Wednesday, December 24, 2014

No bikes on NJ TRANSIT trains Christmas Day. Eve?

Here we go again!  The Grinch is coming to NJ TRANSIT to kick you off the train on Christmas Day.  It's is another bike blackout day on NJ TRANSIT but not today Christmas Eve which seems backwards because today is a much busier travel day.  Considering that reality don't be surprised if crowded trains today force conductors to kick you off today too.

In case you haven't memorized the rules:

Bicycles are not permitted on trains (with the exception of the Atlantic City Line) on New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, Sunday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Bicycles are not permitted on the day before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but are permitted on the holidays themselves.

So if you didn't read this in time and you wind up stranded somewhere remember that you can take your bike on the Atlantic City Line, most buses, ferries, PATH and NJT light rail. Bolt Bus will accept bicycles if space is available.

We still feel that if NJ TRANSIT added vertical bike racks to all of its rail rolling stock like that found on the German made RiverLINE lightrail cars, the space efficient storage of bikes would make the need for blackout dates a thing of the past.  RiverLINE trains have no blackout times or days which we feel is in part due to the well designed on-board vertical bike racks.  Connecticut DOT is doing just that and is paying for Metro North RR to install racks on trains serving the New Haven Line.

Bike racks on the NJ TRANSIT RiverLINE.  When not in use
passengers can fold down the seats and sit down.  This space
efficient design could easily be retrofitted to most NJ TRANSIT
heavy and light rail rolling stock.

NJ TRANSIT along with Metro North/Long Island RR and Chicago's METRA are the only commuter rail lines with black out dates. However recently we heard that METRA is narrowing its rush hour restrictions and eliminating black out dates.  With bicycling more popular then ever the time is now to modernize NJ TRANSIT's bike on rail policies.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where do you park your bike when visiting Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital?

Unfortunately this holiday season someone very dear to me is in Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.  Being that the hospital is an easy bike ride from my house and the weather relatively warm, I figured why not ride!

A view of the main building and entrance to RWJUH.
Note the nice Sharrow painted on Somerset Street by
the City of New Brunswick.

However when I got to the front door and the ER there isn't a bike rack in sight.  There is one about a block away over by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey but it is still far from ideal.

Hey!  Is that bike parking I see near the front door of the Cancer Institute?

Oh...  Wheelbenders!  Moving along...

So with those wheelbender racks not quite cutting the security threshold and being in front of the wrong building anyway, I decided to park my bike to a stainless steel railing near the front door of the main building but a little out of the way of the main entrance.  Still, since this was not an official bike parking spot I felt uncomfortable about leaving it there.  Not that I felt it was unsafe location but because I felt security itself might try to remove it.

Finally a parking spot!  Note the mailbox in this photo and
its location in the first photo for an idea where I parked.

So what's the deal RWJUH?  Your the flagship hospital of New Jersey and we all know you do a great job promoting preventative medicine.  So why make it hard for people to choose an active means of getting to your hospital, whether a guest or an employee, by not providing quality bike parking that's easy to find? 

I know.  You're busy doing one hundred and one other things.  That's okay.  We understand but we are here to help.  SERIOUSLY!  If you read this blog post just let us know with a reply in the comments.  I'm a professional regarding all things bike and pedestrian and would be glad to quickly show you the finer points of bike parking at such a large institution over lunch.  Looking around you have quite a few places to stick a few bike racks.  It's not rocket science.  Just send us message! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A look at Newark's and New Jersey's first parking protected cycletrack before its gone

Well, it might have been too good while it lasted. If you read The Star-Ledger or have been following our FaceBook Page you are likely aware of the parking protected bike lanes on Mt. Prospect Ave in Newark's North Ward, the first that we are aware of in New Jersey.  Columnist Barry Carter has been writing a series (1, 2, 3) about the claimed hardships the streetscape redesign, particularly the parking protected bike lanes have caused the local residents and merchants.  This Tuesday he claimed victory over the bike lanes after Mayor Baraka issued an executive order allowing drivers to park at the curb until the roadway could be entirely redesigned without the bike lanes as they are now.

A sample of the bike lane and streetscaping.

So hearing that the day's were numbered for this innovative facility, I made a small detour during my day at work on Tuesday and visited Mt. Prospect Ave by car and then walked around on foot around the entire Streetscape Area.  For those of you who don't know this project is located in Newark's North Ward which is a vibrant Spanish speaking neighborhood just south of the town of Belleville (see map below).  The bike lanes extend right to the Belleville boarder.

Some of the concerns voiced in Carter's columns may have some validity.  Merchants complained that with the road narrowed there is no place for them to receive deliveries without blocking the roadway.  Similar projects in New York City rededicated some parking spaces for deliveries.  I didn't observe any specific loading zones here but there were also no deliveries going on.  Also, residents complain with the road narrowed, garbage pickup now backs up traffic.  However this only happens for a few minutes several times a week at most.  With the traffic volumes I observed this didn't seem likely to be a big problem, no more than illegal double-parked cars (more on that later).

Cars allowed to park in the bike lanes due to the Mayor's executive order.

The other concern was that the city doesn't have a plan to deal with snow removal from the bike lane.  The photo below of this now legally parked van shows the width of the lane.  However I also think this is non-issue.  In Montreal they don't plow most of their parking protected bike lanes and use them for snow storage.  There is no reason why that couldn't be the plan here in Newark too.

