Sixteen miles to go

Jersey City opens new bike lanes promoting multi-modal transit and safer streets

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Mayor Steven Fulop and other city official unveiled Jersey City's latest bike lane as part of the city's Vision Zero initiative.
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Bergen Avenue now has a protected bike lane extending from Sip Avenue to Montgomery Street.
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Mayor Steven Fulop and other city official unveiled Jersey City's latest bike lane as part of the city's Vision Zero initiative.
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Bergen Avenue now has a protected bike lane extending from Sip Avenue to Montgomery Street.

Mayor Steven Fulop, city officials, and members of Bike JC unveiled Jersey City’s latest bike lane on Sept. 4, connecting Journal Square and McGinley Square.

The lane, on Bergen Avenue between Sip Avenue and Montgomery Street, is the latest addition to Jersey City’s cycle track as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative and the Bike Master Plan.

The city now has four miles of bike lanes, including new additions along portions of Grove Street, Montgomery Street, and Washington Street. The city doesn’t plan to stop there, because Fulop said he plans to reach 20 miles of bike lanes by the end of the year.

The bike lanes aim to establish a dedicated space for cyclists that is separated from vehicles. The program is designed to reduce vehicle speeds and crashes, increase bicycle ridership, improve the accessibility of roads to all users, and encourage a healthier environment and community.

“The protected bike lanes provide safe, sustainable, and low-cost travel options throughout the city, while also acting as an additional traffic-calming measure and encouraging a strong bike culture throughout the community,” Fulop said. “We continue to move forward on our goals from the Bike Master Plan and Vision Zero with the help of community input. These bike lanes are our latest effort in a multifaceted approach to make our streets safer and eliminate all fatal traffic crashes.”

Bergen Avenue is on the city’s High Injury Network as part of the city’s Vision Zero Action plan. Between 2008 and 2017, Bergen Avenue had two fatalities and 31 injuries.

Jersey City was the first municipality in the state to adopt the Vision Zero initiative. It aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2026.

Bike JC President Patrick Conlon said he is thrilled to see protected bike lanes in the city. While he rides on all city streets, he knows the streets can feel unsafe for some riders, particularly beginners,

“These bike lanes will not only protect bicyclists of all ages and abilities but will also encourage more people to consider alternative and sustainable modes of transportation,” he said.

New traffic pattern

Bergen Avenue was a four-lane road, two lanes in each direction. With the installation of the eight-foot wide bike path and three-foot buffer, the road has been reduced to one lane in each direction with a dedicated center turn lane.

The lime green bike lane is in between the sidewalk and vehicular travel lanes, primarily on the east side of Bergen Avenue. It’s protected by bollards, striping, and a buffer.

The city’s Director of Traffic and Transportation Andrew Vischio said the road was selected not only to help curtail traffic injuries and fatalities but because of the minimal impact the lane would have on parking.

According to Vischio, roughly seven metered spaces were removed from Newkirk to Sip Avenue and a “handful of others; one or two were removed at certain corner intersections to ensure turns could be operated safely.”

Fulop said people were concerned about parking spaces. “We tried to minimize the number of spaces that were lost, but at the end of the day, there’s going to be a small number always that gets sacrificed as a trade-off here.”

Vischio said it takes approximately two weeks to construct a protected bike lane on one city block and that a mile of bike lane costs approximately $75,000.

That would mean it could cost the city nearly $1.5 million to create 20 miles of bike lanes by the end of the year.

An eye on 2026

“As a Vision Zero City, we are committed to making our streets safe for everyone and providing sustainable, active modes of transportation that can support our growing population,” said the city’s Senior Transportation Planner Barkha Patel. “These protected bike lanes are designed to improve mobility for the most vulnerable users on the street and to make cycling a real transportation option for everyone.”

She said roughly 50 percent of households near Bergen Avenue don’t own cars, so it makes sense to make more room for scooters, cyclists, and pedestrians on the road.

Bike lanes aren’t the only street-calming devices the city is constructing as it works toward its 2026 goal.

Another safety initiative requested by local residents is the installation of speed humps. The Division of Engineering, Traffic & Transportation has designed plans for more than 80 locations across the city based on community feedback. Speed humps reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes.

Since June 2019, nearly 160 new speed humps have been installed on city roads, including on York Street.

Other traffic-calming initiatives include the expansion of the Newark Ave. Pedestrian plaza, the establishment of the traffic safety police unit, the addition of more crossing guards, and the implementation of strategic traffic signal timing changes.

For updates on this and other stories keep checking www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.