A North Jersey cyclist organization believes that development and congestion along River Road have necessitated a designated bike lane on the oft-congested byway.
The Hudson County road runs along the Hudson River waterfront through towns like North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York and Weehawken.
According to Ted Semegran, the legislative action officer of the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey and board member of New Jersey Bicycle coalition, a bike lane would increase safety for cyclists.
“It’s for those [individuals] that are bicycle commuters or recreational cyclists that want to go to the light rail.” – Ted Semegran.
After the meeting, the Hudson County Division of Planning conducted a study along the road and ultimately concurred, but bicycle lanes were never put into place.
Semegran, a Haworth, N.J. resident, attended a freeholder meeting two weeks ago in the hopes of finding out what could be done.
At the meeting he explained that while certain areas with shoulders could accommodate cyclists on the southern and northern portions, many other sections were not wide enough. There are several areas of River Road where there are no shoulders.
Semegran believes that a dedicated bike lane would even alleviate some of the traffic that the road suffers from, since more local commuters might take their bikes to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station in Weehawken if the changes were made to the road.
“There is an area to put in a bike path in the scrub grass that’s there,” said Semegran.
Bike lane in future
According to Hudson County Spokesperson James Kennelly, Hudson County Engineer Borivoj Jasek has ridden his bike with the Bicycling Touring Club of North Jersey and is a biking enthusiast. Kennelly said he agrees that a bike lane is needed.
The problem is that right now River Road is not wide enough for a bike lane plan, said Kennelly. He explained that a long-term capital project is planned for the next three to five years that will include a dedicated lane.
He said that the road will be widened and resurfaced when it is funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
“When that is done, we’re going to look and make sure we have the space available on the shoulders,” said Kennelly. “The widths of the shoulders are too small to accommodate the distances for proper car traffic for what the road is expected to carry.”
Cycling to activism
The safety issues of River Road were first brought to Semegran’s attention when he began completing long-distance bike rides with his road bike club.
The loop began in Fort Lee, travelled down through River Road into Hoboken, Jersey City, Bayonne, Staten Island, and into New York City. From there the group often rides their bikes up to the Battery Park Ferry and the George Washington Bridge, before finishing up where they began.
The Greenway project is more than a 2500-mile project from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida that has an alternate route from the George Washington Bridge down to Jersey City via River Road, before continuing on to Trenton, N.J.
He said that the alternate route allows long-distance bicyclists to take the Hudson River Greenway.
“It would be ideal if there was work being done on both sides of the Hudson,” said Semegran.
While he said he was moved to activism because of a recreational activity, he believes that the group’s work would benefit a larger demographic.
“It’s for those [individuals] that are bicycle commuters or recreational cyclists that want to go to the light rail,” said Semegran.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.