This van shows the width of the bike lane.

However the crux of the argument to remove the bike lanes was that they had eliminated valuable parking that was preventing customers from visiting the stores on the avenue.  Also, since the addition of parking protected bike lanes had narrowed the width of the the avenue, customers now would not longer be able to double park to quickly visit store.  However in the hour I was there on Tuesday December 16th between 2pm and 3pm, parking was not at all a problem.  Again, I arrived by car and was able to find a parking space on just about every block, if not on Mt. Prospect Ave itself, on the immediately adjacent side streets.

Plenty of parking on this side street when I was here.

Now I will confess that I was only here for one hour on a Tuesday afternoon.  I do not live or work there.  Things could be vastly different after 5pm and/or on weekends.  Still parking was plentiful on Mt. Prospect when I was there and on the immediately adjacent side streets.  To the west a block away most of the curb space was free for car parking.  I would be hard pressed to believe that one couldn't find a parking space within any one block on this portion of Mt. Prospect at any time or day.  The only real bone of contention here seems to be people's ability to double-park directly in front of the establishment of their choosing which has always been illegal.

Plenty of parking on both sides of Mt. Prospect here too.

Many more photos and the conclusion after the break.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Good retail bike parking ain't rocket science

Last week we asked what it might say if McDonald's were to become more bike friendly.  All we were really asking for is better bike parking.  Is that too much to ask? Below is a photo of the bike parking at the Rite-Aid Pharmacy in North Brunswick, NJ which is only 1/4 mile from the McDonald's featured in last week's article.

Two inverted "U" racks, well spaced, right up front!  How hard was that?!?!

In a rare twist, this bike parking was only provided by request of myself and the zoning board during site review. North Brunswick does not have an ordinance requiring bicycle parking and got the parking due to several variances the project required. To my surprise they got the bike parking done perfectly!  Bravo!

Unfortunately good retail bike parking is such a rarity in New Jersey.  My god people this ain't freaking rocket science!  Follow the damned cookbook!  All it takes are two inverted "U" racks, properly positioned and well spaced right up by the front door.  On the rare occasions it is even provided, 9 times out of 10 it is done so wrong, as demonstrated in the selection of photos below, that it is barely even usable.  UGHH!!

Don't forget, all the bike lanes in the world won't do you much good if you don't have a minimally acceptable place to park your bike once you get to where you're going.

Great positioning but that sub-standard "wheelbender" rack
is as cheap as they come and not even secured to the ground.

A "wave" rack squeezed up against a wall.  It's amazing
that these cyclists were able to park their bikes at all.

An inverted "U" rack placed 4 inches from a wall.  Need we say more?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What would it say to America if McDonalds became "Bike Friendly"?

If you're "bike aware" (and likely you are because you're reading this blog) and have ever visited a fast food restaurant you've undoubtedly seen bikes haphazardly parked to anything secure all around the restaurant site.  A vast majority of these bikes are undoubtedly owned by members of restaurant staff who depend on their bikes to get to their jobs in the restaurant.

A bike parked on a street sign outside the McDonalds on Milltown Road in North Brunswick, NJ.

Knowing that a number of their employees rely on a bike to get to work everyday, one would think that these fast food restaurants would provided some official organized bicycle parking that preferably meets the basic APBP bike parking standards.  Unfortunately this is almost always not the case and the sight of bikes parked to whatever the owner can find is common sight not only in New Jersey but at most fast food and chain sit-down restaurants all across the country.

The above two photos and the one below were all taken at the same time at the
North Brunwick McDonalds. There are three bikes in this photo plus the one bike in the first
photo. Including the author's bicycle (I ate there too), there were five bikes parked at this
McDonalds location at one time, a very high actual demand.  The underutilized lawn
shown here would have made an ideal location for APBP compliant bicycle parking.

And given no official bike parking and left with few other options, owners will often lock their bikes to trees.  Chaining a bike to a tree will damage the bark and eventually kill the tree.  Trees are expensive to replace if they are replaced at all, so the landscaping at the restaurant sites is often left permanently damaged and never given a chance to mature.

This tree shows clear signs of structural damage which was likely caused by bike parking.

So this is why we ask, "What would it say to America if McDonalds became 'Bike Friendly'?"  We are not picking on McDonalds.  Far from it!  We focus on McDonalds because they are clearly the industry leader and we respect them for that.  If McDonalds makes the move to standardize bike parking for their employees and guests, WalkBikeJersey believes that it would send a message across the entire restaurant industry.  Their engineering consultants that do their local site plans would also be educated about proper bike parking design and hopefully the message would get out to the towns that do the site plan review and then possibly even to McDonalds' competition.  There is clearly the potential for a positive feedback loop here.
Employee bicycles locked to the signpost marking the handicapped parking space
at the McDonalds on Route 22 in Somerville NJ.  The signpost is much closer to the
door than the provided bike rack that fails APBP Guidelines.  As such the bicyclists
park on the signpost which could then block wheelchair users from accessing the door.

Also, McDonalds is known for remodeling their restaurants at regular intervals.  Both McDonalds featured in this story were entirely remodeled inside and out within the past 2 years and the North Brunswick location has been remodeled 3 times in the past 15 years.  Their frequent remodeling schedule would allow them quickly implement universal APBP compliant bike parking at large portion of their restaurants.

