Streetfilms: Jersey City Bike Lane Expansion is a Lesson for All

Jersey City residents looked over a map of the city to figure out the best places for bike lanes — not to reject them, though, but to make them better. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Jersey City residents looked over a map of the city to figure out the best places for bike lanes — not to reject them, though, but to make them better. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Nike executives would be proud.

Jersey City is poised to become a great biking — and livable — city, thanks to an effort by local officials and outside consultants who have cracked the code on how to create protected bike lanes.

The innovation: Just do it.

As documented by Streetfilms below, the “Let’s Ride JC” project that began in June 2018 with a pop-up cycling event has already succeeded in creating new protected routes as part of the city’s first “bike master plan” — whose goal is “the development of a low-stress, protected bikeway network serving neighborhoods citywide.”

But how do you get that in a city dominated by the automobile? One telling portion of Clarence Eckerson’s documentary shows Mike Lydon of the urban planning consulting firm Street Plans leading groups of residents on bike rides through various neighborhoods — and a cyclist, Patrick Conlon, complains that some roads are designed so badly that they encourage car drivers to speed.

Now, at a community board meeting in Queens, someone like Conlon might have been shouted down by drivers who see the roads as their exclusive domain. But in Jersey City, the goal of the bike master plan isn’t to beg drivers to begrudgingly permit some safety improvements, but to assert that the safety improvements are coming. Having established that, yes, some local input would be nice.

It’s a strategy that many wish was more widely employed by Mayor de Blasio’s Department of Transportation, which has certainly overruled some recalcitrant community boards, but also admits that it courts community consensus and does not seek to inconvenience drivers.

Meanwhile, in Jersey City, progress is measured by a simple yardstick: “the goal [is] to become one of the best cities for cycling in America,” Lydon said.

There will likely be fights to come, but having a master plan likely will make them fights to improve projects rather than kill them.

  • Joe R.

    Can NYC give Staten Island to NJ in exchange for Jersey City?

  • The Bicycle rider

    Now only if you can get those lights to change Hate to have to keep pressing those ped buttons

  • jojo

    Anyone know when they will be making a bike lane in the Holland Tunnel. The Port Authority can use an extra reduced toll fee.

  • AMH

    JUST DO IT!!

  • And Hoboken (another great bike town), as well.

  • Seymour Butz

    no thanks, I don’t want any part of NY state, we in Jersey City are just fine in NJ

  • Joe R.

    OK, but can you just take Staten Island off our hands then?

  • Elizabeth F

    Jersey City will be a great biking city when it installs a protected bike lane through the Holland Tunnel. Until then, you can bike around all you like — but to get where you REALLY want to go, you have to wait up to 20 minutes for a 1-mile trip across the river.

  • I can’t really complain about such a bike-friendly ferry that leaves from such a comfortable terminal at Brookfield Place / World Financial Center. (The bathrooms are very clean; and they even have an outlet!)

    Compare this ferry with the Staten Island Ferry, on which bicyclists board separate from passengers on foot, and are subjected to intrusions that passengers on foot do not have to go through. Whereas, on the NY Waterways ferries, there is no intrusive search (despite signs warning passengers of the possibility of such a search), and you just roll the bike on.

    Some boats have docks for bike outside the cabin; but on other boats you can just roll the bike right in with you to your seat.

    This ferry, combined with the (usable, but poorly maintained) bike route on the pair of bridges on 1&9 connecting Jersey City and Newark via the Kearny penninsula, creates a direct bike link between New York City and those two large New Jersey cities. Also, the ferry cut 25 miles off my trip to Philadelphia (about 120 miles via the George Washington Bridge; about 95 miles using the ferry). So I am a big fan of it, even if I wouldn’t mind if it ran more often.

    Anyway, let’s remember that we can also get our bikes to Jersey City (and to Hoboken and Newark) on the PATH train.

  • Elizabeth F

    I used to live in JC, I’m well aware of the ferry and off-peak PATH. Problem is… (1) getting into the PATH station with a bike is a big pain. (2) PATH is frequent but bans bikes at rush hour. (3) Ferry is relaxing but expensive and not so frequent, (4) On weekends, PATH is every 20 minutes. All of these issues make crossing the Hudson in JC more expensive / less convenient than it might otherwise be. Which is not an issue for the occasional bike trip to Philly, but IS an issue if you live there and need to get to NYC every day. By comparison, the GWB is just roll-on, roll-off and no more than 3-4 minutes.

    Of course I understand that the GWB is not a practical way to get from Jersey City to downtown / midtown Manhattan by bike.

  • Elizabeth F

    The feeling is mutual. And I’ve lived in Jersey City (twice), and Bergen County. NJ never again.

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