As a rainy morning gave way to a bright, sunny and unseasonably warm afternoon 20+ riders gathered in front of Hamilton Park for the inaugural Bike Weehawken community ride. Weehawken residents were joined by neighbors from all over Hudson County including Union City native and Hudpost journalist, Mona Islam. Mona wanted to join the ride but she does not own a bicycle. However, this being Weehawken, a friendly neighbor was found and a bicycle was secured for her. She has since published an article on HudPost about Bike Hudson County’s efforts to support a plan for a protected cycle track on JFK Boulevard East.
Perfect riding weather set in so we headed north on scenic Blvd East and made a quick stop to say hello to our friends at El Frondoso Bicycle Shop in neighboring town West New York. After which we turned south onto Palisade Ave where we were joined by a friendly gang of e-bikers associated with Inspire Bicycles in Jersey City. Upon crossing the Marginal Highway we joined the only painted bike lane in Union City, Thank You Mayor Stack. Thank you also, Mayor Turner, as the corresponding northbound bike lane on Palisade Ave is in Weehawken.
We next turned east onto Oak Street and arrived at our final destination, Oak Street Liquor and Deli. Having earned it we enjoyed some beers, sandwiches and good conversation with our neighbors. Because that’s how we roll.
Our next ride will be along Weehawken’s scenic waterfront in April. We hope to see you there.
Say yes to a safer community by adopting safe streets, beginning with JFK Boulevard East in Weehawken, New Jersey
JFK Boulevard East is a scenic two-lane road that runs along the crown of the Hudson Palisades with sweeping views of New York City and the Hudson River. Built in 1895 after a group of cyclists took an interest in the route, more than 1200 “wheelmen” paraded up the road on opening day in 1896.
Today, it is the preferred north-south route in Hudson County for cyclists, including commuters, delivery workers, and recreational riders of all ages. However, the boulevard has been identified as a High Crash Corridor by the NJTPA (North Jersey Transportation Authority). Every day, children and adults who ride bicycles to work, school, shops, appointments, the homes of family and friends, and to parks risk their lives on this roadway.
Currently, there is federal funding and a design earmarked for a bike lane on Boulevard East. But several local officials have said they don’t want it. Instead, they want to replace the bike lane and adjacent parking with head-in, angled parking. Angled parking has proven higher crash rates than parallel parking. Angled parking is extremely dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Already, New Jersey’s traffic crashes made 2021 the deadliest year for pedestrians and cyclists since 1989.
A street design approved in 2022 will still exist in 2037. Now is the time to plan for a future that provides equitable transportation options for the five communities served by Boulevard East: North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York, Weehawken, and Hoboken, plus surrounding communities like Union City, Jersey City, and Cliffside Park. All five of these communities are on the New Jersey Environmental Justice list of Overburdened Communities, meaning they are largely minority communities with a high proportion of low-income households and limited English proficiency. Hudson County has 600 miles of roadways, yet less than .5 miles of bike lanes (source).
Tell Hudson County officials and the mayors of North Bergen, West New York, Guttenburg and Weehawken, that the time for change is now. Sign your name to signal to these mayors that you want a protected bike lane on Boulevard East. A bike lane is a choice to:
Keep people alive
Make roads safer for drivers by keeping cars and bikes separate
Reduce traffic by providing millions of people with alternative travel options
Provide equitable transportation options for people of all ages and abilities, and for people who cannot afford cars
Offer vulnerable users like children, seniors, and people with disabilities, the chance to travel with e-bikes, motorized wheelchairs, skateboards, and scooters
Boost business and economic districts
Reduce emissions and air pollution, and mitigate the effects of climate change
Provide residents with access to bikeshare programs like Citibike
Comply with Complete Streets and Vision Zero principles
Federally-funded street designs should include ALL road users. Public streets are for everyone! Please sign to tell county and municipal officials that a bike lane is the ONLY option for a fair and equitable Boulevard East.