This APBP non-compliant "wave rack" located at the Somerville NJ McDonalds
was far from the door and not immediately visible.  It was also located too close to
the bushes seen here to be used properly or easily.

Some locations like the Somerville McDonalds have tried to do bike parking but didn't get the details quite right.  This is a good sign but just the beginning.  We hope McDonalds takes the lead here because not only would good bike parking be good for their employees but it would prevent damage to their landscape trees, limit liability when bikes are haphazardly park to signs and it would be good costumer service as well.  And if McDonalds is smart, and we know they are, they could turn this into a great public relations opportunity.

Now if we could only get them to turn the "drive-up window" into a "walk-up window."  We can dream, no?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall leaves New Jersey cyclists in a leafy situation

New Jersey is blessed with many wonderful treelined neighborhoods.  The massive trees that tower over some New Jersey suburbs add character and beauty, provide shade that keep neighborhoods cool during the summer, all while filtering harmful particulates and sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.  Trees are wonderful community assets that too often go under-appreciated.

These leaf piles take up much of the parking lane narrowing the usable roadway for cyclists.

That said, it's at this time of the year where we blessed with big trees must pay the piper and rake up all those leaves.  So far so good.  However it is how the leaves are stored at the curb awaiting pickup that can cause a real problem for cyclists. Most communities just have residents pile their leaves at the curb in the street.  In neighborhoods with lots of large trees these piles can get deep and wide.  Not only do the piles block the portion of the road that many cyclists use, the leaves can also be blow around getting onto the rest of the road causing even more hazards for cyclists as our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia discussed earlier this week.

In Westfield, much of the ridable side of Rahway Ave is blocked by leaves forcing
cyclists to ride in the travel lane kept clear by passing cars.  Anyone need a chair?

Leaves blocking the shoulder of NJ 27 in Princeton. Photo - Mark Hommer

Now leaves don't need to be stored this way for pickup.  Other towns have their residents place leaves in biodegradable paper bags and then neatly place those bags at the curb awaiting pickup.  The benefits to this system are obvious.  The side of the roads frequented by cyclists stays clear and clean of leaves, eliminating all of the hazards caused by the other system. There is no reason for cyclists to be exposed to these hazards two-plus months every year when better systems exist.

Leaves neatly awaiting pickup in biodegradable paper bags.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Will a slight uptick in the economy mean a return to sprawl in New Jersey?


Yes suburban sprawl is alive and well once again in New Jersey and it seems destine to destroy our favorite rural cycling roads.  Prior to the Great Recession, the housing bubble was eating into vast swaths of what makes New Jersey the Garden State.  During that time I personally saw many wonderfully charming, quite rural roadways straightened, blown out and widened to modern "safety standards" to accommodate large new car-dependent developments and traffic demands 30 years into the future.  With a slight uptick in the economy my rides have once again been filled with the sight of new housing starts like that seen below.  While the rediscovery of urban centers and urban living have been absorbing much of the housing boom here in New Jersey, old habits still seem to die hard here in our state.  Also the massive amounts of wealth being generated in New York City and the region make the dream of a house out in "the country" (well it was the country till all of you moved here) all too attainable and attractive for those who can still easily afford this style of living.

New "estate homes" being built in an empty field off of wonderfully bikeable and entertaining Burnt Mills Road in
Somerset County.  Much more of this and the traffic volume on Burnt Mills will render the road un-bikable.
BTW - Note the budget bin fiberglass street lamp.  Luxury indeed!

We've talked about the connection between sprawl and the degradation of New Jersey's wonderful rural road cycling before (if you don't understand it, read that old blog article).  Luckily there is something we can all do to slow and hopefully stop New Jersey sprawl once and for all. On this Election Day you can vote YES for Ballot Question #2 which would permanently dedicate a small portion of the state corporate business tax to fund openspace preservation, park maintenance, new trails (!) and new park facilities.  Support is strong for this question in the local New Jersey media.  For details about the question itself see this in the Daily Record.  And here is The New Jersey Conservation Foundation rundown on what voting YES on Ballot Question #2 would mean.

So voting yes on Ballot Question #2 would preserve open space which means preservation of scenic areas we love to cycle, along with the old quirky roads that have so much charm and make cycling in New Jersey so much fun.  It would also provide monies to build and improve trails, parks and park facilities.

A win on Ballot Question #2 is a win for cycling and the overall health of the Garden State.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A look back at last weeks Ciclovia in New Brunswick

On Sunday, October 12th the City of New Brunswick held its last Cyclovia event of the season.  John Boyle covered the first event last summer but as I have been away from New Jersey in Idaho, Seattle and then Germany over the past 15 months this was my first Cyclovia and I figured I'd go take a look and offer a fresh perspective on the event.

The weather on that Sunday couldn't have been better and I was pleasantly surprised to find a very well run event, worthy in every way of the spirit and planning of much larger Cyclovia events all over the world.  Admittedly, New Brunswick and the event organizers had plenty of time to refine the event by the time I got to experience it but that only reinforces my admiration of those in charge as it would have been really easy to just give up after one or two possible mediocre events.

What was really wonderful to see was how the Latino community has come to embrace Cyclovia.  Joyce Kilmer Avenue in the heart of Spanish speaking New Brunswick was the center of activity and as a long time resident of the area it was great to see the people in the neighborhood truly embrace the event.  Unfortunately, the University community hasn't embraced the event quite as much but they are working on trying to get to college kids out and on the streets.

