Our official position on the status of JFK Boulevard East

Original Design for JFK Boulevard East on Dec 13th, 2021

On November 30th, we reviewed the updated plan by the NJTPA and Hudson County during the webinar. It was revealed that three mayors  (Weehawken, West New York, and North Bergen) and a few Hudson County commissioners reversed course on the original plan we shared with you a year ago, ignoring the community’s interest in having safer streets for all.

This new plan has eliminated all safety measures to support bicycles on this major crash corridor AND now has dangerous angled parking throughout. While we’re disappointed that three Mayors and a few Commissioners are blocking progress, we recognize our large community disagrees, and will continue to press ahead.

New design revealed on Nov 30th, 2022

Here are the official points from our parent organization, Hudson County Complete Streets sent back to Jose Siera, Director of Traffic and Transportation last week.

  • Inappropriate use of federal funds. $19 million in federal funding should be used in equitable matters. A design with angle parking and little to no protection for vulnerable road users is not. 
  • The design will make the corridor less safe rather than more safe by introducing angled parking, which despite being NJDOT approved, has been shown to increase the risk of death and injury to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • A complete street with multi-use cycle track design would provide safety for all types of active modes of transportation to thousands of people along this corridor of overburdened communities. 
  • With more than 700,000 residents, Hudson County is the most densely populated county in the most densely populated state in the nation. Studies show that bike lanes reduce traffic, improve travel times, and make the roads safer for everyone, including drivers. There are 600 miles of roadways maintained by Hudson County, yet less than 0.5 miles of these roads include bike lanes.
  • The design increases congestion via the principle of induced demand. Adding parking will add cars, which will decrease safety by creating more opportunities for conflict.
  • The design increases liabilities for motorists by forcing them to share the road with cyclists rather than separating the modes.
  • A frequent refrain of the USDOT is “roads are for all users.” This corridor is being designed for parked cars, not all road users. 
  • Cycling traffic has increased 50% since the pandemic and bike sales are up 121%. At least 30% of Hudson County residents do not own a personal motor vehicle. 
  • New Jersey passed a law, which went into effect March 1, 2022, which states that cars must give at least 4 feet of clearance to cyclists on unprotected roads. This increases the need for separated and protected lanes.
  • New Jersey traffic fatalities were up nearly 20% from 2020 to 2021 (2020 was already more deadly than 2019). Pedestrians made up 31% and cyclists made up 3.2% of those deaths. 
  • In Hudson County, more than 50% of traffic deaths in 2021 were pedestrians and cyclists (16 total). One of these deaths occurred within the JFK Boulevard East Corridor improvement area.  
  • The county has failed to meet USDOT guidelines with regard to community involvement on this corridor. The majority of communities served by this corridor are overburdened communities with a high proportion of minority residents and residents with limited English proficiency. 
  • There have been no surveys, in-person community meetings, charettes, focus groups, or any other kind of community outreach. Neither the Dec 2021 nor the Dec 2022 public meetings included a Spanish language option. 
  • The design fails to respect or comply with the county’s Complete Streets resolution.
  • The design fails to address the county’s needs for a north-south protected lane for people on bicycles, ebikes, scooters and other mobility devices.

This is the last public opportunity for us to get this right as a community; please reach out to the following individuals who are responsible for correcting this issue:

Mayor Turner[email protected]201-319-6005
Mayor Rodriguez[email protected]201-295-5100
Mayor Sacco[email protected]201-392-2005
Commiss. Vainieri[email protected]201-819-4096
Commiss. Rodriguez[email protected]201-978-4367

Our final community ride of the season

@Bike Weehawken

We celebrated our final ride of the season as a bicycling community in Weehawken this month. Those who attended our skyline ride were greeted by beautiful weather where we began our ride along JFK Boulevard East, finishing our 5-mile ride along the new bike lane on Palisade Avenue where we arrived at Oak Street Deli, to have lunch and enjoy live music from Amanda Leigh Jerry.

