Send a letter to County officials to restore the protected bike lane design to Boulevard East sponsored by Bike Hudson County and member groups Bike Hoboken, BikeJC, Bike Weehawken, Bike North Bergen and Bici UC.
Emmanuelle Morgen | February 21, 2022
In March, Hudson County engineers will submit plans for a $19 million redesign of JFK Boulevard East to the Federal Highway Administration. The FHWA approved funding for the redesign through the Local Safety Program using Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds.
The county’s original plan for the road complied with its own Complete Streets resolution, which was adopted in 2012 and calls for “safe and convenient access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods and public transit users”. The document’s first article is: “Provide safe and accessible accommodations for existing and future pedestrian, bicycle and public transit facilities.”
And yet between October 2020 and October 2021, the cycle track was removed from the plans.
In its place, the county added hundreds of angled parking spaces–despite data proving the inherent danger and induced congestion of this design. When asked the reason, county engineers replied that three mayors along the route requested the change. Bike Hudson County spoke with two of the mayors, who seemed not to recollect these plans. None of the mayors nor anyone from their administrations attended a December 13, 2021, stakeholder meeting.
JFK Boulevard East is a scenic two-lane road that runs along the crown of the Hudson Palisades with sweeping views of New York City and the Hudson River. Built in 1895 after a group of cyclists took an interest in the route, more than 1200 “wheelmen” paraded up the road on opening day in 1896.
Today, it is the preferred north-south route in Hudson County for people on bikes and scooters, including commuters, recreational riders, and delivery workers. However, the boulevard has been identified as a High Crash Corridor by the NJTPA (North Jersey Transportation Authority). Every day, children and adults who ride a bicycle or other mobility device risk their lives on this roadway.
With more than 700,000 residents, Hudson County is the most densely populated county in the most densely populated state in the nation. There are 600 miles of roadways maintained by Hudson County, yet less than .5 miles of bike lanes.
The four communities most served by Boulevard East–Weehawken, West New York, Guttenberg and North Bergen–are on the New Jersey Environmental Justice list of Overburdened Communities. They have a high proportion of households that identify as minority; low-income households; or households with limited English proficiency.
Simultaneously, the population of Hudson County grows by 15% every year. Parking spaces are added apace, yet additional miles of roadways are not. How long before our streets are so clogged it becomes faster to walk than to drive? It’s already faster to cycle than to drive short distances in Hudson County. According to NACTO, one third of car trips are under 3 miles, and 38% are single-occupant. Meanwhile bike sales have surged during the pandemic, resulting in a significant increase in bicycle traffic, including on county sidewalks.
Studies that show bike lanes make the roads safer for everyone, including pedestrians and drivers, and improve travel times across the board by reducing traffic. At the same, bikes provide equitable transportation options for people of all ages and abilities, and for people who cannot afford cars or choose not to drive. They offer vulnerable users like seniors and people with disabilities the chance to travel independently with ebikes, motorized wheelchairs, and other micromobility devices. In a study conducted in 6 different cities, bike lanes were shown to generally improve business for restaurants and retailers.
Cities around the world are responding to calls for transportation systems that include Vision Zero safety improvements, better mass transit, and cycle networks. NYC, San Francisco, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, and smaller cities like Jersey City, Cambridge, Portland and Tampa are all finding innovative ways to move people and reduce congestion and emissions by implementing cycle networks. It’s cheap, simple and effective, and has proven to lower road deaths and traffic violence.
In the words of BikeJC Vice President Tony Borelli, “A street design approved in 2022 will still exist in 2037.” Now is the time to plan for a future that provides equitable transportation options for all road users on Boulevard East.
Bike Hudson County and member groups Bike Hoboken, BikeJC, Bike Weehawken, Bike North Bergen and Bici UC have created a petition to restore the protected bike lane design to Boulevard East, here.
Please sign to tell county and municipal officials that public streets are for everyone, and that a safe right of way for people on bicycles and other devices is the only fair and equitable option for JFK Boulevard East.
Hudson County Bike Organizations
Bike Hudson County
Bike Jersey City
Bike North Bergen