Rutherford’s Bike Ring, a plan designed to improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities and enhance car-free access in the area, was a hot topic at the October 22 Rutherford Town Council meeting. The Bike Ring plan was released in August as part of Rutherford’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
During the meeting’s public comment period, most of the residents who spoke used the opportunity to highlight the safety and economic benefits of bike lanes, particularly along Orient Way, a wide, busy street that runs through a dense residential and commercial neighborhood.
Tami Furman, a long-time Rutherford resident and an avid cyclist testified that Orient Way “is extremely wide and making room for a bike lane would provide a safety corridor for cyclists.” Furman pointed out that because Orient Way is a busy corridor that handles a lot of traffic, “bike lanes make sense and are necessary to assure safety for all users.”
In response to some opponents to a bike lane on Orient Way, the council agreed to develop a second set of plans for Orient Way that would add traffic calming elements — but not bike lanes. No decision, however, has been made on final design preferences.
According to Tri-State’s Northern New Jersey Bike Crash report, five of the 48 bike crashes that took place in Rutherford between 2001 and 2011 were on Orient Way. Because the street is currently void of any striping, drivers see the wide, straight lanes, and are encouraged to exceed the 35 mph speed limit. Adding bike lanes to Orient Way, however, wouldn’t just add space for cyclists, which are already prevalent on Orient Way. Bike lanes would visually narrow the vehicular travel lanes, which may help lower vehicle speeds as well.
To help assure the Bike Ring moves forward, the Rutherford Green Team has started a petition to keep the bike lanes in the plan – a plan that was created at the request of Rutherford through the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Bicycle and Pedestrian Local Technical Assistance Program as a way to complement and help implement the Borough’s Complete Streets Policy.