Great (Samba?) music!

Overall, I was super impressed at the quality and success of this event.  It was clear to see Cyclovia acting as a elegant bridge between the communities and cultures that reside in the city.  As someone who has become very jaded at seeing one too many poorly executed bike and pedestrian projects here in New Jersey, this event and all the new bike projects going on in New Brunswick giver me hope that we might be turning the corner as to what is expected when planning and building for those who walk and bike here in New Jersey.

Anyway enjoy the photos.  There are many more after the break.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Closing the Victory Bridge to Bicyclists and Pedestrians Does Not Solve the Problem

On September 20th the body of 16 year old Giancarlo Taveras was recovered from the Raritan River after he jumped off the Route 35 Victory Bridge. The death of the teenager drew an outpouring of grief from the Perth Amboy community. As a result the annual suicide awareness walk over the bridge included more than 500 participants on September 28th. Then on September 29th a 19 year old miraculously survived his suicide attempt with a broken leg. That chain of events along, with pressure from the Mayor of Perth Amboy finally spurred NJDOT to do something about the issue. Their solution - set up barricades and close the bridge to bicyclists and pedestrians. Along with a vague promise to put up a fence for the walkway at some point in the future.

The bridge closure severs the only pedestrian and bicycle access between Perth Amboy and Sayreville. A 2 mile bike ride over the bridge is now a 23 mile detour via New Brunswick and a pedestrian's only option is to use the infrequent bus service that crosses the bridge.

We've seen this before.

One month after the September 11th attacks KYW TV Philadelphia news reporter Paul Moriarty (Yes the same Paul Moriarty that tried to ban quick release hubs) filed a report on the potential of terrorists to damage the Ben Franklin Bridge simply by accessing the walkway. Immediately after the report the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) closed the walkway to bicyclists and pedestrians. It was only after a concerted effort by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia that the authority reluctantly reopened the walkway two months later. The DRPA repeated this action in 2005 after the London Subway bombings with a 30 day closing.

It should be pointed out that simply closing this walkway and bike lanes will not diminish the opportunity for people to take their own life on this structure. The bike lane is really little more than a very wide shoulder allowing someone to park without disrupting traffic. There is no such accommodation on the adjacent Driscoll Bridge which carries the Garden State Parkway.  The press has only mentioned in passing that the the body of Anthony Sharpe Jr. who jumped to his death off the Driscoll Bridge was found on the same day that Tavaras was discovered.

Walk Bike Jersey agrees with's editorial that NJ DOT should make the construction of a fence an immediate priority.  For NJDOT the closure is a good choice from their perspective, as it it relieves the immediacy of fixing the problem. Imagine if the Turnpike Authority closed the Garden State Parkway while it considered options to fix the low barrier on the Driscoll Bridge.

Complete streets is more than simply implementing the routine accommodation policy that NJDOT has adopted. It is about the equitable treatment of all road users as a core value of the Department. Otherwise we can continue to expect knee jerk solutions which will result in more collective punishment for people who depend on sidewalks, trails and bike lanes on bridges to get to where they are going.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

No Bikes on Trains Today (Til Sundown?)

In case you haven't memorized the rules:

Bicycles are not permitted on trains (with the exception of the Atlantic City Line) on New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, Sunday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Bicycles are not permitted on the day before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but are permitted on the holidays themselves.

So if you didn't read this in time and you wind up stranded somewhere remember that you can take your bike on the Atlantic City Line, most buses, ferries, PATH and NJT light rail. Bolt Bus will accept bicycles if space is available.

NJ TRANSIT along with Metro North/Long Island RR and Chicago's METRA are the only commuter rail lines with black out dates. But just yesterday we heard that METRA is narrowing its rush hour restrictions and eliminating black out dates.

With bicycling more popular then ever the time is now to modernize NJT's bike on rail policies.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Mapping the Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress in Your Community

In 2011 the Mineta Transportation Institute released the report "Low-Stress Bicycling and
Network Connectivity". It examined the practicality of a bicycling network being defined as "a set of streets and paths that people consider acceptably safe for bicycling". These streets already exist and in urbanized areas actually comprise the majority of streets. The problems lies in the lack of connectivity of these mostly local streets.

The resulting model is called Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) and it categorizes all streets, and intersections into 4 levels of bicyclists comfort :
LTS 1 suitable for children
LTS 2 acceptable to traffic intolerant adult (interested but concerned)
LTS 3 OK for experienced bicyclists (enthused and confident).
LTS 4 Highest Stress (strong and fearless)

After the jump find out how you can create a simplified LTS assessment for your own community on Google Maps

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

WalkBikeJersey releases super-accurate, interactive New Jersey campground map for your summer bike tour

Looking to do some bike touring this summer around New Jersey?  Want a cheap place to stay?  Like to go camping?  Take a look at the VERY detailed interactive NJ Campground Map that we put together for the NJ Bike Map a few years ago.  Both publicly (National, State & County Parks) and privately operated campgrounds have been included here. Click on the campground icons for detailed info about that campground including contact info, number of sites and amenities.  Only campgrounds that one could use for cycling touring have been included.  Members and RV only campgrounds have not been included (ones that appeared to be defacto trailer parks have also been avoided).  Each icon is VERY accurately placed on the map, usually placed either on the campground office or in the center of campground.  Have fun exploring New Jersey on your bike this summer! 

