Bike lanes in Jersey are popping up like dandelions this summer: municipalities from Jersey City to Cape May are adding bike lanes and paths in order to fit New Jersey’s Complete Streets Policy, adopted in December of 2009.
Christie has dedicated $81.6 million to municipalities throughout the state for transportation projects, and a total of $1 million was distributed last year among three counties in the Bikeway Grant Program.
"Complete Streets are designed with all users - bikers, walkers, transit riders and drivers - in mind," says the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Construction on Route 35 includes bike lanes in compliance with the complete streets policy.
"Whenever we view a project, we look to incorporate a complete streets element," DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro told NJ.com. "Route 35 is a perfect place to showcase it. We’ve got an area that in the summer attracts a lot of families and people come down to the Shore for recreation opportunities — and many of them do enjoy bicycling."
But although Complete Streets have been adopted at the state level, they haven't been approved everywhere by local governments. Out of New Jersey's 565 municipal governments, only 90 have approved complete street policies.
Even municipalities with complete streets policies are running into problems: in Jersey City, the bike lanes are on the wrong side of the street, but the city took two weeks to fix their mistake; in Ridgewood, cyclists and pedestrians are protesting unsafe road construction.
“What you see is poor implementation or no implementation,” said Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director of the New Jersey Bike + Walk Coalition. “It's just lack of understanding of the benefits of this. Many people here in New Jersey see bike lanes as this torrent of errant cyclists. They think all hell's going to break loose.”
But the majority of bicyclist injuries and fatalities are caused by cars. 1.6 people per million residents in New Jersey have died in bike accidents, and New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy lists 6 pedestrians and cyclists who died over Memorial Day Weekend because they were struck by cars.
"There's a huge difference between having a policy passed and actually implemented," Steiner says. "You could head over to towns that have passed the Complete Street policy on your bike, and you wouldn't see bike lanes or crosswalks.”“A policy passed is really just the beginning of the process,” she adds. “Many towns pass the policy and put it on the shelf."