We were also delighted to have been covered by the Jersey Journal on NJ.com and in print on the front page about our in-person discussion with the Weehawken Township during the recent town hall earlier this month. During this town hall, we discussed the future of making JFK Boulevard East safer by including bicycle lanes similar to those on Palisade Avenue in Weehawken. In this discussion, we were encouraged by the Township’s feedback and openness to discuss these safety priorities. We are hopeful the Township will be in touch to request a meeting so that we can start planning a bicycle network master plan based on vision zero principles.

Here’s a quote from our recent coverage.

“The spirit of transparency for the public is something that I think we have some momentum with around safety,” Emge said. “I think we’re really encouraged. Encouraged and optimistic, and I think those are really good tones that will go a long way.”

This was a big month for Weehawken and Hudson County in support of our efforts for a shared vision of safer cycling through advocacy, education, and a strong community of like-minded individuals, businesses, groups, and influencers to achieve our goal of implementing a “Complete Streets” program based on vision zero principles. 

We thank all that came out for being part of our mission during our inaugural year as an organization to help transform Weehawken into a more livable community that prioritizes the safety and quality of life for all.

@Bike Weehawken

Weehawken’s Waterfront Recreation Path

Weehawken Waterfront Recreation Path @Bike Weehawken

Update: August 24th

We’re happy to announce that as of this month, due to our actions advocating for access to the Weehawken Waterfront Recreation Path, the South gate has been completely removed thanks to the enforcement by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP).

Please read all about our efforts on our recent interview with NJ.com here

Weehawken Waterfront Recreation Path Gates @Bike Weehawken

At the time of the Weehawken Waterfront Park creation, a state-required Hudson River Walkway was established surrounding the park to connect pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists to Hoboken on the South and West New York to the North. This path has been used for years until the Township of Weehawken installed private gates to the public walkway, citing issues with security to its park.

The Problem

We’ve been made aware of and have confirmed during a recent site visit that the established Hudson River Waterfront Walkway has been blocked by the Township of Weehawken. This ‘pathway for the people’ has established a doctrine that we understand has an enforceable policy to maintain an ‘unrestricted’ walkway along the Hudson River (regardless of nearby construction not impacting the route). This path however was used for years until the Township of Weehawken installed private gates to the public walkway citing issues with security to its own park.

Due to the closed walkway, Hudson County residents are being forced onto a narrow sidewalk along an extremely busy and dangerous sidewalk alongside Port Imperial Boulevard (River Road). When asked why the walkway is closed, the answers continue to be “construction”. However, there was no construction occurring during the time the gates were installed nor any interference to the walkway today, given the proximity to current projects.

Weehawken Waterfront Recreation Path @Bike Weehawken

The Solution

The concern with the Township of Weehawken has been around security at the Waterfront Park, and unfortunately, the public walkway was integrated alongside it. The fix is to simply install a fence around the park itself, separating it from the waterfront walkway, enabling secure access to the park but unobstructed access to the walkway.

We ask that the Weehawken Township remove both the North and South gates currently blocking access to the recreation path.

Please contact the Weehawken Town Hall.

Address: Weehawken Town Hall, 400 Park Ave, Weehawken, NJ 07086 (201) 319-6005

Next Meeting: August 10th at 7 pm Township Monthly Meeting (details)

Virtual Option: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/971541453.

Please make your voice heard to tell the township to remove the fences

Safer Streets Signup Event a Success!

We had a successful Safer Streets Signup event this past weekend with over a hundred signups in a matter of hours during the two-day event. We were encouraged by the overwhelming show of support in making the necessary changes to our infrastructure to ensure we can enjoy a safer cycling experience without taking on significant risks.

As one of the Hudson Valley’s most recognized waterfronts, residents and neighbors of Weehawken enjoy riding the long stretches along Port Imperial Boulevard, and River Road along the waterfront.  As population and traffic growth increases, risks to cyclists have increased, as our infrastructure has not been adjusted to accommodate this growth. 

We’re excited to engage with our growing community to share more ideas on how we can enhance and protect cyclists so that we can all have a safer cycling experience along the Hudson River.

We’ll leave you with photos from our weekend as inspiration reflecting why community truly matters.

The History of Bicycling with the Weehawken Police Department

Boulevard East & 48th Street and Pershing Road, Weehawken, NJ (1900)

We know that Weehawken has a long history of focus on safety and security since the turn of the century, two areas of focus of our police department.

