Posted by: kendra | October 6, 2008

Sustainable Morristown and Bikes

I really encourage anyone who is interested in bikes and Morristown and couldn’t make it to the event at the Community Theatre on Saturday to listen to the podcast that the Morristown Green blog has put up. I found the whole thing very inspiring, and I was impressed by the number of people who turned up on a Saturday night to listen and talk about where Morristown should go, or what it could be.

There was a lot of talking about bikes, and quite a few slides showing how other cities have addressed bike lanes and other biking issues.  I was very encouraged by some of the follow-up questions asked by council members; one asked if there was an example of town in the northeast that was something Morristown look to as a positive biking town, especially since our roads and buildings are where they are and we don’t have a lot of space.  One member of the panel pointed to Chattanooga, which is not the northeast, but they felt like we had some similar challenges.  Another member of the panel pointed out that Portland was not a new city and most of the downtown and surrounding area was built up by the early 1900s and def by the 1940s.  Anyhow, I thought it was a good question, and I know some other members of the council asked some bike specific questions, tho I can’t recall right now.

I asked about my pet peeve that all these new buildings come with parking spaces, but there is no new condo or apartment building recently built or under construction now with any sort of bike facilities at all.  That drives me crazy.  I was really hopeful about 40 Park, but I finaly spoke to someone about it at the fall festival, and 40 Park will not have a bike room, but they might have a bike rack.  I say might, because they didn’t really seem to want to talk about it or have any details.  Very frustrating.  Anyhow, the team pointed out that is really a zoning issue and the town needs to ask the developers for these things while they are being built, because afterwards it is hard to go back and fix it.

What else?  I was surprised to hear that there is a creek that flows under Headquarters Plaza.  Some talk about trailheads and encouraging kayaking and other things along those lines.  Immigrants very concerned that there is no soccer field for residents to use.  I guess one of the greatest things to me was that even tho I only made it to one full meeting this week, I met a lot of dif people from dif groups, and a talked to some of them about bikes and Morristown, and I think we can really put some stuff together, even if it is small.

It also helped me that the panel picked the year 2030 as a goal, because I am very impatient and get frustrated, and having that year out there really might help me focus on the process of one thing at a time.  Also nice because 2030 will be pretty close to when we might retire, if retirement still exists, so I’ll know if I will want to stick around.

Anyhow, other interesting things and not surprising, is the panel not a big fan of headquarters plaza, but I was surprised they presented a big plan for redoing the whole mess that is hq.  There was also some talk and questions about how Morristown can attract jobs here, not just residents and retail, and I’m not sure about that with the economy at present and how people are leaving New Jersey, but with a long-term goal like they suggested, anything is possible.

I encourage people to check out Step Ahead Morristown, and check back every once in awhile to see where they are going with it.  There was some talk about using this site as the big sort of umbrella to bring all the groups in Morristown together so we weren’t so scattered and disconnected.

I also want to point while I think this panel and all the people turning out for this was awesome, this was not an official Morristown plan, as Stefan Armington points out in this MG post, the town goes their own way and maybe not really into knowing what you might want!

Have a good week!  I love this cooler weather!



  1. The Daily Record had an article about the presentation in the Sunday paper, which you can find here.

    The comments following the article about bike paths/lanes are pretty standard.

  2. The panel is right about making it part of an ordinance or zoning to include bike parking. I can’t think of any in NJ right now, but we can always query the njbikeped & njsrts listservs if needed.

    Chattanooga & Portland are good examples. The reality is that European cities didn’t design for bicycling until the 70s. See Prof. John Pucher’s research that points out how “cycling was not always thriving in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. Cycling levels plummeted in all three countries from about 1950 to 1975 (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006). It was only through a massive reversal in transport and
    urban planning policies in the mid 1970s that cycling was revived to its current successful state.” Source: Pucher and Buehler “Making Cycling Irresistible” Transport Reviews, Vol. 28, 2008

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