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Planned Route 35 Bike Lane Raises Safety Concerns

Controversial plan to reverse diagonal head-in parking has been scrapped, however

Cars lined up along Route 35 North in Lavallette on an October afternoon. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Cars lined up along Route 35 North in Lavallette on an October afternoon. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Safety concerns are being raised over proposed bike lanes for Route 35 north in Lavallette, though a controversial plan that generated the most ire from local residents has been scrapped.

As part of a $265 million plan to reconstruct the state highway along Ocean County's northern barrier island, bike lanes will be designated on both Route 35's northbound and southbound lanes. The lane running along the northbound side, however, has led to safety concerns since vehicles in Lavallette's busy downtown area would be pulling into and backing out of spaces by crossing the lane itself.

Some residents have raised concerns that a designated lane could lead to heavier bicycle traffic, and also to those on bicycles being less cautious of vehicles pulling in and out of parking spaces, leading to more accidents.

"We're not sure putting bike paths on Route 35 is the best thing to do," said Paul Jeffrey, president of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, in nearby Ortley Beach.

Jeffrey said a better option would be to include a bike lane along Bay Boulevard, which runs between Lavallette and Ortley Beach along Barnegat Bay. That route would be safer, he said, and still provide a north-sound corridor for bicycle riders.

A large portion of Bay Boulevard is currently being reconstructed following damage from Superstorm Sandy.

As local residents' concerns linger, the most controversial aspect of the originally proposed bike lane plan has been scrapped by officials with the state Department of Transportation, according to Lavallette Mayor Walter LaCicero.

The plan as originally proposed included a rarely-used tactic to force vehicles to back into parking spaces on a diagonal by reversing the direction of the lines on all of the parking spaces along the state highway. Vehicles would have had to pass their desired space, then line up their vehicle on a diagonal and back in.

The governing bodies of both Lavallette and Toms River rejected resolutions supporting the plan.

"They proposed that to us, and it was rejected by the council," said LaCicero.

Current plans from the state, LaCicero said, include a "well-marked, well-striped" bike lane in between the existing parking and the existing roadway edge.

The lane will run along the easternmost side of the northbound roadway. Another bike lane will run along the right side of the southbound roadway.
john doe October 16, 2013 at 03:37 PM
riding safety in direction of traffic is the biggest myth going. If a bicyclist can not see what is coming they are leaving it to the discretion of the motorist. do not care what the government studies want to say; riding with traffic only favors the motorist.
grace October 16, 2013 at 04:35 PM
this is ridiculous! how can we get that bike lane? this is a seaside resort town..enough with the argument already!!!
grace October 16, 2013 at 04:36 PM
daniel i am so on your side!! lets get that bike lane! i will make the posters lol
TR Dude October 16, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Why couldn't they we switch them? Bike lane on the inside, along the curb and parking along the roadway. Put a second curb in and call it a day... Normal head in parking and a safe public bike lane. Everyone wins.
ortley19 October 17, 2013 at 08:33 AM
To Shorefriend, you must live on the side of Bay Blvd that wascompletely closed to traffice this summer, ( the west side of the street , formely southbound). If you live on the east side of the street (formely the northbound lane) you would know that in addition to 2-way traffic now, you have bike riders that are oblivious to cars trying to drive and there is NOT a shoulder so it is indeeed dangerous. Yeah, thats real safe ! but as long as you get to ride your bike ..thats all that matters ....right shorefriend ????

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