John F. Kennedy Boulevard East dubbed “the crown of the Palisades” is a place for recreation and renewal, known for wide vistas of the NYC skyline today is home to 6 parks, a wide pedestrian promenade, playgrounds, dog parks and home to the Hamilton Memorial. This scenic roadway featured in Edward Hopper’s 1934 painting ‘East Wind Over Weehawken‘ only exists due to a long and storied history of advocacy that began with cycling advocates almost 150 years ago.
In 1873, the Associated Cycling Clubs of New Jersey petitioned for a road along the palisade crest, when construction on the road stalled by 1895 cyclists went to the capital of Trenton to advocate for the construction to be completed. A year later, 1200 cyclists parade down Hudson Boulevard on opening day, celebrating their work of advocating for route to ride. Hudson Boulevard which was later renamed to Boulevard East, was later renamed in the 1960s in honor of John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.
Over the years, this JFK Boulevard East has had increase use by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and today it carries thousands of people from Weehawken North to North Bergen. As the volume has increased, the forms of transportation have evolved which include cyclists, cars, trucks buses, people and even the emerging e-bikes. As a result, the design of the road has shown that it’s not meeting the needs of the increased population combined with restrictions for cyclists only offering a street or sideway in which to ride, resulting in preventable bicycle crashes with automobiles.
Fast forward to 2016, an application was submitted to the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority to solve these issues and modernized JFK Boulevard East, enabling safer passage for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists (cars and busses). As part of this proposal is a protected bicycle lane or PBL. This bicycle track or (cycle track) shown as an example above.
One of the investments that we’re seeing in our neighboring town of Hoboken but not in Weehawken is the implementation of bike lanes. Bike lanes are a cheap and simple infrastructure solution that benefits communities by providing protection for vulnerable road users, like children, seniors, people in wheelchairs, and people on all varieties of cycles, from delivery workers on e-bikes to commuters on scooters. Many decades of research have shown streets designed with bike infrastructure make roads safer for all, pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists alike. Jersey City, Hoboken, and now Union City have implemented bike lanes to improve road safety, increase transportation options, ease traffic congestion, and reduce emissions. Weehawken has always been strong on safety and security, and even years ago had an active bicycle safety program in schools.
Today, in partnership with Bike Hudson, Bike Hoboken, Bike North Bergen and Bike Union City, we’re advocating for this bicycle lane proposal to drive action with each township to adopt this plan and implement it to ensure we have a safer environment for all residents in Hudson County to choose to enjoy this stunning thoroughfare with vistas as far as the eye can see.
Click here to download the official plan by the NJTPA.
Our mission is to improve safety for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. We believe that we can accomplish this mission by enhancing our streets by adopting the “Complete Streets” vision in the Township of Weehawken.
We aim implement this vision by including dedicated bicycle lanes throughout the township which support the following key tenets:
Improved safety for cyclists, pedestrians, children, senior citizens and those with mobility needs or choose to live car free
Provide connectors for bicycling, walking connections to employment, education, home, retail and public facilities
Promote healthy lifestyles
Create more livable communities
Reduce traffic congestion
Knowing that Port Imperial Boulevard is a major route used for cyclists, our initial priority is to create a dedicated cycling lane that protect cyclists in either direction. Over the last five years, we’ve identified at least 14 crashes involving bicycles and cars on this stretch that have been officially reported with the Township of Weehawken. Our aim is to reduce those crashes to zero. The creation of a dedicated bike lane of this 1.6-mile stretch will reduce the pedestrian congestion while also reducing the risk of vehicular crashes with cyclists.
The creation of this lane would eventually be part of a bigger initiative known as the Hudson River Bike Lane Project that would finally link up Jersey City and Hoboken to Weehawken, as a gateway to other Townships enabling a continuous 26 mile bike lane for cyclists to the George Washington Bridge.
We recognize that this shared vision of safer cycling takes advocacy, education and a strong community of like-minded individuals, businesses, groups and influencers to achieve our goal of implementing a “Complete Streets” program. Please join us on this mission to help transform Weehawken into a more livable community that enhances the quality of life for all.