NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Biking through the streets of downtown New Brunswick may soon get a little bit easier, thanks to a $6 million plan for a major bikeway planned for the city's central business district.
Construction on the first downtown bike lanes, which would connect Rutgers campuses on opposite ends of the city, is set to begin this spring, the Middlesex County Transportation Coordinating Committee announced at its January 28 meeting.
Plans for such a bike lane have been in the works for more than a decade.
“It is essentially designed to improve the connectivity of the Rutgers campuses,” Anthony Gambilonghi, the Supervising Planner for County Planning Committee said.
“It's a connection to other local bike routes such as Buccleuch Park and Rutgers bike lanes.”
Gamblonghi said it will also provide increased access for people biking into the city across the Route 27 bridge from Highland Park.
Bids for the project have come in between $6 to 6.5 million, said Richard Wallner of the County's Engineering department, who added that construction will begin once the weather turns warm again.
“We're looking to begin when the weather gets good,” Wallner said. “April or May.”
The plans call for bike lanes at least five feet wide going in both directions, as well as various crosswalks and signals.
The bikeway will begin on Rutgers Douglass campus at the interection of George and Bishop Streets. It will traverse across Commercial Avenue to Neilson Street and link to Albany street, where it will go left towards George Street.
The bikeway will then split into two spurs, one of which will go north towards the train station on Easton Avenue. The other will go along George Street and then turn left onto Huntington Avenue and right onto College Avenue, ending at Lafayette Street near Buccleuch Park.
Gamblonghi said creating a safe way to bike through the downtown area was the top priority for the county.
“Safety was one of the major considerations when planning this project,” Gamblonghi said. “It was paramount to provide the cyclists with the necessary accommodations.”
The planning of the project has been over a decade in the making and required the coordination of many different groups, said Middlesex County Freeholder Charles Tomaro.
“There was a lot of work that went into doing this. A lot of brick walls,” Tomaro said. “A lot of utilities cooperating. A lot deadlines that had to be met.”
Bruce McKracken, the Principal Planner for the County's Transportation Division, said the project will be ongoing and will aim to connect the city of New Brunswick to other bike and pedestrian pathways.
Meanwhile, Rutgers University is initiating plans this spring to promote bicycle usage on campus, said Dorothy Kieu Le, Senior Transportation Planner at Rutgers.
These include bicycle repair stations throughout the campus, more bicycle racks, and lockers for long-term storage on the Livingston and Cook Campuses, Kieu Le said.
She said the New Brunswick Bikeway will be a great way to increase ridership on-campus and within the city.
“We hope to make the campus more bike friendly and encourage the area around us to be more bicycle friendly,” Kieu Le said.
New Jersey ranks as the nation’s second worst state in pedestrian and bicyclist road fatalities, at 27% of all road fatalities.
New Brunswick Tomorrow plans to host another “Ciclovia” in early May, where several streets will be closed to vehicular traffic and people are encouraged to walk and bike through the downtown area.