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.
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.