It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, in New Jersey with the nations best Completes Streets policy no less, that a massive sum of money could be spent on improving the traffic safety in a major city and save for one small exception, bicycle facilities are left off the table.
On April 10th, the Newark Patch reported on a the infusion of $27 million to be spent on over a dozen projects roadway projects in the city. While almost every one of these projects make major improvements in pedestrian safety, only a single project, the Irving Turner / Jones / Norfolk corridor will receive bike lanes and that’s likely only because the roadway is part of the East Coast Greenway. With the 12 other projects listed, there is no mention about the installation of a bike lane, bike path, bike parking or a bike route. I find it highly unlikely that there are no other streets on this project list that couldn’t use some bicycle infrastructure. This is a real shame considering that every one of the streets impacted by this massive injection of capital improvement funds will likely not be looked at for another 10 years, if not more.
To put the poor state of “bicycling level of service” in the Brick City into perspective, I need to tell you a story. Recently, I made an unlikely bicycle journey from New Brunswick all the way up to the Bike NY offices just off Columbia University in Manhattan. No mass transit. No ferry. Just the GWB. The trip was remarkably easy up until I entered the City of Newark. From New Brunswick to Elizabeth, I was able to use quite residential streets and overly wide county roads that only have one lane in each direction, relatively light traffic and little parking.