Bike lanes on local roads on the way

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — Recognizing a need, the borough and the state Department of Transportation reached a compromise that will provide a right-of-way for bicyclists on Grove and Woodbridge avenues.

Mayor Ed O’Brien called the project "a de facto bikeway, for lack of a better term."

The project, paid for with a state Department of Transportation (DOT) grant of about $140,000, consists of striping both sides of the roadways and putting in signs indicating a bike route, according to O’Brien.

In addition, sections of crumbling curbs along Grove and Woodbridge avenues will be replaced and additional bicycle racks will be put in at the train station as part of the project.

O’Brien explained that the DOT has a number of requirements for designating an official "bikeway," and the borough could not meet some of them.

For one, bikeways require lanes that are six feet in width, but the dimensions of Woodbridge and Grove avenues will only allow for four-foot-wide lanes.

Also, costly upgrades to the intersection of Grove and Woodbridge avenues would be required.

But O’Brien said the state and the borough were able to come to a compromise.

"We said we need to do something [for bicyclists]. This is a major arterial for commuters bicycling to the train station and other places in town," O’Brien said.

The compromise is a win-win for all involved, he added.

"It advances the state policy," which encourages mass transit and aims to reduce traffic congestion, he said.

On May 17, O’Brien said he plans to attend a DOT conference in Ewing focusing on pedestrian and bicyclist issues along with several other mayors from around the state. He said he will be critical of what he sees as unnecessary regulations, such as the ones that prevent Metuchen from having an official bikeway.

Additionally, O’Brien said he has asked state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18) to look in to the possibility of amending Title 39, the portion of law that deals with such issues.

"We have to be more flexible," he said.

O’Brien said the borough has sent the project out to bid and hopes to award a contract by the end of the month.