Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rt 71 Complete Streets Project Raises Doubts in Asbury Park City Council

While Route 35 remains in limbo with no decision yet on bike lanes another shoreline state highway, Route 71 in Monmouth County is proposed to get a complete streets makeover by reconfiguring the roadway from 4 lanes to 3 lanes with the extra space allotted for bike lanes.

However at least one Councilman in Asbury Park objects to the lane reduction saying that it will hurt business. This is an old argument that gets recycled because some business owners see the addition of bike lanes as a major traffic disruption; a business killer.

But several studies that have been conducted find this not to be true. That extra lane that downtown businesses see as a way to keep traffic flowing faster actually just serves people who are driving through not to the business district. Lowering traffic speeds (without increasing congestion) and increasing local bike access has a neutral or opposite effect (depending on the mode share of bicyclists). Like Atlantic City beach towns that also have a substantial low income population get a fair amount of bike traffic as both recreation and transportation trips are being taken.

Other towns along Route 71 have already approved the complete streets changes, we hope that pro bike forces can prevail in the Dark City (Yeah, I don't know about that pseudonym either). Kudos to NJDOT for adhering to their complete streets policy. If you live in Asbury Park tell Council that you support bike lanes on Route 71.



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7 comments:

Andrew J. Besold said...

Wow! Really?!?! Rt 71 is so overbuilt and there are always cars turning left so the roadway effectively operates like a one lane road with the added chaos of cars always trying to jokey for position. Crossing the roadway in AP can be death defying. Rt 71 along with the train tracks act as a VERY effective barrier to the shore for people living on the west side of town. NJDOT's is a big step in the right direction.

John do you have any more info or a contact for us in Asbury Park government? Councilman, if you want to further stagnate development in your city, continue to oppose this plan. Keeping things the way they are will also likely get someone killed who walks or rides a bike in your town.

BTW, what's up NJDOT's seemingly schizophrenic application of its Complete Streets Policy?!?! Here they seem to be right on the money!

Cyndi Steiner said...

Hi Andy, The difference between Asbury Park and the Rt 35 rebuild is that the Rt 35 rebuild is being done with Emergency Relief funds. They are not subject to the CS policy. I will point out, however, that the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition and our partners at Safe Routes to School NP, Tri-State and NJ Future received a promise from NJDOT Commissioner Simpson in Jan 2013 that all Hurricane Sandy related rebuilds would follow the state's complete streets policy.

Andrew J. Besold said...

Cyndi,

I know that the "reasoning" for the lack of a more thorough design is that it is using emergency funds. Still, that didn't stop NJDOT from completely redesigning the drainage system on 35. It's not like redesigning Rt 35 to be even more bike and pedestrian friendly and safe would be all that difficult. The roadway south of Mantaloking is so over built already! Building a truly "Complete" Rt 35 down da shore will undoubtedly save lives.

I say do it right the first time or go home!

Anonymous said...

Nice job Boyle, on covering the issue.
Jen Benepe

Cyndi Steiner said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Andy.

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