View New Jersey Campgrounds in a larger map

Really cool is the NEW campground on Sandy Hook! Opened by the National Park Service two years ago, this is the only place you can camp on the Jersey Shore AND it's right off the really nice Sandy Hook Bike Path.

Also note, unlike most State and National Parks in the American West, New Jersey Park Campgrounds do not have special "Hiker / Biker" sites for the "passing through" bike tourist (Hint, hint, NJ Parks and Forests!) and rangers will turn you away at nightfall even after a long day on the bike (yes, this actually happened to me).  Advanced reservations for State Park sites require a two day minimum stay which is not useful for the passing cycle tourist and VERY expensive at $50 for two nights ($60 for non-residents)!  NJ State Parks used to hold open a number of campsites for day-of arrivals.  One used to be able to call that morning and make a reservation for a campsite the same night.  We are not sure if that is still the case so do your own research and call ahead. 

Overall, weekends will likely be booked out, weekdays less likely. Some campgrounds might be worth two nights stay like those near rivers, lakes and beaches where one can take a break from the road.

While I've made some updates, please note that this map dates back a few years. Last we checked, the very popular campground at Bulls Island on the Delaware River, north of Labertville has been permanently close (updated on map). Some other campgrounds may have also closed since this map was put together. Call ahead!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Car-nage in South Jersey Kills 6

Its been a brutal week for traffic violence in South Jersey communities the past few days. 6 people aged 14 to 85 died between Friday and Tuesday. This weekend we took the time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and mourned the victims of the of the 2nd Isla Vista Massacre (The first one was a vehicular assault in 2001), So please take a moment out of your day to remember these innocent victims as well.

May 24th in Delran 10:30 AM 61 Year Old Emine Osdemir was killed by a 60 Year old driver at Fairview St and Yansick Dr. The driver Maureen Conner Andre was charged with DWI.
Fairview St has no sidewalks. Just 3 months ago Delran approved funds for the construction of sidewalks along this deadly stretch of road.

May 26th at 2PM In Pleasantville  - A car carrying 5 teenagers struck a NJ Transit bus head on killing 3 in the car and injuring 10. The victims were Tevin Campbell, 18, Kira Strider 14 and Amber Fernandez 16. The crash occurred at Franklin Blvd just north of Old Turnpike Rd. Witnesses reported that 18 year old Melissa Rodriguez was traveling northbound at a high rate of speed when her car crossed the centerline and struck the southbound bus. The bus was pushed to the sidewalk where it just missed a pedestrian. Franklin Blvd starts off as a very wide street (42 ft) with very few parked cars but narrows to 32 feet where it struck the bus. With the exception of the centerline the street lacks pavement markings.

May 26th at 7:00 In Camden - 58 year old Lawrence Stark of Clementon was killed by a hit and run driver on the 1500 Block of Pershing St. The driver is described as an Hispanic male with a Goat Tee in his 20's or 30's and was driving a black or dark blue 4 door SUV or Truck with a taped mirror.

May 27th 12:40PM in Winslow Township Rudolph Liberto age 85 was killed by an 18 year old driver from Mount Laurel while crossing Route 73 at East Charter Ave. As of this writing no charges have been filed. Last August 29 an  unidentified 16 year old female was critically injured crossing at the same location.

I can't imagine crossing this - Route 73 at East Charter Ave where Rudolph Liberto was killed.
View in Google Street View
There is only one acceptable number for traffic deaths and that number is Zero. We must take a data driven approach to eliminate the factors that cause these unnecessary deaths.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Holiday Reminder - No Bikes on NJ TRANSIT Trains for Memorial Day

In case you haven't memorized the rules:

Bicycles are not permitted on trains (with the exception of the Atlantic City Line) on New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, Sunday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Bicycles are not permitted on the day before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but are permitted on the holidays themselves.

So if you didn't read this in time and you wind up stranded somewhere remember that you can take your bike on most buses, ferries, PATH, NJT light rail. Bolt Bus will accept bicycles if space is availabe but Megabus will not carry your bike. And if all else fails then you can summon the UBER car service which has just expanded service to all 4 Jersey Shore Counties .

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Central Bergen Bike Ped Plan Seeks Public Input

If you live, work or bike in these communities then you should weigh in on the Central Bergen Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

The website includes an interactive map that allows you to draw a desired route, known hazard, missing sidewalk etc.

A public open house which will allow you to talk with the project managers will take place on:
Thursday June 5, 2014, 4 - 7p.m.
Rochelle Park Senior Center
151 West Passaic St , Rochelle Park, NJ 07662

Friday, May 02, 2014

Meanwhile that Strava Map is Awfully Interesting

While CyclePhilly is just starting to measure bicycle trips, Strava's worldwide heat map of cycling and running routes has generated an incredible amount of interest.

Click on the arrow under the Facebook icon to view the map

It's important to note that this data is a small subset of all bike trips, generally Strava app users tend to be enthusiasts. Zoom in on the map and you will see data gaps in low income and working class neighborhoods. And some of the popular suburban and rural roads highlighted may intimidate casual riders. Still with absolutely no bike traffic data available statewide, this map can be useful for those planning a route and to some degree a tool in bike improvement planning. Even Six Flags Great Adventure, one of the most auto centric destinations in the state has Strava waypoints.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

CyclePhilly App Will Help Planners Prioritize Bike Improvements In the South Jersey Suburbs

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in cooperation with CodeForPhilly have developed CyclePhilly, a regionally based, route choice smartphone app that is now available for download in the App Store and on Google Play.

