Jersey City Approves One Million Dollars for Bike and Other Street Safety Infrastructure

Posted on 09/12/2013

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Stephen Musgrave speaking in favor of safe street funding at last night's Jersey City City Council meeting.

Stephen Musgrave speaking in favor of safe street funding at last night’s Jersey City City Council meeting.

Last night, Wednesday September 11th 2013, on a unanimous 9-0 vote, the City Council of Jersey City approved funding for bicycle infrastructure. The ordinance (see below for full text) re-directs $1M in unspent capital bond dollars. These capital dollars now will be used for three purposes:

  1. Speed Bumps: “installation of speed humps …including milling …pavement …placing asphalt …and signage installation”
  2. Bike Infrastructure: “striped bike lanes and sharrows …and signage installation and acquisition of …equipment, including… bicycle racks”
  3. Street Striping: “general traffic striping and pavement markings”

There’s no specific breakdown between these three items… more on that below. 

When Bikas posted about this item yesterday, we couldn’t find the item on the City Council meeting agenda. I was looking for something that said bike or bicycle. Turns out it was in the Ordinance Reading page (fourth page) item number 4d Ordinance 13.091 which reads “Ordinance reappropriating $1,009,628.89 proceeds of obligations not needed for their original purposes in order to provide for various Capital Improvements…”

The council chambers were packed. Not because of the bike funding vote, though. There was a commemoration of 9/11 (including bagpipes!), then council action to approve paid sick time for city workers. After those items completed, Bikas got a seat.

When the bike funding item was heard, six public speakers addressed it. Three speakers were opposed, arguing that the city had other higher priorities. Three speakers, including me, spoke in favor of the ordinance. A mother, appearing with her three-year-old child, stressed the importance of safer streets in Jersey City where so many people and families walk so much. Stephen Musgrave, President of the Harsimus Cove Association, spoke at length in favor of safer streets for Jersey City. He cited successes in neighboring New York City and Hoboken, and went on to stress the needs for traffic calming and bike infrastructure:

But not for bicyclists. But for all users of the roadway. The painted lane has the side effect of slowing traffic as the motorist interprets the lane as narrower and it communicates the expectation that they need to share the roadway. Bike lanes also remind the pedestrian to keep an eye out for bikes.

After testimony from the public, the ordinance passed unanimously, with no real commentary from the City Council, who had to keep moving through their agenda.

A million dollars can go a long way toward on-street bicycle facilities. Bike lanes and sharrows are relatively inexpensive. For a very rough estimate, based on City of Los Angeles cost figures (which might be high), bike lanes cost roughly $20,000 per mile, and sharrowed bike routes cost roughly $10,000 per mile. The overall Jersey City bike plan has about 35 miles of bike lanes and about 20 miles of sharrows… so the whole thing could be done for a very rough estimate of $900,000 (that’s 35 x $20,000 plus 20 x $10,000.) This is only an estimate. It may be cheaper to do 1-way lanes on Jersey City’s one-way streets, though it’s possible that the City doesn’t have the proper equipment, so there’s some mobilization cost. Also, it’s generally cheaper to implement the new lanes with routine re-paving. Time will tell the real overall cost here… but, mile for mile, striping bike lanes is way cheaper than building a highway or railroad.

The trick may be that there’s a million dollars to be split between speed humps, bike infrastructure and general striping. Jersey City bike advocates will need to push to make sure that funds are spent on projects that we think are effective… and that the funds don’t wholly go into general traffic striping, with no real change on the ground.

Kudos to the Jersey City City Council for approving the reallocation of these funds, and for prioritizing safer streets. Bike plan implementation is due to begin this month, September 2013, so Bikas is looking forward to seeing what emerges.

Below is the full text of the ordinance approved: (from pages 39-40 of this city PDF – found under City of Jersey City’s meeting calendar under August 28 2013 ordinances first reading) (bold added by me for emphasis on the bike stuff)

ORDINANCE OF JERSEY CITY, N.J. COUNCIL AS A WHOLE
offered and moved adoption of the following ordinance:
TITLE: CITY ORDINANCE /3.091

ORDINANCE REAPPROPRIATING $1,009,628.89 PROCEEDS OF OBLIGATIONS NOT NEEDED FOR THEIR ORIGINAL PURPOSES IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FOR VARIOUS CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS IN AND BY THE CITY OF JERSEY CITY, IN THE COUNTY OF HUDSON, NEW JERSEY BE IT ORDAINED BY THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF JERSEY CITY, IN THE COUNTY OF HUDSON, NEW JERSEY (NOT LESS THAN TWO-THIRDS OF ALL MEMBERS THEREOF AFFIRMATIVELY CONCURRING) AS FOLLOWS:

Section I. Pursuant to NJ.S.A. 40A:2-39, it is hereby determined that $1,009,628.89 of the proceeds of obligations originally made available pursuant to four bond ordinances of the City of Jersey City, in the County of Hudson, New Jersey (the “City”), namely, Section 3(a)(4) of Bond Ordinance No. 06-106, Sections 3(a)(3) and (4) of Bond Ordinance No. 07-162, Section 3(a)(3) of Bond Ordinance No. 08-148 and Sections 3(a)(4) and (5) of Bond Ordinance No. 12-042 finally adopted by the Municipal Council of the City on September 13, 2006, October 22, 2007, November 12, 2013 and April 11, 2012, respectively, are no longer necessary for the purpose for which the obligations previously were authorized.

Section 2. The $1,009,628.89 described in Section 1 and made available pursuant to NJ.S.A. 40A:2-39, comprised of $165.261.01 from Bond Ordinance No. 06-106, $81,737.74 from Bond Ordinance No. 07-162, $90,043.91 from Bond Ordinance No. 08-148 and $672,586.26 from Bond Ordinance No. 12-042 are hereby reappropriated to provide for (i) the installation of speed humps throughout the City for purposes of traffic calming, including milling portions of pavement and placing asphalt at specified designs to form said speed humps and signage installation, (ii) the implementation of a bicycle infrastructure plan comprised of the installation of striped bike lanes and sharrows throughout the City, including markings and signage installation and acquisition of various equipment, including but not limited to, bicycle racks and related equipment; and (iii) City-wide general traffic striping and pavement markings installation.

Section 3. The capital budget of the City is hereby amended to conform with the provisions of this ordinance to the extent of any inconsistency herewith. The resolution in the form promulgated by the Local Finance Board showing full detail of the amended capital budget and capital program as approved by the Director of the Division of Local Government Services is on file with the Clerk and is available there for public inspection.

Section 4. This ordinance shall take effect 20 days after the first publication thereof after final adoption, as provided by the Local Bond Law.

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