Bicyclists can now enjoy the view of the Hudson and the New York City skyline along River Road without having to joust with motorists for space. Bike lanes have been in place since July 24, after members of the public spurred the county Board of Freeholders, the county executive, and local public officials and mayors to take action.
Cyclists can ride for half a mile starting from Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen and stretching south towards Bulls Ferry Road in Weehawken. River Road also has another .33-miles of bike lanes southbound in Guttenberg and West New York.
Sharing the road with cyclists
Ted Semegran is the Legislative Action Officer of the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey. He has been a long time advocate for the bike lanes since his retirement in 2000. After his retirement in 2001, he joined the Bergen County Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey.
Semegran began his quest for bike lanes on River Road in 2006 when he approached the county freeholders. The bike lanes do have “sharrow markings” to make drivers aware of where the bike lanes are.
“It helps to delineate that cyclists are using the road too,” Semegran told the Reporter in July. However, according to Semegran, the lanes are only five feet wide when the standard is usually 10 feet.
‘Cyclists riding on River Road are likely to ride much more safely if they have designated lanes.’ – Ted Semegran
“It had to be a part of a plan to improve the roadway,” he said.
Kennelly also credited creation of the bike lanes to former County Engineer Bob Jasik, an avid bicyclist.
“Drivers and cyclists should share the road,” said West New York resident and bicyclist Jason Alvarez. Alvarez understands the importance of sharing the road and the need for bicyclists and drivers to respect each other.
The bike lanes are supposed to protect cyclists while they are riding River Road. Drivers are alerted to the lanes with road markings.
“Cyclists riding on River Road are likely to ride much more safely if they have designated lanes,” said Semegran, who believes that bikes are also vehicles.
“It’s hard for a lot of people to believe that a bike is a vehicle,” said Semegran. “They [drivers] think we shouldn’t be riding on the same road as a car when there are sidewalks. The attitude is, if you’re not a car, get off the road.”
Kennelly said thus far no accidents have been reported to the county engineer’s office or the Department of Roads and Bridges. Local municipalities are also responsible for enforcing the use of the bike lanes and the separation between cars and bicyclists.
Semegran said that in order to place more bike lanes in Hudson County, there must be enough space on the road for them.
“There are many places in Hoboken where there are sharrow markings, and I expect some lanes on Observer Highway in the future,” said Semegran.
Kennelly also believes that the future for more bike lanes is optimistic as long as there is a demand for them.
“The door is open to it, but there has to be clear public support for it,” said Kennelly.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org