This rich history of the police department with bicycles, from patrols to safety clinics started with bicycle patrols, and expanded into offering bicycle safety clinics, and even registration for residents, all from the Weehawken Police Department.

In the fifties, there were bike inspections that were conducted to ensure that each resident was following the proper safety protocols.

In the nineties, there were investments in bike patrol squads to the force with fully equipped bicycles. It was Mayor Turner who decided that three mountain bikes would be provided, along with financial support from the Policemen’s Benevolent Association. The bicycle patrols helped cover the King’s Bluff, Shades, and Reservoir area at the time.

We’ll wrap up this historical summary with our favorite quote from Officer Welz.

On a motorcycle you’re going by at 25 miles per hour, in a car the officer is in a shell, but on a bike he can really interface with the community

– Officer Welz

Today, Weehawken continues to support police officers on bicycles and we’re looking forward to sharing more information on this as we fully agree that on a bicycle, one can really interface with the community.

Bicycle Security in Weehawken

We’ve been excited to see more people bicycling throughout Weehawken, and as such, we ask ourselves when we want to get to where we’re going away from our home, where do we securely lock up our bicycles?

Until we get CitiBike in Weehawken, we’ve recognized that more racks are being installed throughout Weehawken for bicycles from Whole Foods to our new Weehawken Municipal Pool Complex, we believe it’s important for us to have a definitive list and eventually an interactive map so that we can plan our routes to ensure we have a secure place to securely leave our bicycles.

To kickstart this effort, we’ve provided an initial list of bike racks currently installed from the waterfront to the hill.

To make this as comprehensive and complete as possible, we seek your assistance as a community to complete this with us.

In addition, we’d love to know where you think we should have a bike rack where we currently do not have one.

Interest in Restoring Bike Share Service in Weehawken

For five years, Weehawken had benefitted from Hudson Bike Share from 2015 until October, 2020. Since this time, there has been no service available to residents, creating a gap of service despite significant interest and usage of this bike share program.

@Bike Weehawken, October 2021

According to the latest usage data by Citibike, Jersey City and neighboring Hoboken’s Citibike bicycle share program have seen steady increases since their inception. And while there is no Citi Bike service in Weehawken, there are regular sightings of people riding Citi Bikes along the Weehawken waterfront and a flurry of inquiries to us about the potential of Citi Bike coming to Weehawken.

To date, Bike Weehawken has made the necessary connections between the Weehawken Township and Citibike, and hope to see Citibike come to Weehawken, unifying a network to neighboring Hoboken and Jersey City.

The question we have for our residents is, if Citi Bike comes to Weehawken, would you use it and if so, where would you take it?

Accessing Weehawken Recreation Facilities by Bicycle

Weehawken Municipal Pool Complex – Sept, 2021 @Bike Weehawken

We’re excited as you are that our Weehawken Pool is open for the 2022 summer season. However, access to the pool and to the nearby tennis courts, track, and other recreation facilities continues to be a safety and security challenge for many residents. The most common concerns we hear from residents are that it is unsafe to ride their bicycle to the pool from anywhere in Weehawken and that locking your bike up is not a secure nor accessible experience.

To solve these safety and security issues, we propose 1) installing a protected bike lane along Port Imperial Boulevard (River Road) to alleviate the issue of safety, 2) while also installing multiple bike racks at the immediate entrance to the pool facility to address the issue of security.

For the next steps, please answer our petition to tell us if you support making access to the Weehawken Township Municipal pool safer and more secure for all residents.

I bike and want safer, and more secure access to Weehawken Recreation Facilities by bicycle

I want protected bike lane access to and from Weehawken’s Recreation facilities on the Weehawken waterfront and the ability to secure my bicycle to a bike rack during my visit. 

Having safer access to the facility and security during my visit will enable me to enjoy the pool, tennis courts, track, and other facilities without risking my life or having my bicycle at risk of theft.

I believe that all residents, no matter what form of transportation they choose, should have equitable options and want the Township of Weehawken to take these actions.