According to the press release "The app records cyclist biking habits such as route and time traveled, as well as the purpose of the trip. The data received provides an additional resource for local planners and agencies in an effort to understand bicycle trends, routes, and trip purposes, implement better bicycle facilities, and connect the region’s trail network, known as The Circuit."

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Google Street View Captures the Evolution of Complete Streets in NJ

If you subscribe to Streetsblog then you may have seen the latest entry looking at Google Map's new Street View archive, which lets look at street view images back to 2007. It shows some exemplary before and after shots of bike, pedestrian and transit improvements to streets in Indianapolis, New York and Cleveland. So let's look at a few transformations right here in New Jersey.

Trenton - Warren St (Lincoln Hwy) and Livingston St

A wide poorly marked street was transformed with a roundabout, landscaping and bike lanes.

Ocean City/Somers Point - Route 52 Causeway

Before the opening of the causeway bicycles and pedestrians were banned from using this bridge. This project is NJDOT's crown jewel.

Highlands/Sea Bright/Sandy Hook - Route 36 Bridge

NJDOT's first large scale complete streets project, not as evolved as the Ocean City bridge but a major improvement nonetheless. Also provides a critical connection between the Henry Hudson Trail in Highlands with the Sandy Hook Bikeway.

Woodbury - Rt 45/Broad St

NJDOT's makeover of Woodbury's commercial street is a classic road diet with some nice touches at the intersections. Door zone bike lanes will continue to be an issue with this configuration until the political will evolves to permit the reduction of on street parking.

Wayne - Ratzer Rd

I wanted to include this to show that making over a street doesn't have to involve major construction project. Simply changing the paint after resurfacing a road is the easiest and most common way to improve a street.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Barnegat Branch Rail Trail Bridges Into Lacey

The momentum to complete the Barnegat Branch Rail Trail in Central Ocean County continues with a new section between Waretown and Forked River that opened quietly in late fall of 2013. On Saturday this former no mans land around the Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant was teeming with cyclists, joggers, dog walkers. And it was more than people out for nice walk or ride.  I observed perhaps a dozen trail users accessing local shopping centers and NJ TRANSIT bus stops along the adjacent Route 9.

Rebuilt Abandoned RR Bridge over Oyster Creek

The south end of the trail now extends 7 miles from just north of Bay Avenue in Barnegat Township to just south of Lacey Rd in Lacey Township. Other completed sections are in Beachwood Boro and Berkeley Township. When completed the trail will stretch 15 miles to downtown Toms River. The surface is mostly a packed stone dust aggregate but paved at the road intersections along with boardwalk bridges. I doubt if anyone with bike tires wider than 23mm (.9 inches) will have an issue with this trail.

But the key segment that will connect the Lacey section with the north end has proven to the most explosive. For more than a decade Township officials have fought for and finally won to convert the abandoned Barnegat Branch line into a new road (Railroad Ave extension). This road is envisioned as a bypass for Route 9 and opposition to the road in favor of the converting the rail to a trail was well organized but in the end the Township voted in leadership that favored the road in 2012. The plan moved forward when NJ DEP issued a permit for the road in August of 2013.

The trail is planned to built as a sidepath along this stretch of road but one has to wonder if the outcome would have been different if the southern half of the trail was completed before the 2012 election. 

Regardless, there is a long way to go before the completion of Railroad Avenue, the final design (which will give an estimate closer to the real cost) has not been completed. The Township has a complete streets policy and this is one project that we will be monitoring to see if this local project made from scratch walks the walk.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

10 Miles of Bike Lanes and Continuous Sidewalks for Route 35

NJDOT announced the complete streets plans for Route 35 which includes 10 miles of bike lanes, six of which are buffered (note the left frame) and 12 miles of continuous sidewalk with ADA compliant curb cuts, crosswalks and countdown signals. This may turn out be one of the largest complete streets reconstruction projects in the Country. To learn more go to this article on the Tri State Transportation Campaign's MTR Blog.

Monday, March 31, 2014

NJDOT to Unveil Route 35 Bike Lane Plans in Seaside Heights Tomorrow April 1

It's no April Fools Joke. Tomorrow NJDOT is holding a press event that will update the public on the current status of the Route 35 project. In addition NJDOT will reveal the final striping and complete streets plan for the rebuilt Route 35 between Bay Head and Island Beach.

As you may remember the original striping plans presented to the public in June of 2013 did not include bike lanes along this very popular bicycle route. This prompted action by a coalition of complete streets advocates and local residents to convince NJDOT to modify their plans.

While we don't currently know what the final design we have been hearing from people familiar with the plans that at least some of the concerns of the coalition have been addressed. It is unlikely that bike lanes have been put in everywhere. The Borough of Lavallette opposed to the concept of back in angle parking, bike lanes are not recommended as compatible with traditional angle parking. In other places (such as Bay Head) the road is simply too narrow for bike lanes and the options are either sharrows or a parallel signed route on adjacent streets.

We hope that if you are in the area that you attend this press conference to show your support for complete streets.

