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.