Jersey City’s Missing Bike Lanes Will Be Striped This Fall, City Promises

Although Hoboken has taken the lead on implementing New Jersey’s best bike infrastructure, Jersey City looked like it was poised to catch up to its northern neighbor last year. Mayor Jerramiah Healy laid out a plan to bring bike lanes and sharrows to his city’s streets, but the plan stagnated under his administration. Newly-elected Mayor Steven Fulop says the lanes will be implemented, but Jersey City cyclists will have to wait until the fall.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop says he'll implement the previous administration's plan to expand bike lanes to more than just Grove Street, above, but cyclists will have to wait until September. Photo: ##http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2012/12/mayor_healy_announces_jersey_c.html##Lauren Casselberry/The Jersey Journal##

Jersey City has a long history of inaction on cycling infrastructure. “There have been a lot of plans for bike lanes,” BikeJC board member Carly Berwick told Streetsblog, via email. A 2006 bikeway plan [PDF] was followed by a 2010 master plan [PDF] that included street design guidelines for bike lanes, but nothing got built. In 2012, the city unveiled an “experimental” bike lane on Grove Street, which was made permanent this spring.

A watershed moment came last December, when Mayor Healy outlined a plan to bring 35 miles of bike lanes and nearly 20 miles of shared lane markings to Jersey City. The plan, which also included updates to the city’s bike ordinances, a bike rack sponsorship program, and the possibility of bike-share, prioritized streets for implementation.

The plan was announced after a working group, comprised of city staff and BikeJC representatives, worked for five months before submitting its recommendations to the mayor in September 2012.

“Many outlets reported on it as if it were indeed happening,” Berwick said. “Our understanding is that those bike lanes and sharrows announced in 2012 may have depended on uncertain financing.” Indeed, the city’s press release says that the city applied to the state DOT’s bikeways program in October 2012 for $1.4 million to fund its bike lane and rack program. City spokesperson Jennifer Morrill says the city didn’t receive that grant, but did receive a state grant for a repaving of Pacific Avenue that will include bike lanes.

Even without the state bikeway funding, however, the city said last year that streets included in the plan would get bike markings as they received already-scheduled resurfacings, and listed 3.1 miles of streets that were scheduled to be repaved in 2012. Those repavings came and went under the Healy administration, with no new bike lanes.

Fulop’s election to the city’s top job this year attracted lots of attention. Unlike Healy, Fulop rides a bike, but didn’t include bicycling in his campaign’s transportation platform [PDF]. Since he assumed office on July 1, the repavings have continued under the new administration. While the streets have received fresh markings, none of them include bike lanes or sharrows.

“The plan was to put the bike lanes down at the end, once all the streets are repaved,” Morrill said. “They will finish paving and begin striping at the beginning of September.”

“We believe the new administration is working in good faith to implement the lanes eventually,” BikeJC’s Berwick said. Yesterday, BikeJC board members met with city staff for an update. “We are looking forward to working with Mayor Fulop and his team to implement more bike lanes as soon as possible,” Berwick said.

  • I’ve biked through much of Jersey City for my commute to the waterfront. Most of the streets are already not that bad for cycling. The streets are generally very wide, and traffic is quite light compared to NYC. These streets would certainly benefit from narrowing the driving lanes and adding bike lanes, but at the end of the day it’s just paint. I don’t see anything in these plans that represents real forward thinking that will get many more JC residents and commuters onto bikes.

  • Joe Linton

    I agree that Jersey City is already a good place to bicycle, with plenty of cyclists already using our streets. I do think that new bike lanes will be a good first step to making JC streets safer for everyone.

  • Jersey City has made a number of mistakes in recent years.

    They actually removed a handful of curb extensions on Columbus Drive to widen the road into a massive four lane street. They also spent a huge amount of money redoing the concrete on sidewalks more or less every residential street corner downtown. They were adding handicap ramps with plastic grips; all of this would have been a great opportunity to add even slight curb extensions given the amount of work they were doing. But of course, they didn’t.

  • Shojib Ashrafi Na Ashrafi

    dang…dang…dang! need to seriously look at that limosine company, driver policy and practice…seem like the
    victims could not opened the door from the inside…driver may have had the children safety aka drunk passengers
    lock-on…mmmm, so only the skinny people got out??? dry them tears…time to sue…driver not shaken playin stupid…

  • Joel Torres

    It depends where you are using your bicycle. Downtown is well kept and accessible for bikers but the rest of the city is not. I just got hit by a car on Kennedy Boulevard when the car decided to cut into the parking lanes to get ahead of cars stopped at red lights. As you stated, there needs to be forward thinking and an honest effort to implement initiatives to promote biking. The health message and promotion is there but people will not ride because they fear for their safety sharing the road with drivers in the other parts of the city.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Holy moly!!!! You’re actually reporting on something out of New Jersey?!?!?! I’m shocked! Stunned! Maybe that NYT’s article from earlier in the week titled “New Yorkers starting to notice Jersey City” seems to apply to Streetsblog too! 🙂

  • Larry Higgs

    That NYT article focused on the lone set of bike lanes on Grove Street, yet called them bike lanes (pural). The advocates at Bike JC tactfully pointed that omission out, but Jersey City needs to do some catching up to match the progress made in neighboring Hoboken, never mind those in NYC. Having used the NYC bike lanes, what I found is that they create an alternate transportation system to the car, the subway and the bus. You can find a lane which will get you almost anywhere in Manhattan. JC needs this city wide.

  • Larry Higgs

    There is plenty of real estate on Christopher Columbus for a marked bike lane AND the four vehicular lanes. No one loses a foot of travel lane. All they need is a ruler and bucket of paint to make it happen.

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