|Even Lance needs to check the map sometimes|
The bike map is intended to be a resource for education, advocacy, and trip planning. It includes locations of bike lanes and major multi-use trails. Roads are graded as Most Suitable, Moderately Suitable, and Least Suitable. The three grades for evaluated roads is not unlike the ratings for the BCGP regional bike map, but with a different methodology being used the road ratings may differ on the respective maps.
WalkBikeJersey has been on top of this project from the beginning with extensive analysis. We were flattered to find out that NJDOT and the project consultants have taken almost all of our suggestions to heart even though that meant totally reworking the project. The updated draft map is a great improvement from the original draft and has now become a useful navigation tool for cyclists.
That said, it could be even better (I know, always the perfectionist). While we are very grateful of the massive effort that went into rating the bicycle suitability of hundreds of roads, the end results is still less than perfect. Some roads that I know to be perfectly dreamy to ride a bicycle on, at any time and on any day, are rated as "Least Suitable" while others that I would only be caught dead on are rated as "Moderately Suitable" (at least they weren't rated as "Most Suitable"). The more I study the latest map, the more it seems apparent to me that only roadway width and speed limit was use to calculate bicycle suitability and the most crucial factor "traffic volume" ignored. Maybe the data on traffic volume wasn't available but as I discussed in WBJ's prior analysis, traffic volume is the most critical factor when determining bicycle suitability.
The result is that if one takes just a cursory glance at the map one would think that New Jersey is a horrible place to ride a bike as the red lines of Least Suitable roads dominate. We all know that's not true. Cycling in New Jersey rocks! Whether that be on the bucolic roadways near the Sergeantsville Covered Bridge in rural Hunterdon County or riding high above the Hudson on JFK Blvd in Union City, Hudson County. And where road conditions do suck, there is almost always a bicycle friendly alternative.
On a more positive note, the scale of the latest drafts has been enlarged so that fine details are easier for cyclists to read but I still wish it was larger. And finally, for all you bike tourists out there, all public and private campgrounds that are tent camping friendly have been accurately mapped. This is courtesy of yours truly here at WalkBikeJersey who spent nearly 60 hours of researching and digitizing a campground data layer for NJDOT and their consultants to use.
Don't forget to give you comments and to attend the meetings. Three meetings will be held in the North, South and Central parts of the state:
Tuesday, April 24
The George Luciano Family Center
Cumberland County College
Thursday, April 26
53 East Hanover Avenue
Thursday, May 10
1035 Parkway Avenue
Tuesday, April 24
If you choose to review and comment you must register as a user on the bike map website.
The original version of this post first appeared in the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle News published by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. It was edited and reposted in with their permission.