Bike lanes are slowly but surely being added to Jersey City’s 218 miles of roadway and their next destination may be on Grand Street, connecting Downtown to Bergen-Lafayette.
By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View
On Wednesday, a dozen or so residents came out to the Frank Conwell School for a public meeting that is part of an ongoing discussion related to the Jersey City Bike Master Plan.
Furthermore, the plan, passed by the city’s planning board on Wednesday and incorporated into the city’s overall master plan, seeks to add more than 106 miles of on-street, interconnected bike paths to “make Jersey City one of the best cycling cities in North America.”
The adoption of the new Bicycle Master Plan is the “first of many steps towards making Jersey City a community where cycling can be considered a safe and viable form of transportation for all people,” a copy of the plan reads.
“We’ve taken some meaningful steps + this is another step forward,” Mayor Steve Fulop tweeted.
“We made a commitment and we are following through – I know not everyone agrees with our #VisionZero changes but I know over time residents will appreciate the safer streets that consider more than just cars.”
Jersey City currently has 45 miles of existing bike lanes, but they do not offer much connectivity between neighborhoods.
Cyclists, meanwhile, have said bike lanes are too narrow, crossing major streets (let alone riding along them) is intimidating, and public bicycle parking is scarce.
The plan would more than triple the size of the existing bike network, and add 106 miles of on-street bike ways to the city’s network, including more than 43 miles of protected bike lanes. If completed, 55% of all city streets would have a bike path, compared to 17% now.
Furthermore, the plan’s main goal is to further implement the city’s vision zero initiative — which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries on city streets.
According to the study, between 2008 and 2017, 50 percent of all bicycle crashes on Jersey City roads were fatal.
Grand Street in particular is “one of the most dangerous streets in our city,” said Barkha Patel, the senior transportation planner for Jersey City.
In the past 10 years, three people have died and there have been close to 20 pedestrian bicyclist sustaining injuries in a 10 year period on Grand Street alone, she said.
“But it’s also one of the streets that connects a lot of different neighborhoods that don’t have connectivity,” Patel also stated.
“As more and more people move into our city, we want this street to serve as an artery to make those short trips within the city for daily needs — on foot or on bike as opposed to using their vehicle.”
Improvements on Grand Street would involve adding bike lanes on both sides of the street, which was “identified as one of the most important arterials in our goal to establish a base network of bike lanes throughout the city,” said Andrew Vischio, the city’s director of traffic and transportation.
The endeavor also call for eliminating a lane of traffic, which is likely to increase pressure on a road that seeks a fair amount of congestion. And as improvements under the new plan move forward over the next several years, frustrations for motorists will likely continue to mount.
Still Grand Street’s improvements, and the plan as a whole, are “very much intended to help people make that shift away from using their vehicle and instead using a more sustainable mode of transportation, and we’ve designed it with safety in mind,” Patel added.
The full build out of the proposed network will take many years, but “we have made great progress already with almost five miles of protected bike lanes already installed since June 2019.”
“Cycling is one of the most efficient, healthy, sustainable and economic forms of transportation while also reducing traffic congestion and making our roadways safer, all of which is in line with our overall goals under Vision Zero,” the mayor said.
“Safety is our primary concern and it guides our work.”
Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_