Monday, November 08, 2010

NJ fails again to gain a Bicycle Friendly Community

First I want to put a shout out to both Hoboken and Montclair for both getting honorable mentions this year as Bicycle Friendly Communities. They do deserve credit for trying and I hope that at least one or both of these towns get BCF accreditation soon.

For those of you who are keeping count, New Jersey is now only one of only FIVE states that DOES NOT have at least one Bicycle Friendly Community with in its boarders. Last year when I looked into this New Jersey was one of only ten states without a BCF. While we do not have a BCF, every state in the south has at least one, with both Mississippi and West Virginia having two Bronze Level Communities each.

The other four states without a BFC are Hawaii, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Even here I am shocked that at least one Massachusetts town hasn't won a BFC award because of some very innovative (and controversial to some) things that have been built in both Cambridge (Alewife Park and Ride Bike Cage, Vassar St) and Boston.

Also disappointing is that besides not having a Bicycle Friendly Community, New Jersey also does not have a Bicycle Friendly Business. Only three other states, Hawaii, Nevada and North Dakota, have that dubious distinction of not having at least one of either.

Repeated again from last year is my list of possible candidates for BFC status:
  • Ocean City (Cape May)
  • Hoboken (Hudson) *Received Honorable Mention*
  • Madison (Morris)
  • Montclair (Essex) *Received Honorable Mention*
  • Princeton (Mercer)
  • Avalon (Cape May)
  • Collingswood (Camden)
  • Morristown (Morris)
  • Haddonfield (Camden)
  • West Windsor (Mercer)
  • Franklin (Somerset)
  • Newark (Essex)
I also feel that there really isn't any reason that New Jersey can't have at least a half dozen of so Bicycle Friendly Businesses. There are several bicycle businesses headquartered here in New Jersey that likely have all the things in place that they need to be recognized as a BFB and I'm quite sure that a number of bike shops could be as well.

New Jersey does rank very well on the state level. Undoubtedly due to the hard work of a few people at NJDOT and elsewhere, New Jersey is the 8th best in the nation and even winning a Bronze Level award (the highest award has only been Silver on the state level). Unfortunately missing out again on winning a BFC prize is disappointing at the very least and is a sign of the difficult battles in advancing cycling at the local level which is where a bicycle can be the most effective as a form of transportation.

In a future piece I'll look into possible reasons why New Jersey is missing out on attaining at least one Bicycle Friendly Community (Hint: Show me the bike lanes!)


Bob E. said...

I suggest Cranford be added to your list of candidates -- it has no painted bike lanes, but since the 1970s it's had signage all over town designating low-traffic streets as bike routes, and has several miles of paved bikeways. (Have you seen the bike "lanes" in Madison? They're horribly too narrow, and right in the gutter.)

Andrew J. Besold said...

Yes I've seen those vintage Bike Route signs in Cranford but has the town done anything lately? Is their adequate and properly located bicycle parking downtown besides at the train station?

Again, bike routes, while a legitimate facility type do not have the same safety impact nor do they communicate to drivers (and cyclists) that bicycles belong and have a right to the road as a well designed bicycle lane.

I also agree that the Madison bike lanes leave MUCH to be desired.

Let me also say that a town that wants to have BFC designation had better have on-road facilities that are contemporary and follow modern design standards. Relying on 20 and 30 year old facilities that are questionable by today's standards to the point of possibly having safety issues will likely not qualify a town for a BFC.

Also relying on towns innate bicycle and walking friendliness due to that towns old fashioned street and development layout shouldn't qualify that town for BFC status. I believe that the town aught to show continued progress in planning and installing more bicycle facilities and a good portion of those should be on-road.

That's my 2 cents!

Bob E. said...

You're right -- there's been hardly any progress lately. I'm just boosting my hometown!