More Jersey City Street Repaving, Still No Bike Facility Implementation

Posted on 08/14/2013

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Jersey City's Hoboken Avenue looking west from Oakland Avenue. The street has been repaved from near the crosswalk on. The foreground shows cracks in the not-recently-resurfaced area east of Oakland Avenue.

Jersey City’s Hoboken Avenue looking west from Oakland Avenue. Hoboken Avenue was recently repaved (visible from just below the crosswalk up – west of Oakland Avenue) but did not receive the bike lane that was to accompany the repaving. Foreground shows cracks in the not-recently-resurfaced area – east of Oakland Avenue.

Bikas is continuing our series examining Jersey City’s bicycle facility plan. I recently finished bicycling each of the streets designated to receive bike lanes or sharrows during re-surfacing in summer 2013, and confirmed that, though most of the streets have already been re-surfaced, none of the new bicycle facilities have been implemented yet.

First, a brief background: In December 2012, Jersey City announced its modest bike plan: 54.7 miles of bikeways including 35.2 miles of bike lanes and 19.5 miles of bike routes. The overall bike plan is posted here. The initial implementation commitment was about 4 miles of new on-street bike lanes and sharrows, on streets already scheduled to be repaved during the summer of 2013. Repaving came and went for streets in southern Jersey City, with no new bike facilities. Bikas sounded the alarm in this open letter to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

Bikas recently finished checking out all the street segments designated for resurfacing and bike lane and sharrow implementation in summer 2013. Here’s the list of streets I checked this past week:

Hoboken Avenue (from Central to Oakland – 0.1-mile one-way bike lane)
Coles Street (from 2nd to 7th – 0.2-mile one-way bike lane)
Manila Avenue (from CC Drive to 6th – 0.4-mile one-way bike lane)
Bowers Street (from Ogden to Kennedy – 0.7-mile one-way bike lane)

The overall punchline is that Jersey City has completed most of the Summer 2013 resurfacing, with no new bike lanes or sharrows yet. Below are some specifics about each of these streets:

Hoboken Avenue (from Central Avenue to Oakland Avenue – 0.1-mile one-way bike lane) – This one-block stretch of Hoboken Avenue has already been resurfaced (see photo at top of this post.) Hoboken Avenue is plenty wide for the designated bike lane (perhaps enough for two bike lanes), which was not implemented during recent resurfacing. According to the Jersey City’s December 2012 press release, the street was designated to receive a 1-way bike lane, presumably westbound (so southbound cyclists on Oakland Avenue can continue south on the planned bike route on Cook Street.) Note that there are two different Hoboken Avenues in this area: one above 139 (underground east of the Pulasky Skyway) and another just south of that. According to the map in the city’s bike plan, the bike lane will be on the southern Hoboken Avenue.

Coles Street (from 2nd Street to 7th Street – 0.2-mile one-way bike lane) – This 5-block resurfacing project hasn’t been completed yet. The one-way street appears sufficiently wide for the designated southbound bike lane.

Manila Avenue (from Christopher Columbus Drive to 6th Street – 0.4-mile one-way bike lane) – This 8-block resurfacing project hasn’t been completed yet. Though the press release lists this as Manila Avenue, a portion of the project is on Grove Street, which Manila turns into. In my opinion, this is probably the best project in the bike facilities due to be implemented Summer 2013. The new southbound bike lane will connect with the Grove Path Train station, with Grove Street Bicycles (bike shop), and with the existing bike lanes on Grove from Columbus to Grand. Manila tends to be a bit of a thoroughfare for speeding cars, so I expect that adding a bike lane can calm the traffic there slightly, making it safer for pedestrians to cross. From eyeballing the street (I didn’t go out and actually measure the street width), I am not 100% sure that a bike lane can be added to all the designated blocks, without removing a travel lane. If this is the case, then it may make sense to do a block or two of sharrows where the bike lane doesn’t easily fit.

Bowers

Bowers Street, looking north at Central Avenue. Bowers is on the left; Central on right. Darker pavement on left is where Bowers has been repaved.

Bowers Street (from Ogden Avenue to John F Kennedy Blvd – 0.7-mile one-way bike lane) – This 9-block resurfacing is half done. The three blocks west of Central Avenue (above photo) have been resurfaced, with no bike facility added.

Bowers Street east of Central Avenue. Cracking asphalt in the foreground indicated that this portion of the roadway has not been repaved recently.

Bowers Street east of Central Avenue. Cracking asphalt in the foreground indicated that this portion of the roadway has not been repaved recently.

The six blocks east of Central Avenue (above photo) have not been repaved yet. The press release and bike plan indicate that Bowers will receive a one-way westbound bike lane (which will form a couplet with the eastbound bike lane planned for Griffith Street two blocks south.) In riding this area, I think that the Bowers street bike lane definitely makes sense east of Central Avenue, where Bowers is one-way westbound. West of Central, I am not sure. From Central to JFK, Bowers carries two-way traffic, and, just based on my unscientific ride-through, I am not sure that it has sufficient width to add a bike lane without removing something else. If this is the case, it might make sense to just do a westbound sharrowed bike route on Bowers west of Central Avenue.

In summary, here’s the entire list of streets due to receive bike facilities during Summer 2013 repaving, and their status as of August 13th 2013: (This list is from page 2 of Jersey City’s December 2012 press release.)

Fulton (from Garfield to Ocean – 0.2-mile one-way bike lane) – REPAVED
Fulton (from MLK to Bergen – 0.1-mile one-way bike lane) – REPAVED
Woodlawn (from West Side to Kennedy – 0.4-mile one-way bike lane) – REPAVED
Hoboken (from Central to Oakland – 0.1-mile one-way bike lane) – REPAVED
Coles (from 2nd to 7th – 0.2-mile one-way bike lane) – NOT YET REPAVED
Manila (from CC Drive to 6th – 0.4-mile one-way bike lane) – NOT YET REPAVED
Bowers (from Ogden to Kennedy – 0.7-mile one-way bike lane) – REPAVED PARTIALLY (from Central to Kennedy)
Old Bergen Road (from MacAdoo to Merritt – 0.9-mile two-way sharrow bike route) – REPAVED
Bergen (from Communipaw to Montgomery – 0.6-mile two-way sharrow bike route) – REPAVED

Overall it’s pretty disappointing. Due to either neglect or error (or who knows?) it looks like Jersey City is missing opportunities to make our streets safer. While most of the repaving work has already been completed, it’s still important that Jersey City incorporated bike facilities in the remaining repaving work (on Coles, Manila/Grove, and part of Bowers.) If Jersey City is to make good on its 2012 promises, it needs to go back to the streets it already repaved and add the approved bike facilities. I urge the new administration of Mayor Fulop to investigate why these approved projects were missed or ignored, and to ensure that Jersey City has processes in place so that opportunities are not missed during future repaving.

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