Bicycle riders will have the opportunity to push for safer modes of bicycle travel in Jersey City, and also celebrate their love of riding, at an upcoming fundraiser and bar party.
The bicycle advocacy group, Bike JC (www.bikejc.org), will hold their “Bar Party/Fundraiser/Bike Show/Ride” Saturday, Oct. 23, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
First, a ride through Liberty State Park, with participants meeting at the southwest corner of Grand Street and Jersey Avenue at 3 p.m. (rain or shine). Afterward, people will gather at the Golden Cicada bar, 195 Grand St. in downtown Jersey City, where $1 from each drink purchase goes toward Bike JC.
Also, people can show off their bikes for small prizes, and more importantly, meet with fellow bike enthusiasts and learn more about how to make their town more bike-friendly.
“We are just trying to build a bike-friendly city in a city of friendly bicyclists.” – Chris Englese
“We want people to know that we are still here,” Englese said. “That we are pushing for safer streets for citizens, pedestrians, and cyclists alike.”
Bike JC held a similar event back in May with a citywide bike tour that brought out hundreds of bicyclists who traveled from downtown to the city’s Greenville section.
But when they did so, it was without any discernible bike lanes present. In 2008, over 280 signs were posted on various streets that read “BIKE ROUTE” and “SHARE THE ROAD” but no painted bike lanes.
City planners in the past decade have studied how to incorporate bicycling into everyday traffic on different occasions, but progress has been slow.
In 2000, the city had the Transportation Policy Institute of Rutgers University prepare the Jersey City Bicycle Plan for the city Division of Planning, calling for the city to be divided into five sections with signs pointing out various biking destinations. In 2006, the Planning Board approved an amendment to the city’s master plan to include the “Jersey City Bikeway System” plan, but excluded bicycle lanes and advocated for signage.
In 2007, the city’s Department of Public Works studied whether the bikeway system could include actual bike lanes in possible locations such as Mallory Avenue, Washington Boulevard, Washington Street, Christopher Columbus Drive, and Phillip Street – all wide-lane thoroughfares. But the study ran into an impasse over the possibility that parking would be eliminated to make room for bike lanes.
Englese said Bike JC members have met with city planning officials in the last few months to encourage the implementation of bike lanes, pointing out that Hoboken has put in bike lanes on its streets. Lanes there were painted starting in April 2009 on Madison and Grand streets, with additional lanes proposed for other city streets. Englese also said Bike JC members have been surveyed about what roads they bike to get to Hoboken, besides using the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.
“We’re trying to show [city officials] that it can work, that proper planning can allow for these bike lanes on major arteries by showing them other cities where it works,” said Englese, who pointed out other major cities such as Portland, Oregon, and New York City, where bike paths have co-existed with public parking spaces.
Yet Englese admitted that it will be a “long process” for bike lanes to be a reality in Jersey City. In the meantime, he and other Bike JC members continue with the group’s mission.
“We are just trying to build a bike-friendly city in a city of friendly bicyclists,” Englese said.
Not quite spinning their wheels
City spokesperson Jennifer Morrill said while no bike lanes exist in the city, the city has installed 186 bike racks throughout the city, primarily at transportation hubs like the Grove Street, Journal Square and Exchange Place PATH stations.
She also added that the Circulation Element of the City’s Master Plan, known as Mobility 2050, calls for bike lanes to be throughout Jersey City on every street “where it is feasible” but did not give a date on when any will be installed.
“The constraints to feasibility are geometric or traffic volume constraints,” Morrill said. “But with those exceptions, the Master Plan calls for it to be wherever feasible.”
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.