Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NJ one of ten states without a Bicycle Friendly Community

New Jersey is one of only ten states still not represented by a Bicycle Friendly Community as designated by the League of American Bicyclists. Last month LAB released its list of new BFCs boasting that it added 15 new BFCs with five states being represented by a BFC for the first time.

For some perspective, every state in the Deep South and even Texas has at least one Bicycle Friendly Community, with Virginia, Florida, North and South Carolina represented by three communities or more. Even Mississippi has one (Oxford)!

Somewhat oddly, New Jersey is far from alone in the Northeast. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland are all states without a BFC. The other four states are West Virginia, North Dakota, Nevada and Hawaii. However having just spent time up in Connecticut with other bike/ped advocates, I can tell you that they are likely to nominate at least one community next year.

If New Jersey has any hopes of maintaining it's Top 10 statewide ranking as a Bicycle Friendly State next year, it is clear that our state will need to pick up at least one, if not two or three Bicycle Friendly Communities by this time next year. Other states are starting to take the lead and we in New Jersey better start making progress on this very soon (applications are due Feb 19m 2010).

Possible candidates for easy nomination for BFC status are:
(Ranked by observed bicycle amenities that I've either read about or seen in person)
  • Ocean City (Cape May)
  • Hoboken (Hudson)
  • Madison (Morris)
  • Montclair (Essex)
  • Princeton (Mercer)
  • Avalon (Cape May)
  • Collingswood (Camden)
  • Morristown (Morris)
  • Haddonfield (Camden)
  • West Windsor (Mercer)
  • Franklin (Somerset)
  • Newark (Essex)
Of those Ocean City could easily have it in the bag and may even have enough to attain the higher ranking of Silver. In fact BFC is something that every shore town should be trying to achieve since it would be relatively easy for most and that providing bicycle amenities in beach communities has proven benefits.

The wild-card in the bunch is clearly Newark, however the Brick City Bicycle Collective has been making great advocacy inroads in the city and region in the short six months they've been around. They had Mayor Cory Booker ride with them on their inaugural ride back in August and even have some elected members of the city government now wanting to make Newark the most bicycle friendly city in all of New Jersey!

What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions for other possible BFC candidates in New Jersey?


bikepedlt said...

Can WalkBikeJersey take the lead on completing the applications for these towns?

I agree that Ocean City has it in the bag.

Laura Torchio

bikepedlt said...

PS - I will do my best to either complete the application for Montclair myself or try try try to get someone else to do it.

Anonymous said...

Point Pleasant Beach was an honorable mention last year.

Andrew J. Besold said...

Yes, Point Pleasant Beach was given an Honorable Mention but that it IS NOT a Bicycle Friendly Community.

When I've visited their boardwalk this past summer there was very little to no bicycle parking available for cyclists wanting to access the boardwalk. People locked their bikes to whatever they could find. This was very unfortunate since there was plenty of space available to provide bicycle parking on a number of dead-end streets that lead up to the boardwalk.

I left them off my list due to this observation and the lack of bicycle lanes on any of the arterial roads in town. I would be happy to hear of major bicycle improvements in Point Pleasant Beach.

Silvia Ascarelli said...

Thanks for including West Windsor on the list of possible bike-friendly communities. The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance would like to see it happen too and is encouraging the Township to apply.
Please note that the WWBPA's Web address is now wwbpa.org. Please update the link!
Silvia Ascarelli
WWBPA secretary

Andrew J. Besold said...

News has it that Denville, NJ, the site of the upcoming first New Jersey Bicycle Summit, may be putting together an application for a BFC.

Definitely not the first place I would have thunk!

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