Our First Waterfront Ride

April 10, 2022

Despite chillier than hoped for weather conditions, a crowd of people on two wheels gathered along the shores of the Hudson River for the inaugural Bike Weehawken community ride. This ride is part of a series of 6 rides to be held on the third Sunday of every month. Ryan Emge, chair and founder of Bike Weehawken, introduced himself. In order to make sure everybody knows how serious he is about bike safety in Weehawken, he gave away a bike helmet to one lucky, previously, the unhelmeted rider. We were joined by Ane Roseborough-Eberhard who is running for NJ congressional district 8. She is an avid cyclist and walks at least 10K steps a day. She is very keen to make those 10K steps a day safer and so are we. Please check out her platform here.

After freezing our butts off for picture taking we rolled north along the waterfront. For the most part, the route was car-free enabling us to relax and enjoy the view. There was one exception to this. On Port Imperial Blvd between Baldwin Ave and the Weehawken Waterfront Park Access Road a narrow sidewalk with no barrier services large numbers of runners, walkers, cyclists and last but not least dogs. There is no barrier between these vulnerable road users and cars. We are asking the county to consider widening the sidewalk and adding a bike lane on Port Imperial Blvd/River Road. In the meantime, we will approach the county and Weehawken about closing to cars the right lane of the northbound Port Imperial Blvd. up until the Park entrance.

A midway stop was made at Steven’s Cafe. Here many of us picked a much-needed hot cup of java. We road south from Steven’s Cafe and ended the ride where it began at Hamilton Cove.

We hope to see you next time for the Skyline route beginning at Hamilton Park, May 17th, 11 AM. And remember as the song goes, “Life is better on a bicycle.”

The True Cost of the JFK Boulevard East Bicycle Lane

15 spaces. That is the exact cost of the Boulevard East bike lane, according to county engineer Tom Malavasi, who confirmed this number via email today. 

To clarify, the total parking loss number is 101 spaces in Weehawken. Of these, 66 spaces are due to pedestrian safety improvements such as curb bump-outs, and 20 are due to longer bus stops.

So let’s talk about those 101 spaces. That is the total cost of pedestrian and bicycle safety on Boulevard East. 

Last week, a 17-year-old Weehawken resident was walking across Boulevard East with a bicycle when he was struck by a motorist making a right on red. Michael Radoian. Max Haas-Heger. Ricardo Gonzalez-Rivera. Antonio Irizarry. Salleyh Ortega. Oscar Monroy-Quiroz. These are just a few of the names of people who have been struck by vehicles on Boulevard East since 2019, their names gathered from endless news articles about road violence in our area. And these are only the cyclists. At the next town hall, I would happy to bring you the list of pedestrians and drivers killed, maimed or injured on Boulevard East. 

I am here today because I have a deep appreciation for Weehawken. I live in Hoboken, the mile-square city, and I can be in Weehawken in under 10 minutes. For that reason, I find myself frequently in neighboring towns, just as Weehawken residents come south and Union City residents come east to enjoy Hoboken. This is because, like thousands of other Hudson County residents, and hundreds of Weehawken residents, we own a car and we also own and ride two bicycles. 

I was not always someone who rode a bicycle. In fact, for most of my adult life until my early 40s, I never rode one and considered it an activity best reserved for holidays at the beach.

But all that changed in 2020. Since the pandemic, cycling has increased 50%. Bike sales have increased 121%, despite supply chain shortages. Why? We can only guess at the reasons. Whether it’s convenience, pleasure, the environment, or efficiency—bikes are not going away. 

And to be honest, people on bikes have always been here. In 1873, it was a group of cyclists—the Associated Cycling Clubs of New-Jersey who petitioned Trenton to build Boulevard East. Even today, children and adults can be seen riding bikes on streets, sidewalks, and driveways all over Weehawken.

So. It is up to you whether or not you want to provide them the safety they are entitled to—certainly as much as any driver is entirely to free street parking.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to accept $19 million in federal funding, or turn it down and continue to enjoy your streets as they are today.

It’s up to you whether to preserve the charm, history and a prime open space in Weehawken and Hudson County by inviting residents and visitors to bike, ebike, scooter, skateboard, and ride any other mobility devices coming on your streets, or continue to risk their safety for the cost of 15 parking spaces.

And ultimately it’s up to you whether 101 spaces on Boulevard East are worth the cost to preserve human life.  

Emmanuelle Morgen