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 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.