Ocean Twp. adopts pedestrian, bicycle plan

Plan encourages residents to use modes other than automobiles


Ocean Township officials have adopted a plan to encourage bicycling and walking and improve access to destinations within the township.

The township Planning Board unanimously adopted the Ocean Township Pedestrian and Bicycle Network Plan into the master plan during the Dec. 12 meeting. Township Manager Andrew Brannen explained that the plan creates a network linking some of the township’s points of interest that would allow residents to travel through the main township corridors without a car.

“We are looking at creating links between some of the major attractions or public buildings,” he said in an interview. “Some of that would require a new sidewalk being created, some of that would require the addition of crosswalks, some of that would require off-road trails of some sort to connect those facilities.”

Some examples of the facilities being targeted by township officials include schools, the township library, parks, shopping plazas and town hall.

At the board meeting Planning Administrator Marianne Wilensky explained the plan is aimed at giving residents a travel option other than driving.

“The idea for the plan is to provide a safe, secure and reliable network for pedestrian and bicycle paths that can help to connect the different neighborhoods in the townships to places like parks, schools, places of worships, recreation places like little league fields,” she said. “It’s so people don’t have to get in their cars and drive places and so maybe kids can walk to school or ride their bikes.”

Wilensky said the plan maps out the way the township can achieve its goal of an interconnecting pedestrian and bike network.

Brannen said that the plan will cover the entire municipality and the scope of work will vary at different points around town.

“The idea behind the plan is so that people don’t have to drive to access these various amenities they can walk or bike there,” he said.

“It could be as simple as striping a bike lane on an existing roadway or it can be as complicated as building an overpass over Route 18,” he added. “Different areas call for different improvements.”

He went on to say that it could take between 10 and 15 years before the entire plan is implemented.

According to Brannen the study concluded in December 2010 and was paid for with a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT).

Brannen gave an example of one of the projects that the township might take on in the future.

“If there was an enhanced crosswalk somewhere along [Route] 35 you could bring walkers or bicyclists into Weltz Park and the townships’ pool and tennis complex,” he said. “Right now there is no real dedicated link in terms of a trail or a sidewalk to connect all those facilities.”

Now that the plan is adopted, the Planning Board will be able to use the information when new applicants apply to the board.

“We tried to integrate the bicycle plan into our master plan so when applicants come before any of our boards they have that plan at their disposal and if there are improvements that can be incorporated into these applications they can do that,” Brannen said.

“If the plan called for a sidewalk in front of a certain building the planning board would be aware of that and they might require the developer to make those improvements,” he added.

He went on to say that the pedestrian plan would be the centerpiece to the township’s Safe Routes to School grant application administered by the DOT to fund bicycle and walking paths around schools.

Brannen said that the application is due by Dec. 31 and that the township has selected the Ocean Township Elementary School on Dow Avenue as the school they will focus on in the funding request.

He also explained what would happen next in order to implement some of the ideas adopted by the board.

“The next step is using [the plan] as the platform or foundation for the Safe Routes to School grant,” he said. “Also, as we do our road program this year, we will see if there are improvements we can make.

“It is an ongoing project and I’m sure it will be adjusted and amended as we go forward based on different opportunities we’ll have,” he added.