Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Rt 35 south of Pt Pleasant "Shore to kill?"

This past Saturday night I was returning home by car from a bike trip to Island Beach State Park. However driving north on Rt 35 at 9pm was an exceptionally unnerving experience even despite traveling below the 35mph speed limit much of the time. Roadway condition were poor and the street lighting just as bad. In many places the roadway, particularly the shoulder was ill defined and in most places, exceptionally wide. Overall the original roadway design seems more appropriate for a highway with scattered commercial strip mall development and 50mph speeds than a street with downtown style stores interspersed with residential homes and HEAVY pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

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And talk of pedestrian and bicycle traffic! It was everywhere and coming from every conceivable direction. This was particularly true in the Lavallette and Ortley Beach areas. Despite the volumes of bike and pedestrian traffic facilities for them were extremely minimal and often in poor condition. Bike lanes are nonexistent and even sidewalks were intermittent. Bicyclists came from every direction with only one of over a hundred having any lights even though it was completely dark by this time. Pedestrians were also hard to see, including ones making every effort to use the marked crosswalks. Local authorities did try to help pedestrians by placing construction barrels in the roadway to accent crosswalks but at night this seemed (to me at least) to cause more confusion.

Now the reason why I bring this up is that Rt 35 is a state highway and it my best understanding that it is entirely within NJDOT's jurisdiction. It is a roadway obviously in need of repair particularly on the north bound side. With repairs coming soon at some point it is time for NJDOT to step up and come up with an Context Sensitive Solution for this highway that suits the needs of all roadway users and increases safety for all. Under the former guidance of Gary Toth, NJDOT became a leader in Context Sensitive Design. With plenty of room in most places there is no reason why contiguous sidewalks and bike lanes (including a possible retrograde lane on the north bound side) along with crosswalk bulb-outs cannot be built to the latest standards without impacting sacred parking spaces. I can think of few other roadways in New Jersey at the moment that are more in need of such treatment.

I just hope something is done about this soon before the title of this post proves to be prophetic.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Assemblywoman to Lead Cross State Bike Ride For 3 Foot Passing Bill


More than 100 Riders Expected to Participate In Aug. 9 120-Mile Round Trip Tour from Newark to Lambertville

(NEWARK) – Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer will lead more than 100 bicycle riders through a cross-state tour on Sunday to highlight the need for a state law that would provide cyclists with heightened safety on New Jersey’s roadways.

The tour is slated to leave Newark’s Penn Station at 7 a.m. and pass through Elizabeth, New Brunswick and Princeton and Lambertville. The schedule is subject to change and may be updated.

“’Share the road’ has been the mantra among bikers and motorists for years, but recently that tradition has begun to break down,” said Spencer (D-Essex), an avid cycler and member of the Major Taylor Cycling Club of New Jersey, which is sponsoring the ride. “Increasingly, road rage and impatience have put more and more bikers in dangerous positions. Cyclists, whether on a pleasure ride or their daily commute, deserve some guarantee to their small part of the road.”

Spencer is prime sponsor of legislation that would require motorists to leave a buffer of at least 3-feet when passing a bicycle travelling in the same direction. Violators would be subject to a $100 fine. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Assembly in June.

If enacted, New Jersey would become the 12th state to have a 3-foot-buffer law on its books. Since 2000, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin have enacted such a law.

“New Jersey’s network of county and local roads and mix of urban and rural landscapes has made it an ideal state for cycling,” said Spencer. “But as more people try to take in this scenery on their bicycle, state law needs to be on their side. By taking to the road together, cyclists from across the state can send a strong reminder that our roads belong to everyone, whether they travel on two wheels or four.”

The Newark-based Major Taylor Cycling Club of New Jersey is named in honor of Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, an African-American cyclist who held the world mile track cycling championship title from 1899 to 1901. The club sponsors numerous distance rides throughout the year.