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City Council Poised to Approve New Union Contract, Ban Bicycles From Sidewalks

Also on Agenda: Council to Give Away a Portion of Comstock St., Approve Nearly $300K in Police Spending
New Brunswick City Council
New Brunswick's City Council meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. City of New Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The City Council has been trying to re-institute a bicycle ban on city sidewalks ever since they realized that they repealed the 100-year-old provision accidentally last October.

Tonight, it appears likely they will approve a much broader law that will, among other things, institute the ban on every city sidewalk, with the exception of "multi-use paths" along Routes 18 & 27.

Children under the age of 12 will be permitted to cycle on the sidewalk, provided they don't do it in three "business districts:" Easton Ave. (from French to Bartlett Sts.), French St. (from Easton Av. to Bethany St.), and George St. (from Morris St. to railroad trestle).

Other new rules will require two lights, front and rear, for night riding and all bicycles must now be equipped with a bell that can be heard at least 100 feet away.

The law also includes a section to protect cyclists from automobiles.  It mandates  a requirement that motor vehicles must give at least 3 feet of space when overtaking a cyclist on the left, and gives cyclists the right-of-way when motor vehicles are turning.

In other business, the Council is expected to authorize a new contract for the city's civilian employees.  Last Wednesday, the Municipal Employees Association voted 72-16 to approve the deal.  Union leaders were hesitant to comment on the contract until it had passed the City Council.

A portion of Comstock Street near the city's Walgreen's development could be handed over to the same developer at no charge, if the Council approves an ordinance to vacate the street.  The ordinance has been postponed several times at the 11th hour.

The Walgreen's development (and vacant land adjacent to it that was never developed) is owned by Piscataway-based Edgewood Properties.  By vacating Comstock Street between Jersey Avenue and the railroad, the land will be transferred to Edgewood for free.

The New Brunswick Police Department will spend a $262,392.70 grant from the US Department of Justice on several items.  According to interim city spokesman Michael Beltranena, the "force multiplier" grant will be used to purchase 4 mobile data computers, 4 video cameras for cop cars, 4 license plate reader machines, and 15 electronic ticket-writing devices.

The Department will also pay $47,000 to The Rodgers Group LLC to help with the process of accreditation.  Beltranena said that ordinarily three officers must review the policies and procedures of the department to ensure they are compliant with the standards of accreditation.  The arrangement means only one police officer will be needed in the process.

"It's going to eliminate the need for two of those officers," he told NewBrunswickToday.com this morning.

The Council agenda also includes a resolution formally accepting 1 taser for the department, and training on how to use it, from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

The Council is also expected to authorize an additional $20,060.82 in spending to finish the renovations to the historic Henry Guest House, located adjacent to the New Brunswick Free Public Library.

The meeting will begin immediately after the agenda session, which begins at 6:30pm at City Hall, 78 Bayard Street.