By Ganlin Huang
Funded by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), Bergen County recently completed the Central Bergen Bicycle & Pedestrian Plans, in order to encourage more walking and bicycling to major destinations in eight municipalities in central Bergen County.
The plan objectives were:
- Identify linkages among key destinations, community facilities, parks, and transit stops;
- Connect to existing or planned off-road pathways;
- Build on municipal plans to promote biking and walking; and
- Address safe crossings of major county roads
The public played an important role in shaping the bicycle and pedestrian network and proposed improvements.Through a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), municipal participation was critical to the development of the plans and will be essential in its implementation.
The project team developed both a low-stress analysis and a crash-data analysis to highlight existing trouble spots and potential opportunities. The goal was to avoid high-volume, high-speed traffic corridors to identify a priority network for pedestrians and bicycles. The low-stress analysis found that there are few connecting roads comfortable for the average bicyclist today.
Based on existing conditions, potential concepts, different travel habits and accommodations, the new plan illustrates network-wide recommendations in eight municipal maps, along with site-specific detailed designs. Recommendations were split between pedestrians and bicyclists. As a “starting point” for the municipalities, short-term improvements with low cost and no widening, were identified first.
These include new signage and striping for bicycle lanes and crosswalks.In addition, several long-term recommendations that can contribute to Complete Streets in Bergen County, including dedicated facilities such as protected bike lanes and shared use bike paths, have been proposed. These plans can convert high-stress areas into low-stress routes for bicyclists and pedestrians.The formal endorsement of Complete Streets principles by the County and municipalities, along with policies and procedures that influence the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of new, retrofitted, or reconstructed roadways is necessary to ensure that Complete Streets are present in the built roadway environment. The report includes an implementation chapter with a project delivery structure and Complete Streets checklist to ensure compliance with Complete Street principals. Although Bergen County does not have a Complete Streets Policy, this plan does adhere to the Complete Streets principals supported by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Hopefully, the county and subject municipalities act quickly to implement the recommendations given in the report. You can download the full report here.