Monday, March 19, 2012

Commissioner Simpson hears your demands for restored access to NJ TRANSIT trains

NJDOT Commissioner
James Simpson
On Wednesday March 14th, WalkBikeJersey took a bike and train ride up to Newark to speak before the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors and Commissioner James Simpson to followup on our email petition that seeks to restore bicycle access to all NJ TRANSIT train stations and has garnered just shy of 300 signatures (see the original August, 2011 story here).  When I got up to speak, I started by quoting a key part of the NJ TRANSIT Bicycle Program Rules as they were published on the NJ TRANSIT website in March, 2009:
Cyclists or Segway users must be able to lift their bicycle or Segway up and down stairs while boarding and detraining rail cars.
I told the Commissioner that the last time I spoke before the board I was told that the policy eliminating access for bicyclists to low-level platform stations was a simple clarification.  I told Simpson and the Board that I took great exception to the notion that this policy was a mere "clarification" as it was exceptionally clear that prior policy gave emphatic permission to bicyclists to board NJ TRANSIT trains at low-level platform stations due to the above policy statement.  As such we at WalkBikeJersey felt that we were given no choice but to start the petition to reverse this policy that has since packed the Commissioner's inbox with nearly 300 messages.

When I apologized for the flood of messages in his mailbox, Simpson was very gracious and told me there was no need.  He was very sympathetic to the situation and even told me that he was committed to seeking a solution to the problem that would be satisfactory to all parties and even offered that I sit on the committee that would look into this and possibly other issues related to bicycle access to NJ TRANSIT.  I assured the Commissioner that I had also given this problems great thought and felt confident that there is a solution that will actually benefit cyclists and eliminate the liability issues that concern NJ TRANSIT.

While we are not yet close to a reversal of this policy it is clear that that we are headed in the right direction. We at WalkBikeJersey could not have gotten this far without the hundreds of you who signed our petition and made it clear how much this policy change at NJ TRANSIT has adversely impacted those bicyclists that signed the petition but also the thousands of others who haven't.

Thank you for supporting our petition.  We couldn't have done it without you.

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