Setting the record straight on proposed Two Rivers bike lanes
By Tom Arnone, Monmouth County Freeholder
Now that summer is here, the kids are out of school and the beaches are open. We know a few things are certain while living in our beautiful Monmouth County – sand will find its way into the house, barbeques will be plentiful and many of us will give in to ice cream cravings on the boardwalk. As residents we will also witness a significant increase to our population as our tourism season gets into full swing. With this population surge, we will also see an increase in cyclists and pedestrians sharing the roads with motorists throughout the county.
I urge you to be aware of the statewide “rules of the road” and other specific rules in your municipality for whatever mode of transportation you choose. This is especially important when traveling on primary and secondary roads that are highly used, like those without designated bike lanes or sidewalks. It is extremely important for all of us to be diligent when sharing roads so they are safe for all users– pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists – as safe travel for all is of the utmost importance.
Speaking of bike lanes, I know there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the County’s position on establishing bike lanes in the Two River area. The Freeholder Board needs to consider all of our Monmouth County residents and business in the decisions we make; as we are made up of 53 municipalities, all of which pay taxes to the County. Moreover, establishing a bike lane on a road is more than a matter of placing or moving the yellow and white lines on a road. There is a process to establish safe corridors for the co-mingling of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Bike lanes proposed on public roads require that many factors must be considered; the primary ones being the geography, speed limit and sight distance. That’s why there are federal and state standards to provide for uniform and safe bike lanes on roads. Installation and maintenance of bicycle lanes to AASHTO and DOT standards protects users and taxpayers. We will continue to work with Mayors Lucarelli and Ekdhal in the Two River community to create a safe and fiscally responsible plan for all those who use our roads.
The time to put in a bike lane is before a road is repaved. For that reason, we have postponed paving of several roads in the Two River area to the fall and those that have been paved, striping has been kept at a minimum while these discussions continue. Residents in the towns considering bicycle lanes need to be aware that they will also need to make alternate arrangements for yard debris, trash can placement and on-street parking if bicycle lanes are implemented, something that must be discussed (and changed) at the municipal level.
There are many ways that we can improve our roadways and create a safer corridor in addition to bike lanes, including providing “Road Diets,” this is something the county has begun doing, and acquired several grants to do so. A traditional Road Diet typically involves converting an existing four-lane, undivided roadway segment to a three-lane segment consisting of two through lanes and a center, two-way left-turn lane. A roadway reconfiguration known as a Road Diet offers several high-value improvements at a low cost. The primary benefits of a Road Diet include enhanced safety, mobility and access for all road users and a “complete streets” environment to accommodate a variety of transportation modes.
As more of our communities become interested in “complete streets” and user-friendly spaces, we know residents are looking to local, county and state government to find opportunities to better integrate pedestrian and bicycle conveniences along their corridors.
The County enthusiastically supports safer roads for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Each County road intersection gets upgraded safety elements for multiple users. The County is supportive of bicycling for recreation and commutation. Monmouth County has a network of multiple use trails within the County Park System. There are more than 130 miles of off-road trails for bicycle, pedestrian and equestrian use in 21 County parks. Wouldn’t it be great if our communities could find ways to connect their local roads safely to local and County parks.
In the meantime, as we work through all ideas and plans to create a safer community for all, be sure to share the road and enjoy all our beautiful county has to offer.