LETTER: ‘Currently there is a de facto ban on biking for transportation,’ Jersey City resident says

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In a letter to the editor, Jersey City Ward C resident Ollie Oliver lays out why he feels “currently there is a de facto ban on biking for transportation.”

Twitter photo.

Dear Editor,

In a recent letter to the editor, Councilman Boggiano said “I believe there are win-win improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists that we can put in place.”

Last month on the campaign trail he said that redesigns that remove parking “should be a nonstarter.” These are contradictory ideas.

I am a certified cycling instructor and according to the NJ DOT Bicycle Manual, cyclists are allowed to ride in the street and drivers must give them four feet of space when passing.

And you should always bike four feet away from parked cars to avoid any opening car doors. Streets in Ward C are not wide enough for drivers and people on bikes to safely share the lane.

Currently there is a de facto ban on biking for transportation. Riding on the sidewalk is illegal. In the street you encounter vigilante drivers using their cars as weapons to chase you off of “their” streets.

The win-win would be space on the street to drive, a separate, safe place to bike, and safe sidewalks and crosswalks.

But if you insist from the beginning that you will not take an inch away from drivers, as Councilman Boggiano does, there’s no room for compromise.

That’s a commitment to the status quo, which is dangerous for everyone. No matter how we get around, we’ve all had close calls or been in a crash.

In January, Councilman Boggiano tabled improvements to Baldwin Avenue, citing a need for community input. He held zero meetings on it this year.

He also did not participate in the community meetings for the Pedestrian Enhancement Plan, the Vision Zero Action Plan, or the Bike Master plan, all of which singled out Baldwin Ave as one of the most dangerous streets in the city.

All the while people on foot and on bikes have been struck and sent to the hospital and the morgue.

People walking see the greatest safety improvement from street redesigns that include protected bike lanes according to the NYC DOT. But to make them work you need to repurpose some street space in ways that would benefit everyone including drivers.

Some parking spaces become turning lanes that allow turning drivers to wait for the crosswalk and bike lane to be clear while straight through drivers can continue.

Or they become islands for pedestrians to wait safely to cross and increase visibility for all road users at the intersection.

I frequently encounter people parking on sidewalks and in crosswalks. Some corners feel like they’re blocked most of the day, five minutes at a time. The solution is to create short term parking spots or loading zones.

This should increase convenience for drivers and safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

But if you insist that zero parking spaces can be “lost” then you are ruling out all of these safety and convenience improvements from the start.

The last 8 years have shown Boggiano was committed to parking over safety, but I hope that he’s finally ready to build streets that are truly win-win solutions for everyone in Ward C.

Ollie Oliver
Car-free Jersey City Ward C resident

1 COMMENT

  1. Funny that no one seems to advocate on behalf of the path riders.
    Let’s just look at the ban on bikes during “ peak” hours. Why limit that mode of transportation? Can’t we have two cars for cyclist only???
    Saving people money and helping cut emissions

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