and have disposable income to spend on weekend trips, particularly those living in affluent New York City.

But again, this should come as no surprise.  In chapter 7-3 of my 2009 masters degree report, A Review and Critique of NJ TRANSIT Bicycle Access Policies, I take a brief look at the economic potential of the New York City bicycle tourist looking to escape the city for the weekend.  In the executive summary I wrote:
NJ TRANSIT does not proactively market to bicyclists who may want to use NJ TRANSIT to access weekend and recreational destinations. Most notable, is the very large and captive “car-free” populace of New York City. NJ TRANSIT should investigate offering special packages to entice bicyclists to use NJ TRANSIT’s services to reach their destinations.
In 2007 there were only 209 cars per 1000 residents in New York City and only 138 cars per 1000 residents in Manhattan,  If looked at in another way 15 out 17 Manhattan are car free and those residents have the easiest access to NJ TRANSIT.

Still, not being able to take your bike on the train to go on a "fun" recreational ride is really nothing more that an inconvenience.  When people have trouble getting to their place of employment and loose their jobs because of the new policy, that's another thing all together.  Unfortunately we at WalkBikeJersey have gotten word of this actually happening and later in the week, we will be bringing you a first hand account of a person who lost their new job because they couldn't get off a train near their place of employment.

Stay tuned!


kendra said...

Thanks for following up on this!

Kevin O said...

I literally reviewed there bike and ride policy. I commute by bike to work. they state "collapsible or foldable" bikes. I have a 90's race frame that both wheels can be removed from bike and i board the train with wheels in one hand and frameset in other. On my first day to a new job, the conductor woman was ready to throw me out after i pleaded with her that the conductors on the 6:30am train always allowed it going to my previous work. I then spoke to 3 other conductors on my ride back home. All 3 of these conductors had bologna policy rules that did not adhere to NJTRANSIT's policy. they need to reducate these conductors as bikes are becoming more and more popular. What blows my mind is that this is all for the safety of passengers boarding and unboarding. Meanwhile, I get on a train and theres a bunch of people with OPEN ALCOHLIC BEVERAGES pregaming to the Rangers game. AND THIS IS ALLOWED?! REALLY?

Andrew J. Besold said...


Thanks for pointing out the safety hypocrisy by comparing the baring of bikes from boarding at certain stations but the regular turning of a blind eye to the drinking that goes on many trains.

Point well taken!