If you had your doubts about New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) understanding of how to accommodate all users of the roadway, all you need to do is look at the agency’s plans to reconstruct Route 71 in Asbury Park.
NJDOT is pushing an innovative road diet along State-controlled Route 71 in Asbury Park in Monmouth County (with parts of the project extending into Neptune, Allenhurst and Loch Arbor). NJDOT’s plans include narrowing the road from four travel lanes to two, plus adding bike lanes and a bi-directional turn lane. NJDOT spokesman Steve Shapiro said the new configuration accommodates “a lot of pedestrian traffic” and is consistent with the State’s promise to pursue complete streets principles in its roadway designs.
So why isn’t the agency taking a similar approach, particularly with regard to bike lanes, on Route 35? As a popular summer destination, this area of the Jersey Shore sees more than its fair share of pedestrian and bicycle traffic (and crashes). There were 49 crashes involving cyclists and vehicles along the 12-mile Route 35 project area between 2009-2011 and yet, designated bike lanes are nowhere to be found in the plans or proposed improvements.
While NJDOT has deferred to the business community and their concerns regarding parking as a reason to forgo bike lanes on Route 35, the agency was able to address similar concerns from some stakeholders along Route 71. So if NJDOT can improve cycling safety on Route 71, why the hesitation on Route 35?