Route 35 Reconstruction Press Conference
April 1, 2014

Seaside Heights Community Center 
1000 Bay Boulevard (corner of Hancock Street), Seaside Heights, NJ
The media advisory is provided after the jump.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

On the Eve of Bike Share Hoboken Seeks to Build Out its Bike Network

According to Hoboken is about to vote on expanding its bike network to near build out status.

"The City Council on Wednesday will consider a $13,000 planning contract for new lanes on six Hoboken streets: Willow Avenue, Park Avenue, Garden Street, Hudson Street, First Street and Newark Street,according to council documents. The council plans to vote on whether to award the contract to Boswell McClave Engineering, which would prepare lane striping plans for the streets..."

If the measure passes and the lane markings are completed then 10 of the 14 north-south streets in the City will have some type of on-road bicycle facility (bike lanes or sharrows) with the only major gaps remaining being the interruptions of the Hudson River Greenway along Frank Sinatra Drive (and arguably Steven's Tech).

With only about 2 months before the debut of (the tentatively named) HudCoBikeShare, Hoboken is set to be well ahead of its other bike share partners (Jersey City and Weehawken) in getting the needed infrastructure on the ground. If data collection is as good and open as other bike sharing operations (including CitiBike) we should get a good picture on how this contrast affects the usage patterns of the program.

Nextbike kiosk in Germany. Nextbike is the supplier for HudCoBikeShare

Saturday, March 15, 2014

NJDOT Announces Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes To School Funding

The information below is provided the NJ Safe Routes to School

Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and Transportation Alternatives (TAP) Programs. 

The solicitation for these federally funded programs is being administered by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), in partnership with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO).

For more information about the SRTS grant, see the solicitation letter here

For more information about the TAP grant, see the solicitation letter here

NJDOT’s application guidance document for the SRTS program containing the necessary information for completing an application and answering questions regarding eligibility and program requirements can be viewed here.  The application guidance document for TAP can be viewed here

Applications for both SRTS and TAP are available through NJDOT’s online grant management system, SAGE (System for Administering Grants Electronically). The application deadline is May 15, 2014.

Visit NJDOT’s Local Aid and Economic Development website to learn more about both the SRTS and TAP grants.

Some key things to remember before applying -

  • The TAP program will have about $15M and includes surplus from the former Transportation Enhancements program.
  • SRTS will have $5M available
  • Only local/county governments (including School Districts for SRTS) can apply
  • NJDOT has heard concerns about Technical Assistance and will be providing more technical support this year. Look for an upcoming webinar, local training/workshops and a tip sheet to improve you application. NJ Safe Routes to School already has developed a TIP sheet for SRTS
  • Program managers like to emphasize that both programs distribute funds for reimbursement.

Friday, March 14, 2014

NJDOT to repair two bridges in Somerset County - Forgets to provide bicycling detours

In some ways NJDOT is a leader in bicycle and pedestrian and Safe routes to School facilitation but in too many others ways its the same old 1960's NJDOT.  Recently NJDOT announce that it will be repairing two bridges in Somerset County which happens to have some of the best road cycling in the state.  Unfortunately NJDOT failed to recognize cyclists needs in their closure plans.

In Franklin Township it will be replacing and rehabilitating the bridge that goes over the Delaware and Raritan Canal on the Weston (Manville) Causeway near Manville.  According to the press release, the bridge will be closed until early summer.  The press release then goes into significant detail about detours for motor vehicles.  However this bridge is directly adjacent to the Canal Towpath which is a very popular bicycle route and part of the East Coast Greenway.  There is also a parking lot on east side of the canal which serves the Tow Path on the west side (not seen in the Google image below).  The bridge to be closed is the only access from the parking lot to the path.  While it may be inevitable that the bridge will need to be closed to all forms of traffic, there are no details given about how this project might effect or even close the Tow Path.  There is no information if pedestrian and cycling access might be maintained over the bridge during the project, and if not, a detour for bicyclist and pedestrians that might be not be so effected by detoured motor traffic.

While cyclists familiar with this area should be able to navigate around the Weston Causeway closure with only little problem, further north in Bedminster, the closure of Burnt Mills Road as bridges are rebuilt over both I287 and I78 will cause significant inconvenience for cyclists.  This area is exceptionally popular with cyclists as riders will come down from Washington Valley Drive and connect to Burnt Mills Road and the fantastic cycling roads to the west.  The bridge replacement project will last until the end of 2014.  In the NJDOT press release, detours are given for but use I78 and I287.  It is rather disappointing that the detours given by NJDOT are simply not an option for cyclists and that the press release mentions noting about bicyclist or pedestrian needs.  Fortunately WalkBikeJersey has you covered with the bicycle friendly detour provided below.

We all understand that these bridges need to be repaired and that closure to all traffic; motor, bike and pedestrian is likely the only way to safely get the work done.  However, failure to address the needs of cyclists regarding these road closures by NJDOT in areas that is exceptionally popular with cyclists is just not acceptable today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Action Alert - Trails projects suspended by NJDEP

This action alert was issued by the New Jersey Bike Walk Coalition to save Rec Trails Funding. We at WalkBikeJersey suggest that NJDOT's Local Aid Office would be an excellent steward for this federal transportation funding program.

Nearly $2 million of federal funds that are earmarked for trails projects in New Jersey for 2013 and 2014 have been suspended by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

The $2 million in trail funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program (RTP) which is provided for under MAP-21, the nation's current transportation law.

Since the trails program began in 1993, more than $17 million has been awarded to state, county and local government agencies and nonprofits in New Jersey.

