Jersey City Installing New Bike Lanes: What Good Will They Do?
It’s a common complaint among those who use bicycles. They simply have no space of their own and are therefore at continual risk. Will Jersey City installing new bike lanes address the problem? Time will tell whether the changes cut down bicycle accident rates.
For many, traffic in urban areas becomes a living nightmare. In Hudson County, at least one locale came up with a test solution. Both commuters and fun seekers are exploring the use of e-scooters. It remains unknown if this will result in more accidents.
According to a biking organization that advocates for bikers, Jersey City ranks high when it comes to addressing bike safety. The city even has an official committee, which started off with the following proactive measures:
- Constructed bike lanes along Grove Street in the downtown area.
- Set up separate bike lanes on Fulton Avenue and Woodland Avenue in Greenville.
- Painted symbols known as “sharrows” marking portions of the roadway where bikes and motor vehicles are expected to share lanes.
In the meantime, experts continue to advocate for updates to the existing lanes to connect them altogether. This new project addresses those efforts.
There’s a chance the new additions will add to safety improvements. Despite its high population rate, Jersey City residents experience less chance of a bike-related crash. Summer towns like Cape May pose the largest risk for fatal crashes related to walking or cycling.
Do Bike Lanes Improve Safety Concerns?
Current New Jersey laws aren’t exactly bike friendly. The state remains one of just a few that has no state statutes regarding motorists passing bicycles. Legislators originally tried to get a law passed that would require motor vehicle operators to allow at least four feet before passing someone on a bicycle.
Those efforts failed and the push is now for creating three feet of space. At the very least, the law seeks to cut down on sideswiping accidents.
In theory, bike lanes sound like a great idea. Separating cyclists from drivers of bigger vehicles sounds like a magic solution. But, does it really work?
For one, inconsistent placement creates issues. The fact that bicycle lanes end within city limits creates problems. Meanwhile, those driving trucks and cars still forget that bikes aren’t classified in New Jersey as motor vehicles. In fact, the state is one of only four nationally that doesn’t put them in the same category.
That said, the addition of bike lanes doesn’t change the rules of the road for cyclists. For example, it’s still critical to travel in the same direction as traffic. The equipment requirements for bicycles include white front lights, red rear lights, red rear reflectors, a bell and brakes.
Risks associated for those cycling in bike lanes that could lead to bicycle accidents include the following:
- Cars turning right may not notice the bikers, especially if they’re exiting driveways or coming from less busy intersections.
- Merging from a bike lane that ends poses problems.
- Drivers may not understand or intentionally ignore hand signals.
- Buses that stop throughout the city may cause alarm for those on bikes.
Protected Bike Lanes Could Prevent More Accidents
The fact that Jersey City has chosen to install protected bike lanes may actually cut down on bike accidents. This means setting up two-way cycle tracks that separate cyclists and motorists. An expert report from nearly a decade ago suggests that communities have seen a 28% decline in injuries as a result of protected bike lanes.
No doubt that the improvements should help safety efforts. However, the fact remains when it comes to bicycle crashes. They often represent cause catastrophic injuries or result in fatalities.