The multi-use trail "haul road" at Franklin Parker Preserve near Chatsworth

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Today's Agenda for the NJ Bike Walk Summit

The 4th Annual NJ Bike and Walk Summit is Today February 8th. If you are tweeting during the summit we recommend using the Twitter hashtag #njbikewalk14. Tickets are still available at the door this morning for $65.

The Summit is just a 5-10 minute walk from NJ TRANSIT"s New Brunswick Train Station on the Northeast Corridor Line. This means you can get to the Summit from many places in NJ by bus or train, even from Atlantic City!

Monday, February 03, 2014

NJ Complete Streets Implementation Guide

The NJ Complete Streets Implementation Guide was published to show municipalities how to translate policy into action, how to take a municipal Complete Streets Policy and use it as a roadmap for implementing strategies, procedures, plans, and projects in ways that create networks of safe, multimodal streets that reflect local travel needs, priorities, and community context. The document is buried deep on NJDOT's website so we uploaded it to Scribd for easy access on the web.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Haddonfield Update - A Partial Victory For Grove Street Bike Lanes

The following again comes to us from our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and is posted here with their permission.  Again, WalkBikeJersey fully supports the opinions expressed in this article.

 Officials in Haddonfield Borough and Camden County have forged a compromise agreement on the installation of bike lanes on Grove St. Bike lanes will be included between Hopkins and South Edge Park Drive (shown in blue on the map). The rest of the project will follow the original plan, which includes standard shoulders north and south of the bike lanes. The roadway will narrow at the north end and it will not include shoulders and there are no plans to include sharrows on this short segment. Instead the project team is looking at the possibility of widening the sidewalk for bicycle use to improve the connection to the Cooper River Trail in Pennypacker Park.

We applaud the cooperation between the Borough, the County and the residents who helped shape the final design of this project. Overall this will be a major improvement for bicyclists and pedestrians who want to to travel between the Historic Downtown and Camden County's largest park network.

Still we are mindful of the disconnect between the conventional (and outdated) transportation thinking by transportation officials and roadway engineers in New Jersey that "shoulders are bikeways" vs. the NJ State Supreme Court's "shoulders are not bike lanes" decision in the Polzo vs County of Essex case. It's a dilemma that the state has to resolve and it will require a rewrite of the State's vehicle code and NJDOT's bikeway accommodation guidelines.

Click here for updates on the Grove Street project.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Bike Lanes vs Beautification - A False Choice In Haddonfield

The following comes to us from our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and is posted here with their permission.  However, WalkBikeJersey fully supports the opinions expressed in this article..

A grassroots effort to install bike lanes on a critical connection between downtown Haddonfield and a major trail on the Circuit has been rejected by Haddonfield Borough officials and the Camden County Department of Public Works in favor of parking lanes and a center median.

Grove St - A good proposal for bike lanes

The street in question is Grove from Pardee Lane to Edge Park Drive. This section connects the Cooper River Trail into Haddonfield Borough. This section of Grove does not currently have bike facilities, but its generous width and the typically-empty 10-foot shoulders make it a popular bicycling route. Grove street has been designated as a bike route connecting the Hopkins Pond trail to the Cooper River.

"Where should the poor girl park for all tomorrow's parties?" Apparently on Grove Street.

Grove Street's wide profile tends to induce speeding to and from Route 70, so Haddonfield has proposed a makeover to calm traffic and reduce turning conflicts. Bike lanes were recommended by the Environmental Commission, other organization members and local cyclists, and the proposal was submitted to the Borough and County Engineer for review.

However, last month the County Engineering Department wrote a letter to Haddonfield Mayor Kasko stating that bike lanes were not compatible with parking and a center median, and Camden County's policy "preferred traffic calming and beautification over bike lanes." This letter seems to have formed the basis for Haddonfield Borough to drop the idea of bike lanes and instead plan for a center median with mountable curb sections so residents can turn left out of their driveways.
Grove Street - Haddonfield Borough's Preferred Alternative
This question of traffic calming over bike lanes is a false choice. Bike lanes are a known instrument in traffic calming. Furthermore, a similar arterial in nearby Cherry Hill, Kings Highway (NJ State Route 41), has an identical width and successfully-installed bike lanes. The proposal also forgoes sidewalk improvements and does not include new crosswalks or intersection "bump-outs" as the Environmental Commission requested in their proposal.

Haddonfield does not have a Complete Streets Policy to appeal to, but Camden County just passed one in December. The Borough is debating the possibility of a Complete Streets policy, but a policy development committee has not yet been formed. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has completed a Camden County Bicycle Trails Master Plan, but its adoption might not happen until this summer. State-wide, New Jersey communities are adopting the concept of Complete Streets, which implements best practices for making our streets safe and pleasant for all users.

If the proposed design is implemented, bicyclists will be left with a narrower shoulder periodically interrupted by parked cars. And as we have reported before, the NJ State Supreme Court has ruled that bicyclists do not have legal protections in the shoulder. So this street design is effectively not accommodating bicycles. Meanwhile, pedestrians are saved from trudging through mud in a couple places, but are not protected by best-practice infrastructure.

This project represents a lost opportunity for Haddonfield Borough to unify one of its suburban neighborhoods with the historic walkable core by creating a truly complete street. Haddonfield shouldn't have to settle for mediocrity.